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I’ve been playing WWE games recently ever since I finally got my hands on an Xbox 360 and my old games again. I had Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 in the pile and I enjoyed playing it so much that I bought WWE 2K14 a few days later. I love playing these games because I grew up watching the WWE when it was still known as WWF. My friends and I actually thought that everything was real from the drama to the fighting. Of course, we realized that it was all staged when we got older. I became less of a fanatic, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate WWE anymore because I thought it was fake. I actually became more amazed and mystified about how they produce the shows.
I’ve seen quite a number of documentaries and shows that give a glimpse of the pro-wrestling industry. The level of detail and production that goes into each show astounds me. The drama and the match outcomes might be fake, but the athletes really do push their bodies to the limit. I actually fell in love with the WWE once more after understanding a bit of how everything works behind the scenes. This was something that I wanted to see in the video games.
The WWE games more or less assume that everything is real. The winner of a match entirely depends on you and your skill. Sometimes I could win a match just by repeating the same grapple moves and the game was fine with it. I don’t think that it should be that way. Professional wrestling is about showmanship and essentially entertaining their audience. The whole reason for match outcomes being pre-determined is so that they can manipulate how entertaining the matches are. Wrestlers rehearse matches and moves beforehand in addition to improvising if needed. Stephanie McMahon once likened the WWE to gladiator games in Rome to a certain degree during an interview with BBC. It’s true except for the real fighting. The crowd wouldn’t be happy if you simply killed your opponent. You needed to do it with flair!
Anyway, I think there should be some sort of “style” element or level of audience engagement based on how you wrestle. Winning a match five minutes in with cheap shots shouldn’t be as satisfying. If the game had a career mode, it would affect the gigs you get since audiences want to see someone who actually performs. Past WWE games also have branching storylines. One way I could see this utilized is giving the player the option to pursue a variety of different ones that offer pros and cons. You might end up choosing a storyline that’s boring and the audience will start to lose interest. Will turning heel or face be good for your career? Who knows? It would be great if the game explores more of the backstage elements of the WWE.
I remember one of the older games actually had the GM mode wherein you could control either Raw or Smackdown!. You had to create matches that the audiences will like and there was some sort of gauge that shows you how engaged they are. I think it was basically a battle of ratings with the other brand. It was a lot of fun and I wished they still had it. WWE Universe mode is something similar, but it doesn’t have that aspect. It does have the option to create and customize rivalries. However, you don’t actually see the impact of it beyond how it plays out between two wrestlers. I’m a fan of myAssociation mode in NBA 2K games because it really puts you in the helm of the team’s GM and you handle all the business aspects to running a team. I’m hoping that we see the same thing now that 2K has had more time to focus on this WWE game.
I do understand though that we can’t know everything about WWE’s backstage operations. The mystery behind it was keeps their audiences amazed, but I’m sure that we can at least touch on some of it. Let’s see it happen 2K!