Tag Archive: undertaker


A bionic redneck’s dream

I’ve been a wrestling fan for most of my life. It started with watching Hulk Hogan take on Andre the Giant with my grandfather. Then IRS came along and tried to make Tatanka pay his taxes. However, for a short time period I admittedly fell out of wrestling fandom. But with a crazed man from Long Island being flung from the top of a demonic structure and the rise of a certain bionic redneck, I was sucked back in and rarely strayed since.

These iconic moments in WWE history were just some highlights of what is now known as ‘The Attitude Era’. Stone Cold Steve Austin, D-Generation X, The Brothers of Destruction, and many other iconic men and women of that time period would cement their legacies as well as establish WWE as the dominate wrestling brand as they overcame WCW’s mid-90s advantage in the Monday Night Wars. And now, WWE 13 is having us relive some of those great moments like never before.

With cover boy CM Punk possibly marking the creation of a new era himself after last year’s infamous pipe bomb promo, it was only fitting that WWE 13 gave fans a brand new mode this year to replace past years’ story modes by using actual storylines from 1997-2000 and having players re-enact some of the most iconic matches of Stone Cold, The Rock, Kane, Undertaker, Mankind, HHH, HBK, and more. Not only does this give younger wrestling fans an overdue education, but it gives those of us who grew up in the era the most legitimate stories we’ve seen from the franchise since WWE No Mercy. It doesn’t hurt that it cranks the nostalgia factor up to 11 either, of course.

There are numerous other improvements to this year’s iteration of the WWE franchise though in terms of both presentation and game play. No, unfortunately not all of the hit detection and in-ring glitches we’ve almost become accustomed to were worked out. But besides these occasionally troublesome setbacks (its hard to suplex someone when they are cemented in the middle of the announcers table), there are new outside the ring features like ‘OMG!’ moments where you can sacrifice a stored finisher to spear a foe through the barricade or with super-heavyweights like Big Show and Mark Henry, actually smash the ring with a superplex.

Something the WWE franchise is known for, its creation features, has also seen marked improvements as additional layers and items have been added to wrestlers, like an individual layer for kick-pads on your shins. You can also now customize the stage and Titantron in Create-an-Arena, and even make your own Championship belt if you’re really old school and want to introduce something like the old AWA belt back into the mix. Altogether, this is amazingly the deepest creation suite we’ve seen yet.

There has also been a lot of fine-tuning in terms of the game play. Due to many matches from last year’s game seemingly ending much too quickly, many wrestlers health bars have been extended to help add some length to every time you step into the ring. This can sometimes lead to the precarious position of needing to hit a pair of finishers before your foe is in a weak enough state to the get the pin, but it definitely adds the desired length to matches. The counter system has also been tweaked, giving a larger window of opportunity for you to the hit the counter button in order to reverse your buddy’s maneuver. This allows many of the matches to take on a more natural feel as now even the most green of wrestling gamers can turn the tides should they be taking on a counter-happy veteran.

The online modes have also seen some major shifts as bots are now allowed into online matches meaning players no longer have to wait for six players to actually show up to do Elimination Chamber matches or the like. You won’t get any online experience in terms of moving up levels for beating a bot, but if you just want to have a match with some friends online and there aren’t enough for the match, this is a nice quick fix.

All things told it’s hard not to say this is the best WWE game of this console generation. Sure, there are still a few glitches, and the camera transitions aren’t as smooth as they could be, but when you consider everything that has been crammed onto one disc with the ‘Attitude Era’ mode, new matches like ‘I Quit’ and the King of the Ring tournament, the still stellar WWE Universe mode, the bevy of new customization features and improvements, and the high quality most of these improvements have been made with, if you are a wrestling fan this game is simply a must have.

SUMMARY: The bevy of unlockables, still stellar WWE Universe mode, even deeper customization features, and the nostalgia driven Attitude Era mode makes this the best wrestling game of this generation.

  • THE GOOD: Attitude Era mode hits every right note for long-time WWE fans
  • THE BAD: Still some seemingly ever-present glitches and hit detection problems
  • THE UGLY: That it isn’t an option to have Good Ol’ JR call ALL the matches

SCORE: 9.0

WWE 13 is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and Nintendo Wii. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.   

