Welcome to the first, proper edition of the renamed “Ringside Review” (formally the “Bottom Line”). We’re going to kick things off with a look at “Extreme Warfare Revenge (EWR).” Created by Adam Ryland as a sequel to “Extreme Warfare Deluxe”, the previous instalment in the “Extreme Warfare” series, “Extreme Warfare Revenge” has achieved a worldwide cult fanbase. Ten years ago this month, EWR was released making this an opportune moment to have a look back at it.

In EWR, you are responsible for booking events and matches, getting sponsors, signing talent, recruiting staff, attempting to get your promotion TV deals, creating stars and crown champions: you have complete control. Whether you take control of a worldwide company such as WWE, a national company, a cult company like RoH or a company smaller than that: you are responsible for its’ wellbeing.

While there is some fun to be had with WWE, the game really shines when you take control of a smaller company. Sure, there is some satisfaction in booking the WWE, but to start with it can be a bit daunting booking three shows a week as well as a pay per view every month! To get a sense of the game it’s probably better to start with a cult size company like Ring of Honor or Major League Wrestling for instance (I chose Ring of Honor). It’s easier to learn how to learn how to book matches, feuds and managed in a smaller fed before looking to take charge at a more renowned federation with weekly TV. This isn’t an easy task. Naturally the bigger the promotion, the more viewers you’ll realistically be able to achieve. So if you’re in control of Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW-an ultra-violent American promotion for those of you that don’t know), don’t be expecting to have a primetime show on UPN anytime soon! Likewise, “Extreme” promotions are not going to be able to have shows on family orientated networks (or if they are it’s going to be at hours with little exposure). So if you have a product similar to the Attitude Era WWF, there’s little point in sending your promo tapes to the Disney Channel!

EWR is addictive. There is almost no limit to what you can do. Personally, my favourite thing to do is to start with a company like Stampede (the original database with the game is circa 2003) and build it into being a bona fide worldwide competitor to the WWE. It takes time and patience, but it’s great when your hard work eventually comes off. However, the real thing which ensures EWR’s longevity is the online community. By this I mean that you can find mods for pretty much any scenario you could imagine, and also multiple historical situations. You want to play a WCW revival led by Bret Hart? It exists. You want a situation where Raw/Smackdown/ECW brands have split into different companies? You got it.

There’s so many conceivable scenarios that you can download which are totally free and have hours of fun with. On top of this, there are still monthly updates of companies and wrestlers being released to this very day. Personally speaking, I’m currently playing a 1996 mod. I ended up with a situation where my developmental roster was actually more talented than my active roster. I had guys like Chris Jericho, RVD, Kurt Angle, Rocky Maivia, Edge, Christian, Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles to name but a few who were in development while I had guys like Lex Luther and Hulk Hogan stinking up my main event scene in WCW. I’m just using this as an example to demonstrate how compelling this is. The feeling of bringing a guy up from development and watching him (or her) working their way up to the main event is addictive.

One of the crucial elements in getting a worker over is the gimmick you set them. For instance, take Big Show as an example. He is not going to get over with a Daredevil/Highlight Reel type gimmick. Meanwhile a worker like Jeff Hardy or AJ Styles is going to be a complete disaster if you try and push them as a monster. Furthermore, a gimmick has to be relevant to whether the wrestler is a face or heel. A heel is not going to get over if their gimmick is one which would generally be associated with a face. The reverse is also true, where a face is not going to get over with the fans having a heelish gimmick. It’s simply not going to come off and you’re going to bury the guy in the process. Although if you feel like giving Triple H a little payback then this may not be a bad thing…

The depth of the game is also fantastic. There are even internet sites in game that report on the in game wrestling world. Some of it is ridiculous: according to the rumour sites, there are always announcements that female workers are posing for Playboy! It also isn’t inconceivable that that big feud you’re planning on doing for the next pay per view will be ruined by a wrestler announcing that they’re checking themselves into rehab to deal with a cocaine habit. The dilemmas thrown up by this are truly endless.

Your champion goes into rehab. What do you do? Do you have an authority figure declare the title vacant? Do you stripe the title without much of a fanfare and book a tournament for it? Or do you leave him with the title and have an opponent bate him in interviews while he’s away, setting up a grudge match for the champion’s (eventual) return. Or say one of your top guys on a massive pay check gets injured or checks into rehab. Do you stick by him, or do you look to cut your losses and fire them, not only potentially upsetting the locker room but also risking him going to the competition when he’s out of rehab/fit again. The beauty is there are no wrong answers! It’s all up to the individual playing on what they choose to do. There also a lot of neat little touches should raise a smile from those who get some of the references. It’s nowhere near a make or break aspect of the game, but for a wrestling fan there is quite a bit of humour that appeals to the fan base it’s aiming at.

One gripe I would have with EWR is the starting statistics of some of the wrestlers. If you feel inclined you can change this in the editor, but some of it really is ludicrous. For instance, Brock Lesnar, according to EWR is a better interview than Sting. Also, it isn’t uncommon to see the guys in the “Big Leagues” looking really poor in comparison to indie workers. While I’m not saying that everyone who works in the major promotions is amazing, Mr Ryland really needs to have a look at himself with some of these ratings! However, this really is a minor gripe on two levels: You can edit the database pretty easily and, given the amount of fan made scenarios, historical databases and updates, it’s more than likely you’ll end up barely ever using the original database anyway!

In summary, if you’ve ever watched a wrestling show and thought: “What are they doing!” (honourable mentions to late 1990s WCW and TNA here), then this is your opportunity to book a wrestling promotion however you see fit.

PS: In the “other credits” section of the main menu, Ryland credits wrestlers who have apparently played the game themselves. Two of the names included were William Regal and Shane “Hurricane” Helms. I decided to ask them if they’d ever played it, which brought total confusion from Helms while Regal stated that he’d never played a game like EWR in his life! So, as for the claims that Rey Mysterio and John Cena have played it…I wouldn’t believe it!

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