Building a Better Wrestling Game: Create-a-Wrestler

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been reading Bret Hart's autobiography, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Professional Wrestling. I'm a sucker for wrestling biographies; apart from the always unforgettable road stories, there's a sort of romanticism to the often...

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been reading Bret Hart's autobiography, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Professional Wrestling. I'm a sucker for wrestling biographies; apart from the always unforgettable road stories, there's a sort of romanticism to the often bleak life in the professional wrestling business that appeals to me. Even the biggest names in the business spend hundreds of days per year on the road, away from their families, always looking for the next big match in front of a sold-out crowd. It's always struck me as a lonely business.

Read enough wrestling biographies and the grim pattern emerges: humble beginnings, a battered and bloody apprenticeship in smaller territories, hitting the big shot with a major promotion, and then, all too often, a slow and often depressing decline as their physical abilities erode. "Hitman" seems to be striking most of these notes so far. Of course, unlike so many other pro wrestlers who died far too early, Hart is still alive and kicking, despite having suffered a stroke in 2002.

Reading the book, and spending some time over the past weekend with Midway's TNA iMPACT! got me thinking about wrestling games. In the rush to get players into the boots of their favorite grapplers, or at least in the spotlight of the big promotions of the WWE and TNA, the hardscrabble roots of the up-and-coming professional wrestler is practically ignored. And that's a shame because the narrative of a wrestler's career arch is the kind of dramatic fare videogames can thrive on.

To its credit, TNA iMPACT! dabbles in this kind of storytelling--in its story mode, you're a famous wrestler who's unceremoniously beaten half to death backstage and sent down to Mexico where, for some reason,you have to start your rise to TNA fame all over again. And, of course, SmackDown! Vs. Raw 2009 had some narrative elements of its own, with the individual "Road to WrestleMania" storylines. Still, I think there's more that could be done.

Picture this: In this new wrestling game'scareer mode, you start with a made-from-scratch wrestler using a very limited set of creation tools. Perhaps all you get is the ability to set your grapplers age, looks, and gender, then assign him or her a few basic wrestling moves. No gimmick. No fancy nickname. Not even a finisher. From there, it's up to you to earn your adulation, perhaps even one fan at a time, depending on where your career takes you.

You start your career wrestling in high school gyms and seedy looking community college arenas for local promotions; as an up-and-comer, you won't have much in the way of skills and you'll spend more time on your back jobbing for the local stars than getting wins of your own. As you progress, promoters would notice your ability to work and more opportunities come your way, both in the form of higher profile matches and even a gimmick or two. As your repertoire and skillset improves, so to will the options presentedfor your created wrestler. Want a sweet mask like Rey Mysterio or a closet full of Ric Flair robes? You'll have to work for it.

Any persona you adopt will have a "heat" rating attached to it, indicating the crowd's response to your in-ring gimmick. Not only will these be based on your performance as a player but they'd also be based around the locations you're wrestling in. Some territories might prefer a more technical, less theatrical style, while another would give you props more for your skills on the mic than your ability to lock up an opponent. Knowing the crowd, and what they like and dislike, would be just as important a strategy element as putting in a good performance on a nightly basis. Perform well enough on both fronts and you'd eventually get your shot at the big time--a major promotion, a major push by that promotion, and, if you're lucky, maybe even a title shot. Get enough backstage juice, and you might even be involved in booking your own matches, or even an entire show.

All of this rigmarole might not be for everyone--some folks just want to jump in the jean shorts of John Cena and get to "FU"-ing fools. But, if nothing else, this kind of attention and care in your from-scratch character would provide some much-needed investment in your created wrestler, an aspect I think all wrestling games gloss over these days. At some point, most wrestling fans have wondered what it would be like to step in the squared circle--I'd like to see a wrestling game that lets you experience some of the life outside of the ring.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Did you enjoy this article?

