Retro Wrestling Gaming: A Look at MicroLeague Wrestling (1987)

Wrestling (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Wrestling (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

Professional wrestling has a long history with video games.

By 1987, a number of pro-wrestling video games were already on the market, including Tag Team Wrestling and Championship Wrestling. However, this year was very significant for the video game industry, as WWE (known as WWF at the time), made an impact for the first time by joining forces with sports games developer and publisher MicroLeague to create, “MicroLeague Wrestling”.

MicroLeague Wrestling was a very unique game for its time, not only because it was the first pro-wrestling game licensed by a pro-wrestling company, but it was a turn-based simulation game (players took turns while playing), and instead of using graphics, MicroLeague Wrestling used digitized photos from matches.

Being that MicroLeague Wrestling was licensed by WWE, the possible matches featured top names in the industry- Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage, and Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorf.

Two expansion disks were later released, featuring more main event-level matches- one of the disks (released in 1988) having Randy Savage vs. The Honky Tonk Man and King Harley Race vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and the other (released in 1989) having Hulk Hogan vs. Ted DiBiase, and Ravishing Rick Rude vs. Jake Roberts.

A DOS and Amiga-exclusive version of MicroLeague Wrestling was released, featuring Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage, and Hulk Hogan vs. Ted Dibiase. This version featured digitized photos from matches that were different from the ones that were in the previous versions.

MicroLeague Wrestling has many of history’s favorite WWE names.

Mean Gene Okerlund conducts pre-match interviews in the game, and Howard Finkel does ring introductions, with MicroLeague Wrestling being the first pro-wrestling game to feature pre-match interviews and ring entrances.

The games also featured (text) commentary. The commentators in MicroLeague Wrestling were Vince McMahon, Jesse Ventura, and Bruno Sammartino; and the commentators in MicroLeague Wrestling 2 were Vince McMahon, Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan, Jesse Ventura, and Lord Alfred Hayes.

Another unique feature of the game is that players could decide on the name of the venue where the match takes place.

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The MicroLeague Wrestling series came to an end when WWE decided to turn their focus to the console game scene. However, during the time that they were focusing on the PC game market, WWE did not make as much money from the MicroLeague Wrestling series as they could have. MicroLeague Wrestling was available for DOS, the Commodore 64, the Atari ST, and the Amiga. Yet it was not available for the Apple II, which ultimately outsold the Atari ST and Amiga. MLB simulation game MicroLeague Baseball was available for the Apple II, so it’s interesting that the same was not done for MicroLeague Wrestling.