Guest Article by D.J. Tatsujin of GemuBaka!

As you have no doubt noticed thanks to the bit of text above, this is a Guest Article. Can you imagine the relief of being able to edit someone else's text again, and not that of the normal lack-a-daisy writer of this site? It's great, superb, I'm in heaven. I won't even have to fill in to do the captions for the images, they were all written for us and they're actually useful ones rather than our usual claptrap. Reckon I can pop the kettle on and put my feet up instead for this one. This time, the wonderful person being tagged in is of course D.J. Tatsujin of GemuBaka, who's going to introduce themselves below, so I can let them do that. Be sure to visit their excellent website for more on weird fighting games like the cancelled Vicious Circle!

Hello everyone! I'm D.J. Tatsujin and I'm pleased to be welcomed to Gaming Hell to write about a game I'm very passionate about - Midway's WWF WrestleMania! I'm sure a lot of people have a wide variety of opinions and understandings about this title, but I'm long overdue to really dive into this game and do a definitive writeup to let more people know about how involved this game really is - from its development right down to its gameplay. I've been playing video games for roughly 35 years, and this journey has led me to writing about them on my website GemuBaka. My favorite games tend to revolve around the fighting, wrestling, beat 'em up and rhythm game genres, and I've created a lot of content in this regard over the past handful of years. I'm always posting videos and photos from weird video games and classic video game magazines on my Twitter (@djtatsujin) and I have an archive of videos available for viewing on YouTube as well as Twitch.

I've long enjoyed the content on Gaming Hell (and those masterful MS Paint portraits!), so I appreciate the opportunity to share all of this on the site. I hope everyone enjoys this insightful ride as we painstakingly cover every detail I can think of in regard to WWF WrestleMania!

It's easy to forget in 2022 just how big of an industry giant Midway was in the 1990s. The company had ownership of the two-versus-two arcade basketball game Arch Rivals released in 1989, but an arcade team assembled to work on games such as Smash TV and Total Carnage went on to release NBA Jam in 1993 and completely revolutionize arcade-style sports games. Since that time, Midway dipped its toes into pools of professional sports to include American football, baseball and the world's football (that would be soccer to those uninitiated) to release multiple versions of sports games to arcades and home consoles.

The pedigree of NBA Jam and NFL Blitz is very well-known, but tucked between these two juggernaut arcade titles, this newly-labeled "Midway Sports" team released another sports game that is usually more recognized for its home releases than its original coin-op version. The developers of NBA Jam entered the world of professional wrestling, and with open access to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF)* and peak digitization capabilities parallel to Mortal Kombat 3, WWF WrestleMania was born!
*The WWF has since changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE... Because of something about a panda...

Because of the home releases of the game, this video game is commonly referred to as WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game. Prior to WWF WrestleMania, Technos had two arcade-based cracks at the WWF license, providing WWF Superstars in 1989 and following up with the legendary WWF Wrestlefest in 1991. Superstars provided pixel art akin to what was seen in Double Dragon II, while Wrestlefest had pixel art that was a good step above those in The Combatribes. Both of those games heavily revolved around chasing after the tag team titles - because it is seemingly a law that arcade wrestling games need a CPU that constantly interrupts your pins and submissions to cost you more quarters - while Wrestlefest added the option to participate in the WWF/WWE's trademark Royal Rumble match. Both games amped up the presentation to recreate the larger-than-life personas of the WWF Superstars, but they were mostly grounded in reality and filled with basic moves you would see on your television each week.

This is largely where WWF WrestleMania went on to deviate from the formula. Much like how NBA Jam raised the bar to bring the sport of basketball up to hyperspeed and defy the laws of gravity, WWF WrestleMania throws physics out of the window to allow the combatants to jump into the rafters to deliver skull-crushing pile drivers, transform their body parts into weapons, fire off projectiles and bend each other in half. This results in high-energy pandemonium that echoes Vince McMahon's catchphrase "Anything can happen in the World Wrestling Federation!" Professional wrestling is already kind of like taking sports and turning its volume knob up to the cliched "11," and WWF WrestleMania twists the volume knob until it breaks off completely.

The cherry on top of the sundae is WWF WrestleMania utilizes the graphics digitization process perfected by Midway in the 1990s. An arrangement was made to bring in the actual WWF Superstars appearing in the video game for a filming session to give the developers the animations they needed for WWF WrestleMania. While Technos' pixels in Wrestlefest still look great to this day, in WWF WrestleMania, you are playing as the actual Shawn Michaels, executing his moves and taking his bumps as he would in real life. This process occurred around the time of Mortal Kombat 3's development, just before the company moved on to polygonal graphics, and I personally feel both the original arcade versions of WWF WrestleMania and Ultimate/Mortal Kombat 3 still have the most crisp and impressive digitized characters from the 1990s.

And I feel that is the big appeal of WWF WrestleMania - you get to control the real-deal characters that you saw on the WWF television shows and they get to do moves that even the most hardcore of wrestling promotions can't duplicate. While the WWE's bread-and-butter video game franchise has been the simulation-grounded Smackdown / Smackdown Vs. Raw / WWE 2K series, very few chances have been taken since WWF WrestleMania to loosen the tie a little and go crazy with the personality and moves of the promotion's wrestlers.

I very much enjoyed the original arcade release of WWF WrestleMania in 1995, and played as much as I could of the SEGA Genesis / Mega Drive* version that released later. However, the game kept popping back up in my life, with a cabinet tucked away in our college's recreation room and in experimenting with video game emulation. This is a rare title that actually aged better for me over the years and crept its way into what would likely be my top 10 favorite video games of all time. As such, I wanted to craft this feature into a "tell-all" of the game and shine a deserving spotlight on a video game that most people have only played in passing.
*I live in the United States, so please forgive me if you must as I refer to this SEGA console as the Genesis from here on out.

Additionally, I need to thank LRock617 for his input and sharing of techniques in the game over the years. While I learned a lot about the game in the early years I have played it, he showed me a lot of the basics that really make WWF WrestleMania tick on a deeper level. LRock617 has speedrun a number of beat 'em up games on stages such as Games Done Quick and he has recently taken a dedicated dive into arcade gaming one-credit clears (1CCs). He can be found doing live streams on his Twitch channel and he also uploads 1CC videos and more on his YouTube channel.

Let's begin by looking at the superstars of the squared circle.

The roster of WWF WrestleMania is limited to eight characters that represented the top billing of WWF at the time. Although the game released in 1995, the work that went into the game started in 1994, and amongst the kings of the mountain at the time were Bret Hart, Lex Luger, Shawn Michaels, Bam Bam Bigelow, The Undertaker, Yokozuna, Doink the Clown and Razor Ramon. Because of the time frame, the biggest storylines occurring in WWF then included matches that led up to WrestleMania X (10) in 1994.


From: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 234 pounds
"I am the Excellence of Execution"

Heralded as one of the greatest technical wrestlers that ever lived, "The Hitman" has maxed out stats in speed and agility. The biggest thorn in Bret Hart's side is his low recovery stat, which allows certain move strings and combos to work on him that wouldn't for other characters such as Lex Luger. Even though he has an average power stat, like Shawn Michaels, his technical ability allows him to string moves together to still provide high damage output. Bret Hart proudly carried the WWF Heavyweight Championship after winning the title at WrestleMania X against Yokozuna. This time frame also served as the beginnings of Bret's intense rivalry with his brother, Owen.


From: Atlanta, Georgia
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 270 pounds
"Lex Luger is the All American Hero"

Lex is one of the game's all-around style of characters in his stats, but this muscular wrestler gets a notch above in his power stat to max it out like Yokozuna. Unlike Yokozuna, though, Lex Luger has a very high recovery stat that makes hitting certain move chains on him trickier than on other characters. Lex Luger was riding a wave of popularity at the time, which stemmed from him successfully body slamming the 500-plus-pound Yokozuna in a ring that was placed on the deck of the USS Intrepid. This led to Lex Luger transforming from his "Narcissist" persona to an All-American that proudly represented the United States of America and he went on a "Lex Express" bus tour. Lex Luger was a co-winner of the 1994 Royal Rumble with Bret Hart, but lost his WWF World Heavyweight Championship match with Yokozuna at WrestleMania X.


From: San Antonio, Texas
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 235 pounds
"I'm the greatest thing going on God's green Earth"

The "Heartbreak Kid" is the fastest character in the game, with his power being his only low stat. Because he is so fast and can chain some of his moves, he is still able to do damage in short order. Shawn was among the wrestlers who was transitioning personas at the time, dropping his former manager "Sensational" Sherri Martel in favor of a bodyguard in Diesel - more famously known as Kevin Nash. In fact, the entrance music sample for Shawn Michaels featured in WWF WrestleMania still had the version that was voiced by Sherri Martel instead of the version that was redone by Shawn himself and used for the rest of his career. At the time of the game's development, Shawn Michaels was involved in a feud with Razor Ramon over the WWF Intercontinental Championship, which came to a head in a ladder match for the title at WrestleMania X.


From: Asbury Park, New Jersey
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 400 pounds
"I'm the Beast from the East!"

Bam Bam Bigelow was a very talented wrestler who was deceptively agile for his size. He can go toe-to-toe with any wrestler in the game, but WWF WrestleMania gives Bam Bam the ability to control fire and his special moves give him several aggressive tricks tucked under his sleeve. In Bam Bam's tenure with the WWF at the time, he is probably the most known for his high-profile WrestleMania XI (1995) match with the New York Giants' NFL player Lawrence Taylor. At WrestleMania X, though, Bam Bam was in a feud with Doink the Clown, which resulted in a tag team match featuring Bam Bam Bigelow and his manager/very talented female professional wrestler Luna Vachon versus Doink the Clown and his sidekick ally Dink the Clown.


