So, VGCW has had its ridiculously incredible End Game. After a lengthy Q&A session and behind-the-scenes look, it wrapped up.
I don’t blame the creative staff for stopping when they did. Viewership was declining, the WWE 2K14 server cutoff meant that they had to stockpile content, and the wrestling (no pun intended) with the interface of a rushed yearly sports game.
In fact, the behind-the-scenes look showed that despite the server cutoff, they still had characters not used yet. This seemed to confirm my suspicion that the characters were getting in each other’s way. They were also becoming more in-jokey. While the non-famous, non-wrestling characters played a big role in the series’ theme, I can understand why they’d be daunting.
And as I wrote before, the novelty was wearing off, especially when it was the same dated game. The plot was what made it-and broke it. Not only was it increasingly hard to set things up in 2K14’s engine, but the improvised nature (especially since, unlike real pro wrestling, matches were not predetermined), made things hectic. A big example is in Season 12, where the villain stable kept losing, thus not being a serious threat.
So, it’s probably best that the series ended when it did, and the End Game itself was a masterpiece.
I still like VGCW, but I’ve gotten a little less insistent on it. I think the novelty of seeing characters flop around in a badly programmed game has worn off.
Have I found examples of the human body withstanding, during the course of a sporting event, multiple examples of climbing up-and then being knocked down from, a large pit, as per my fictional sport of Ring the Gong?
I have, in the form of the infamous Mick Foley vs. The Undertaker wrestling match.
Basically, here’s what happened. Instead of being in the cage, they climbed on top of the cage. Foley was tossed off and hit the announcer’s table (in a clearly planned move) that still knocked him out. Getting off the stretcher and resuming the match, he was slammed through the cage and knocked out again (with a chair landing on him for “good measure”, but got on his feet and somehow finished as intended.
(Whether or not the second fall was planned is debated-Foley denies it altogether, and Terry Funk insists it was supposed to be gradual but ended up being sudden. I have a feeling it was “planned somewhat but ended up being more dangerous than anticipated”)
What this says about Ring the Gong is twofold:
-That a person can indeed survive drops from a high altitude in a sporting match.
-That they could not continue in a legitimate sport.
Now, I could handwave it away by “padding”, or I could say that falling is indeed a death sentence for Ring the Gong players, depending on how violent I want the sport to be.
What have my favorite matches in VGCW been?
Favorite One-on-One Match: Chief Arino vs. Ridley.
Why: Because of the pure spectacle. This is a monster movie fight, and the Ridley CAW is brilliant.
Favorite tag-team match: Shadow Ball Valley vs. The Dragons
Why: This requires a little more explanation. See, the Dragons (the protagonists of the Double Dragon games) had a long winning streak. This was not entirely due to their own capabilities, and more due to their opponents 2Kuality-ing out.
So, it was good that they were dethroned in a “legitimate” victory.
In VGCW, there is a phenomenon that (partially) explains the goofiness. The long name for this can be called “Watching designers push a rushed yearly wrestling game to its absolute limit.” The short names are “2Kuality” and “THQuality“.
Using WWE 2k14 had an additional problem-kind of. Once support was pulled and the servers shut down, they were stuck with the current rosters. (However, I must say that the nature of the show means the roster’s at its appropriate size anyway-adding more would devolve back into gimmicks).
2K15 had very limited customization. 2K16 is better, but still isn’t up to 2K14s, and, most importantly, lacks the “create a story” feature. (You’d have to prerecord the matches and make the story in Ren’Py or something similar, edit them, and then broadcast, compared to the existing smooth livestream).
I do want to see a 2K16 trial run, with a ton of new characters to shake up the matches. I fear the existing cast is too well known.
But the existing VGCW, jury-rigged as it is, is still enjoyable.
Not only is there Video Game Championship Wrestling, there is also Saltybet. Saltybet is a long-running psuedo-betting service where members watch and bet (fake) currency on AI vs. AI matches in the classic MUGEN fighting game engine.
There is no attempt at a plot, just watching as a character that has no business being in a fighting game launches projectile after projectile over their tiny opponent.
So, the clock is ticking down, only a short time to place your virtual bet. The opponents are there-one fairly conventional fighting game character (or at least looking that way), against a tiny pixelated figure.
You take your chance on the small-hitbox. After all, the AI could just punch over their head.
So, then the fight starts. The small competitor jumps right into their opponent’s attacks. Looks like it can go both ways. The winner of that round’s betting was not you.
That is a typical Saltybet experience. I’m a ridiculously cautious bettor, unlike many users. In many cases it’s fun to just watch the silliness without even the tiny stress the betting provides.
So, I have a new bizarre diversion-that strange diversion being Video Game Championship Wrestling.
Last night, I saw a VCGW stream in its entirety for the first time. And it is hilarious. Using WWE 2K14’s “create-a-wrestler” mode to make impressions of various fictional characters, and then leaving them to the game’s questionable AI, the result is one of those goofy diversions that keeps you diverted-
-And that’s without the plot. Yes, there’s a plot, and the plot itself is a work of skill. This is because unlike in actual professional wrestling, the match outcomes are not predetermined, so the storyline has to be made up on a week-by-week basis.
So, take a look at the show archives and see everything from the names the announcer programming can’t manage to the sight of cartoon goofballs and guys in bad costumes fighting it out.