Sign In to Upvote

73 comments
xxxZ28xxx
xxxZ28xxx

wow! msmith219 i used to do the same thing with smackdown 2, me and my friends actually had a gang of 4 in the game like "the main event mafia" on tna & each one of us had one title with their respective created player plus i also stop buying sdvsr in 2007 cause 08 & 09 messed every thing up specially 2009 with their stupid & boring career mode

xxxZ28xxx
xxxZ28xxx

on my opinion I think you're absolutely right, i mean none of those famous wrestlers like john cena, the rock, Jeff hardy,etc,debuted with those fancy clothes and those incredible moves that they perform now.probably jeff hardy could do some whisper in the wind but his clothes were awful.john cena was so cheap that he couldn't even afford those cheap ass pants that he wears now & he didn't even know what an F-u or an attitude adjustment (how they call it now) was. my point is that they really should do that cause in sdvsr09 u can win every title in every single brand in a blink of an eye & that really sucks plus i agree in that the wwe games should be more like the smackdown! 2 (ps1) game where u can put up to six created wrestlers in your season mode in order to compete against them or team up with them plus there was a 4 player season mode and you actually needed to spend time in order to earn a title shot and find out that the champion is actually another of your created players. i totally agree with what the article says & that's the bottom line cause xxxZ28xxx says so!

chain_gang404
chain_gang404

that kind of wrestling game sounds awesome and for people who may like playing as a real character in wwe take it back to when they first started into the wrestling business.

DHH34
DHH34

good observation, FreeBallz

Trash71
Trash71

Tend to agree with a lot of the posters here, reading the article all I could think of was "dude, play a japanese game" as most of them are like that, especially All Star Pro-Wrestling 3 and Wrestle Kingdom 2, apart from Fire Pro they are my favourite Jap games.

mannholloway1
mannholloway1

Just go back to AKI development team Those guys made the best Wrestling Game everyone elses is crap.

FreeBallz
FreeBallz

T.H.U.G. meets SVR. I like it.

Lum_Yatsura
Lum_Yatsura

I'm one of those people who loves wrestling games so much. Despite their hate from the gaming community, which I could care less about. So what? I enjoy them! That matters more than the opinions of anonymous trolls on the internet possibly can.

Monkboon
Monkboon

"Some territories might prefer a more technical, less theatrical style, while another would give you props more for your skills on the mic than your ability to lock up an opponent. Knowing the crowd, and what they like and dislike, would be just as important a strategy element as putting in a good performance on a nightly basis. Perform well enough on both fronts and you'd eventually get your shot at the big time--a major promotion, a major push by that promotion, and, if you're lucky, maybe even a title shot. Get enough backstage juice, and you might even be involved in booking your own matches, or even an entire show." See Fire Pro "G" and Final Fire Pro. Already been done, Monk....

Monkboon
Monkboon

King of Colosseum 2, Fire Pro Wrestling Returns, Final Fire Pro Wrestling, Virtual Pro Wrestlig 2, WWF No Mercy, Giant Gram 2000, Day of Reckoning 2, Wrestle Kingdom 2, All Star Pro Wrestling 3, TEW 2008, Homebrew Wrestling. Nuff said....Monk....

blakant
blakant

Wrestling game these days r getting bored, especially the repetitive Season/GM Mode. I prefer the Season like they did for Smack Down! & Smack Down! 2 (from PS1) Where all the stables u created matters & u can have have a shot for the title anytime, without too much of the cheap drama like these wrestling game they did this recent years.

Dstolich
Dstolich

Wrestle kingdom, King of the Colosseum, Giant Gram.... I would love to see a generic US wrestling game that plays like one of the japanese imports listed above. Anyone who has played ny of them knows what I am talking about.

Lexxzilla
Lexxzilla

Man if I had the money i would be behind this 100% I love wrestling and I think it deserves a game like this.

VDNovach
VDNovach

Sounds like my kind of game. On the other hand it is not really that lonely of an existence most wrestlers in a ompany are actually friends in real life.

msmith219
msmith219

sorry for the continuation i accidently hit submit lol any who we had a blast owning fools deep into year 2089 with the same wrestler from day one who would have croked by than but it was still fun. now add in the depth that your talking about would be sick!!!!!!!!!!!

msmith219
msmith219

you are so right on this. i was a hugh wrestling fan. ive owned every Smack Down/SVR up to 07" after that it didnt interest me anymore. i can honestly say it the SEASON/GM mode that turn me off from it. the very first SMACKDOWN had a horrible CAW mode but the season was multiplayer and it never ended. which was great me and three of my buddies played it religously. i know it didnt have any hugh epic moments or very deep when it comes down to the story but me and my friends having a group that rivaled DX n t

