WorstleMania V: The Worst Has Yet To Come

I have been a wrestling fan for nineteen years, growing up on the World Wrestling Federation. Catching Superstars of Wrestling and Wrestling Challenge weekly on my local affiliate, with seldom viewings of World Championship Wrestling at my grandparents’ place because they had TBS and I didn’t.

My earliest memory of watching Professional Wrestling was when the Mega Powers crumbled on NBC‘s prime-time special, The Main Event. After that show, wrestling became a huge part in my life. Tape trading, actions figures, live events, I was engulfed with every aspect of it.

It became more than just a fad with the cumulation of the Monday Night Wars between WWF‘s RAW and WCW‘s Nitro. And let’s not forget about Extreme Championship Wrestling, which was a true alternative to anything you’ve ever seen at the time. Wrestling was on the rise, booming like it did it in the 80s. It was an exciting period to be a wrestling fan.

Unfortunately, all good things eventually do come to an end.

WCW closed shop in 2001 when AOL merged with Time Warner, causing the conglomerate to pull its funding and take WCW off the air on TBS and TNT. ECW folded soon after claiming bankruptcy. Then, since they’re no longer a threat, Vince McMahon acquired the licensing, rights and tape libraries for WCW and ECW; which he has used quite excessively in producing endless DVD releases and starting a 24/7 OnDemand service for a monthly fee.

Without any viable competition, the World Wrestling Federation decided to fight themselves. This started with the “Invasion” angle, with Shane McMahon joining forces with Stephanie McMahon as the Alliance fought for ultimate supremacy against Vince McMahon and the WWF; which included mid-carders from each brand that were able to maintain their jobs in the new wrestling conglomerate.

Still on top of the wrestling world, Vince McMahon decided to sway towards the realm of Sports Entertainment. The nerve! And still lacking any real competition, Vinnie Mac implemented a brand split between Monday Night Raw and Thursday/Friday Night Smackdown!. Separate titles, rosters, general managers, announcers, and so on. If that wasn’t enough, they added a third brand, ECW. Adding more titles, another roster, a general manager, announcers, etc. And that is the world that we live in today.

The absence of a true competitive market has caused the WWE’s product to become homogeneous. Quality was replaced with quantity, in that there was more WWE programming available; yet, it the same recycled booking and treacherous angles we’ve seen many, many times over.

With all that said, I will not be ordering WrestleMania this weekend. The sole reason is that there is nothing on the show that is compelling enough for me to spend $60 and waste four hours of my life on. I am no longer the childhood fan that I used to be. And it may be due to the fact that Sports Entertainment is not wrestling. Wrestling became Sports Entertainment. In turn, Sports Entertainment killed the wrestling fan inside of me. Vince doesn’t cater to our kind anymore.

To be fair, I’d like to give this Sunday’s card a quick analysis. Let’s browse through the top five matches and see if there is any hint that this year will be any less exciting than last year’s event.


The Big Show vs. Floyd “Money” Mayweather

  • How many times have we seen a boxer square off against a wrestler? Mr. T and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Antonio Inoki and Muhammad Ali, Andre The Giant and Chuck Wepner, Butterbean and Bart Gunn. I’m sure there are more and each of these fights have historical significance. Yes, even Butterbean and Bart Gunn had some sort of impact on the wrestling world; albeit, I believe it was detrimental.
  • With the rumored pay out of $20 million going to “Money” Mayweather, why not hire writers, staffers, and road agents to improve your product in the long-term. Rather than handover a large payout for a one-time match that will most likely expose the wrestling business even further, why not try putting that money to better use?
  • My point is this: What’s the appeal? David versus Goliath? Well, yeah. Whoever thinks that Mayweather is not going to get over on Big Show is living in a dream world. But, why should we care enough to purchase a $60 pay-per-view only to see something that will be replayed on WWE’s programming for the next decade? Its Sports Entertainment, baby!


