Made in 1986 and remembered by no one but me, Pro Wrestling was one of my very few Sega Master System games. (If you’ll recall from this review, our Master System actually belonged to my father. He rarely played it, but it was still technically his.)
I wouldn’t have normally spent one of my IOUs on a game for a system that wasn’t mine, but I just couldn’t resist this one. Or maybe the store just didn’t have any good Nintendo games in stock that day. I don’t know, it was a hundred years ago.
At first, I was disappointed. The game paled in comparison to Nintendo’s Pro Wrestling, and if it’s possible for something to be frustratingly easy, this was it. None of that kept me from playing it hundreds of times, though. Perhaps repetition really is key, because I came out of those experiences wholly convinced that this was a great game.
Pro Wrestling has a two-player “versus” mode, but I almost never played the Master System with my buddies. No, for me, this was always a solo journey – a struggle to stay awake for thirty matches that never once threw me a curve.
Below is a breakdown of one-player game, from start to finish. By the end of it, you may agree that it was a little too thorough. My bad.
The first order of business, henceforth FOOB, is to choose your team. (There are only tag team matches in Pro Wrestling.) Who you choose is mostly a matter of visual preference, but each wrestler does have special moves.
I went with the Mad Soldiers, who, according to the manual, are named Muscle Soldier and Iron Soldier. Clearly inspired by the Road Warriors, this was as close as the game got to a real life wrestler reference.
I chose them for two important reasons. One, Muscle Soldier’s “lariat” is the best move in the game, utterly cheap and always effective. It’s Super Smash Pikachu lightning, in spirit if not appearance. In most matches, I just nail a lariat on my opponent five times in a row, pin him and move on. If I don’t do that, it’s only because I’m bored of doing that. The lariat is a foolproof victory, every time.
And the other reason is this:
Only two teams can use the steel chair, and Mad Soldiers is one of them. “Are” one of them? I don’t know. Word’s grammar checks can only mask my stupidity for so long. When I say that the bottom tastes like oak, you can be assured that it is true.
The chair sporadically appears outside the ring, and though it can be extremely hard to hit anyone with it (since the defense is to simply walk in the other direction for the five seconds the chair gets before black magic blinks it out of existence), who can resist? Plus, I’m not going back to check, but I’m pretty sure I remember special music playing whenever I grabbed that chair.
To balance things out, the teams that can’t use the chair are afforded high risk maneuvers from the top turnbuckle. Those never seem to connect, either. Basically, if you’re playing Pro Wrestling, just keep kicking until you win.
Now that I’ve chosen my team, it’s finally time to wrestle. My first goal is to beat the stupid Crush Brothers ten freakin’ times.
The Crush Brothers (Elder and Younger Crusher) may be the least compelling of the teams, but they do have some of the best moves. Unfortunately for them, they won’t have a chance to use them. My Mad Soldiers are unstoppable; to them pain is as phony as that “Area 51 Alien Interview” video. The one where the shadowy guy kept saying “terminated.”
At root, the matches are all about the punches and kicks. You can’t set up the bigger moves until you punch and kick your opponent to the mat.
You can win matches just by kicking, but some of the big moves are irresistible. Even in 1986, I was impressed with the selection. Only counting the Crush Brothers’ moves, there’s everything from sentons to brain busters to German suplex holds. Each of the game’s eight wrestlers have four special moves, and there’s very little overlap.
See Elder Crusher, hanging out on the ring apron? The drop kick is all his.
I made short work of the Crush Brothers, needing only a few minutes to beat them ten times. This was made easier by the fact that you can often pin your opponent even if his energy bar is nearly full. (If you ever play this game, try it. Knock down Elder Crusher just once, and go for the pin. At least five times out of ten, you’ll win.)
My reward for this tedious exercise was the Mexican tag team championship, including title belts and a trophy shaped like a short-haired naked lady. Fine.
After that, you fly to Hawaii and fight for the Pacific league championship.
This time, my Mad Soldiers were pitted against the Orient Express. That’s Dragonfly on the left, and Giant Bull on the right. I took no mercy on him, but Giant Bull is one of my favorite characters in the game. He’s vaguely reminiscent of Andre the Giant, or maybe he isn’t. Is the fact that each has “giant” in his name enough?
Conversely, they don’t come more boring than Dragonfly. Even his “rolling sobat” couldn’t save him, and that sounds like a dessert!
I am. So sorry.
After killing the Orient Express, my Mad Soldiers became the Pacific tag team champions. That time, the belts were a little more ornate, and the trophy came with a gold bird on top. Awesome.
But it ain’t over yet…
For the final matches, the Mad Soldiers traveled to New York, and were surprised to find it under attack by a giant rogue wave. This is what happens when you have to beat the Orient Express in ten matches, for however long that takes. You miss stuff.
Hey, wait a sec. Why am I fighting the Crush Brothers again? There are four teams, so wouldn’t it make sense for me to fight each of the other teams once?
Actually, they did that intentionally. Certain teams can NEVER fight each another. The Crush Brothers can’t fight Orient Express, and the Mad Soldiers can’t fight the Great Maskmen.
…which is a shame. Those Maskmen are great. The guy in the ring is named Green Mask, and that’s Stone Mask waiting in the corner. I assume they called him “Stone Mask” because “Pink Mask” didn’t sound dangerous enough. Of course, now Green Mask feels shortchanged, believing that he too should named after something heavy and blunt. Wrestling politics.
The Crush Brothers were no tougher on the second go, and soon enough, my Mad Soldiers were the WORLD tag team champions!
The last trophy looked to be around twelve feet tall, and topped with one of those Meneki-neko cats you see on the counters at Japanese restaurants. It was very hard for the Mad Soldiers to fly it home.
The game then cuts to this boring “GAME OVER” screen, robbing us of a proper ending. It would’ve been nice to at least see the Mad Soldiers flexing over a pile of money, maybe with all of the fallen grapplers crying in the background. And let’s bring back that rogue wave, too.
It’s not an exciting game, but you know, as I was grabbing the images for this review, I found myself playing it for a lot longer than I needed to. It’s more fun than it looks, especially because you can’t hear the awesome music.
Did I mention that Giant Bull can jump at his opponents stomach-first from the top rope? That visual alone makes Pro Wrestling something you should find.
This review ran shorter than I was anticipating. So uh, here’s a look at the crowd, zoomed to the extreme:
Did you get your money’s worth now?