Gaming & Technology

'Legends of WrestleMania' lets player re-create or reinvent ring history

Many University of Kentucky basketball fans remember where they were in 1992 when Christian Laettner sank his famous turnaround jumper. But there are those of us who just as easily remember where we were when The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI became one of only a few people to pin Hulk Hogan.

And we're in luck. One of the most novel ideas for a professional wrestling game — re-creating the past — debuts next week. THQ's WWE Legends of WrestleMania brings together more than 40 of yesterday's (and a couple of today's) professional wrestling superstars to let longtime fans re-create their favorite matches and view vintage WWE footage (you know, when it was actually called the World Wrestling Federation).

Perhaps as a way to appeal to older gamers, or even non-gamers, Legends of WrestleMania offers a simplified control scheme and brags about the chance to rewrite history. Maybe The Ultimate Warrior shouldn't have dealt Hogan that rare defeat. You can change that in "rewrite" mode. "Relive" lets you play out history as it happened, and "Redefine" lets you set up any matches you like.

In all, with the stars in the game, you can re-create 32 of the 147 matches shown during the first 15 WrestleManias (yes, the Manifesto, not THQ, did the math).

It doesn't sound like many, but most main events are available and almost every big name is included.

Professional wrestling's past has become quite the lucrative draw. World Wrestling Entertainment has been marketing dozens of DVDs in recent year profiling past stars such as Bret "Hit Man" Hart, "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig, "The Loose Cannon" Brian Pillman and "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. Jakks, which produces WWE action figures, has a toy line dubbed Classic Superstars that is now up to its 25th wave with several stars in each.

Will THQ realize the same success? Let's hope so. The company has run into financial troubles in recent years and has closed development studios and canceled several games.

Will wrestling nostalgia be the answer or just the prelude to a three count?

Who's in?

André the Giant, Road Warrior Animal, Arn Anderson, Bam Bam Bigelow, The Big Bossman, Big John Studd, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Bret "Hit Man" Hart, "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, Dusty Rhodes, Greg Valentine, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Road Warrior Hawk, The Honky Tonk Man, Hulk Hogan, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, The Iron Sheik, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, Jimmy Hart, Jimmy Snuka, Junkyard Dog, Kamala, King Kong Bundy, Koko B. Ware, Michael P.S. Hayes, Mr. Fuji, "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig, Nikolai Volkoff and Paul Bearer, Ravishing Rick Rude, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Sgt. Slaughter, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, The Rock, The Ultimate Warrior, The Undertaker and Yokozuna.

Who's missing?

First, let's hope some of these guys are hidden characters. Main eventers missing include former Lexington resident "Macho Man" Randy Savage (WM IV and V), Sycho Sid (WM VIII and 13) and Diesel (WM XI).

Savage's absence is likely explained by reports of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon's hatred of him. Head to the Internet for some interesting theories behind that.

Sid's only two WrestleMania matches were those main events, so maybe he just wasn't important enough to be included. And Diesel, or Kevin Nash, now wrestles for WWE rival Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.

Other omissions include Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, who put on one of WrestleMania's best matches ever, against Savage at WM III. Steamboat is entering the WWE Hall of Fame this year and has been a road agent with the company. His absence is mysterious to say the least.

Others include early WM mainstay Tito Santana, Dynamite Kid of tag team The British Bulldogs, Razor Ramon, dominant tag team Demolition, Rick Martel (who teamed with Santana as Strike Force), Marty Jannetty (part of The Rockers with Shawn Michaels, who is in the game), and Kane.

Also missing is Owen Hart. Hart's family reportedly has not allowed his likeness to be used by WWE since his death in 1999 during a pay-per-view event.

Questionable appearances

Michael P.S. Hayes appears even though he was not an active wrestler for WWE. He has worked for the company, though, as a writer since his retirement from the now defunct World Championship Wrestling. Dusty Rhodes primarily wrestled for WCW and the National Wrestling Alliance, like Hayes, but makes it in with just one WM match. Kamala never wrestled at WM during his prime, yet he's in the game, too.

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