From: Death Valley
Height: 6'11"
Weight: 322 pounds
"Rest in peace"

The Undertaker is kind of like an in-between of Lex Luger and Doink the Clown. Although he isn't quite as crazy as Doink in his moves, The Undertaker has a range of spiritual special maneuvers at his disposal and he has impressive base stats similar to Lex Luger. The Undertaker loses a tick of power and recovery compared to Lex Luger, but The Undertaker still hits hard. Speed is supposed to The Undertaker's weakness, but he still has crisp moves that keep him moving and other mobility options to mask this "weakness." If you were playing this game for the first time and asked my recommendation for which character you should pick, I would tell you to pick this character. The Undertaker is actually the only wrestler in WWF WrestleMania that did not compete at WrestleMania X. He squared off against Yokozuna for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in a casket match at the Royal Rumble event a couple of months before, and in this story, various wrestlers interfered in the match and The Undertaker was sealed into the casket for a loss. After this, The Undertaker took several months off in order to heal an injury.


From: Tokyo, Japan
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 568 pounds

Sumo wrestling champion Yokozuna uses his weight to his advantage. He hits like a tank, but has very limited mobility. This sometimes makes it difficult to get your hands on the opponents, but, when you do, Yokozuna makes sure these opportunities count to their fullest potential. Yokozuna held the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from summer 1993 up until losing it to Bret Hart at WrestleMania X. He originally captured the title from "The Hitman" after interference from his manager, Mr. Fuji, at WrestleMania IX, but then immediately lost the title after accepting a challenge from Hulk Hogan. Yokozuna regained the title at Summerslam 1993, and, as the result of there being co-winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble, Yokozuna had to defend the title twice at WrestleMania X - first against Lex Luger, and then against Bret Hart.


From: The circus
Height: 6'
Weight: 243 pounds
"Life's a joke!"

Doink is the second-fastest character in the game, statistically making him a slightly-stronger version of Shawn Michaels. However, Midway took his gimmick to the next level in WWF WrestleMania, giving him a number of zany special moves and attacks. In this regard, his gameplay style is drastically different. Doink the Clown originated as a heel ("bad guy") character that would play mean pranks on fans and wrestlers. This eventually changed into a more light-hearted character that tried to have fun with the crowd and do more comedic moves against his opponents. Doink was originally portrayed by the late Matt Osborne but has since become a gimmick that has been portrayed by multiple individuals. Doink didn't participate in very many main event matches in the WWF, and at WrestleMania X, he teamed up with his sidekick Dink to wrestle against Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon.


From: Miami, Florida
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 262 pounds
"Take a look at the bad guy"

Razor Ramon has decent base stats, including above-average power behind his attacks. In this game, Razor excels in brawling, including what is probably the best running dropkick in the entire roster. However, similar to Bret Hart, his recovery stat is not great, meaning certain strategies are more likely to work on him compared to other wrestlers. "The Bad Guy" Razor Ramon, more famously known as Scott Hall, was the active WWF Intercontinental Champion at the time of the game's development. Razor Ramon had won the title the previous October after the WWF forced Shawn Michaels to vacate the title. Shawn Michaels eventually returned with his own version of the WWF Intercontinental Championship, claiming he had never lost the title. To settle the matter, Razor and Shawn competed in a ladder match at WrestleMania X to crown an undisputed WWF Intercontinental Champion.

As strange as this may sound, I would say WWF WrestleMania plays out as 80% fighting game and 20% wrestling game. The game's control panel is laid out in the Mortal Kombat "X" fashion, giving players two types of punches, two types of kicks and then a button in the middle to defend. In WWF WrestleMania, the attacks are labeled as punch, power punch, kick and power kick.

WWF WrestleMania is set up to where standard play is best two out of three falls, which makes it fall in line with the traditional fighting game approach of "win two rounds to take the match over the opponent." While virtually every wrestling game to that point follows the staple of mashing buttons as fast as humanely possible to wear down the opponent and go for a pin or submission, the goal of WWF WrestleMania is to use more of a fighting game approach to deplete the opponent's health meter so they are completely drained of energy for a guaranteed pin. Pinning in WWF WrestleMania is merely a formality that works a wrestling mechanic into the game - if the successful player stands around after the opponent is knocked out, the game forces the winning character to pile on for a pin to move the game forward.

While Mortal Kombat 3 introduced a dedicated button in order to run, WWF WrestleMania has players pressing punch and kick at the same time in order to initiate a run. Unique to WWF WrestleMania, though, characters have a completely different moveset while running. Select characters can also press power punch and power kick at the same time in order to attempt an overhead lift that allows them to reposition an opponent and slam them to the mat. Players can also hold their joystick diagonally into the corner of one of the top two turnbuckles (the corners at which the ring's ropes are joined together) to climb them. While it takes a moment to climb, pressing a button on top of the turnbuckle executes a flying maneuver which auto-tracks the opponent and is unblockable. This might seem like a cheap and overpowered move, but once you get a grasp on how the game works, you'll rarely climb the turnbuckle - most back + kick moves beat out a diving move, players can be grappled out of the air and overhead lifts can also grab an airborne opponent.

The wrestling aspect of WWF WrestleMania comes in the form of universal commands that all of the wrestlers can execute. Grappling - named in the game as a "head hold" - is done by pressing forward, forward, power punch. This has the wrestler lunge forward and if it connects, they grab the opponent by their head for a grapple. This allows the aggressor to press select buttons for a pushback melee attack which is good for follow-up melee attacks or they can punch in a Mortal Kombat-style special move input for a big attack. There are more inputs to be found, but every character can execute some form of big grapple move by pressing forward, forward, power punch and down, down, power kick. These inputs are "shortcuts" for the characters' bigger moves, as, if a player mashes on a button that doesn't do a melee attack in the grapple, a big move will eventually be done at random. However, a player isn't safe by landing a head hold. If the opponent can input a grapple command (or do the button mashing) before the player can, the opponent reverses the grapple with a big move of their own and does the damage instead. The risk-reward comes into play as a player gets bonus damage (a "high risk, x2 damage attack") if they instigate the grapple and land a big command move. This bonus is only given with the special move inputs and not the mashing moves.

Grapples also allow players to execute "mini-combos," which are small strings of the melee moves repeated, often followed by a bigger melee attack or grab move. For example, Razor Ramon can execute a head hold and then hold down and press punch for quick melee attacks, and then depending on the timing and/or positioning, pressing down and power punch executes a sky-high pile driver or a Mortal Kombat-style uppercut. Bam Bam Bigelow can press forward and power kick for quick kicks and then press power punch to transition into an overhead lift. People who watch me play the game tend to comment on these combos and wonder why I almost never do them. That's because there is a catch - these mini-combos can be interrupted at any point if the opponent hits a reversal move. When you're playing against the CPU on higher difficulties, you'll be lucky to get two strikes out in a combo before the computer hits you with a reversal that does more damage than what you dealt with those strikes ... I'm getting Killer Instinct deja vu here.

In contrast, the game has a meter that builds over time similar to super move meters found in other fighting games. Once this meter fills, a "COMBO" prompt appears in its place, giving the player a one-time offensive or defensive ability. The wrestlers can cash in this COMBO meter to do chains of automated combo moves that routinely produce around 20 hits ... I'm getting Killer Instinct deja vu here. The exact buttons differ per character, but by placing the opponent in a head hold and pressing forward, forward, (combo launch button), the wrestler will begin doing rapid melee attacks and the player can then press a different button to transition into another string of automatic attacks. This differs from the mini-combos because, once the initial COMBO string is executed, these strings cannot be reversed by the opponent.

On the other hand, if you are taking a beating and happen to have an active COMBO ability, players who are succumbing to a second pinfall can mash on the buttons to kick out of the pin and wake back up with a "second wind." This revives the player with no remaining energy, so even the most basic attack will put them down for good. Still, it can serve as a viable comeback mechanic in a close matchup.

In other universal command moves, players can tap back, back, power punch to execute an Irish whip that sends the opponent running in the opposite direction. This largely doesn't come into play in most matchups, but it can be handy in a couple of situations. First, if players happen to be outside of the ring, doing an Irish whip into the edge of the screen or the ring results in a collision that does decent damage and stuns the opponent for a brief moment. Secondly, if a wrestler runs and bounds into the ropes, there is a split second where they can not take any actions. This allows the player on offense a chance to sneak in a hit while the opponent is rebounding. However, if a character is bounding against the ropes, there is a small window of time off the rebound where their momentum will allow them to get the "high risk" damage bonus.

Finally, in a universal command move that is a little more useful, players can press back, back, punch to execute a "hip toss." "Hip toss" is the name given to this command, but players will no doubt notice the wrestlers are actually executing a variety of moves with this input that includes back body drops, snap mares and overhead slams. This is a quick control move that can't be reversed and is the main method players can use to throw opponents outside of the ring to herd wrestlers away from the pack in the one-versus-multiple-opponent matches seen in the single-player mode. Additionally, players can hold block and rotate the stick 720 degrees clockwise to taunt and gain a temporary one-time x4 damage buff (once per match), or 720 degrees counter-clockwise to activate a short speed boost. Players can also activate a defensive push by pressing block and punch at the same time (or by holding block when getting up from the ring mat). This does very little damage, but it shoves the opponent away a fair distance, allowing the player to regroup.

Outside of the basics, as I've mentioned before, the controls of WWF WrestleMania are very Mortal Kombat-inspired, so the wrestlers can do a variety of special moves outside of or during grapples. Most of these are executed by pressing "direction, direction, button," but others are executed by holding a button down for three seconds and releasing it, and some can be done with quarter-circle-forward/back plus a button.

What also separates WWF WrestleMania from other professional wrestling games is its reliance on multi-man matches through its arcade mode. Players can select a WWF Intercontinental Championship arcade path, which gives players a one-versus-one matchup for four matches, and then there are two one-versus-two matchups, capped off by a one-versus three finale. Pursuing the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, the player is tasked with four one-versus-two matchups, followed by two one-versus-three bouts. The end of this arcade path features the unique "WrestleMania Challenge" where the player faces off against the CPU in a one-versus-three mode, but a defeated opponent is immediately replaced until the player fights through all eight wrestlers in the game. If two players are having a go at the game, they can opt to go one-one-one against each other (or two-on-two with a CPU partner via a code) or form a tag team that pits the players against two CPU opponents at a time in a mode similar to the WrestleMania Challenge. The players' tag team must eliminate all eight characters in the game to win the mode.