TFrieden0928
TFrieden0928

I must admit that Wrestling as a Genre is coming to a schreeching halt, not only is the fanbase dwindling down the games themselves aren't living up to past experiences. I remember back in the day where the story mode was much more interactive. For instance, In Smackdown shut your mouth, you actually get to walk around the whole entire Arena! You could even go outside and catch the train to the local pub and walk around! Matches were able to go in outside areas and I remember that there were different superstars waiting in a certain spot everyday. Now, there are no Roam around Matches...Those were my favorite feature. Also, I loved the Story. I always waited every year to experience the story with my created character. Nowadays Smackdown Vs. Raw isn't even good anymore.....SVR 07 was the last good one, SVR 08 was complete trash and I didn't even bother to play 09 yet. This would be my dream wrestling game. It could be a Wrestling game but with RPG elements attached to it, it can still and will be a Wrestling game because other titles such as Bioshock have a mixed gameplay experience, Bioshock was a first person shooter, but it was also had adventure, and rpg elements. So it wouldn't be that hard to do. Look, Say this, you create your character, you can edit his looks with a Tiger Woods style editor, but the game will also come with preset faces if the editor becomes too complicated, the game should have two attire sets, your "street" clothes, and your "ring" clothes and you start out by picking one finisher and one signature style, the finisher would be basic though like a ddt or something.....with other mimimal moves, as you beat wannabe wrestlers and learn from other experienced wrestlers, you get to choose your second fighting style and you get to increase your attributes. You start off the game in your Hometown...you get to walk around your neighborhood, it won't too big but as big as the accessible areas in Smackdown shut your mouth. You will be able to talk with everybody in your neighborhood and you will see random pedestrians walking around. You know how the Tony Hawk Underground series had cutscenes and stuff? the game could be like that...you have another friend in town that wants to be a wrestler too, but maybe in the future he becomes your rival for the wwe championship or something, The game should contain moral choices that change the course of the storyline, not too many to get it in wrestling genre, but not too less so it wouldnt be dry, for example:once you get into the wwe, you can choose to go solo or team up with your hometown friend, that will set up the next event in the game, and what you do and choose will effect the next event and so on......You can choose to be a hero/fan favorite or a bad guy that nobody likes....the game should also let you choose what title you want to contend to, but no the whole career isnt gonna be washed out....there should tons and tons of cutscenes and interactive moments. Once you get into the wwe, you get to modify all of your movesets, you can choose any move you want, everymove and entrance should be available, you then create your entrance, but when you win you get cash and points to upgrade your stats, when you start out in the wwe, you leave your hometown and enter a decent apartment, in there you can access your computer, filled with wwe.com of course, go to sleep for the next day, work out to improve your stats even more(you can only work out once a day, there will be like fight night minigames) or eat to attain miminal boosts to your stats, of course if you eat junk you will gain weight. you should also be able to customize your crib in any way you want, once you get to higher contracts or higher events you can buy a more luxurious house...of course you will be only there on certain days because the life of a wwe superstar is hectic, you will be on the road. when you are on the road you live in hotels, but you can pick what type of hotel you want to sleep in, like different styles of its appearance, the same elements of your house will be incorporated with the hotels. The Accesible areas outside and inside the arena should be in this game too, there will certain wrestlers walking around on different days, maybe some will remember what you said or did a day back. This is where Mass Effect's Dialouge system comes in! it should work exactly like that!, but in most cutscenes you will watching the action, cuz you dont want to slow down anything..but there will be times where you get to choose what you want to say. So when you dissing an opposing superstar you can either be cool and cocky, neutral about it, you can try and be persuasive too or you can just be a straight up jerk! so there will be times when you get press conferances, and interviews, and disses in the rings, and times when you speak to your manager, but you can choose almost everything you say.of course, wwe superstars have to look good, you can go to the store and buy clothes,shoes, and jewels, sooner you can make your own products!(Easy, make it like Tony Hawk's logo editor and you save the logo and implant it on items)but that stuff is what you wear outside the ring, when inside you buy your gear as well but every piece of equipment will have stat upgrades on it, just like when you put equipment on in Oblivion or Mass effect, like STR+8 or Fan Favorite+10. Also the game should incoporate smooth animations and physics, maybe like Euphoria, and the gameplay should be extra smooth and super fun, and the controls need to be simple but complex as well, But the most important part to make the experience "REAl" as possible is to make the graphics look like Fight Night Round 3!!!!! That would indulge you in the experience even more! the Voiceovers on the superstars should sound good too. Thats my dream wrestling game.

cky3sk8er
cky3sk8er

As a hardcore wrestling fan, I like the idea of the ultra-realistic wrestling career. However, to a casual fighting game fan, they really don't know about jobbing or having to start a career barely surviving in local promotions. What about the little kids that still look up to their favorite wrestlers on tv as really who their gimmick is? That would turn-off a lot of potential buyers imo. Like I said, I am for the idea though.

