Do you like wrestling? I sure as hell do. I’m a huge fan of the WWE. I watch every Raw, Smackdown and PPV without fail. I also go to live events to boo John Cena whenever I can (not an easy feat seeming as I live in Japan).
But how did I get into wrestling in the first place? Was I converted when I saw Jimmy Snuka do his Superfly splash off the top of a cage? No. Was I overwhelmed when Hulk Hogan bodyslamed Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III? Nope. Did I drop to my my knees and pledge allegiance after watching Undertaker throw Mankind through an announce table from the top of Hell in the Cell? No… But I probably would have if I’d seen that particular one live. Jesus that man can take a bump!
Unusually, my entry into the world of wrestling was through videogames. Sure, I’d had some exposure to wrestling through a couple of classmates back in school but I never really got why they loved it so much.
The start of things for me came with the N64 title WCW vs. NWO World Tour. My brother and I were looking for a cheap second-hand multiplayer game and this game looked like it could be fun so we picked it up. We didn’t know any of the wrestlers or moves or even the general rules of wrestling but MAN… That game was fun! We sank a ton of time into it and no other fighting game on the N64 came anywhere near to being as good.
Back in my youth I was a Nintendo fanboy just like a certain Mr Grice. I always picked the big N’s machines over Sega’s competitors. During the 32bit era, with Nintendo lagging behind, I decided to pick up a Sega Saturn over the Sony Playstation. I mean, COME ON! How could Sony hope to compete with Sega, right? OOOOHH…..
So relatively late in the game I bought a Playstation and one of the first games I picked up was WWF Smackdown 2: Know Your Role. Not because I had become a wrestling fan but because it was made by the same company as WCW vs. NWO.
As much as we played the N64 game back in the day, it was nothing compared to how much time we put into Smackdown 2. The graphics were better, the gameplay was smoother and the create-a-wrestler options gave us an unending source of entertainment. I remember my brother and I trying to make a naked female wrestler by making her bra and panties skin colored. That was idiotically fun because you could fight men against women and when you’d go for the pin and ‘hook the leg’ the male wrestler’s animation really looked like he was fucking his opponent! Boy was that childish… but very, very funny.
Eventually we sank so much time into the game that we started to wonder… If the game is this much fun maybe the TV show could be fun too. So we started to watch Sunday Night Heat (the only WWE show on terrestrial TV in the UK at that time). We were delighted to finally see the wrestlers that we knew from the game; Dean Malenko, Albert, Perry Saturn, Billy Gunn, Scotty Too Hotty, The Hardy Boyz… The show was pretty good too and we started to watch every week. We’d also catch Raw & Smackdown whenever we could (although not having access to cable TV made it difficult).
Eventually we saw our first PPV which was Invasion, where WCW and WWE went to war and fought for supremacy in the ring. The main event saw Stone Cold Steve Austin turn on team WWE and cost them the victory. I remember actually feeling distraught over his betrayal. So much so that we immediately booted up Smackdown 2 and stuck that sum’ bitch in a three-on-one handicap match and beat the shit out of him.
From that moment on I was officially a wrestling fan.