Post-match in the arcade version, the player is given a variety of accolades that include not blocking during a match, sweeping the match in two rounds, getting perfect rounds and going on win streaks. These accolades accumulate medals which tally up as a makeshift "score." What this is really doing is determining the player's rank, and every 10 points earned by the player bumps the CPU's difficulty higher. Unfortunately, this feature is only used as a sliding scale for CPU difficulty, as it becomes a non-factor once the player reaches the final matchup. I wish this carried through and gave the player an actual overall score at the end of the game, but this would really only come into play for those that care about leaderboard rankings ... which is generally a majority of arcade game players.

With the basics covered, let's have a look at some more advanced techniques.

I won't turn this into a full-fledged FAQ for the game, but I wouldn't be doing the game justice if I didn't share some of the higher-end techniques of WWF WrestleMania. While the basics will work on any version of the game, a lot of the exploits and glitches only work on the versions that are arcade-authentic (the original arcade version, and versions such as the SEGA Saturn).

As I stated earlier, if you had never played this game before and asked my opinion on which character is a great "starter character," the answer is The Undertaker. His base character stats show that speed is supposed to be a "weakness," but he has so many strengths that his speed isn't a concern. He has so many tools available to him to control the matchup no matter how far away the opponent is, he has an absurdly fast animation to climb into and out of the ring when you consider his speed rating, he still jumps to the top rope very quickly and he has a number of attacks that propel him across the ring very quickly. In my opinion, Yokozuna is the only character in the game in which speed is a detriment to their gameplay. It's probably not even an exaggeration that I've played through the single-player arcade mode of WWF WrestleMania 1,000 times, and in Midway arcade fashion, these playthroughs are done on the maximum difficulty - "10 - IMPOSSIBLE." Through all of that gameplay I consider The Undertaker to have the easiest arcade playthrough of all the characters with no competition at all.

The Undertaker is given such an effective toolset that he can work with any situation and deal massive damage while doing so. The Undertaker has a chokeslam move that can be done by getting the opponent into a head hold (forward, forward, power punch) and then pressing down, down, kick. This slam can be repeated three additional times by mashing on the punch button, resulting in approximately 40% damage. This means The Undertaker can potentially win any match in three moves (two if you have a damage bonus such as the one you get in the WrestleMania Challenge).

Speaking of the WrestleMania Challenge, the chokeslam move has a bizarre exploit. While you gain a chunk of energy back when eliminating an opponent in the challenge, if there are three or less opponents remaining in the match, the chokeslam heals The Undertaker for every slam that takes the opponent's energy to or below zero. While this happens for certain multi-hit moves on the final opponent - where it no longer matters because the match is over - The Undertaker's chokeslam is the only move I've seen that can actively heal while it still counts. If the opponent is getting cheeky and is reversing your head holds - which the CPU occasionally does instantly when it wants to cause you trouble - you can revert to his uppercut move (down + power punch in head hold). This move pops instantly and sends the opponent soaring so you can reset your strategy and go for your next move. As a bonus, while other characters also have an uppercut, The Undertaker's seems to do the most damage.

The uppercut puts a lot of space between the characters, so in a one-on-one situation, The Undertaker can easily line up with the opponent before they get up and launch a ghost projectile (stun ghost is quarter circle back + kick; damage ghost is quarter circle forward + kick). As long as there is space between the characters and they don't approach you from above or below, The Undertaker is safe throwing out these projectiles. Even if the ghosts are blocked, this puts the opponent on the defense and The Undertaker on the offense. If the projectiles do connect, you can follow the stun ghost with a grapple, or you can combo from the damage ghosts with a running dropkick or tombstone smash (forward, forward, power kick).

Still with more exploits, WWF WrestleMania has a strange quirk where projectiles launched from outside of the ring can still hit opponents standing in the ring. This can be done with The Undertaker's stun ghost to potentially hit an opponent in the ring in order to give him time to safely crawl back into the ring. Furthermore, in arcade version 1.3, the stun ghost actually cancels The Undertaker's running animation if he is Irish whipped into the ropes. This allows him to recover instantly instead of having to mash buttons to fill the recovery meter! And, of course, The Undertaker has one of the game's exploits that can be done with the combo meter. Seemingly, the game doesn't consider super combo attacks where the character does a "hip toss" attack that launches the opponent away from the character to be included in the super combos. This results in attacks that allow the player to keep their active combo meter.

If The Undertaker's back is against the ropes, he can use his forward, forward, power kick > kick > power kick super combo to snap mare the opponent out of the ring. This allows The Undertaker to do a safe super combo (as long as the opponent doesn't reverse before the initial super combo activation), get some decent damage in and then keep his super meter full! These are just a handful of tools at The Undertaker's disposal, and all of them are very simple concepts any player should be able to grasp in little time!

The one caveat to the super combo exploits is in the fighting game concept of "damage scaling." Damage scaling reduces the damage of attacks per hit in a string of combo attacks. In WWF WrestleMania, the super combo exploit makes the game think the player is still in the middle of a combo, so their damage output is severely reduced on further attacks until the player re-enters a super combo or is struck by the opponent. However, super combo exploits are a big factor in the gameplay of Bam Bam Bigelow. He can enter a super combo and use forward, forward, power punch > punch > power punch in order to do a very damaging combo that has him back body drop the opponent away from him while keeping his combo meter active. (Yokozuna also has a super combo exploit, but this monster gets his own entire section below.)

One very key strategy players should know regarding the combo meter is in how to prevent the opponent from being able to execute their second wind. If the opponent has a full meter and goes down for the second time, quickly climb to the top rope and stay there. The second wind only activates when the player interacts with the defeated opponent, such as during a pinfall or pressing a button while near them. After a few moments of staying on the top rope, the game will recognize play isn't moving forward and will automatically award the round to the player so the next matchup can proceed. No comebacks allowed! It should also be noted that if a player runs out of energy outside of the ring, no pinfall takes place - the game immediately awards the round to the victor. As such, you can dispatch of an opponent that has a full meter outside of the ring to nullify their ability to use second wind. But also keep in mind that means you also cannot activate second wind if you are defeated outside the ring!

So, what other crazy advanced tech is known about the game? Both Lex Luger and Doink the Clown now have known infinite attack strings!

Both characters have a special melee move that is done by pressing forward, forward, power kick - Lex Luger pulls out a spiked mace and Doink the Clown pulls out a giant mallet. The game wants the player to mash on the kick button after this to gain an additional few hits. However, if the player repeats the forward, forward, power kick command in a tight rhythm, the character infinitely repeats the initial special move hit and this can be done until the opponent is completely depleted of their energy. This is easier to setup and maintain with Lex Luger, but it is still quite doable for Doink the Clown. In talking about the Lex Luger infinite, LRock617 has said there is an approximate six-frame window the player has to repeat initial hit.

Lex Luger can still get what's coming to him though, as he has a very bizarre hitbox quirk when he is knocked down to the mat. As far as we can tell, no other character has this, but Lex has an active, low hitbox as he is hitting the mat. Bret Hart has a rolling uppercut move (quarter circle forward + power punch) and this move just happens to hit low! The timing is very tight, but Bret can repeatedly juggle Lex Luger with this uppercut as he is bouncing off the mat. Juggle combos do exist in this game! While this glitch doesn't do anything useful, it works for a good laugh - there are attacks in the game that electrocute or light the opponent on fire: namely Doink's joy buzzer and Bam Bam's top rope splash. If you hit one of these moves as time expires for the first round, the opponent will be stuck in a flame/electricity animation once the next round starts. This goes away as soon as the characters interact with each other, though.

Doink also has an out-of-bounds glitch. Doink the Clown can activate a head hold out of his running animation. If he does this to grapple an opponent that is on the top rope, both characters will be zipped upward into the rafters. Pressing a button will have Doink fall back to the ring, but if the opponent raises high enough, they will be stuck off camera. They seem to eventually fall down in versions like the SEGA Saturn, but, in the arcade version, they are up there for good until the time expires. It's the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 scenario all over again - take a life lead and leave the opponent stuck!

So ... WWF WrestleMania arcade Yokozuna ...

You know how a character can have easy moves or techniques that deal a lot of damage and people call it "broken." Well, arcade Yokozuna is the definition of actually being broken, as he breaks of the rules of the game that the other characters have to follow. What could possibly be this secret ingredient that creates this hulking monster of a character in WWF WrestleMania? That would be his salt throw projectile. The intent of this move is to temporarily blind the opponent so Yokozuna can follow up with another move - in essence it's sort of programmed to be like Sub-Zero's ice ball freeze.

Outside of a grapple the player has to hold the punch button for approximately three seconds and release the button - by the way, like The Undertaker's stun ghost, this can be thrown from outside the ring and hit opponents inside the ring. However, while in a grapple the salt throw command is shortcut to quarter circle forward + punch. It was eventually discovered (with input from Ghostpilot) that this command acts as a two-in-one, a fighting game concept where a special move interrupts the animation of the previous move in order to string the hits together. Doink can actually do this with his joy buzzer out of a grapple, but his overall moveset makes this technique far less valuable when compared to Yokozuna.

So the basis of this technique has Yokozuna doing a head hold, and then pressing one of his buttons (I prefer punch because it is the same button as what is used in the salt throw) to deliver a knee that knocks the opponent away from him. Immediately doing the quarter circle forward + punch cancels Yokozuna's attack animation instantly into the salt throw. Properly timing this means that Yokozuna can knee the opponent and then send a projectile directly at them to initiate a stun. With proper timing, the player can repeatedly loop head hold > knee > salt throw, especially when they have the opponent against the ropes inside the ring or against the ring or guardrails outside of the ring. The opponent has a very small recovery animation that occurs once they are no longer stunned, and this is your timing window to initiate the head hold once again. The animation differs per character, ranging from someone like The Undertaker who has a very short animation to Razor Ramon who has a longer animation.

That's dandy, but how do you REALLY abuse this salt throw tech? Use salt throw to cancel one of Yokozuna's grappling special moves!

