Hello everyone. Now, never let it be said I don’t think about wrestling a lot. Questions always are rattling in my head about the state of the business and where we are going forward. One of the major things have been thinking about lately is how simulation wrestling games have affected the on-screen product we see today.

Back in the early days of video games, the depth that was brought to the player was very shallow to say the least. Games for the Nintendo Entertainment System and that Super Nintendo in the US really didn’t give you the same experience as watching your favorite product on TV. The Fire Pro Wrestling Series gave a strong style simulation for those who enjoyed the Japanese wrestling scene at the time but for us the US we didn’t get very much of that. Don’t get me wrong the game were fun but they weren’t immersive experiences. It wasn’t until we hit the N64 and PlayStation eras that these options were expanded right multiple options and more in-depth storytelling mirroring television entities even giving players the choice to create their own player and take him through a digital version of their favorite promotions whether they be WWF, WCW and ECW.

But with this simulation also came a ton of over-the-top moves and arcade action that would never happen on your television screen. These games during this era are some of the most cherished by today’s wrestling fans. WCW versus nWo World Tour/Revenge, WWF No Mercy and Wrestlemania 2000 are still considered some of the best games ever. The crazy weapons and over-the-top sets really encapsulated the Attitude Era of the time. People are still making mods of those games to this very day.

Then came the WWE Smackdown Versus Raw Series came and brought a higher focus on story as well as player control creating their own storylines and being a general manager. This combined with over-the-top moves sets in crazy action made the series very different from its predecessors before. Moving the sports entertainment genre more into a franchise in terms of the NBA or the NFL. This metamorphosis would become complete when Take Two Interactive owners of 2K Sports would take the WWE license from the defunct THQ and really push forward into sports simulation even farther.

And I’m sure at this point, you are wondering what I’m getting at. The history lesson is cool but how have wrestling video games changed the in ring product? Well the answer is quite simple look at a team like the Young Bucks. Then compare them to a team that I would equal them to The Rock ‘n Roll Express in 1987. There’s no question that Nick and Matt Jackson are awesomely athletic compared to Ricky and Robert. But at least in my eyes they’re in ring work does that mean as much due to the lack of selling. And it’s not just the Young Bucks its most independent wrestling. A lot of these young guys grew up on the games on the N64 where crazy moves and little selling happen all the time that’s what got them hyped as kids. But that also affects their style and their moves sets. To me it takes away from the drama if you don’t sell the big move.

And it’s not just with wrestlers but with fans themselves. What do I mean? Things like GM mode, WWE universe mode and to a greater extent TEW are fun but at the end of the day there still games. It doesn’t mean that you can book a better product than any of the top names in the business just because you could do it in that vacuum. Anybody can book massive stipulation things up and down the card or create the craziest of scenarios to beat an algorithm but it takes a real creative genius to balance what the audience wants and what the performers are happy with. Not to mention you have personal appearance schedules, marketing and other variables that most games do not factor in. It’s easy when you book inside a bubble it’s really hard when you’re in the middle of a tornado trying to get through the storm.

Video games have made leaps and bounds in my lifetime. From the rudimentary Wrestlemania Games of my childhood to the modern WWE 2K games of today. These games have inspired countless wrestling superstars of today to want to lace up the boots and get in the ring. However I do think it’s taken away something from the in ring product in regards to storytelling and training the audience to understand the sacrifice being made in the ring. Maybe I’m just getting older who knows. But I do feel that one has had an effect on the other if you look at promotions like PWG, Hoodslam and others.

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on PWpop.com.