Well, WrestleMania 35 has come and gone, with that I thought about playing a wrestling game that evokes what I love about wrestling. I, like many wrestling fans, love the backstage drama, the running of the show. I love the mechanism that is a weekly mammoth of live TV and live events that runs without interruption three-hundred and sixty-five days a year. I have had this obsession with the backstage for multiple reasons. The first reason is because I’m weird and infinitely boring, and the second is because I played the games of the Yukes/THQ era of wrestling games. This was before 2K had their hands on the franchise, and more recently injected microtransactions into a series that doesn’t need them (as proven by WWE 2K17).

With that being said, I’ve blown the dust off the PS2, gained Silicosis from the dust, and after an hour of managing money and coughing I realized the quality of these old games. You see, when I started writing this article I had the idea of proclaiming the SmackDown Vs Raw 2006-2008 installments were Jesus in nothing but a thong made of ice cream. However, they are god awful, and I’ve never seen nostalgia kick me in the genitals quicker in my life. For a moment It even made me wonder if Spider-Man 2 was really that good, or if nostalgia got the better of me there as well. The answer was yes it is still amazing, but not like the Amazing Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield, pun fully intended.

However, I’ve held one thing near and dear to my heart, defending it like one does when they play MMOs or Dark Souls. I have said for over five years that the GM (or General Manager) mode of the prior named WWE games, were the best thing since sliced bread on the end of a biblical figure’s genitalia. Oh how I stand corrected, though they are still good and are far more in-depth than the useless “Universe Mode,” which is prevalent in the 2K games. I’d love to say these games didn’t feature major issues, (at least in their GM modes) but they do. The 2007 release (SDVR ’08) has something fairly important missing from the 2005 released game (SDVR ’06), and their rosters are laughably small in retrospect.

As I have already said, I am weird. I like simulators and I find business simulators one of the most enjoyable varieties in the genre. Tycoon games are high on my list of video game class-1 narcotics next to open worlds, and more recently Dark Souls. With that said, I still enjoy both General Manager modes that I tried (2006 and 2008), but they felt void of anything fluid and easy to get into now. While the SDVR 2006 game is good and introduces the GM mode, something I’ll praise the sun (the star of plasma, not the UK paper) for; It is empty. Both ’06 and ’08 could be more, so much more.

The thing missing from SDVR ’06 is the detail that is prevalent in the ’08 release. It is missing the events you can put on and do for press while building up your show to be the best. However, what’s missing from the ’08 release is the ability to show who you have already placed into a match on any given night, in the ’06 release this was done in orange in the menu where you select the “superstars:” in ’08 it was once you had selected them. Neither game is perfect, and neither of them are as fleshed out as they could be, but they are still the modes I ran to first when I dusted that old console off. I still think about this game mode daily and will continue to do so.

I guess my point here today is to say, the general manager mode is beyond everything I could want from a wrestling game, and I want to continue playing them. However, they are god awful and nostalgia was a cruel mistress today as I lost something near and dear to my heart. I wish they were better, and Yukes could correct this, but I doubt they will. We will most likely never see these types of “pull the curtain back” gameplay modes in a WWE game, at least not for a while. However, I highly suggest that if you can find the game, and the console; you should play the mode for yourself. Play it strictly as a general manager, not playing matches. As a kid, this was next-level otherworldly gameplay; as an adult, they are slow, boring, and disappointing.

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Keiran McEwen

Keiran McEwen

Keiran Mcewen is a proficient musician, writer, and games journalist. With almost twenty years of gaming behind him, he holds an encyclopedia-like knowledge of over games, tv, music, and movies.

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