Out of a head hold, Yokozuna can press down, down, power kick to execute a stalling vertical suplex. Yes, through a brief timing window you can two-in-one this with the salt throw. Pressing forward, forward, power punch will have Yokozuna jump and sit on top of the opponent, and this is cancelable as well. You just have to keep in mind that when Yokozuna has a full combo meter, forward, forward, power punch will instead activate a super combo ... and, yes, that portion of the salt throw two-in-one guide is coming up very shortly.

When Yokozuna cancels his vertical suplex, he throws the salt, but the opponent is magically left hanging in mid-air, absolutely unable to do anything unless the player is in a one-on-two or one-on-three match and targets another player. This can be triggered in home versions like the SEGA Saturn, but there are more ways for the affected player to recover from this status. In the arcade version, though, the possibilities are endless for Yokozuna once the opponent is left hanging. He can simply run and do his running leg drop for a good chunk of free damage. He can taunt and activate his 4X damage bonus for CRAZY free damage off a running leg drop. A number of his neutral striking attacks will miss the opponent, but he can still accumulate combo meter - whiff away until you get a free full combo meter! Get a life lead and leave them there until the time runs out. THE WORLD IS YOURS.

This gets even more interesting if you get the opponent stuck outside of the ring. WWF WrestleMania has a mechanic where if two characters are outside of the ring, anything goes; but if only one character is outside of the ring, their energy slowly drains until they are eliminated for the round (sort of the game's out-of-ring countout from the referee). Do this glitch outside of the ring and climb back inside. Then you get to watch the other player helplessly stare at their energy meter until it tanks to zero. At this point, I'll remind internet readers there was a time where arcade games were commonly played in arcades and you were standing next to a living, breathing human being. Players have been known to come to real-life fist blows over less in an arcade battle. So, I'm just saying, watch who you do this stuff to.

Yokozuna can also get in on the Doink the Clown ceiling zip action. If you leave the opponent stranded mid-move inside the ring and continually back up against the ropes, the game will push the characters away from each other until they reach a point where they zip off the screen. You can climb the ropes, activate the zip and press a button to zip yourself into the air and hold down and back to drop back to the ring. However, it is possible to zip Yokozuna so far to the left or right that the game considers him to be outside of the ring by himself. This will result in your energy draining and you can be the one that loses the match this way!

As hinted at earlier, the salt throw also two-in-one interrupts Yokozuna's super combo activators. Yokozuna's super combos start with either forward, forward, punch or forward, forward, power punch. If Yokozuna cancels this into a salt throw, the opponent is stunned and Yokozuna keeps his super combo meter. The damage done by the first few hits of Yokozuna's super combos isn't too shabby, and, of course, you can time another head hold out of the salt stun and go right back into a super combo activator. This is cheating, but it's the only I way I'm currently aware of to get the 30-40 hit combos that promotions for the game continually lied about.

Did you think we were done with Yokozuna's salt throw? Here is where this move, by the book, breaks the rules of WWF WrestleMania. We've established that the shortcut grapple salt throw works as a two-in-one move that cancels a previous move. In the basics, we also established that if you grapple the opponent they get an opportunity to reverse the grapple. Yokozuna's salt throw is so good, it can cancel his animations while he is in the middle of being reversed.

In a short explanation, this means Yokozuna is currently the only character in the game that we know of at this point that can potentially reverse the opponent's reversals. I say "potentially" because working your way out of the reversal isn't free and guaranteed, and some moves, such as Shawn Michael's German suplex happen so fast that Yokozuna doesn't have time to get the two animations he needs in order to escape.

When the opponent triggers a reversal, the player can press quarter circle forward + punch and Yokozuna will throw his salt. While this snaps Yokozuna out of his stun animation, he will still follow the path of the move being executed by the opponent. So if the player does nothing else, they still take the move and damage. However, the salt throw frees Yokozuna to follow up with another move. This is mostly beneficial during the big slam moves that have the opponent jumping into the air to execute the move. I've found that the most successful reversal counter moves are the belly bump (forward, forward, punch) or the uppercut (down + punch). If the moves and timings work out, Yokozuna will instead strike with his move and escape from the reversal!

Oddly, Doink the Clown doesn't get this same courtesy with his joy buzzer, so Yokozuna remains in exclusive company.

Yokozuna's salt throw does also interrupt some other opponent moves such as mini-combos and super combos. The jumping pile driver out of Razor Ramon's mini-combo gives you a ton of time to salt throw and counter. And funny enough, you can interrupt a super combo with the salt throw with proper timing. If, for some reason, Razor Ramon hits Yokozuna with a super combo and takes Yokozuna's energy down to zero, Yokozuna can still counter with a salt throw and if this takes Razor Ramon's energy down to zero, Yokozuna gets the victory for the round because he registered the final hit.

What a cheater!

Still, as I said earlier, Yokozuna's lack of mobility works against him heavily. For these insane strategies to work, you first need to get your hands on the opponent. This is sometimes easier said than done. However, players who get used to the game, and especially how the CPU routines work, will be able to execute these moves at will!

To sum things up, WWF WrestleMania is bar-none the best wrestling game that isn't pure wrestling. It's such a wacky game that does offer depth and strategy due to the number of options you have available. Midway was such an arcade powerhouse in the 1990s and its digitization techniques were unmatched given the technology at the time. The game still looks and sounds fantastic to this day- the digitized graphics and larger character sprites still look great to this day, the voice samples really stand out (even though they can get repetitive) and the moveset is deceptively complex for something that may seem like a button-basher at first glance. In a world where WWE games get pumped out like the annual EA / 2K sports installments, there is definitely room in the world for alternatives like Midway's WWF WrestleMania. As such, I award WWF WrestleMania ... POSITIVE FIVE HEARTS! (six hearts if the game is played inside the Tokyo Dome).

In the estimation of our esteemed guest D.J. Tatsujin, WWF WrestleMania is awarded...

In a sentence, WWF WrestleMania is...
The best wrestling game that isn't pure wrestling.

And now, it's that time, folks!

First off, let's talk about the multiple home versions of the game.

Acclaim made a name for itself in the early 1990s by porting Midway's arcade hits to the home consoles and portable systems at the time. Its surge began with a huge marketing campaign to release Mortal Kombat on "Mortal Monday" and snowballed into its efforts to release big-selling home titles in NBA Jam/NBA Jam TE and Mortal Kombat II. WWF WrestleMania's release fell toward the end of the companies' agreement, and home development of WWF WrestleMania brought us versions by the title most people associate with the game: WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game. In roughly four to five months, console development teams were able to squeeze out versions of the game for the Super Nintendo, SEGA Genesis, SEGA 32X, MS-DOS, Sony Playstation and SEGA Saturn. The MS-DOS and SEGA 32X releases were U.S. exclusives, but other versions were eventually released to European and Japanese territories as well.

While some of these systems really struggled to offer what made the original arcade version so appealing, they largely still contained the fast-paced action and crazy moves. The console ports reportedly sold well, with the Sony Playstation version officially earning a Greatest Hits re-release - an announcement that Acclaim made at the June 1997 Electronic Entertainment Expo. With the arcade game seemingly fizzling away in short order, these console versions are typically the memories people have of WWF WrestleMania when they talk about the game.

Let's just start by acknowledging the elephant in the room: the Super Nintendo version.

The Super Nintendo version of WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game was pretty well panned by critics and is universally considered the worst possible version of the game. Although, beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say, as an interesting facet came up in Defunct Games' recent video series detailing every single review done by U.K. magazine Super Play- WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game earned an 84% score in this magazine, ranking it as 136th out of the nearly 600 games reviewed by the publication.

What's wrong with the Super Nintendo version? Well, when there is a conversation about this port, people will go straight for the glaring issue - Yokozuna and Bam Bam Bigelow are completely wiped from the roster, leaving players with a meager six characters to choose from. I must stress this is the one and only version of the game where this cut has been made. As I've mentioned, I played the SEGA Genesis version of the game during the time of its release, and I eventually came across one of my best friends completely trash talking the game. He started talking about things that didn't match up with the game, and I learned he was referring to the Super Nintendo version he had rented. When the SEGA Genesis version of the game was very serviceable, the information being relayed about the SNES version simply sounded like lies to me at the time.

It wasn't until recently while I was revisiting older magazines that I saw an advertisement for the home versions of WWF WrestleMania. You practically need a magnifying glass to see the tiny asterisk next to the portraits of Yokozuna and Bam Bam Bigelow, along with the fine print that states "Bam Bam Bigelow and Yokozuna are not on Super Nes." However, then you start getting into the content trimming a lot of people don't seem to be aware of. Squeezing WWF WrestleMania into a Super Nintendo cartridge not only required the developer to cut 25% of the character roster, but also remove the one-versus-three gameplay element. When you get to these segments, you face two CPU opponents and when one is eliminated, a replacement opponent slips into the ring. While this bounces you back and forth into slowdown, at least the game doesn't have to stop and decompress the assets of the next wrestler - the process in SNES games like Batman Forever and Mickey Mania that most people refer to as "loading."

The SNES version simply cannot handle four characters being on screen at the same time, meaning the WrestleMania Challenge and two-player Tag Team modes are also impacted. The premise of the WrestleMania Challenge remains the same, but it only places players against two opponents at the same time instead of three ... and, you know, there are only six opponents, so you re-fight two of the characters to hit a total of eight opponents. The Tag Team mode is wild, as it is the only version of the game that gives the players an advantage. They get to team up on one CPU opponent at a time until they have brutalized all eight characters. It's oddly satisfying in the rare way a game occasionally makes you overpowered and turns you loose on the enemy. Still, another setback that rears its ugly head when you dig into this title is the game's struggle to even handle three characters on screen simultaneously. This game absolutely chops along when you get to the one-versus-two matchups and suddenly picks back up to speed once one of the opponents are knocked out.

