WWF WrestleFest and other wrestling games are a window into history

A remake of WWE WrestleFest, the early 1990s arcade game that got a LOT of my quarters back in the day, should hit XBox Live the day after this column runs.  That, along with all the previews for WWE ’13, have had me thinking about the older WWF wrestling games and how they captured very specific periods of history.

These days, WWE games are pretty up-to-date by the time you get them, with DLC content that gives you updated gear and new roster signings.  Back in the day they were pretty much out of date by the time you got your hands on them.  Frankly, I didn’t mind too much.

The original WWF WrestleFest arcade game was just one example.  Released in 1991, Demolition was included in the game while Randy Savage was not.  This puts a very specific timestamp on this game, as Savage had lost a “Retirement Match” (the wrestling equivalent of political campaign promises) at WrestleMania VII that year.  Demolition was disbanded just weeks after that same event, placing the time period this game was supposed to represent within a month after the WrestleMania VII pay-per-view.  In hindsight, this is pretty cool, historically speaking at least (even though The Undertaker is notable by his absence).

This isn’t the most specific time table in an old WWF game title, however.  That distinction belongs to 1993’s WWF Royal Rumble on the Super NES.  Both Ric Flair and Lex Luger appear in the game.  Luger made his WWF debut at the Royal Rumble PPV that year while Ric Flair lost a “loser-leaves-town” match (with an apparent “loser-leaves-town-until-the-competition-goes-out-of-business stipulation) to Mr. Perfect that aired on television the night after the Rumble.  Flair’s last WWF appearance at that time was on a February 10, 1993 house show (non-televised) putting the time period this game represents within a range of 48 hours if you wish to look at it as the story was televised.

This is very much something missing today.  Sure, there are always some long gone talents included in current WWE video games by the time they are released, but instead of being a Ric Flair or a Bam Bam Bigelow (WWF WrestleMania on the NES) they are the Bella Twins or some other “when was this guy on TV ever?” talents.

Not quite the same historically.