I went back and forth on whether to review this or not. On the one hand if I’m recounting and reviewing every wrestling game I’ve ever played missing out the one I probably played the most would seem like a massive disservice, but on the other hand it’s a text-based simulator, a free one at that so it’s not going to be much to look at for a review! Still, I had to include EWR so I will, as for its sequel game series Total Extreme Wrestling, I’ll have a quick general look at them together down the line rather than throw out five or six very similar reviews with not-very-interesting pictures in them… With that being said, let’s review EWR, complete with some not-very-interesting pictures!
This game pre-dates Mark Magnus mysteriously being turned into an Arab terrorist and in fact I put him in development and he’s turned out great! What a much more pleasant alternate reality this is for him…
The first version of Extreme Warfare Revenge was released on June 15th 2002, itself a sequel to Adam Ryland’s previous promotion booking sims Extreme Warfare and Extreme Warfare Deluxe. Over the next year and a bit the game saw several massive overhauls, including the ability to assign pictures to promotions and wrestlers with 4.0, which was very exciting at the time (and led to my first exploration into photoshop to give a hand, including making a logo for the randomly generated promotion Canadian SOMETHING SOMETHING, which ended up in the game officially!)
I can’t remember the exact time I jumped in, I just remember a post on some random GameWinners forum (is that still a thing? … Oh, it is! Hooray!) asking which was better between EWR and another free booking sim, and the general consensus was EWR. I had no idea about either, but as soon as I checked it out I was hooked! At the very least it was in 2002 as it had the old starting database that included promotions like WWA and XWF, cornerstones of post-WCW attempts to fill the void. Plus as already mentioned I remember the hype about 4.0 well…
Apparently this was my best show during my longest game … It also reads so much like the mid-2000s, apart from randoms that don’t exist, obviously…
As you might have gathered EWR is a promotion booking sim. You pick a promotion (or create one in the surprisingly robust editor beforehand) and you’re in charge of both its operation and its booking (even though you’re not the owner…) You hire wrestlers, assign them the role of face, heel or the controversial “tweener” position, then give them a gimmick before then booking them in matches, interviews and angles on your TV or event/PPV. Each wrestler is graded on three main in-ring stats, Brawl, Technical and Speed, plus Charisma for out-of-the-ring segments. There are also stats for their Overness, plus Morale and Condition to stop you from having no drawbacks to mismanagement, and to help with realism to do with injuries and wear-and-tear, respectively. There are also Attributes including whether they’d be willing to do High Spots (dangerous match spots), whether they have a background in shootfighting (which I never really saw a reason for…), and whether they naturally have a “Fonz Factor”, or in other words naturally look cool, or if they’re just naturally menacing or have that undeniable “Superstar Look”. So a lot less stats than you get later on, but did the trick just fine!
You can also give them finishers which will appear in the match reports, plus add them to teams, stables and give them managers. Workers will also have relationships either at the start of the game or ones that develop over time, some of them will effect your booking, like rivals won’t want to put the other over in matches, or someone marries a previously unknown daughter of your owner and therefore gets Creative Control so can veto any decision you make (this was a major issue in the original version of 4.0 as it happened far too frequently. It was quickly patched but my very first file, which went on for ages, had three people have creative control due to marrying three, presumably different, daughters of my owner before it was fixed!). Wrestlers and tag teams can be put in feuds as well, where the more the people in the feud appear in matches and angles together the better the rating of the feud, plus it keeps a tally of wins and loses so a feud booked evenly is better than a one-sided squash-athon, then when the feud ending match happens the winner will get a massive popularity boost, as long as you’ve done it right.
Yeah… okay, so some randomly generated promotions are a bit more odd and of-their-time!
The matches and angles you book will be rated based on stats, popularity and feud heat, plus charisma and look-based attributes for angles, and your overall show will be rated based on each of the matches booked, with main events swinging the score more than openers. The one solitary issue I had with EWR was a random bit of code that can make one of your shows dramatically under-perform for literally no reason. This was meant to simulate the phenomenon where a show just “doesn’t click” for one reason or another, which…I guess is fair enough sometimes, but when I build a big PPV with a Main Event that should have scored in the 90s and the show is undercut due to a random bit of bad luck it was extremely frustrating. I’m glad it’s a “feature” that was removed in the TEW games!