John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Triple H

  • This should be self-explanatory, especially if you have been following the product in the last three years. How many times can we see some sort of variation between Cena/Orton/Triple H going at it? Enough is enough! Seriously, enough. Why won’t it stop??
  • Even if you decide to catch this match at some point following the show, we all know who is going to walk out of Wrestlemania the KING OF KINGS. There is only one.
  • The one person I kinda like in this match, Randy Orton, has no chance. Knowing that much about this triple threat title match, I care even less about the outcome (HAIL THE KING OF KINGS!!!).
  • Oh yeah. Did I mention how much I love Triple H? Watch this five star clip of him tearing off an Invisible Shirt! I think we have our main event for WrestleMania XXV.


Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair

  • I <3 Ric Flair. I’m also a long-time fan of Shawn Michaels. However, both are middle-aged, passed their prime, and have wrestled one another before. The huge sell for this is that it may be Ric Flair’s “last” match. Bullshit. Even if Flair does lose, this will not be his last match. The guy cannot survive without wrestling. He will be back doing one-night only matches, or some sort of role in wrestling that has kept guys like Terry Funk and Hulk Hogan relevant.
  • HBK can carry anyone to a decent match (ie: John Cena, Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle). So, I’m not going to trash this one as bad as the others, because if I didn’t have such a disdain for the current product, this match would be my sole reason for ordering the event.


The Undertaker vs. Edge

  • While this may be the only title match worth watching this WrestleMania, I’m still indifferent. Yes, they have been pushing this feud for about year. Yes, its Edge’s World Title vs. Undertaker’s WrestleMania Streak. But, no, I still don’t care. I can only attribute that to my lack of interest in WWE’s Smackdown! brand. Honestly, who watches something that is comparable to the final days of World Championship Wrestling? Why waste your time.
  • That was a little harsh. I’ll admit that. But, Smackdown! really does suck. It’s too bad that these two guys, who are incredibly talented, are stuck on a the B-show. Hell, I’d actually say Smackdown! is the C-show (even ECW is passable for being on for one less hour a week).
  • Edge has proven to be an ingenious heel. The dude is making out with the late Eddie Guerrero‘s wife on network television. Additionally, Edge has cashed in his Money in the Bank opportunity in two innovative ways, each time after the champion went through a previously grueling match. I’m a fan. Though, we’ve seen Edge face off against the Undertaker in other variations. And I’m sure we’re going to see it again. Probably, on Smackdown! next week. For free.


Money in the Bank Ladder Match

  • This has become a tradition for WrestleMania in the past few years. The concept of this match is that whoever climbs the ladder and grabs the briefcase is the winner and gets a title shot within a one year period. Last year, Ken Kennedy won the match and lost his title shot to Edge. So, um, what’s the point of having a Money in the Bank Ladder match if the winner can lose their privilege at a title shot? Seems contradictory.
  • With Jeff Hardy‘s recent 60 day suspension, and exclusion from the Money in the Bank Ladder match, we are left with only other seven participants. They didn’t even bother replacing Jeff Hardy’s spot. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if they substituted one Hardy for another. You know, to see if anyone notices. Or cares.
  • I’m not going to downplay that these matches tend to be quite entertaining. It may be good enough to outshine everything else on the card. But, is that really saying much about the rest of the card? Is one great match worth sitting through nine other predictable matches?

To close, I’d like to say that if this year’s WrestleMania exceeds my expectations, and since hindsight is always 20/20, I’ll admit that I jumped the gun and may catch the replay. But, I didn’t bother with WrestleMania last year. I felt that choice was justified when I read the review following the show. I have a feeling that this year will not be much different. Therefore, I will not be ordering WrestleMania this year.

God Bless The Internet.

WorstleMania: Un-NES-essary Self-Torture

In honor of the upcoming Wrestlemania, I am going to do something so dangerous, so traumatic that I may never recover. I shall relive, and report on, one of the most jarring and scarring elements of my childhood: playing the WrestleMania game by Acclaim for the NES.Yes, thanks to the magic of stealing things on the Internet, emulators have made it possible for us to play Nintendo games from the 1980s here in the 2000s, and remember all over again why all but a few of them were so frustratingly shitty in the first place, causing us endless hours of boredom and/or angst until we forced ourselves to shut the fucking thing off and go play outside until the next shitty game came down the pipe. This process of masochistically recalling our childhood misery is called “nostalgia”.

On the outside of the box of NES WrestleMania, there is a warning label that should tell even a casual gamer to run the fuck away in the opposite direction:

Acclaim Logo
(Above: Acclaim, ruining kids’ lives since 1984.)