If you smell what the WWE is cookin’

After a decade-long brand divide, the WWE’s recently made strides to show unity with their RAW and SmackDown shows and pay-per-views. In response, their yearly videogame’s dropped the annual SmackDown vs. RAW title to hammer home this brand solidarity—but that’s not all that’s changed in THQ’s annual wrestling sim. WWE ’12 finds a way to take the great customization and storyline strides that last year’s game made and refines them to provide the most authentic wrestling simulation to date.

Of course, what’s the first thing any player does with a typical WWE game? Check out the Create-a-Superstar feature! Even non-wrestling fans get caught up in the fun of creating a grappler from the ground up, and this mode sees much of the detail of previous versions return, along with new logos, designs, and physical-feature models to hit an even wider range of possibilities. But WWE ’12 also adds the new Create-an-Arena mode. Not only can you whip up your own wrestler from scratch, but you can also dedicate a squared circle to your grappler—or any of your real life-favorites. Hulkamania can run wild again with a ring drenched in red and gold, or you can show off your Macho Madness with a rainbow electronic ticker in honor of the dearly departed Randy Savage—and this is just scratching the surface of a mode I poured several hours into alone. And you can once again create logos, finishers, movesets, and even your own intro videos for the Titantron—and it’s all shareable via the WWE Creations online feature.

Another key to making this the most authentic WWE experience yet? The WWE Universe and Road to WrestleMania options. Now featuring stories that more closely mimic those you might actually see each week on RAW or SmackDown, these modes make every match and decision truly count. Maybe you’ll try to bring Sheamus back into the limelight of the WWE Title chase or push your created character to the top of the ranks and make him a legend in his own right. The Road to WrestleMania’s been trimmed, though—instead of choosing from one of five superstar storylines, you simply press play and begin the near-endless simulations of what you might see from varied wrestlers’ points of view.

But the action in the ring’s where you might see the biggest step up. The controls now feature a more casual-friendly A-button grapple prompt instead of the second analog stick, which actually gives the game a bit more of an arcadey feel, as you’ll find yourself button-mashing a bit more than you’re used to—the experience almost hearkens back to the No Mercy and WWF Attitude days in some ways. This might bother some people, but it isn’t striking enough that you won’t be able to adjust. The in-ring action’s further augmented by improvements like “wake-up taunts” to help set up finishers, better movement on the ring ropes, and an onscreen presentation that more closely mimics the actual WWE TV shows.

One element that’s definitely been criticized in past iterations, though—and it crops up again here, unfortunately—is the collision system. You’ll still see the occasional “quicksand” glitch where a wrestler’s suddenly waist deep in the mat, while an Irish whip against the steel steps can have you or your foe quivering and quaking for several seconds. Still, these moments happen more rarely than I’ve seen in any previous version of the game.

WWE ’12 is strong coat of polish on last year’s game, and when you combine that with even more customization and creation features and a beefed-up roster of several dozen wrestlers (including old standbys and never-before-digitized legends, like one of my personal favorites, the man they call Vader), and you’ve got by far the best WWE wrestling simulation we’ve seen to date—one that’ll layeth the smacketh down upon any and all wrestling haters.

SUMMARY: Some control improvements and fleshed out game play modes highlight the deepest WWE videogame experience yet.

  • THE GOOD: The most realistic WWE experience yet
  • THE BAD: Some collision and control issues remain
  • THE UGLY: Some of the created characters already uploaded to the servers

SCORE: 9.0

WWE ‘ 12 is available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii. Primary version reviewed was on the Xbox 360.

Originally Published: November 11, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

I reviewed WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 for the Xbox 360 from THQ as a part of CGR Undertow.

The Heartbreak Kid

Originally Published: March 18, 2010 on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

He is one of the most compelling figures in wrestling history and a clear hall of famer when he decides it is time to step aside. Of course, he may not have much of a choice in that matter as he takes on The Undertaker Sunday, March 28th, in Phoenix, Arizona, at Wrestlemania 26 where he puts his career up against Undertaker’s undefeated Wrestlemania record.

I am talking about the one and only Shawn Michaels. A three-time WWE Champion, Shawn has been wowing audiences for more than 20 years in the ring and so it was a no-brainer for me and Robin Lundberg when we had the chance to talk to him about everything from his career up to this point to his upcoming match at Wrestlemania.

To listen to Robin and I interview The Heartbreak Kid, The Showstopper, Mr. Wrestlemania, Shawn Michaels
CLICK HERE
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-Ray Carsillo