Labouskie
Labouskie

I like most of the idea but some of it doesnt suit me. First off I dont watch wrestling so I could care less about the real life superstars or playing as them on a game. However I love to create my own superstars and pit them up against each other. Creating my own storylines for my own created superstars is what I want to be able to do in a wrestling game. Everything about BrianEks idea is great with the exception of the create a wrestler. I personally dont want to fight hundreds of matches in order to create my ideal superstar. Everything else about the game idea sounds cool. Playa 42018 has the best idea though. I contacted Syn Sophia (previously AKI, same company different name) begging them to make a new wrestling game and they responded by saying they would love to but we as consumers have to prove to major companies this is what we want an Syn Sophia wrestling game by sending letters to companies such as THQ, EA, Midway, 2K. If we as consumers do this then maybe we will get a next gen No Mercy in 3-4 years.

ithilgore2006
ithilgore2006

I think all the stories and tales from bhind the curtain are actually far more entertaining then anything from the wrestling business that you see on TV. Their autobiographies are often really great reads. And yeah, an almost RPG esque create a wrestler, where you make a "template" and then create your persona and character throughout a career mode instead of making it all up at the beginning and dropping him in the big leagues would make a far more interesting game.

flameducky
flameducky

I rather would like to see a wrestling game that incorporates all the wrestling companies (ECW, WWE, TNA) and you get a choice as to where you go. They should bring back the moral choices from previous games that affect your storyline.

ruff_edgz
ruff_edgz

These are wonderful idea Brian. I've always been a closet wrestling game fan for sometime and I would really be interested in doing a story line like yours.

Thee_X_70
Thee_X_70

I $ SvR 08 & 09 & They Suck! BIG Time! In the Controls & Career Mode & CAW. Bring Back SVR 07 & Make It Better! THEE X 7T

JJGarrett86
JJGarrett86

I believe this def. could work but in a different fashion than everyone is assuming by his post. It would have to be done in the vein of what 2kSports did after losing the NFL rights. They simply created their own in Blitz:The League. If a developer had the cajones to simply tell WWE and TNA to shove it and instead start from scratch with a batch of fictional characters, in a fictional federation. The territory system could still work because, after all, we're working in a fictional environment. It could create chaos and feuding between orginizations ala' WWE vs. WCW, competing for contracts and wrestlers and money. One could be the "over-the-top" type such as WWE with the other sort of a "grass-roots" style such as WCW/NWA. It would take a developer such as AKI with prior experience in the genre and some creative thinking, thats it. Not like you or I have never created gimmicks or personas before right? Just digitize it fictionally.

cheeselover
cheeselover

Totally agree. Smackdown vs Raw has really let me down in this regard. I want to live through the life of an up-and-comer. I want to start small and work my way up the ladder. I don't want to start the game and I am already the main man. Where is the story in that?

tomminaattori
tomminaattori

The wrestling games need physics.. something like euphoria. it would add much replay value when the opponent would always react differently to your attacks

Thee_X_70
Thee_X_70

I Agree! Make a Game Like That! Thee X 7T

playa42018
playa42018

How to make a good wrestling game: Hire AKI Corp. Check out "Def Jam: Fight for New York" if you like the old N64 wrestling games.

SSJ3X
SSJ3X

Honestly I like the idea. I used to play a lot of these wrestling games back in the day with SVR2007 being my last purchase. Nowadays, these games are not just that entertaining. I could play for half an hour and then get bored, because the current career modes aren't to interesting to play. If this idea was put into a game, I think it would server better for the audience who would like to play a story/career mode and have it expand to the world title scene.

cixe
cixe

The makers want you to feel like you're playing something Fresh. If they were to have the old Road to Wrestlemania from the Wrestlemania 2000 game they would still have it.

CyberAltair5
CyberAltair5

unfortunately franchises like WWE and TNA which make these game want the whole thing to revolve about them and the storyline to contain big names of the company in order to boost their names. For such companies the games are just means of advertisement so such a storyline doesn't really seem a sell-out to their own wrestlers.

prowler2213
prowler2213

Someone already mentioned the site but didn't elaborate; there's a game called Wrestling MPire that has a premise very similar to this, once you get past the very very basic graphics.

