Midway pins the Rock, TNA Wrestling

Onetime WWE star will star in new Spy Hunter; deal with new league lets publisher get in on lucrative genre.


This morning, Midway Games announced a tag team of deals related to the wide world of professional wrestling.

First up was the unveiling of a new game starring one of the most famous figures to emerge from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE): Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Midway revealed that the former mat champ and emerging action-movie star will lend his voice and likeness to the next Spy Hunter game, Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run.

In Nowhere to Run, Johnson will play Alex Decker, the driver of the gadget-packed "Interceptor" supercar that's been at the center of the Spy Hunter franchise since its arcade debut in 1983. His casting in the game is quite apropos, as he is also starring in the forthcoming Spy Hunter film, which is currently in preproduction. Screenwriter Stuart Beattie (Collateral) is currently writing the script, and John Woo was in talks to helm the project at one point.

No release date has yet been announced for Spy Hunter, although a 2004 teaser poster (pictured) said it was originally slated for a summer 2005 premiere. Instead, its distributor, Universal Studios, decided to fast-track another game-inspired film starring Johnson, Doom. The critically drubbed adaptation of id Software's legendary shooter opened moderately well on October 21, only to see its box-office proceeds plummet 74 percent in its second weekend.

As for the next Spy Hunter game, it will introduce third-person on-foot action to the series for he first time. As Decker, a secret agent, players will be able to engage in missions that will show off "The Rock's physical prowess by taking down enemies with intense melee combat moves," according to Midway. The goal of Decker's on- and off-road missions will be to foil a plot by the nefarious NOSTRA corporation to steal cutting-edge technology from the US government--including the Interceptor itself. Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run is slated to ship for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in summer 2006.

The year 2007 will see the current-generation console debut of Midway's first wrestling franchise. Today, the publisher announced it has signed a deal with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling to exclusively publish console, PC, and handheld games based on the up-and-coming league. It will let Midway enter the lucrative wrestling-game market, which is currently dominated by THQ's WWE SmackDown! and Day of Reckoning series.

"TNA Wrestling is one of the fastest-growing and most exciting forms of sports entertainment available today," said Midway president David Zucker. "It's fast, powerful, and cutting-edge in both presentation and style. We are very pleased to be working with TNA and look forward to leveraging our expertise in the fighting game genre to create the most compelling wrestling experience yet." Presumably, the "expertise" Zucker is referring to is Midway's long-running Mortal Kombat franchise.

Founded in 2002, TNA Wrestling is currently the biggest rival of the WWE, wrestling's most popular league. TNA emphasizes a more high-flying style of wrestling and uses a six-sided hexagonal ring, versus the WWE's four-sided ring. Some of its biggest stars are Jeff Jarrett, AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Kevin Nash, and Rhino.

The leagues weekly TNA iMPACT! show, which airs on SpikeTV Saturdays at 11 p.m. ET/PT, is currently the only alternative to WWE programming in the genre on television. (It also produces a monthly pay-per-view program.) Though Midway did not announce a specific platform for the TNA games, they currently bear the working title of TNA iMPACT!

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