Your promotion, which is limited to US, Canada and Mexico, will rise from “Backyard” (which I always disliked as backyard promotions aren’t actual wrestling promotions, but hey-ho) to small, then regional, cult, national then finally global. As you grow you can get better sponsors, attain TV deals (going from a graveyard shift to primetime), PPV deals and the ability to sign your wrestling to an exclusive written deal rather than an open deal where they can get stolen (and will if you get them too over too quickly!) In 4.0 wrestlers can sign on to tour in Japan, meaning they’ll be unable to be signed to any written deal and will be unavailable to book on your shows at certain times.
The “Ryland Report” from one of my other longest running games, where I took the NWA back into glory. Funny to see the likes of Mark Briscoe and Rhett Titus described as “Hoss’s” but that’s the JR parody for you!
As you go up in the world you’ll end up in promotion wars where your ratings and stuff will be compared to direct rivals, and if you end up worse it’ll hurt your viewing figures. This is where negotiating with and stealing wrestlers from competitors comes in handy as it often delivers a big blow to your enemy! You can also create a training school and a developmental promotion so you get a bunch of randomly generated guys pop onto your roster, or you can sign a young promising star to develop their skills before calling them up to the main show (or often both!) Random wrestlers and even promotions will pop up during the course of the game as well, to keep the world fresh and replace any wrestlers who retire or promotions that go bankrupt.
Apart from all that there are also staff to hire (road agents, announcers, that kind of thing), merchandise sales, including seeing who among your talent is selling the most, websites that act as hints to when people’s contracts are coming up or point out a good free agent among other more funny things, plus your promotion has its own website where you can see rankings base on your roster’s skills and read a Ross Report parody named the Ryland Report where you can get a sum up of your roster. You also get a yearly top 100 wrestlers list, which was always fun to see if any of your guys made the cut. I’m sure there’s plenty I’m forgetting, but for a freeware game made on visual basic it was pretty amazing, frankly.
Graphics and Sound:
Talking with the legendary Ryland assistant Sophie. I forgot about the industry Boom-Bust mechanic, that can be fun… and annoying, in equal measure.
Very little and none, respectively. I probably should’ve just deleted this section like I did with “Story” and “Downloadable Content” but it just seems wrong to have a game review without the “Graphics and Sound” section, so here we are… Squeezed in another picture at least!
Contract negotiations from a Pre-4.0 build of EWR. $10,000 dollars per appearance for a Jobber?! Damn! Disco Stuu may not advertise, but he sure does charge out of the arse for an appearance…
As mentioned I was absolutely HOOKED on EWR from when I got it in 2002 until the release of TEW in 2004… then a further full year of constant play when I didn’t really like the original TEW and returned to EWR. In fact is memory serves even TEW05 ran too slowly on my then-crap computer so I got even further play out of EWR until I inherited my Dad’s old PC that actually ran TEW05 at a playable pace. Then at some point in the early 2010s I just… got back into it, I downloaded a new skin to make it feel fresh and had several long-lasting games on it again, something about the simplicity really appealed. Since then TEW has added options to make it less complex and more user friendly, so beyond going back to my original “Open Challenge Wrestling” file for a laugh, EWR has had its day. Still, I wish I had an exact amount of time on record that I spent on EWR, not just playing it but the editor! So many great times by myself and with friends, so many hours of play, all for free. Can’t argue with that…
One file I started in 2013 ran all the way to July 2021, so here is a spoiler for a hot new star just a few months away from taking the industry by storm!
As mentioned, after the TEW series found its footing EWR was left in the dust. As nostalgic as it is, and as perfectly playable as it still technically is, the lack of being able to book freely how many matches and angles you want on a show, or the fact its focused only on North America rather than the whole world means it just doesn’t stack up to what we have now. It served its purpose, it was played to death, but it’s now sadly a product of its time…
…Oh and here is the logo I made that actually still exists in EWR when downloaded, and a version of this promotion has been in the TEW default database ever since, too. I was so proud to see it get accepted!
EWR is still freely available to download, by the way. If you visit forums like EWBattleground you can even find current day databases to play with!