If anything positive can be said about the Super Nintendo version of WWF: Wrestlemanaia the Arcade game, it's that the graphics and sound are a notch better than what the SEGA Genesis provides. The colors are noticeably better and there is a bit more crispness to the digitized characters even though they are shrunk down in size and animated less. The entrance music snippets are copied over from the well-done renditions used in WWF Raw, and while the commentary clips have been trimmed down significantly, they still sound good considering the hardware.

Playing this cart in current day ... perhaps it has aged alright. My personal opinion is that it isn't completely abysmal, and it certainly isn't the worst fighting game I've played on the SNES. When you consider the cut features and the dumbed-down AI, this might arguably even be the preferred version of the game for speedrunners. Taking a look purely at the game that did make its way onto the cartridge, I don't feel it's as bad as most people claim. It's still highly functional as a one-versus-one game and its presentation is quite acceptable for the format. As a product, though, you just can't forgive the cuts made to the game. I'm sure the developers worked very hard to make sure a Super Nintendo version was possible, and there are small victories in the few positives in the game, but anyone who paid full price for this version deserves to be upset.

Next is the Genesis version.

The SEGA Genesis and Super Nintendo versions of WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game were definitely the most accessible to players at the time of release. The Sony Playstation and SEGA Saturn were essentially shiny new toys at this time and weren't quite yet owned by the masses of people who would eventually jump on board those formats. So, typically, when we went to the rental store, the 16-bit options were our choices. And when those were your choices, you wanted to grab the SEGA Genesis version every single time.

I won't mince words here: the SEGA Genesis port of WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game is by far the worst looking and sounding version of the entire bunch. The colors are tame even compared to the Super Nintendo version's and the sound has that SEGA Genesis grittiness for which it is known - which can honestly be a plus if the Genesis' sound is appealing to you; I can't say it's outright terrible. The character sprites are the smallest compared to any other version and they do not feature much detail at all. The game's graphics overall are pretty washed out. I'm not sure I can even call the graphics average for the SEGA Genesis format, and these below-average graphics definitely stick out in the lineup of screenshot comparisons between formats (the dramatically-changed HUD doesn't help much either).

However, the action largely holds up and every character and mode from the arcade version is still tucked into this cartridge. Even though the presentation takes a massive hit on the SEGA Genesis, you can play as Bam Bam Bigelow and Yokozuna and tackle modes such as one-versus-three, WrestleMania Challenge and Tag Team mode just as Midway intended. The SEGA Genesis version does hit a bit of slowdown when four characters are on the screen, but it still moves great when three characters are in action, which bumps the version's stock up considerably compared to the SNES port. The Genesis version also had a few extra controller options, which was necessary due to consideration made for players owning either a three-button or six-button gamepad. Playing this version so much as a kid, I was spoiled by the shortcut buttons that allowed you to run, and that kind of left me to "relearn" the arcade's controls when that option wasn't available.

That's the SEGA Genesis port of WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game in a nutshell - it's borderline ugly, but the developers still ensured the game played as well as it possibly could given the limitations of the system. The title definitely isn't a presentation powerhouse, but you still get the joys of throwing salt and tossing fools out of the ring as Yokozuna and getting the full flavor of the game's modes. If the Super Nintendo version could be considered style over substance, then the SEGA Genesis version is substance over style. If you simply want a taste of WWF WrestleMania and for some reason can only pick out a 16-bit cart, the Genesis version is absolutely what you want to choose.

Before we reach the CD versions, there's one more cart release, the 32X port.

Much like other Acclaim games at the time, WWF WrestleMania also made its way to the 32X. While the more powerful systems such as the Sony Playstation, SEGA 32X or SEGA Saturn didn't do anything to add to the original arcade game, they at least tried to use the hardware to make the game a bit more arcade authentic.

There isn't much to say about the 32X version outside of the fact that it dramatically enhances the graphics and sound compared to the Genesis version. The game is far less washed out, and the colors have more pop to them even though they still aren't as vibrant as in the original arcade or the other disc-based systems. The character sprite sizes are also bumped up to be more comparable to what is featured in the Playstation and Saturn versions. This version also holds up through all of the game's action. The only oddity of this version stems from the fact that it is the only port that is locked at 30 frames per second.

In a YouTube video done by Jenovi that analyzes the different versions, Jenovi explains that the Genesis hardware handles the game's background, while the 32X add-on hardware manages the characters onscreen. This frees up some resources that allows for the far more impressive visuals compared to the base Genesis version. Even the HUD returns to resembling what was in the arcade version of the game.

It's a shame this port landed on such an unpopular format. If you want to know what the best cartridge-based version of WWF WrestleMania is, the answer, with no competition whatsoever, is the SEGA 32X version.

Now we enter the big leagues with the MS-DOS version.

At this point, with three home ports remaining, you really can't go wrong with the CD-based versions of WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game. Between the MS-DOS, Playstation and Saturn versions of this game, you start to get into the territory of the home versions being as arcade-perfect as you could get in 1995.

Unfortunately, I have very little personal experience with the MS-DOS version of WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game. I was able to dabble with it a couple of times early into college as I started to finally branch out into more PC games, but I have also been able to watch videos of it and even see it streamed a couple of times. This is the only release of the U.S. console versions that I do not yet personally own. This is a shame because if you look at the comparisons, the MS-DOS version has the fewest compromises to the character sprites and graphics as possible for the format. The sizes of the character sprites are only bested by the original arcade version.

I largely remember the game playing as intended. I also didn't have much of an awareness of the SEGA Genesis version slowing down in the one-versus-three or two-on-two matchups when I was a child, so maybe my memories aren't a great crutch to lean on when talking about a game I haven't played in about 20 years. Still, in checking in with multiple people online who have played the title, they vouch for this port playing very well with no slowdown and very little cuts made to the arcade game's quality. I suppose that leads to the biggest setback of the MS-DOS version: it's essentially a port that is being lost to time. Obviously emulation exists, and that is great because it will likely save this version of the game from complete extinction. While you can easily walk into a current-day game store and likely find a reasonably-priced copy of the Genesis, SNES and Playstation ports, the same won't be true of an MS-DOS copy along with the need of a computer that will actually run the game. For what is lauded as a fantastic port of WWF WrestleMania, the MS-DOS version is the least accessible out of the bunch.

Finally, we have the Playstation and Saturn ports.

The Sony Playstation and SEGA Saturn versions of the game pretty much parallel each other. Both have gameplay that is essentially arcade-perfect, and while the presentation is cut a notch below the MS-DOS version, they are considered the premium way to play WWF WrestleMania when the original arcade version is not an option. The Playstation version of WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game seemingly has the character sprites a tiny notch bigger than the SEGA Saturn version, but the Saturn sprites appear to be more crisp and a touch less washed out. Regardless, both versions look great and, most importantly, they play very well. Of course, when you get into disc-based versions of the game, you run into load times, and you unfortunately get these breaks in the action in between every single segment - select character, load, approach next opponent on the arcade path, load, matchup screen, load, etc. This is probably the biggest downside of the formats, even though I would say it doesn't dramatically take away from the experience. However, the Playstation does offer players the opportunity to custom map their button layout - an option missing from some of the other formats such as the Saturn.

The bizarre thing about the Playstation and Saturn versions is they are devoid of most of the game's music. There is no in-match music, so the sound in the game is mostly carried on the back of the slams onto the mat, the commentary and the crowd. Even stranger is that the Playstation version features even less music than the Saturn version. At least the Saturn version has a title screen theme, but this is also weird itself, because it's one of the tracks that plays during round three of a match in the arcade version, so it could have just been reused mid-match. The Saturn version will also play the wrestlers' entrance theme clips in the transitions when they are victorious. Furthermore, the SEGA Saturn version utilizes Redbook audio, meaning the sound samples that are featured sound amazing due to the CD quality. Because the commentary, crowd and music samples are pumped out via disc, I would say they actually sound better than what was in the original arcade release. On the flip side, the Playstation version pipes its sound through the onboard hardware. Maybe this audio delivery method is why the Saturn doesn't have the in-match music, but the Playstation format is still a mystery. The Redbook audio method might also be why the SEGA Saturn version features more audio samples, which includes the game's commentary.

No matter how you slice it, though, if all you care about is the game playing authentically, then both the Playstation and Saturn ports fit the bill nicely. You're just going to get some extra presentation pop with the SEGA Saturn version, even though neither version truly takes the presentation to the highest level. I sunk a lot of time into the Saturn version, and it's very close to arcade perfect because a lot of the weird happenings, like Yokozuna's salt throwing shenanigans, still work to a certain degree in this version. While elements of the 16-bit cartridges might throw your game off a little, those comfortable with the arcade version will be able to jump straight into the disc-based ports with little extra effort necessary.

While my heart is loyal to the arcade version of the game, if you had to force me to rate the other versions, I would dish out the following verdicts: Super Nintendo, one heart; SEGA Genesis, two hearts; SEGA 32X, three hearts; and then the MS-DOS (from what I do remember), Sony Playstation and SEGA Saturn versions would rank in at four hearts. Despite the loading times, the SEGA Saturn version is my favorite home version to play, and I do dabble in the Super Nintendo and SEGA Genesis versions from time to time because of their sheer differences compared to the arcade version.

Next up is the home console 'sequel' to WWF WrestleMania.

I won't dive too much into WWF: In Your House, but it's quite an interesting note in the history between Midway and Acclaim. WWF WrestleMania was among the final collaborations between the two companies for home video game releases, and proceeding this contract Acclaim went into business for itself based on a couple of ideas originated by Midway.

The book "NBA Jam" stated that approximately 75% of Acclaim's revenue in 1994 came from licensing Midway's games. Perhaps dealing the biggest blow to Midway was Acclaim negotiating and being granted the NBA Jam license when those terms came up for renewal. For those not in the know, the NBA Jam name originates from a National Basketball Association property that became a television show of NBA clips and segments. As a result, the NBA itself governs the use of the NBA Jam property and is why Midway eventually went on to create titles under names such as NBA Hangtime and NBA Showtime.

