The spark and the powderkeg: April 2002 – April 2003
Spring 2002 wasn’t the greatest for fans of professional wrestling video games. Hungry for the next WWF: No Mercy, a segment of the genre’s most devoted fans were disillusioned with subpar releases such as WCW: Backstage Assault.
Disgruntled fans found an outlet on message boards around the world. Complaints, frustrations, wishlists for the perfect wrestling game – all chronicled for the world to see. Wrestling game producers, however, dismissed these messages as a vocal minority; a small niche that didn’t have the economic clout to be taken seriously.
The birth of Wrestling Gamers United
On April 3, 2002, Dave Wishnowski set out to change that impression. He created a website called Wrestling Gamers United, hoping to combine the scattered shouts into a common voice – one that game producers took seriously.
“Wow … Since the launch of the WGU website less than a week ago response has been out of this world. My email inbox has been flooded with over 5,000 emails and survey responses so far … It shows me and the game developers just how hungry we are for a better wrestling game. It also shows them that we aren’t a fringe minority. There are thousands of us.”
Wrestling Gamers United Newsletter #3 – April 12, 2002
Lighting the fuse
In May of that year, gamers’ hopes were raised with the announcement of Wrestlemania X8 for the Gamecube. THQ (the game’s producer) promised a worthy sequel to No Mercy, making very deliberate claims its development, telling wrestling gamers exactly what they wanted to hear. However, when Wrestlemania X8 was previewed at E3, something became obvious:
Flat out, shamelessly, arrogantly, lied. All reports from E3 contain the same basic opinions of the game. It’s a beefed up Smackdown with a few extra additions … So WMX8‘s mouthpiece, Sanders Keel, wanted us all to go preorder the game because it was going to be such a great and fantastic wrestling simulation.
A simulation that actually REMOVED the targeted body part damage from the game engine. A simulation that one gamer reported let Kevin Nash climb the turnbuckle and fly half way across the ring. A simulation that another gamer reported had him lose a match to a sleeper hold … put on him by a badly beaten down opponent. A simulation that apparently let Scott Hall take repeated Last Rides from the Undertaker and still get back up and fight like a fresh opponent.
Does this sound like the game THQ promised us? Hell no.
So what can we do about it? I’ll tell you what I and at least 42 other people told me they did. We cancelled our preorders of WMX8. Add it all up and it comes to $2099.58 dollars of our money that THQ won’t be getting, and THAT’S a promise that won’t be broken.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but the days of blind devotion to any one game developer are over. I’ll never preorder another game again and I have three good reasons; SDJBI, RAW, and most heartbreaking of all, WMX8. THQ has blatantly and deliberately abused our trust and used our love of wrestling games against us to fill their greasy wallets.“
Wrestling Gamers United Newsletter #10 – May 31, 2002
“why don’t you make your own game?”
It’s often said arguing on the Internet is a pointless endeavor. In a Wrestlemania X8 Gamefaq message board, however, history changed forever with a simple off-the-cuff comment. Dave – under the moniker WishboneX – posted a rant about the state of wrestling games.
A follow-up response came: “If you think you can do better, why don’t you make your own game?”
WGU’s mission transformed overnight. Instead of becoming a voice for the market, Dave made it a personal mission to build his own wrestling game.
Making it official
The fuse was lit on a message board, and the powderkeg exploded with the release of Wrestlemania X8. For the next year, Dave researched the market, gathered a team of supporters around the globe, and began to brainstorm. The project was dubbed “Pro Wrestling X”, and in March of 2003, it was made official.
“It is with complete and utter joy that I announce to you this week a major new milestone in the story of Wrestling Gamers United and the Pro Wrestling X project. Last week all legal documents were finalized with the provincial government and a new corporate entity was officially created to oversee the development of Pro Wrestling X. As a result I am proud to announce the creation of WishboneX Creations Ltd.”
Wrestling Gamers United Newsletter #54 – March 21, 2003
If Dave only knew what he was getting himself in to.
To Be Continued in Part 2, coming soon!