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Cup of coffee in the big time: A 17-year-old wrestling sim is experiencing a revival

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In my teenage years, everything was wrestling all the time.

School cafeteria wrestling debates, tape trading, the secret shame of eFeds, deciding if Nitro or Raw got the live viewing (but making sure you recorded both on your VCR — god bless you, immediate Nitro replay), backyard wrestling with friends, the perfection of the AKI games ... and playing wrestling sims.

I would spend entire weekends with friends, everyone hauling their desktop PCs to the same location, binge watching wrestling while we ran our own promotions in whatever sim game we’d decided was best that week.

The preferred sim flavor changed over time, but two stuck as near perfection: TNM7 and Extreme Warfare Revenge. Zeus Pro fans are not allowed in my clubhouse.

TNM7 was particularly no-frills in the visual department. I have strong feelings about the DOS-based greatness of the simulator. Adding the right plugins, writing promos and realizing Bret Hart could put on a highly rated match with almost anyone, it all remains near perfect in my mind.

It is, however, likely lost to the past. Despite its age, the game is still sold for $29.95 — with an extra $45 needed to be paid out for all plugins.

As TNM7 is left to slowly fade from our collective memory, Extreme Warfare Revenge is experiencing a sudden revival.

EWR was created by Adam Ryland. You young nerds may know the man for creating the Total Extreme Wrestling and World of Mixed Martial Arts series for Grey Dog Software. While those are the cream of the modern simulator crop, Ryland has never quite recaptured the magic of EWR.

Released in June 2002, EWR handled contracts, gimmicks, TV — every aspect of wrestling, really — in ways no other simulation game had. And it did it all within an easy to use interface. EWR had built upon two previous flavors of the game (Extreme Warfare and Extreme Warfare Deluxe) to create the best sim in history.

The (entirely free) game was kept updated for a few years before Ryland cashed in on his skills with the creation of TEW 2004, which was sold commercially and has had semi-regular releases, the most recent being TEW 2016.

TEW is a bigger game and, in some senses, better through technology and increased choices and flexibility. But it’s a lot like how the 2K games have better graphics, bigger rosters and more options than the old AKI games for the Nintendo 64 — but there’s no doubt which series actually got it right when it comes to the balance of fun and choices without making the game feel like a chore.

TEW feels like a chore too often, EWR plays quick, light and fun.

A strong fan community has kept EWR updated with regular roster update releases as well as historical mods.

You can download the 2002 version of the game, or the July 2018 fan update with modern rosters, or several versions with rosters from the 80s, or really any interesting time in wrestling history. For my money, there’s nothing as fun as playing around in the mid-80s.

After former CZW champ Rickey Shane Page tweeted about playing EWR, other wrestlers were doing the same and fans were chiming in, both excited to return to the game and terrified of what the investment meant for their personal lives.

It’s a beautiful thing to see something so central to my teenage wrestling fandom still alive and kicking.

17 years later, nothing has changed. We all still want to prove how great our booking is — whether fan or someone actually making their living in the ring.

Share some wrestling sim stories in the comments.

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