Details on this deal vary based on who is asked, but "NBA Jam" the book discloses that a licensing director of the NBA's electronic toys and games division had previously worked for Acclaim. Regardless of what happened in the negotiations, the deal was done and Acclaim landed exclusive rights to the NBA Jam property. This eventually led to the development of NBA Jam Extreme and other simulation-based home ports, and Acclaim also recycled its previous home versions of NBA Jam to develop College Slam - a collegiate version of the game featuring various colleges around the United States.

How this pertains to WWF WrestleMania is that Acclaim quickly followed up on the game by hosting its own graphics digitization session to film WWF Superstars and essentially use the same process and gameplay foundation Midway did to produce WWF: In Your House. Acclaim still had the rights to use the WWF license and pumped out a new title for the Sony Playstation, SEGA Saturn and MS-DOS for November 1996. While Acclaim would never disclose WWF WrestleMania or Midway by name, its own promotions outright call WWF: In Your House the "intense sequel to the #1 arcade smash hit!".

WWF: In Your House was set up to play identical to WWF WrestleMania, keeping the mechanics such as the head hold grapples, the four attack button control scheme, combo meter and two-out-three fall match setups. However, it went in the other direction by offering a couple more characters to choose, completely original stages for each character and gameplay that accommodated up to four players. Packing a lot more into the game meant the character sprites were smaller and less detailed to work with the format, but there were a few more match options available because this allowed for the four-player gameplay.

The game also leans even harder on the very wacky attacks and situations, and the game is significantly less balanced. In WWF WrestleMania, Bret Hart's Sharpshooter leg lock submission is used as part of a chain of moves that racks up about an extra 10% damage. The Sharpshooter in WWF: In Your House does RIDICULOUS damage. Famously, in WWF: In Your House Bret can use his eye rake move, and then follow up with an overhead lift while the opponent is reeling back in agony. He can then follow with a backbreaker, and if this stuns the opponent and keeps them on the mat, he gets a free Sharpshooter and this sequence is essentially a touch of death for the round. Furthermore, this game introduces power-ups and power-downs that are randomly sprinkled around the play area. These inject luck into the matchups and aren't necessarily fun when a power-down spawns on top of your character and stuns you in place for a free hit. Thankfully, these can be turned off in the options.

However, I will personally say WWF: In Your House is intentionally set up as more of a home console experience, and in this regard it does have media that really leverages the CD format. While WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game was merely the arcade game shoveled over to a console with no home extras, WWF: In Your House features a small collection of full-motion video clips from the WWF that show all of the characters in the game in action. It also accounts for more music and voice samples compared to WWF WrestleMania. The game also transitions into featuring Vince McMahon and Mr. Perfect in the commentary booth. I'm actually a big fan of Vince's work in this game, as if you go through the options mode sound test and listen to his clips, he really puts his all into calling the action. Mr. Perfect ... not quite as much. So, honestly, the FMV clips and most of the audio get a thumbs-up from me.

Overall, WWF: In Your House lacked the soul put behind WWF WrestleMania and it wasn't very well received. Jeff Gerstmann gave the Saturn port a 4.5/10 on Gamespot, and the PC and Playstation versions barely fared any better. It is alleged through an issue of GamePro magazine in January 1997 (sourced on Wikipedia, but there is no original link to a GamePro site still available) that a lot of Acclaim's releases took a backseat as it bet heavily on Turok to rake in money during one of its financial downtimes. As such, WWF: In Your House, despite a decent amount of pre-release hype, quickly faded into obscurity.

Can you have fun with WWF: In Your House? Certainly. Does it stack up with WWF WrestleMania? Absolutely not.

Because the game's development was based on filming the actual WWF Superstars, there have been behind-the-scenes looks at WWF WrestleMania over the years.

Official sources that stick out the most to me (used in this section) include Tips & Tricks Magazine November 1995 (issue #9, LFP - Larry Flynt Publishing); the book NBA Jam by Reyan Ali (Boss Fight Books, 2019); and the documentary Insert Coin [Ten Point Oh Films, directed by Joshua Tsui, 2020].

The Tips & Tricks issue featured character profiles for the game's wrestlers, with each page featuring a behind-the-scenes photo of the wrestler with the developers at the studio and comments from Mark Turmell and/or Sal DiVita on what it was like to work with the wrestler. However, strips of text throughout the 10-page feature has Tips & Tricks in a Q&A interview with both Mark Turmell and Sal DiVita that goes into a lot of Midway history and some of the more juicy bits of how WWF WrestleMania came together. It even gets sidetracked into how Sal DiVita played Judge Dredd in Midway's cancelled Judge Dredd video game, played Nightwolf and the cyber ninjas in Mortal Kombat 3, was the "Beefcake Boy" in Cruisin' USA and General Yellowjacket in Revolution X. "Oh, the game was done, it went out on test and everything," Turmell said of Judge Dredd. "It was, like, a year and a half, two years in production. There are still some cabinets here." "Yeah, I guess it just didn't work out," DiVita added. "It just wasn't appealing to a large group. It looked really good ... the game looked real good. Sometimes you've got something that looks good and just doesn't appeal to people for some reason."

(Hi, Gaming Hell writer making a mini-cameo here, read more about Judge Dredd here as well as our interview with Jake Simpson and Eric Kinkead!)

Mark Turmell commented that Sal DiVita was very active in working with the wrestlers in filming the animations for WWF WrestleMania: "When we did this wrestling thing, he was out there with the wrestlers on the mat, demonstrating the moves, piledrivers and doing backflips," Turmell said. "And these wrestlers would think, 'this guy, he's just some guy working at this company, if he can do it, I can do it.' They don't want to do dangerous stuff, but here's this regular guy doing this dangerous stuff over and over again. They all ended up just having a great relationship with Sal because there was a lot of respect for him for what he was doing." Mark Turmell also commended Jason Skiles, Eugene Geer and Josh Tsui for their heavy involvement in the development of WWF WrestleMania in the magazine's interview.

The matter of the game's roster did come up in the interview, and Sal DiVita said WWF WrestleMania largely features all of the wrestlers at the time that the development team wanted to see in the game: "We watched 'em and we always knew who we thought would be good; we made a list just based on who we liked the best," DiVita said. "Then we flew out to Connecticut to talk to the WWF people at TitanSports, and they had their own eight or 10 guys they wanted us to use. Their list and our list were pretty much identical. We wanted the Steiner Brothers [Rick and Scott]; they're the only people they wouldn't let us have."

As mentioned earlier, production for the game had to start well in advance of its release, so some people do question the game's roster. The most specific instance being how Diesel was omitted when he was the WWF World Heavyweight Champion when the game actually released. Due to the time frame, as noted by Mark Turmell, when filming began for the game, Diesel was merely "a bodyguard" character in the WWF and wasn't quite yet on his own as a main event wrestler. It was also pointed out that Midway could have pursued the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) license at that time. However, both Sal DiVita and Mark Turmell said the WWF had the more marketable roster at the time and the WWF's higher market share at the time allotted the game to have more promotion.

Mark Turmell said WWF WrestleMania has as much, possibly more, memory than the Mortal Kombat 3 arcade game, pushing out approximately 1,000 frames of animation per character compared to a full total of 200-300 overall for the entirety of NBA Jam. Mark Turmell also mentioned nine wrestlers were filmed. It's long been an urban legend that wrestler Adam Bomb is featured in WWF WrestleMania as a secret character, and these flames were continually stoked through promotions (along with rumors of combos of 30- to 40-plus hits) over time. We'll definitely touch on this subject a couple more times!

The fantastic book "NBA Jam" features a few pages dedicated to WWF WrestleMania. While the book is named after the game NBA Jam, to understand how the video game industry and the team behind the mega-hit arcade game reached the point of developing NBA Jam, the book goes over the history of video gaming period, the origins of how Mark Turmell got into video game development and the history of Midway and its early arcade titles. Even after detailing the development of NBA Jam, the book rides Midway's wave of success in the 1990s, all the way to the company's bitter end. It's a highly-recommended peek behind the curtain of Midway, even if you might not be a big fan of NBA Jam.

The book details how the development team originally expected to have to film stand-ins and then craft the faces of the WWF Superstars from images, similar to how the players in NBA Jam were developed. NBA Jam was digitized by having in-house basketball players filmed for the animations and then Midway took profile and side-view photos of the NBA players to essentially paste them onto those stock animations. "To (Mark Turmell's) surprise, the World Wrestling Federation was happy to send the real talent straight to Midway's doorstep," the book reads. While the Tips & Tricks interview revealed the development team did consider a WCW-branded arcade game, "NBA Jam" the book adds that Midway's association with Acclaim at the time provided the company with a gateway to obtaining the WWF license. In fact, the collaboration was one of the final in which Acclaim ported Midway's arcade hits to home systems.

While the development of WWF WrestleMania resulted in a crisp-looking game and a lot of gamers have memories of playing the game and its bone-crunching moves, "NBA Jam" the book details that it wasn't quite a successful endeavor. "Then, it came time to put it on test," the book reads. "Unfortunately, the release of WWF WrestleMania in 1995 coincided with the hype for Mortal Kombat 3 hitting a fever pitch. One day, the team visited an arcade to see how its game was doing and found a large crowd. They were gathered around MK3; Wrestelmania was being used as a coat rack. "That game was one of our first realizations of, 'Oh, we don't know everything,'" "NBA Jam" the book transcribes from a 2015 Sal DiVita interview with Team GFB Radio. "Because we peaked so early [with NBA Jam], we thought anything we could make would be successful." I mentioned earlier how WWF WrestleMania, to me, was 80% a fighting game and 20% a wrestling game, and that was attributed to the shortcomings of the game's performance. "The problem with WrestleMania proved to be that it was not quite a fighting game and not quite a wrestling game," stated the book.

WWF WrestleMania also has its own chapter in the documentary "Insert Coin," which is also highly recommended viewing for arcade fans. However, this specific chapter was trimmed from the main documentary and is only viewable as a bonus feature on the Blu-Ray version.