You may know Acclaim; they are the company that produced nearly every single crappy, half-thought-out wrestling game of the 80s and 90s; what you may not also know is that their subsidiary company, LJN, presided over nearly every single crappy, half-thought-out Nintendo movie tie-in game of the 80s and 90s, producing such memorable turds as Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? And Gotcha! The Sport. So, basically, for everything popular in culture during that 20 year period that could possibly be reimagined as a game, it was Acclaim’s mission to turn it into a half-assed waste of time and money, by grabbing it around the throat and squeezing anything interesting or cool out of it.

GRAPHICS
The first screen that greets me is a screenshot of an 8-bit Hulk Hogan tearing off his shirt, followed by the doofy slogan “BIGGER! BETTER! BADDER!” I was about to get mad at Acclaim but then I remembered that this retarded slogan was actually used by the WWF for WrestleMania III. So on the suck scoreboard, it’s Vince -1, Acclaim 0.

I am being asked to select from 6 different wrestlers. There are pixelated but decent-looking digitized portraits of each wrestler, but you can bet that when the game starts they will all be slightly differently-colored blobs of shit that look nothing like who they are supposed to represent, so why quibble. I choose the first guy I am offered which is Ted DiBiase, partly because I don’t want to scroll around and partly because he was my favorite wrestler when I was a kid. And also, since this game takes place before he became a crazy, crazy Christian, I can’t in good conscience hold that particular bit of insanity against him. For his opponent I choose Andre the Giant.

(As a side note, there are 6 wrestlers to choose from and only two of them (Andre and Bam Bam) are currently dead. That’s a pretty good ratio considering how fast wrestlers drop. I was playing WWF WrestleFest, an actual good wrestling video game unlike this mess, not too long ago and I realized that 6 out of the 14 guys in the game have kicked the bucket.)

As the game starts, the first thing that is interesting to me is that while most normal wrestling matches might take place in an arena with spectators observing the action, the ring in this game appears to be situated in a formless black void, from which no light can escape. This is another fun quirky innovation added to the game by Acclaim. In case you have always wanted to know what a wrestling match would look like inside of a black hole, they have provided a reasonable representation of it.

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Observing further we see that the ring only has ropes on three sides as the side of the ring closest to the camera is ropeless. Some might assume that this is just really shitty, lazy game design which removes any semblance of realism from the game. But, as students of wrestling history know, this is a “shoutout” to the short period in history when the WWF experimented with a ring that had ropes on only three sides in the mid-1980s. Many lauded this era in WWF history for the added danger to any match, given the possibility of trying to bounce off the ropes on the side of the ring where there are no ropes. This experiment ended sadly when 500-pounder Uncle Elmer fell out of the ring onto an unsuspecting camera man in 1984 at a house show in Topeka, KS, and the WWF decided to go back to fully-enclosed rings.

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(Above: beware of falling objects.)

Fortunately for the safety of the wrestlers in this game, to prevent them from crossing over the ropeless boundary of the ring and floating off into the inky blackness of space that engulfs the arena, you can only run in two directions — left and right! Bigger, better, less-dimensional.

MOVES
As I predicted, a big three-color blob of shit that vaguely resembles Andre the Giant starts wobbling slowly toward me and throwing punches and kicks over and over. My first thought is that for a game released in the 1980s, the realism of Andre the Giant’s in-ring moveset (punch and kick) is way farther ahead of the curve than I expected. But then I realize that Ted DiBiase (also represented by a slightly different multicolor blob, which looks like a fat blond-haired hobo) has basically the same set of moves: punch and kick. In fact, every single player in the game has the same exact moves, punch and kick. Some of them are technically different moves, for example, Bam Bam Bigelow will head butt you, but the head butt is not an added move — it replaces the fucking PUNCH. And the graphics are so tiny and poorly executed that you can barely tell the difference between a punch, an elbow smash, etc.

Each character has one (1) other move that he can do, and all of them are variations on punches and kicks. A total of 3 moves and none of them are wrestling moves. If you bought this game with a strong urge to hiptoss, suplex or enziguiri somebody, you’re going to be sorely disappointed — you’re going to have to learn to punch your opponent about 45,000 times per match and fucking love it, goddammit.

