Written by Jimmy Donofrio
Hey THQ, let’s be real, okay?
Professional wrestling is fake.
That’s not a bad thing, millions of people all around the world love professional wrestling – myself included. But we’re not morons. With the genesis of the “Reality Era”, where guys like CM Punk and Chris Jericho sit atop the business with gimmicks that laugh in the face of kayfabe, it’s time that our wrestling video games followed suit.
WWE ’12 was supposed be a refreshing change from the formula that THQ has trotted out since 2004. Well, that was the idea, at least. Realistically, wrestling games haven’t changed all that much since the days of the original Playstation, and there hasn’t been a truly great wrestling video game since the incredible WWF No Mercy for Nintendo 64.
The WWE has changed the way they do business in the last year. They’ve let WWE Champion CM Punk shoot from the hip instead of from some script written by Michael P.S. Hayes. They strapped the various belts on true fan favorites, guys that have clawed their way to the top through the independent circuits, instead of the manufactured big men of yore. There’s a little more transparency on our tv from week to week, and it should translate in our games, as well.
So here is what I’m proposing, THQ: Let’s forget the silly “Road To Wrestlemania” or “WWE Universe” game modes, and give WWE ’13 the kind of Career Mode that truly represents professional wrestling and the plight of your everyday WWE Superstar.
Sheamus wrestled in Europe for 5 years before getting his break in '07. Two years later, he won his first WWE Championship.
1. Instead of letting the player be in control of a wrestler, let the player be in control of a performer (sure, this changes the game from a “fighting” affair to more of a “roleplaying” one, but isn’t that what professional wrestling has been forever? It’s really just a stage play with steel chairs). You’ll still be able to punch, kick, run, grapple, etc., but you’ll also be able to sell a hit, control the flow of a match, and put over another wrestler if need be.
2. In turn, you need to change the goal of each match. A WWE Superstar doesn’t go out to the ring to win, he goes out to tell a story. So lay out each match ahead of time, with a timeline on the screen, marking off certain spots that need to be hit and a predetermined winner. If you’re a good wrestler, you’ll hit your spots, tell your story and extend your career. As your career progresses, your matches will become more complex…
3. …and you’ll run the gamut of cliché wrestling storylines. The difficulty: sometimes you have to be the loser. Sometimes you need to get squashed. Sometimes you need to put over a weaker wrestler to show you've got the goods, even when you're supposed to be bad. And, in turn, you’ll get your big breaks. Let’s pull back the curtain and delve into the backstage atmosphere that creates this multi-million dollar product.
4. This isn’t going to be like those NFL Head Coach or MLB Front Office Manager abortions. There will still be ridiculous entrances, outrageous matches, larger-than-life personalities on full display. There will still be wrestling. The context, however, is completely different: you want to actually put on a great show instead of just emulating one.
This, of course, is a very rough outline. The point is, the wrestling business isn’t some kind of big secret – we know it’s fake, and we love it anyway. We know how hard these guys work, and we love them because of it. THQ, give us a game that does both the industry and its superstars justice. We play Madden to be a football player, Zelda to be a Hylian warrior, a whole host of games to be some kind of space marine guy. When we play WWE ’13, let us, finally, be a professional wrestler.
World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan is an indy wrestling legend, and has jobbed on almost every continent, and even a few back yards.