For the uninitiated, situations like elaborate kidnappings or attempted vehicular homicide may seem twisted. But for wrestling fans, such things are business as usual. We’re used to accepting things like having undead sorcerers as world champions. After all, it’s all just one big crazy soap opera. Even so, certain things are considered messed up even in the exaggerated context of sports entertainment.
We previously highlighted the barbaric acts players can commit in wrestling games. Let’s turn our attention now to the strange, silly, and flat-out wrong things players can partake in within a digital ring. I’m talking the stuff that makes even the most diehard wrestling fans shake their heads in disbelief or drop their controllers embarrassment. The type of nonsense a proven crazy man like Vince McMahon would think twice about airing on television… maybe.
15. Make Kane Very Proud Or Very Jealous
Extreme Championship Wrestling was, as its name suggested, a promotion built around the idea of wrestlers going hardcore. It gained a cult following by featuring barbed wire matches, guys plummeting from scaffolding, and copious amounts of blood. But in PlayStation ECW: Anarchy Rulez video game, things maybe got a bit too extreme.
The game featured a match type called Blistering Brimstone. Fiery coals surrounded the ring, and the objective was to toss your opponent onto said coals. Though not completely unlike WWE’s Inferno Match, which was won by setting the opponent on fire, Blistering Brimstone took it a step further. Wrestlers unlucky enough to take a trip into the coals roasted into a column of fire before burning away into nothing. Also, ignore the now late performer’s agonizing death cry.
At least in Inferno Matches, only part of a wrestler’s body caught fire before being immediately extinguished by nearby referees since a live human BBQ isn’t kosher for television. Then again, ECW always did go against the grain.
14. Cut Opponents Down To Size
1995’s Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game was a cool oddity in its day. Developed by Midway, the game pitted digitized WWF superstars in a Mortal Kombat-esque fighter notable for its absurd attacks. Doink the Clown could whip out a cartoonishly big hammer, and Undertaker threw magic ghost punches. It was weird, but Razor Ramon’s special ability always struck me as the most disturbing.
To really drive home his namesake, Ramon’s arm morphed into actual blade like Terminator 2’s T-1000. As a kid who went through a phase of having nightmares about Arnold’s liquid metal foe, this kind of freaked me out at the time. All I could imagine was the Bad Guy impaling Shawn Michaels’ throat as HBK drank from a milk carton. Plus the implication that Razor was slicing up fan favorites like Bret Hart and Lex Luger seemed a bit much for the kid-friendly tone of mid-90s WWF.
13. Get Your Head Out Of The Game
Oh no! Razor Ramon used his freaky blade hands to decapitate the WWF roster! Okay not really, but the player can make this possible with the help of Game Shark in WWF Warzone. While other hidden cheats squeezed superstars into stickbug-like straw people and even unlocked a playable Turok, the headless wrestler cheat is just wrong.
If the superstar lacks a stack of dimes called a neck, how can Stone Cold Steve Austin perform his patented Stunner and send the fans home happy? Thankfully, the mode didn’t carry over to Warzone’s full-motion video cutscenes and give Attitude Era fans years of nightmare fuel. What’s funny, though, is selecting Goldust under this mode and hearing commentator Vince McMahon ironically mention how Goldie can “play head games with the best of them.”
12. Play Actual Head Games
Oh darn it, maybe headless mode wasn’t so screwed up if this is the alternative. So Al Snow was a decently popular wrestler during WWF’s vulgar and unpredictable Attitude Era. An insane but lovable nut job, he got over big by lugging around a detached mannequin head aptly named, well, Head. He talked to it during matches and his theme song opened with him asking “what does everybody want?” with fans gleefully screaming “head!” Late 90s WWF, ladies and gentleman; what a time to be alive.
Head accrued enough of a fandom to secure a spot in 1999’s WWF Attitude game. But how does one turn a plastic head into a playable wrestler? Ignore that pesky body and just give her floating hands and feet. She looked like a demonic Rayman. Whether or not it was meant to be a joke or the designers tapped out on coming up with a real solution, you just look at Head throwing Mankind around and think “just… no”.
11. You Can’t Come Back From This
The Def Jam wrestling series (all two of them) was a pleasant surprise in the PS2/Xbox era. Combining well-designed grappling with hip hop music and culture, real-life rappers settled beefs with suplexes instead of rhymes. All scars, no bars, as they say.