The documentary has both Mark Turmell and Sal DiVita commenting on the original approach of using body double athletes to film the moves and then using technology to apply the heads of the WWF Superstars, just like in NBA Jam. However DiVita recalled one of the WWF representatives coming in to check on the progress of the game and asking "Why don't you just get the real guys in?" The development team was taken aback about how available WWF would make its talent, and then the filming sessions were scheduled with the real-deal wrestlers. The documentary also features behind-the-scenes bits of wrestlers such as Shawn Michaels and Yokozuna being filmed for their moves, and DiVita recalled how much of a great time the developers had interacting with the wrestlers. He noted the wrestlers like to play pranks and said Yokozuna challenged him to a drinking contest. In foolishly accepting this, DiVita recounted how he woke up in an alley next to a dumpster in a pool of his own vomit. The documentary then features of short clip of Yokozuna taunting DiVita as he made his way back into the studio.

In looking at the release of the game, DiVita made a comment about the game's testing, similar to the account in the book "NBA Jam." He said Mortal Kombat was drawing all of the attention in arcades at the time and confirmed that players were indeed using the WWF WrestleMania cabinet as an impromptu coat rack. In a segment with Mark Turmell, he said the team really worked hard to make WWF WrestleMania successful and kept looking to tweak the game. He said WWF WrestleMania development was longer than a normal game, lasting between one year to one-and-a-half years. "I remember [Williams/Bally/Midway CEO] Neil Nicastro pulling me aside and saying, 'Hey Mark, just wrap it up, get it done, stop spinning around all of the mechanics. You're going to make a great game the next go around,'" Turmell said in the documentary. "And that actually sunk in on me, and we kind of wrapped it up and we moved on. And fortunately, we moved on and made NFL Blitz."

The WWF used to release home videos through Colosseum Video, and with Acclaim's connection to the WWF at the time, these videos would commonly feature bonus segments where the WWF backstage personalities would share tips and codes for whatever games Acclaim was trying to market at the time. These segments were actually how I first found out about the NBA Jam Tournament Edition code to dunk from nearly anywhere on the screen, and my friend and I got a lot of mileage out of that code that day! Through this delivery method, WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game never received a printed strategy guide, but it instead was the focus of a VHS tape titled "WWF WrestleMania the Video Guide." The video coincided with home console releases of the game that occurred in late 1995.

The back of the video box reads "The WWF Superstars show you exclusive strategies, top secret codes and super human mayhem moves that can only be accessed with secret button combinations! Watch Shawn Michaels, Bret "Hit Man" Hart, Razor Ramon and other Superstars help guide you through the biggest and best World Wrestling Federation game ever!" The promotions on the back show the video guide is intended for the Super Nintendo, SEGA Genesis, Sega 32X and Sony Playstation versions of the game. Although I'm kind of lost on the claim that the video will show you "top secret codes." If there was one thing that initially disappointed me about WWF WrestleMania compared to the other Midway Sports games was that the game didn't really offer anything in the way of codes - you can't even activate a BIG HEAD mode!

While NBA Jam typically featured a rich variety of codes that powered players up and did wacky cosmetic extras, promotions for WWF WrestleMania only featured a few secret commands that include disabling blocking, displaying special move names and adding a CPU teammate to the two-player head-to-head mode. Certain home versions had a few extra codes that could be punched in to help the player cheat, but very little of it really made dramatic changes to how the game could be played.

However, it was learned later on through data mining that there are additional codes buried in the arcade game that were never promoted in magazines or videos, as seen on The Cutting Room Floor. Players can activate a high-speed hyper mode, trigger a mode where sending the opponent over the top rope completely eliminates them from that round and trigger a mode where executing one move completely fills your combo meter. There is another alleged code that suggests it will remove the ring from the playfield, but I can't seem to get this one to work. These offerings still don't elevate the variety codes up to the degree of NBA Jam TE or NFL Blitz, but it's fun to note there are hidden codes discovered years later.

Truth be told, there's nothing in this video that players couldn't have already learned in the magazines that covered this game in 1995. However, there is a real charm in having the wrestlers themselves tell you how to do their moves - The Undertaker and his manager Paul Bearer really ham it up in sharing The Undertaker's moves and Razor Ramon is fully on-point in character in talking strategy with the viewer. You also get the bonus of being able to see the move in motion. This is actually kind of helpful as I recently rewatched this video and had completely forgotten that Bam Bam Bigelow has a ground attack where he throws a ball of fire onto a fallen opponent. It's a rarely-seen attack that the CPU never does, so the animation sometimes gets mistaken for content that didn't make its way into the final game.


The video runs approximately 20 minutes, and, famously, the highlight of this video is in a segment where Bret Hart takes you behind the scenes of the development of WWF WrestleMania. Bret Hart was enlisted as the "expert consultant" of professional wrestling in the development of the game, and he makes sure to snuggly tie a tie around his neck and carry around a briefcase while decked out in his ring entrance attire. He then arrives at Midway's offices to show the developers how it's all done. This ensues in a montage where Bret Hart claims he put his hands on anything he could to gain experience in the arcade industry, with spots showing him operating a forklift, managing arcade parts and talking with the developers. Outside of the constant attempts at comedy (which, admittedly, a lot of it still hits well in 2022), you do get to see a lot of behind-the-scenes video that shows Superstars such as Bret Hart and Yokozuna being filmed while performing their moves - Mr. Fuji even cuts a promo on the viewers! It is also interesting to note the computers the developers used during the 1990s, as you see Bret Hart using a mouse and manipulating the art assets used during Doink the Clown's clap attack.

If anyone can tell you anything about this video, it's from a clip where Bret Hart is talking with a group of confused-looking developers about an error in the game's code. "C'mon you guys. There it is right there in front of you the whole time - you're de-referencing a null pointer. Open your eyes!" This is followed by a scene, which I think is the actual highlight of the comedy, where Bret Hart talks about how great sound is a key part of a great video game. The video immediately cuts to Bret in a sound booth where he proceeds to yell at the top of his lungs, which sends the sound producer who is wearing headphones reeling back in agony. There is a moment of silence and then The Hitman follows up with a very deadpan, "Is that alright?"

In reality, Sal DiVita told Tips & Tricks Magazine in the November 1995 issue that Bret Hart did like to be involved in the project. "He likes to call up and see what's going on with the game; he likes to hear stories about what the kids say about it. He's also way into Aerosmith, so he wanted to get a Revolution X machine for his home."

To pad out the video, WWF also included a behind-the-scenes look at "RAW on the Roof," a video segment that featured WWF Superstars wrestling in a ring on the roof of Titan Towers, the headquarters of the WWF. Snippets of this were aired as the introduction to some of the earlier Monday Night RAW episodes. WrestleMania The Video Guide won't replace an online guide for WWF WrestleMania, but if you're a fan of the WWF from this time, the extras and the appearances from the Superstars is definitely a treat.

Next, let's talk about the endings of the game.

On the chance the player is able to successfully capture the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, the arcade version of the game gives players a splash screen with two to three pages that runs down what happens to that wrestler after his victory. These endings are notable for their "fan fiction" nature along with how bizarre (or macabre in some instances) they are. I suppose that's what makes them so memorable!

Doink the Clown
Spurred on by the crowd's celebration, Doink continues bashing his unconscious opponents with his hammer. He is eventually joined by Dink and other clown friends who ride into the arena on elephants. However, once some fireworks explode too close to the elephants, they begin to freak out and trample down everything in sight - including the ring and a percentage of the audience. "It took a few hours and several hundred tranquilizer darts to get the situation under control, but the survivors of the audience claimed to have had the time of their lives that night. That was Doink's ultimate reward!

Razor Ramon
Razor took the title back to Cuba, becoming a motivational speaker. However, one night after a seminar, he is attacked and severely beaten by a group of thugs. He is robbed of his title belt and his gold chains and rings, which sends him into a deep depression. "He wallowed in musty sea-side taverns and slept on benches in train stations, until one day he just disappeared. He wasn't seen for three years. Recent reports indicate that 'the bad guy' is alive and well and running a small pawn shop in Chile.

The Undertaker
The Undertaker runs through the competition, and after each victory, he stares into their eyes until their very soul is absorbed by The Undertaker. "Without any hesitation or remorse, he did this systematically to each of his foes that evening, as if in some hypnotic trance. It's a shame, too, because he actually liked some of those guys. It's not surprising though, as no one ever could understand the ways of The Undertaker, expect maybe Paul Bearer. After all was done, The Undertaker disappeared into the blackness and headed off to Death Valley, where he may rest in peace.

Yokozuna uses the World Wrestling Federation and his climb to the top to show the world his sumo style of wrestling is superior. He is revered as a hero and great champion by taking the title back to his home country. "The consequences of this victory will no doubt be the undoing of American culture as we know it: there will be years of adversity. American productivity will disintegrate. Industries will collapse. The people will wallow in mindless depravity, mere shadows of their former selves. Oh, well. It was bound to happen eventually anyway.

Shawn Michaels
Shawn parades around the ring, showing his great arrogance as he has proven he is the greatest in the WWF. Noticing the women in the audience, Shawn teases them with some hip gyrations, leading the audience to storm the ring. "They quickly cornered him and proceeded to ravage him, mercilessly. When they were through, Shawn was left lying motionless, sans his clothing and some hair, yet with a big ol' grin stamped on his face. He loved the attention, and more so, he loved the women. His craving for attention and multiple women led him to leave wrestling and become a politician, where he could get his fill of both.

Bam Bam Bigelow
Bam Bam Bigelow has melted down all of his opponents, who now remain merely as ashes. However, Bam Bam was not satisfied, still fired up from his battles. "He raised his hands and without warning came a blast of flames which engulfed the entire stadium. The audience was charred to flakes, the stadium was reduced to pebbles, and the WWF title belonged to Bam Bam Bigelow. The undisputed champion stood among the silent ruins of the now shattered amphitheater, master of all he surveyed.

Bret Hart
Bret used his technical prowess to blow through the competition, which led to his surging popularity. He defended his title over a period of five years and began dabbling in entertainment. "Unbeatable, he retired as champion to pursue a big screen career in Italy, where he became the greatest spaghetti-Western star in film history, winning six Academy Awards over his lifetime, and grossing over 300 million dollars on each of his films.