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Of course, even though each wrestler has only three fucking moves, you can goddamn well bet that Acclaim figured out a way to complicate shit. Each wrestler has the ability to pin someone, but unlike every other wrestling game ever made, the way to pin someone isn’t the same for everybody. There is even a ridiculous chart included in the instruction manual which I found a picture of online.

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(Above: Instruction booklet for Halo 3. No, just kidding, it is for a game with 3 moves.)

But wait, there’s more. For added realism, Acclaim decided it would be a good idea to make it impossible to climb up onto the top rope. But don’t worry — you can still execute top rope moves! How you ask? Well, you just run horizontally, along the top of the ring (not the bottom, that’s the side where the lack of ropes puts you in danger of flying off into the vacuum of space), and then JUMP UP ONTO THE TURNBUCKLE. Yes, even Hulk Hogan can do this from standing in the ring. Then, once up there, you have no control over when the stupid fucker leaps off the turnbuckle, he just goes immediately as soon as you get up there. The only character who cannot do this is Andre the Giant. I assume this is because ANDRE standing flatfooted and jumping up to the turnbuckle with no leverage would be SILLY! But it makes perfect sense for everyone else to do it.

Did you think there would be a referee in this match? Fat chance, as this game is from the golden era of gaming when more than two objects moving on a screen would cause smoke to pour out of your console. So, the pixelated blobs will have to slapfight on the ropeless periphery of a spacetime rip with no one to warn them or control the action. But don’t worry! None of the wrestlers have any submission moves, or any wrestling moves at all, or any ability to do anything that could possibly get them disqualified by a referee anyway. So unless he is there to count the thousands of punches and kicks in each match, a referee would be useless.

GAMEPLAY STRATEGY
It took me about 45 seconds to remember the best approach to beating this game: basically the strategy is to spazz out on the buttons and just punch and kick over and over, until someone is stupid enough to walk into you, then keep on spazzing out on the buttons until he falls down. Granted, this doesn’t have the feel of a wrestling game so much as an epileptic fit. But luckily, while I am enjoying myself by simulating a seizure, I can listen to a MIDI version of Ted DiBiase’s theme song, which for some reason Acclaim has decided is “Girls in Cars” by Strike Force.

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(Above: “No, we never made it into a WWF game, but our song did, goddammit. iArriba!”)

Apparently hitting your opponent makes him turn pink, then red. You might think this is a good development for you. But you are sadly mistaken! In this game, when you beat the shit out of your opponent and he turns red, it means he is angry at you and his hits do more damage — thereby rewarding him for getting the shit kicked out of him. This is kind of like what would happen if you were playing a car racing game, and the game decided that crashing into a telephone pole made your car go faster. If you did not assume this naturally to be the case, that getting a severe beating would improve your standing in the match, then you must be thinking of some other wrestling game not made by Acclaim, that takes place in another dimension and timeline, where the ring has four sets of ropes and people can attend the arena without being crushed to death by the immense gravitational pull of a black hole.

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(Above: No, not a strange venereal disease attacking 7-foot men who patronize French whores in Grenoble. It’s a power-up!)

UFOs (UNUSABLE FLOATING OBJECTS)
Did I mention the floating objects? I didn’t? Oh good, this is the best part, the part that everyone seems to remember about this shitty game. Each one of the six blobs of shit that vaguely resembles a wrestler has one item which periodically bounces into the ring. For Randy Savage, it is sunglasses. For Ted DiBiase, it is a dollar sign (not actual money, which is an actual thing that might actually appear in the real world — no, a symbolic representation of money physically comes bouncing into the ring). When your blob touches his item, he doesn’t use it. Ted DiBiase doesn’t use his “$” to bribe the other wrestler into laying down and jobbing. They just get some energy back, as if it is a tasty barbecue chicken found in a trash can in Final Fight.

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(Above: “Time to fight crime and clean up the ci… hey, what’s this? A perfectly good chicken inside of a garbage can! What a waste.”)

