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The Top 5 Best Wrestling Video Games Free of Company Branding

Posted By James Walsh on 10/22/16


Ok, recently on Up Up, Down Down, Xavier Woods played Saturday Night Slam Masters for the Super Nintendo. This was one of my favorite wrestling games not to have an actual wrestling company associated with it. And, it got me to thinking, there were a few of them over the years that were non-branded wrestling games that often were better than the WWE, WCW, ECW, NJPW, or TNA games.

So, what was your favorite NON-BRANDED wrestling video game?

My top 5 are:
1. Pro Wrestling for the Nintendo. WWE, at the time, had only released WrestleMania with Hogan on the cover and while it was cool to see video game versions of the wrestlers, namely Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, Ted DiBiase, and Bam Bam Bigelow (I believe Honky Tonk Man was also in it though I just don't remember him in the game at all), the game play was simple. To put it mildly, a bodyslam was a rarity and a major high spot... And I don't just mean against Andre the Giant either. No, no. Pro Wrestling had a lot of moves such as slams, suplexes, jumps off the ropes, drop kicks, and the ever present gobbling of your opponent's skull. Though no match for today's wrestling games, the game play of Pro Wrestling for the NES was advanced for its time. I'd argue it was only topped, game play wise, by the WCW World Championship Wrestling game that came out a few years later for the Nintendo. Other than that, it is the most solid game for the NES system.
2. NCW Natsumi Championship Wrestling. Again, primitive for today's viewing standards but this game had finishing moves, a grapple system, and wrestlers with characters. While WWE settled in on the same engine for Super WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, and Monday Night RAW, this game was a fresh engine with some, though not a lot, of diversity and creativity.
3. Techmo World Wrestling for the Nintendo. When I say Techmo, most Americans my age will immediately think of the classic Techmo Bowl game that lives on 30 years later as among the best football games ever. In fact, Techmo Bowl is featured in a recent ad campaign shown during NFL games and the nostalgia of that has caused a waive of people buying the old game either for their Retron console or through the Nintendo store downloading it digitally. Techmo World Wrestling, on the other hand, is another story. While good, the game does not live up to the Techmo name if you put it on the Techmo Bowl pedestal. What gives it diversity, however, is its grapple system which includes about 4 moves per character excluding striking and top rope moves which are a touch primitive. It also features a running commentary on the bottom of the screen where the announcer offers your typical wrestling announcer comments and calling of the moves in text form as it follows the match which you see on the screen above. This is advanced as no WWE game that I know of tried this until WrestleMania the Arcade Game which was largely Vince McMahon making audible stupid noises to the equally stupid action. For example, Yokozuna has turkey legs fly out of his gut when you hit him really hard while the Undertaker loses gravestones in much the same way. Classy. Techmo Pro Wrestling ALSO features an attempt at a career mode where you master weight lifting, sit ups, and push ups. In a sense, it was like Madden 2017 for wrestling way before its time.
4. Saturday Night Slam Masters for the Super Nintendo. A world tour of wrestlers battle in hard hitting, mostly striking competition with some grappling capabilities. This game was VERY difficult, but very fun. It was more in tune to a Street Fighter type game than a wrestling engine evidenced by the concept that you basically had to pin your opponent once his energy bar was low or he'd beat you. As I recall, it was virtually impossible to kick out of a move once you sustained any measurable damage. So, kids, if you go back and play now, you have to have a Goldberg run to beat the game because if you go down at all, you'll go down for the count!
5. Fire Pro Wrestling for the Playstation 2. I will choose my words carefully because there is a lot of passion for this game by the Internet Wrestling Community. I just don't see why! Ok, so there's Exploding Death Matches and the option to do a lot of cool things including Inferno matches long before WWE figured out how to put those in their SmackDown! series of games. Sound good? Well, here's why I don't like it. First, once you reach Playstation 2, you'd expect the game to be of a certain visual quality. Instead, it looks like a Super Nintendo game and that is not a compliment. Furthermore, it plays like a Playstation game which too is not a compliment. It is VERY difficult to get a grip on the controls and does not live up to the "it is like No Mercy for the N64" billing that those who sang its praises said it had. It has none of that ability whatsoever. It is just... I mean, frankly, I think it sucks. Why is it on my list? I couldn't, off the top of my head, think of a 5th game without an official brand. There was one that was OK for the Playstation that had guys that strongly resembled American and Japanese stars that had solid gameplay but for the life of me, I can't recall what it was called. Clue me in if you remember.

Well, there's my list. I showed you mine so now show me yours!