The second game, Def Jam: Fight for NY, featured traditional match types like tag team and cage bouts, while others were more… out there. Two of the most twisted were the Subway and Window matches. Subway matches let players throw opponents in the paths of oncoming trains for an instant victory. I mean, wow. In Window matches, you win by smashing your opponent through a multi-story high window to the pavement below. Triple H once committed a similar act to Randy Orton, but even the Game was compassionate enough to only toss him through a 2-foot high window.
10. Destroy The Showcase Of The Immortals
Wrestlemania is the Super Bowl of not only WWE, but pro wrestling as a whole. The annual event attracts thousands of fans, diehard and casual, from around the globe to enjoy the culmination of a year’s worth of sweaty man drama. No fan wants to see it go away, but the Revenge Mode of the Wrestlemania XIX GameCube game asks players to do just that: sabotage Wrestlemania.
In this mode, your wrestler gets fired by Chairman Vince McMahon (and subsequently assaulted by security because Vince can be a big jerk at times). McMahon’s daughter and part-owner, Stephanie, enlists you with ruining the biggest show of the year as payback. You accomplish this by trashing WWE property, laying the smackdown on security and company officials along the way. At one point, you even blow up a WWE skyscraper because you’re apparently a terrorist in tights. If you can’t be a part of Wrestlemania, no one can!
9. Beat Up The Ghost Of An Actual Dead Guy
Here’s one that’s become significantly more messed up in hindsight. Smackdown vs Raw 2011 shines a purple-tinted spotlight on The Undertaker’s fabled Wrestlemania undefeated streak (which has since been broken). In a dedicated mode, your mission is to become the first superstar to topple the Streak.
To mess with the head of the Deadman, your character summons the spirit of Undertaker’s portly long-time manager, Paul Bearer (who “died” years prior in a TV storyline). The game gives you 90 seconds to beat Bearer into submission. Paul doesn’t defend himself; he just cowers in fear while you go to town on a defenseless man. It’d be easy to feel bad for the pale sap in 2010 when the game launched. But after Bearer passed away, for reals, in 2013, playing this today feels just a tad uncomfortable.
8. Drive Yourself Into A State Of Depression
The Japanese-only Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special is famous for two reasons. Number one, it was the big break for Goichi Suda, better known as Suda51. He’s responsible for reason two: the ridiculously dark story.
As wrestling’s equivalent of a Baudelaire, the protagonist faces a series of unfortunate events. Such gut punches include losing your girlfriend as well as the deaths of your coach and close friend. Still though, you battle through adversity to eventually challenge reigning world champ Dick Slender AKA Ric Flair with the thinnest of copyright protection.
The hits keep coming when Slender/Flair eliminates your tag team partner in the ring and then admits to doing the same with your coach. Although you defeat him and capture the world title, the victory is bittersweet at best. After losing everything he loved in pursuit of the gold, your character questions what the point of it all was. Apparently there wasn’t one, because in a shocking ending, the protagonist goes home and shoots himself in the head in the final scene. So by playing this game, you get to put yourself through a rollercoaster of depression and pessimism. Neat-o.
7. Bring America To Its Knees
Not to be outdone by Fire Pro, Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game has its own share of eyebrow-raising endings. Winning the arcade mode as Shawn Michaels leads to him being assaulted by a horde of ravenous women. Bam Bam Bigelow sets the fans on fire. They’re all ridiculous, but the most insane has to be what players can do if they triumph as Yokozuna.
If you don’t know Yoko, his gimmick was being an anti-American, Japanese sumo monster. He dominated everyone and got his jollies by crushing the red, white, and blue one Banzai Drop at a time. Taking him to an arcade victory reveals Yoko’s triumph crushed American morale so badly that the infrastructure collapses, leaving citizens to, and I quote, “wallow in mindless depravity, mere shadows of their former selves”. That’s right, kids; pick Yokozuna, and you too can unravel the fabric of an entire nation by winning wrestling matches.
6. Get A Little Crazy In The Ring
Women’s wrestling has come a long way in the past couple of years. Ladies today possess actual characters and athleticism as opposed to being glorified objects who don’t know a wristlock from a wristwatch. 2004’s all-female Rumble Roses is a remnant of that not-so-great period of women’s wrestling.
Essentially a Japanese take on GLOW, Rumble Roses’ roster overflowed with over-the-top, mostly cringe-worthy, gimmicks. But none make you feel dirtier than Mistress Spencer, a literal dominatrix. Sporting an eye-patch, whip, and her own clown-faced gimp (what happened to you, Doink?), the former teacher obsesses over dishing out whippings to “undisciplined” competitors. If you’re over the age of 14, running the ropes as Spencer feels silly at best and embarrassing at worst.