You would think that maybe the game designers might want to include a chair or a sledgehammer to float into the ring; you know, something that might actually be useful to bludgeon your opponent with. But the only one of these items which even comes close to that is the Honky guitar, and unfortunately it is a tiny guitar the size of his foot (maybe a ukulele) and wouldn’t even knock out Little Beaver.

SUMMARY
This is a shitty, half-formed game, only a fraction more entertaining than Pong, and graphically worse than Pong (I would rather look at stick paddles and a square ball, than fat ass pixelated blobs with asscracks showing). Anyone in their right mind playing this piece of smegma for more than ten minutes would think that the NES was a cosmic joke delivered unto the universe by a vengeful creator.

I was about to write a recap where, having eaten my brain like a voracious worm, NES WrestleMania got a ridiculous score like negative 9,571,289 monsoons. But now that I think about it, with horrible punch and kick movesets, game elements that make no fucking sense, and gameplay that will put you to sleep, Acclaim has truly succeeded in producing a game that replicates the atmosphere of WrestleMania! I can only assume they were trying to replicate the shittiness of the WWF and succeeded in droves. Bravo Acclaim!

WorstleMania III: Goldberg vs. Lesnar (Austin as Ref)

One of the worst matches in wrestling history happened at WrestleMania XX, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, as the dream match between Bill Goldberg and Brock Lesnar was justly ruined when it became general knowledge that both individuals were on the outs with the WWE, and that Goldberg and Lesnar were having their last match at the event.

But, rather than a pleasant send-off by the New York crowd, both wrestlers were met with deafening chants of “BORING” and “AUSTIN.” Clearly, the most over person in this match was the referee, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who was the only individual that, technically, stayed in the WWE after this match.

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It’s a shame that what could’ve been a great match was ruined by politics and selfishness. Lesnar wanted to try-out for the NFL, as Goldberg wanted to leave the WWE, and wrestling, alltogether.

Fast-forward to 2008: Brock Lesnar is working for the UFC as an unsuccessful MMA fighter and Bill Goldberg is working for Showtime’s EliteXC as an unsuccessful commentator/interviewer. Although their wrestling careers may be over, we have yet to see the last of Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg. Who knows.. maybe they will meet again in the world of MMA (and the referee will still be the most over person in that ring).

Worst WrestleMania Moments: Triple H and John Cena make their entrances

WrestleMania is just around the corner, and we here at DoubleAxHandle couldn’t be less excited. So, starts a new feature leading up to the granddaddy of them all, WORSTLEMANIA, where we present you with all the memories that we would like to forget, but are forcing ourselves to remember to remind you: YOU SHOULDN’T WASTE 60 BUCKS ON THIS CRAPFEST OF A PPV WHEN YOU CAN JUST DOWNLOAD IT AN HOUR LATER (but you didn’t hear that from us!).

We certainly know that with a headlining match featuring John Cena, Randy Orton and the prodigal son Triple H, it may go down in history as the most boring WrestleMania main event of all time. But, just two short years ago, at WrestleMania 22, we were presented with 2/3rds of this year’s main event. It was the unwatchable force meeting the unwatchable object as Triple H faced John Cena in a match where I just didn’t give a shit who won. Since this was the biggest show of the year, and this was the main event of the biggest show of the year, some genius in the truck though ‘Well, let’s have the biggest entrances ever!’. Unfortunately, they failed. EPIC FAILED! First out is the challenger, Triple H, who is sporting a Conan the Barbarian look…

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We get it, you’re the King of Kings (whatever that means). What I want to know, Trips, is why do you even need to face John Cena for the world title? You already got your own shiny custom King of Kings belt. You don’t even need this match, JUST LEAVE! And save us the agony of 20 minutes of rest holds and methodical (read:boring) wrestling.

Then, we get the entrance of champion, John Cena. I swear, the first words of his intro are “The Great Depression…” well, yeah. Anytime I see Cena, it makes me depressed to be a wrestling fan. See, Cena is a gangsta wanna-be, so what better entrance than to come out like a faux-20s-gangster. Its so terrible, I couldn’t even find the clip on its own on Youtube. If you care to be bored for 2 minutes the video is below (FF 2 minutes in to cringe at his entrance)

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Triple H and John Cena will go down in infamy as the worst pair of entrances in WrestleMania history! Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we present more WORSTLEMANIA!


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