The last time I was in the confessional, I fessed up to my history as a professional wrestling fan. This time, I want to talk about a rather strange hobby I had about ten years ago.
For two and a half years, I published a diary in an on-line forum where I was the head booker for two different professional wrestling promotions.
Maybe I should back up a little and explain. About a decade ago, I learned about a cool videogame called Total Extreme Wrestling. It’s put out by a company called Grey Dog Software, and it was unlike any other wrestling game I had ever seen. See, most wrestling videogames focus on the individual matches. You play as one wrestler who fights another. But TEW took a much more macro look at things. Instead of being one of the wrestlers, you’re the booker. You’re the one who runs the company and makes the matches. You’re the one who decides who wins and loses. You decide who gets the belt and when and for how long.
Players could mod the TEW games to use real world data, meaning that you could conceivably run the WWE and try to do a better job than the current creative team. But the game came with a massive database called the “Cornell-verse,” a fictional world filled with wrestlers and the companies that hired them. I am still amazed at the depth that the sole programmer, Adam Ryland, puts into his game universe. It’s fantastic.
But what I loved the most about these games? The on-line diaries. Players would go onto the company’s forums and post stories about what they were doing with their games. They would detail the shows, the matches, the results, the behind-the-scenes drama, all of it.
And when I discovered this game franchise, I joined them. I decided to write my own wrestling diary.
The first was called “SWF – This Means War!” The Supreme World Federation (or SWF) was the #1 wrestling promotion in the Cornell-verse, filled with the most popular workers (although maybe not the best in terms of skill). In my diary, I joined the company due to a bet between Richard Eisen, the SWF’s owner, and Tommy Cornell, the owner of TCW, SWF’s chief rivals. And then I went to town.
I had no idea what I was doing, both in the diary and with the game. The mechanics of the game were tricky to figure out and I made a lot of early stumbles. But once I got going, I started having a lot of fun. I even developed something of a following. People kept coming back each time I posted a new show, and they became more and more vocal about what was happening. Some of the characters and storylines I developed really resonated with people.
For example, one of my signature storylines revolved around a female wrestler named Wanda Fish. She was one of the best female workers in the C-verse, with stats that rivaled or even surpassed some of the men. That got me curious. I decided to see what would happen if I put her in a match with the guys and, much to my surprise and delight, she not only did well, she started to shine. So I put her into a Greek tragedy inspired storyline where she came to the SWF looking for her father, only to have him unwittingly try to seduce her (as did her half-brother too). When the truth came out, her family rejected her, prompting her to try to destroy the company with the help of her father’s wife.
What? Don’t look at me like that. Professional wrestling is just a soap opera for guys.
The other storyline I was proud of was the on-going rivalry between two wrestlers I made up, namely Archangel and Joel Kovach (the latter was named after my brother-in-law). These two were friends from way back, but then Joel betrayed Archangel and got him fired from the company. But Double-A kept coming back, trying to regain his position in the company. This led to numerous clashes between the two. Joel was usually the bad guy, but eventually, the roles reversed. They even crossed paths with Wanda, who (with Archangel’s help) even captured the World Heavyweight Championship and put on some very memorable matches.
I had a blast writing that diary for close to a year. But then, toward the end of that year, Grey Dog Software announced that they were going to release a new version in the TEW franchise. And I decided it was time to do something new. I shut down the SWF diary and, when the new game released, I started another diary. I (very originally) called it “MWA – This Means War!” There was a reason for this: the new diary was basically a sequel to my original one. Instead of working for the SWF, though, I made myself the owner of a new promotion called the Midwest Wrestling Association. And for a year and a half, I posted more wrestling shows. Only this time, I went bigger. There was more backstage drama as my former employer tried to destroy my company through legal battles and so on. There was even romance, as my in-diary character married Wanda Fish (what can I say? I developed a soft spot for her as a character).
This time around, I focused more on the idea of passing the torch, drawing on a new generation of wrestlers in game to take on and take out the old.
All told, I spent two and a half years doing this and I enjoyed every moment of it.
So why did I stop? Simple. I realized that I was pouring a lot of time and energy into a writing project that I would never get paid for.
That’s a bit crass, but I eventually came to realize that the time and energy I spent writing up those show notes and storylines could be spent working on novels and books. I eventually had to give up doing the diaries so I could focus on publishing actual books.
But that’s not to say that I don’t miss it. As a matter of fact, I’ve kept an eye on Grey Dog Software over the years and they just recently released the newest iteration of TEW, namely TEW 2016. I haven’t bought it yet, but I’m tempted to. More than that, I’m tempted to fire up a new diary and see where it takes me.
I probably won’t do it. I’ve got a lot of book ideas rattling around in my brain and I don’t need the distraction. But man, it is tempting. It is tempting.