Wrestling game fans unite for epic unlicensed outfit collaboration

Wrestling game fans unite for epic unlicensed outfit collaboration

Create-A-Wrestler: Where Fashion Meets Wrestling Fun!

A created wrestler based on WCW’s Sting in WWF War Zone A created wrestler based on WCW’s Sting in WWF War Zone | Image: Iguana West/Acclaim Entertainment via Jonathon Greenall

Remember the good ol’ days of create-a-wrestler trading? It was like a big dress-up game for wrestling fanatics. Those character creators were true marvels of game technology, allowing players to bring their wildest imaginations to life. And it was the pro-wrestling games that led the way in this revolutionary feature, giving birth to passionate communities of fashion-savvy fans who bonded over their love for wrestling. But do you know why these games became a haven for fashion enthusiasts? Well, let’s take a dive into the quirky world of the wrestling industry.

Unlike most sports, pro wrestling has never been united under one umbrella organization. The rights to famous wrestlers were scattered across different brands, making it impossible for a single game to include all the big names. So game developers came up with a clever workaround – they included pieces of outfits inspired by wrestlers from other brands in their character creation options. Players could then mix and match these pieces to create their own unique wrestlers. It was a fashion extravaganza, and the wrestling community embraced it with open arms.

Now, this clever use of wrestler-inspired parts became the center of attention in a court case when The Ultimate Warrior sued THQ in 2005. He claimed that the inclusion of his signature facepaint in the game was trademark infringement. THQ, on the other hand, argued that the parts were generic and not associated with Ultimate Warrior. In the end, both parties settled out of court. But by then, players were already well-versed in the art of unofficial replications.

In the late ’90s, wrestling fans flocked to sites like GameFAQs to share guides on how to create their favorite wrestlers using lookalike parts. This became known as Create-A-Wrestler trading, and a plethora of text guides emerged, listing the parts and their color combinations. Suddenly, wrestling game communities shifted their focus from clotheslines to clothes, because let’s face it, fashion makes the world go round.

How CAWs became communities

These vibrant communities were born out of the unique circumstances surrounding the introduction of create-a-wrestler modes in wrestling games. The first franchise to adopt this feature was Fire Pro Wrestling, which couldn’t afford to include licensed real-world wrestlers in its games. Instead, they shipped with “bootleg” wrestlers and offered players an edit mode to create their own wrestlers. It was a barebones version at first, but it laid the foundation for future advancements.

Most American gamers got their first taste of create-a-wrestler modes in 1998 with the launch of WWF War Zone and WCW/nWo Revenge. These games allowed players to customize wrestlers’ outfits, change their names, and even recolor existing outfits. More importantly, they pushed the boundaries of copyright dodging by including Japanese wrestlers with altered names and appearances, encouraging players to use the create-a-wrestler mode to make them look closer to their inspirations.

As the create-a-wrestler suites grew in complexity, the internet became more accessible, and gaming forums sprouted up like mushrooms. The late ’90s marked the peak of the “Monday Night Wars” between WWF and WCW, with wrestlers frequently switching promotions. This created a fervent desire among players to keep their game rosters up to date, leading to the perfect conditions for create-a-wrestler communities to thrive.

The year 2000 brought two pivotal advancements in character creation. WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role introduced an in-depth creation mode that allowed players to layer clothing, opening up endless customization possibilities. Around the same time, WWF No Mercy hit the N64, providing players with more parts to work with, including ones inspired by wrestlers from WCW and New Japan. These advancements fueled the growth of create-a-wrestler trading communities, as players now had more options to create intricate designs.

These communities, whether centralized forums or wrestling-specific sites, were more than just places to trade create-a-wrestlers. They became social hubs where wrestling enthusiasts shared their love for the sport, discussed the latest news, and delved into the intricacies of the games. The collaborative atmosphere fostered creativity and improvement, with users helping each other perfect their creations. Pictures of real wrestlers were analyzed, codes were exchanged, and the collective knowledge base of the community expanded over time.

Interestingly, these spaces were more focused on fashion than gameplay. The mechanics of the games took a backseat to the art of creating the best-looking and most accurate wrestlers. Users embarked on ambitious projects, recreating entire rosters from specific moments in wrestling history. It was like a virtual fashion show, showcasing the styles of a wide variety of wrestlers and educating users about the rich world of wrestling.

CAWs today

While create-a-wrestler modes and code trading may seem quaint by today’s standards, these features were game-changers in their time. They not only allowed fans to experiment with fashion and visual design but also taught valuable lessons about color, texture, and layering. Wrestling games nowadays have embraced create-a-wrestler modes as commonplace, but with technological advancements, code trading has evolved.

Since WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010, players can create or import custom graphics and share their creations online using built-in content browsers. Developers have empowered players to become their own fashion designers, eliminating the need for lookalike parts in the games. As a result, vibrant online create-a-wrestler communities continue to thrive on platforms like Reddit and sites like CAWS.ws. A whole new generation gets to experience the joy of experimenting with fashion and character design, trading ideas and designs instead of codes.

So, whether you’re an old-school wrestling fan who remembers the create-a-wrestler trading days or a newbie looking to express your creativity in the virtual ring, let’s embrace the fun and fashion of wrestling games. After all, it’s not just about the clotheslines; it’s about the clothes themselves. Step into the world of create-a-wrestler and let your imagination run wild!