Video Games: Wrestling Empire is a dumpster fire of sheer genius


What if I told you that Wrestling Empire is the most graphically unimpressive wrestling game, but it has the biggest heart? It is easily in my top three wrestling games of all time. Here is why.

Let’s just get this out of the way. Wrestling Empire, by MDickie, teeters on the edge of 2000s graphics. I am sure the graphical power is slightly above No Mercy, but below Smackdown: Bring the Pain. The character’s faces look perfect for the Dreamcast, the backgrounds look like doctor office rooms from the seventies, and I am suspicious the female wrestler’s body parts are the same as the males.

None of that matters because behind a game that is 286 MB with a plethora of content, charisma, and modes that put most wrestling games to shame. The person/company behind this game, MDickie, truly loves pro wrestling more than an office full of 2K programmers.

The game has over 100 wrestlers that resemble real-life wrestlers. They are split into different promotions that resemble real-life wrestling companies. Rising Sun Puroresu, Maple Leaf Grappling, Super Lucha Libre, Weekend Warriors, Strong Style Wrestling, Hollywood, Federation Online, Wrestling Revolution, Wrestling School, All American, and Legends. MDickie created a whole universe and programmed stories into these promotions.

You have the wrestlers: Jay Enrico (Chris Jericho), Essa Carerra (Eddie Guerrero), Sucka G (Booker T), Machismo (Scott Hall), Petrol (Kevin Nash),  Hank Slogan (Hulk Hogan), Brad Goodman (Bret Hart), Phil Graves (The Undertaker), Slow Mo (Big Show), Cabal (Kane), Joanna Fight (Sasha Banks). There are also a few UFC fighters to boot. All these wrestlers are faithful in their taunts and finisher.

The career mode is the *chef’s kiss* of the MDickie universe. You choose one wrestler and start them in the Wrestling School promotion. As you win matches the other promotions offer you contract deals. Some promoters will give lots of money, but no creative license to change your attire and move set. Other promoters will give you little money, but you will have to take their deal because you can’t get stuck in wrestling school.

As you fight matches your wrestler goes on the most bizarre adventure in wrestling history. You can be bullied by the promoter to do things you don’t want to do, you wrestle for too long in a match and get put on the shelf for four weeks, or you can take bribes from other wrestlers to help you in the ring. Then your story options get really crazy. You can perform shoot interviews that criticize the wrestling business, you can wrestle a match too long and the other wrestler can die, and you can pick up storylines where your wrestler decides to come out of the closet. You can be a hitman for a heel stable so that other wrestlers get injured. That just scratches the surface. Any match can be an iPod shuffle of craziness. In one instance I had Hank Slogan fighting Russel Haystacks (Paul Heyman) in an exhibition. Perry Class (Ric Flair) stopped the match and became the new referee.

Another brag about Wrestling Empire is that they just added a GTA-Esque street and studio your wrestler can walk around between matches. You are responsible for networking with other wrestlers, making sure your wrestler goes to the bathroom so they don’t wet themselves (I am not making that up), and getting a good night of sleep. My wrestler did not make it to the bathroom on time and wet himself. The other wrestlers in the locker room started to humiliate me.

The wrestling gameplay is somewhere between crisp controls and full-on bonkers AI. In any given match your ring partners will start attacking the ref, start lighting tables on fire, or attack the announcing team. The ref will sometimes excuse himself to do a shooting star press through a table out of the blue. Some would argue that the AI being completely bananas makes the game unplayable, but that is actually part of the culture of an MDickie game. If the computer AI isn’t running amok then you are not getting the full brand.

The bottom line is that Wrestling Empire is a cross between a 40-car highway accident and a full orchestra of Julliard graduates. Game streamers love showcasing the career mode because it is unpredictable. The game can be cheesy as all get out and low budget, but the sheer madness behind this game makes me think that MDickie is a walking genius.

Wrestling Empire will set you back $15 on Steam or Nintendo Switch, but it will never bore you.