Retro Wrestling Gaming: A Look at Championship Wrestling (1986, Epyx)

By 1986, the pro-wrestling scene was experiencing a boom as it had never seen before, with WWE leading the way. Seeing a great opportunity, Free Radical Software developed a video game named, “Championship Wrestling”, which was released that year by Epyx. It was available for two of the most popular 8-bit computers at the time -the Apple II and Commodore 64- as well as the Apple IIGS and Atari ST.

Championship Wrestling featured eight wrestlers, with most of them being very similar to specific real-life wrestlers either in gimmick and/or appearance. For example, Prince Vicious was flamboyant, Zeke Weasel was a country boy, Colonel Rooski was a Russian, The Berserker was wild and had a makeup design on his face, Howling Manslayer was a Native American, and K.C. Colossus had a blonde mustache and wore yellow boots and trunks.

It is rumored that the original plan was for this video game to be the first-ever WWE video game but ultimately the license did not come to fruition. This rumor is unlikely, considering the fact that many of the characters did not remotely resemble wrestlers who were on the WWE roster around the time that Championship Wrestling was published.

Nonetheless, Championship Wrestling was a good game for Free Radical Software and Epyx to use for their debut on the pro-wrestling video game scene. Its graphics were better and provided a larger selection of moves than Tag Team Wrestling, which was the first pro-wrestling video game and had made its debut three years earlier.

The Commodore 64 version of Championship Wrestling can still be found today on Amazon. Currently, no one owns the trademark for Championship Wrestling. Epyx went defunct in 1993, and with continued use not filed within the grace period (it had most recently been filed in August 1987), the USPTO declared the trademark un-revivable in October 1994.

However, being that Epyx no longer exists, someone else could file for the trademark. This would be a great opportunity for a company that wants to publish a pro-wrestling game with an already established brand. An updated version of Championship Wrestling can be created, featuring contemporary wrestlers, with improved graphics.

Championship Wrestling was a game that was greatly enjoyed by pro-wrestling fans in the 1980s, and many of them are parents of young pro-wrestling fans today.  The parent who is buying video games as a gift for their child but is unsure as to which games to buy, will very likely choose the game that has the familiar, “Championship Wrestling” brand that they remember from decades ago. Therefore, the brand still has value.