UWC Wrestling is a wrestling game that was designed for the NES. There’s a pretty strong chance that you’ve never heard of it. In fact, there’s an almost guaranteed chance because the game not only never came out, it was never even officially announced.
Stephen “Archon 81” Reese is a Youtuber whose channel specializes in retro games. He was purchasing some games from a former Nintendo employee who was selling off some of his old stuff from when he worked in the video game industry. One of the items was UWC Wrestling, a game that was sent to the ex-employee to playtest, but ended up never going into production beyond that.
The incredible thing about UWC Wrestling is that although it’s only a prototype for an unreleased game, it’s actually playable. Granted, it's somewhat unrefined and definitely not finished (and that referee could look a little more interested), but there's definitely the skeleton of a game here. The game was developed by SETA, a company that’s long gone at this point. There’s no information about how this game came to be, or even why it never made it into stores. If we compare video games to archaeology, this is the equivalent of finding a fossil for a dinosaur that we didn’t even know existed.
The gameplay footage shows the roster of wrestlers, all of whom were popular in the 80s. It’s hard to tell who everyone is, considering there are no names, but going by their appearances, it’s safe to assume that some of these men are: Ric Flair, Road Warrior Hawk and Animal, Sting, Lex Luger, and even the legend himself, Beautiful Bobby Eaton.
Judging by this list of wrestlers, it’s likely that this game was commissioned by either the National Wrestling Association (NWA) or World Championship Wrestling (WCW). In fact, it turns out that UWC (Universal Wrestling Corporation) was the original name that was to be given to WCW back in 1988. WCW would release a wrestling game for the NES called WCW Wrestling in 1989, so it’s possible that UWC Wrestling was their first crack at the gaming world that ultimately didn’t work out.
Reese is quite aware of the magnitude of his discovery. He has said that he intends to release the ROM online so that people can experience this piece of both video game and wrestling history. Frank Cifaldi from the Video Game History Foundation has offered to help with that task, so hopefully, we’ll all be able to try it out very soon.
It’s incredibly rare that a game goes completely undiscovered, especially in this day and age. It seems like everything gets leaked or found out relatively quickly, so to have a genuine find like this is truly newsworthy. It’s crazy to think what other ancient gaming relics are just sitting and waiting to be unearthed in someone’s basement.