In the current day if you are a gamer and a fan of Professional Wrestling, pretty much everything is going to be the WWE 2K series of games that are produced every year. There is a chance something else will come along such as Chikara’s “wrestling” game on Steam or another attempt by AAA Lucha Libre out of Mexico, but unless you can read Japanese and have a way of importing stuff from the world of Puroresu, you are stuck with the WWE.
But it didn’t use to be that way.
Now wrestling fans may know or remember WCW and the many games they produced. WCW VS. NWO World Tour and WCW/NWO Revenge were my favorites back in the day, but there was even more. There was a wrestling game a lot of fans enjoyed and cherish, even today, and it was produced not by a wrestling company, but by a video game company known for fighting games. The game was Saturday Night Slam Masters and the company was Capcom.
Now if Capcom sounds like a familiar name, gamers reading this may know some of the other games they produced like Street Fighter II and all it’s related games, Final Fight, and all its games, and about a bazillion version of Marvel V/S Capcom games and many others, but this little game done in 1993 often gets overlooked. It didn’t feature any real-world wrestlers although many in the game were influenced by them, and it had ties to both the Street Fighter and the Final Fight franchises but is not nearly as successful as either of those titles.
There actually wasn’t much of a story either. You selected one of Eight wrestlers (or selected two if doing Team Battle Royale mode) and fought around the world in different arenas to win the title, then you went on the fight the final two wrestlers in the game. If you wanted to keep going you would play another round defending the title. That’s it. No terrorist plots and no kidnapping usually found in other Capcom fighting games and none of the contrived silliness that would be a mark of wrestling games of the future. You went in, kicked some butt, pinned someone, and you won. Maybe it’s a reason it was lost in the sands of time.
Although the game only had 10 characters (and of course, no create a character feature, this in 1993 after all) They had their own personalities and stories like the Capcom’s Final Fight regular Mike Haggar, Russian Biff Slamkovitch, American military man Gunloc (who we were told was related to Guile from Street Fighter), The Tall and monsterous Englishman Titanic Tim, The undersized Mexican El Stingray, King Rasta Mon from Brazil (who was suspiciously similar to Street Fighter’s Blanka), Alexander The Grater (who looked way to much like real life wrestler Big Van Vader to not be influenced in some way),The Great Oni from Japan (who was my famvoite), along with the “boss” characters Jumbo Flatjack and the masked Scorpion.
The game only had two modes, a one on one fighting singles match or a 2 on 2 battle royal tag match with all four guys in the ring at the same time with no tags (and no leaving the ring either). It sounds criminally basic but back then it wasn’t about how many game modes you had, it was about kicking the other guy’s butt!
The game did have two sequels, Muscle Bomber Duo (that was more of an update than a proper sequel), and Ring of Destruction: Slam Masters II, that wasn’t released for the home systems at all. That’s too bad really because a wrestling-themed series from a bigger name like Capcom could have given the WWF and WCW a run for their money. Makes me wonder why Capcom hasn’t unearthed the property in some way to create their own wrestling franchise.
But it’s not entirely out of reach to take one of the WWE 2K games from modern times and create your own versions of the guys who kicked and stomped each other back in 1993.