5. Receive A Magic Gender Change
The story modes in WWE games sometimes feel like discarded TV plots Vince deemed too stupid/terrible to air. Given that we’re talking about same guy who once approved a Kane/Triple H “being into dead people” angle for the world title, that doesn’t bode well for what video game fans have in store for them. Smackdown vs Raw 2007’s story mode offers a prime example.
During the season mode, your character gets knocked out by the magic wand of former WWE diva, Candice Michelle. When you confront her, Candice transforms you into a bikini-clad woman, revealing her wand has a phoenix feather at its core instead of lead. Yes, you must now wrestle as a magical transgender female. After using your newfound girl power to defeat Candice and foil her evil schemes (plus avoid the advances of Viscera), she returns you to normal. You eventually destroy the stupid wand, and the world agrees to never speak of this story ever again.
4. Annihilate Wrestlers In Vehicular Combat
WWE Crush Hour was a late cash-in on the Twisted Metal craze. It dropped superstars behind the wheels of vehicular death machines in a new attraction after Vince managed to takeover all of television. No seriously, that’s the story, and a mind-boggling premonition of the current WWE Network.
What doesn’t jive is that despite wrestlers rarely dying on-screen, Crush Hour had you straight up blowing guys like William Regal into smithereens. I love The Rock; don’t make me have to blow his candy ass into the (not Trish) stratosphere. But who knows? Maybe in addition to learning how to fall, they know how to fake an explosive demise. You know what’s even more messed up than that? The fact that the Crush Hour makes Twisted Metal III look (not AJ Styles) phenomenal.
3. Fight Unexpected Stars
Ah, backyard wrestling; the pinnacle of American suburbia in the late 90s/early 00s. Wrestling hopefuls with video cameras and a death wish recorded themselves having incredibly violent “matches” (read: stunts) with zero training whatsoever. In a time when anything could get a video game, we were treated to two Backyard Wrestling titles boasting rather… eclectic rosters.
Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes The Neighborhood was headlined by the Insane Clown Posse, and included some ex-mainstream wrestlers and independent names. Oh, and adult stars. Adult film actresses like Tera Patrick can get the tar kicked out of them or dish out the punishment. Who hasn’t ever wanted to wrestle as an inexperienced mature star? At least when WWE hires ex-adult stars, they actually train them (and, in Candice Michelle’s case, teach them sorcery too). The whole thing feels grimy, which about sums up backyard wrestling as a whole.
2. Fulfill Your (Preteen) Fantasies
Remember when I talked about how women’s wrestling used to suck? I present Exhibit Q. In Smackdown vs Raw 2006, players can indulge in the Fulfill Your Fantasy match. In a pink ring decked out with a bed, players battled as costumed Divas while praying their parents or significant others didn’t walk in on them. If that’s not enough, you can strip your adversary to their lingerie and even bend them over your knee spank them, complete with spank meter. It’s almost impossible not to feel like a stupid pervert while playing this match. Plus, why would pillows cause that much damage, anyway?
1. Reenact WWE’s Most Infamous Moment
WWE 13’s main selling point was its lovingly crafted Attitude Era mode. It let fans relive key events of the company’s most popular period, including the controversial event that, arguably, kicked it off in earnest.
At the 1997 Survivor Series pay-per-view in Montreal, Canada, Shawn Michaels challenged WWE Champion and Canadian hero, Bret Hart. In reality, Bret was leaving the company to work for rival promotion WCW, meaning he’d have to drop the title Shawn. But due to real-life issues between Hart and Michaels, Bret refused. That left Vince McMahon, Michaels, and other conspirators to “do business for him”. During the match, Shawn used Bret’s own submission, the Sharpshooter, on Hart. Vince, who was at ringside, immediately called for the bell despite Bret never submitting. HBK was crowned champ, Hart went ballistic and stormed out of the company, and Vince became the most hated figure in wrestling.
It was a black-eye on WWE as conducting business in such a manner is a major no-no. People debated which party was in the wrong and it was years before the full extent of the conspiracy came to light. After over a decade of bad feelings, Hart mended fences with Vince and Shawn, finally returning to WWE in 2010. Depending on your stance on the event, acting the event out in WWE 13 makes it feel even more like a nasty piece of business.
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