BikerPunk
BikerPunk

it was this type of idea that brought be back the NHL 09. starting from scratch and working your way up. that is the greatest idea to put into a wrestling game. This is the type of addition that would bring me back to wreastling games. they got so cut and paste and this would be a new aspect of the game i think would appeal to new wreastling gamers as well as bring back the old.

fkbwii
fkbwii

In the words of Montgomery Burns, "EXCELLENT!!!!"

janusffps
janusffps

This sounds like a really cool idea, but it would be difficult to do without breaking kafabe more than either wrestling organization would allow.

LordInvernus
LordInvernus

I would certainly be interested in that kind of game where you have to build your character and earn your way up, like the old days of wrestling (not the joke it's becoming today). Amir29 - I like your idea about the feuds in a wrestling game. They way you're thinking of it would add surprise and excitement to the game..I would play that one too.

Djdiddles77
Djdiddles77

I agree with this!!! I haven't played a wrestling game since the 64 but I always loved creating my own wrestler and winning the belts! If they focused the create-a-wrestler and a good up and coming story I think it would really lift the wrestling game series to new levels!!

-Near-
-Near-

Dude that career mode would be awesome if they had it, but we all know it won't happen unfortunately

yanks1112
yanks1112

This reminds me of Chris Benoit. Greatest wrestler ever but a horrible and tragic ending that made him ruin his legacy. It's really sad too. The hitman would prolly still be ontop if it wasn't for Goldberg kicking him in the head. Hitman is a legand in and out of the ring, true fans will never forget!

Amir29
Amir29

BrianEK has a great idea here, but unfortunately the development cycles are too short to make such large strides. Unless he intends it to be similar to the career mode in Smackdown (which I doubt), we may never see something like this. I, myself, am on the other side of the spectrum. I think they should do away with CAW development completely. For instance, this year's Smackdown requires CAWs to go through career mode in order to eventually become competitive. Not only that, but even the individuals abilities need to be unlocked as you progress. But, when you create a superstar, you want to use them against your friends immediately. So, you find yourself putting the game on easy and trying to get through the career mode as quickly as possible. When you get to that stage, the game is no longer fun. It's tedious work. And, when it comes time to play your friends, you're so bored with the game, you don't even want to bother. I say, leave CAWs alone. Give us the freedom to create, share those creations, and expand on it. Create-A-Finisher was a nice addition. Now, bring back Create-A-PPV, Create-A-Belt, etc... If you want to expand a wrestling game, how about eliminating career mode and road to wrestlemania altogether? I always felt that it would be more fun (and would save disc space), if every match was recorded for statistics and feuds. Think about it. How great would it be if you beat Mr. Kennedy with a chair the night before, and when you played your friend today with the same character, Mr. Kennedy would run out to attack you? I don't know. I always thought career modes in wrestling were dumb. Just give people the option to turn feuds on or off and the game would be fun for a much longer time. But of course, that's just my humble opinion.

stangen
stangen

bret "the hitman" hart was my favorite wrestler as a kid, the sharpshooter!!!! the best there was, the best there is, the best there ever will be!

stewart24
stewart24

I always compare wresling games to my favorite one of all time, Wreslmainia 2000 oh and No Mercy. And sadly the games now that are being made dont seem nearly as good as the wresling games made 8, 9 years ago. And who said you need a wresling game every year? Its not like its a sport wheres theres a new season every year, wresling just never ends so you can release a game when ever you want so how about you take some time making a good wresling game (like 19 months lets say) so its actually worth buying the game and not just making it a rental.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

If you ask me, the best way to building a better wrestling game is to have AKI involved. No other wrestling game comes close to being better than the wrestling games they developed. WWF No Mercy and Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 are still the best wrestling games ever made in my opinion.

9th_SolBadguy
9th_SolBadguy

yea thats a good way to do it but SvsR 2009 is not control friendly and more likely they would just screw it up thats why i think TNA will surpass them because the controls are so fluid anyone can pick it up play it with little effort and enjoy it to me SvsR 09 controls are a pain, frustrating and a total waste of time and energy. If they don't start fresh then TNA will be the next big thing once they learned from last years mistakes

Wolf_Xander2KX
Wolf_Xander2KX

Very interesting story line. Would be like playing a Wrestling movie. Amazing idea, it has to be heard and done.