Lex Luger
Putting his stamp on his label as America's champion, a new national holiday is named in Lex Luger's honor. "Lex represents all the people in this great land. When he toured the United States in his 'Lex Express,' he brought back a piece of every person in every town he visited. Lex views himself as the product of all Americans who, in his mind, made him what he is: America's 'All American.'

Strangely, these endings only exist in the original arcade version as they are stripped from the home versions. In completing the home game, the players get to see a short animation of fireworks and their character celebrating in the ring. However, it then goes into a credits roll in versions such as the Super Nintendo or SEGA Genesis, or in the case of the Sony Playstation or SEGA Saturn, the game goes straight back to the main menu. Online conversations suggest the dark nature of the endings could have affected the game's ESRB rating. The home releases of WWF WrestleMania were granted the K-A (Kids to Adults, "for general audiences") rating, but this was also before the ESRB's shift to the E (For Everybody) rating and the introduction of the E10+ rating (Recommended for ages 10-plus).

I'm not so sure on this point, as the endings in the game were purely text-based. The Acclaim-produced "followup" WWF: In Your House actually featured a full lineup of "Super Pins" that acted as fatalities, and at least The Ultimate Warrior's Super Pin visually obliterates the opponent into a pile of bones and ashes. This game still carries the K-A ESRB rating. The only theory I can drum up stems from a document in the game's data that goes over the arcade revisions. Now, because Midway had an arrangement with Acclaim to produce its arcade games for the console market, this streamlined and accelerated the process which allowed the console port developers to receive the code they needed to start their development.

The internal data states the initial release of the arcade version of WWF WrestleMania was Tuesday, June 6, 1995. The code was likely "finalized" prior to this date, which means it could have then been forwarded to the console developers around this time. The revision data proceeding the initial release has as its first feature "Endgame stories added." So, even though it is alleged to have arrived only two days later (June 8), the character endings were technically added "postrelease." Again, this is only a guess, and it's quite a loose explanation. It still seems feasible the console developers could have been made aware of the character endings and that they could have been added in since some of the console ports have a unique staff credits roll included. However, without a comment from anyone who has worked on a console port of WWF WrestleMania, that is the best guess backed with a slice of information I can possibly make.

Speaking of macabre content...

While it might seem like an online hoax or a rumor generated to keep quarters going into the arcade machine, WWF WrestleMania does indeed have one "fatality." With a special move input done as The Undertaker when going for his second pinfall in a match, players can execute a scene where The Undertaker begins taunting to raise a coffin from the mat. The Undertaker then shoves the unfortunate victim into the coffin, which descends into the mat and leaves behind a tombstone. It took me years to actually see this move in person, so I largely thought the information talked about in magazines was strictly a rumor (like Adam Bomb). Because no one in my local arcade scene played WWF WrestleMania, I was largely left to experiment with the SEGA Genesis version of the game and could never get the move to work. I'm fairly convinced this secret just doesn't exist in the SEGA Genesis version.

Oddly, I've seen just about every combination of up and down inputs for this move between magazines and online guides. The Tips & Tricks feature states the move is done by pressing down, down, down, down, punch when you have a full combo meter. Goh_Billy's giant and fantastic FAQ on GameFAQs lists the move as down, up, forward, up, punch. When I do the move, I am pressing up, down, down, up, punch. At this point, I'm almost led to believe you just slap in four direction inputs and hit a button and the game flips a coin to determine whether or not it happens. It's a little finicky and can lead to some bizarre happenings as well, but it is in fact included in WWF WrestleMania, and it is not exclusive to home versions such as the Playstation as some online discussions have suggested.

If you execute the finishing move while standing over the opponent, The Undertaker still does his one-handed pin before popping back up to taunt. Humorously, this results in an image of his arm remaining at the ground, making it look like he has an arm in place of one of his legs. In another strange occurrence with this move, if you finish the opponent with a big uppercut that sends him into the rafters and execute the finishing move while the camera is panned up, the camera will freeze in place. You'll hear all of the commotion of the fatality, but you won't be able to see anything. The camera is stuck in this position until the fatality is completed, and then it finally pans down to The Undertaker and the tombstone.

The way this fatality can cause trouble is if you use it during one of the multi-man matches. The Undertaker can target a fallen opponent with the move, but if one of the opposing teammates activates their second wind during this, The Undertaker will be stuck in a taunt animation and/or the opponent targeted by the fatality will be permanently stuck in a dazed animation. Affected characters cannot be hit at this point and the timer stops because the match should be over, so this instance softlocks the arcade machine and requires it to be reset. Your arcade manager probably won't be too pleased after the first couple of times this happens.

Of course, because The Undertaker has a finishing move in the game, this made the rumor mill go into overdrive with the belief that other characters in the game would also have finishing moves. Officially, The Undertaker has the only finishing move in WWF WrestleMania. However, through people data mining the game's ROM, it has been discovered that there was an intent for other wrestlers to be able to do similar moves.

As detailed on sites like The Cutting Room Floor there are images and animations in the game's data that suggest Doink the Clown would be able to summon a giant ball that would completely squash the opponent, Bam Bam would be able to melt the opponent into a puddle, Yokozuna could create a tremor that would drop a lighting rig onto the opponent and Razor Ramon would be able to chop the opponent in half. There has long been speculation that WWF representatives saw The Undertaker's original finishing move and strictly prohibited Midway from adding more. However, through a few developer comments, such as what Mark Turmell said in the "Insert Coin" documentary about wrapping up the project, time and data constraints on the project were the more likely culprits.

Mark Turmell made comments in Tips & Tricks about going with the decision to only feature eight wrestlers and one stage, noting the unique things about the game at the time, such as the eight-direction movement for a fighting game and the necessary animation, put a focus on quality over quantity in what the game could offer. "That was a decision that Sal [DiVita] made with the wrestling game early on - to make the guys real smooth, real clean and crisp," Turmell said in the interview. "And the amount of moves that these guys have far surpasses these other fight games. It's debatable whether that was a smart move or not. Mortal Kombat's got 16 characters. Maybe it's better to have a bunch of characters that are not as smooth in their movement, maybe kids don't care. Maybe they'd rather have the variety. Or maybe we gain something by having realistic characters and smooth animation but only one background."

Furthermore, there are developer logs still tucked inside the game's data that support the stance of WWF WrestleMania hitting the capacity of its memory. There are numerous references to players being able to play a short game of Robotron if someone reached 25 "points," similar to how other classic mini-games could be played in versions of Mortal Kombat. This was never included in the game's release. Tucked away in developer comments more than two weeks after the game's initial release is a statement that reads, "somehow make robotron fit or abandon it (not NEARLY enough room)."

In fact, such moves were fully integrated in Acclaim's WWF: In Your House, released roughly a year later. While most of these "Super Pins" merely had some sort of set piece falling on top of the opponent, there were moves such as The Ultimate Warrior's which left the opponent in a pile of bones and ashes. This makes the "violence" approach of the story about the WWF representative hold a little less weight over time.

Finally, a look at some of the cut and unused content for the game, from a whole unused wrestler to an unused game mode.

Rumors have long swirled about wrestler Adam Bomb being a secret character and more fatalities tucked away in WWF WrestleMania. Thanks to efforts to dig through the game's ROM, today we have a clearer idea of what was intended for the game but just didn't make it into the final cut due to time and resources.

Adam Bomb was always the big rumor that players and magazines talked about, and through tweets and other media eventually made available by those who worked on the game, it is completely true that the wrestler did travel to Midway's studios and was filmed for inclusion in the game. This has been confirmed by sources such as the Insert Coin documentary Twitter page

Video Game History Foundation Founder and Co-Director Frank Cifaldi brought attention to data dumped from the game, which sparked more recent conversations about Adam Bomb. Josh Tsui chimed in, posting a short video of himself being powerbombed by Adam Bomb in Midway's recording studio. A Twitter thread popped up some time later, in which @adeyblue combed through the source code and found a variety of interesting items cut from the game.

The Cutting Room Floor has a big section on Adam Bomb that includes a large number of animations created from his filming session. According to that site, Adam Bomb only had five out of the 11 required image categories that the game pulls from to produce the animations in-game. A character select image, logo and biography was even created for the character:


From: Three Mile Island
Weight: 292 pounds
Height: 6'10"
Finishing Move: Atom Smasher (Interestingly enough, no finishing move listings are in the final version of the game for any of the characters)
"I'm ten megatons of terror"

While I've seen some people allege that the character was intentionally withheld due to him leaving the WWF, it's been said the decision was ultimately made due to resources and the need for the team to move on to the next project: as stated by Josh Tsui on Twitter in 2020, "Ultimately we didn't have the storage and had to make cuts."

Less talk has been had over the years about a 10th character that was intended for the game, and it is something that I hadn't even heard of until recent years. Mr. Perfect was also lined up to be a character in WWF WrestleMania. I've never seen an official source state this, but the common story behind this is that Mr. Perfect no-showed the filming sessions. Data does exist in the game that shows a character select portrait for him, seen above.

Interestingly enough, the filming session also included someone digitized to be an in-game referee. No information about the referee was ever discussed in regard to the game other than an idea I've heard tossed out that Yokozuna would be able to have Mr. Fuji distract the referee for a move that allowed him to cheat. Mr. Fuji attended the filming session, but his only inclusion in the game is in standing next to Yokozuna during the arcade matchup preview screens.

Potential finishing moves for other characters have already been glossed over in the section regarding The Undertaker's fatality, but there are other moves and animations for characters that include Doink doing an unused spinning tornado and The Undertaker doing ghost punches. Graphics for a steel folding chair are also in the game's data, along with character animations for picking up and swinging the chair. Weapons that players can pick up is a feature that did not make it to the final game.

Finally, it appears that a "Lumberjack Match" match type was considered at one point due to a text file. Normally a lumberjack match has wrestlers surrounding the ring to force the participants of the match back into the ring should they try to leave. This seems like it would really tax the resources of the game, so unless it was merely two extra characters that would attack you if you left the ring, it could have been a mode that outright prevented the characters from leaving the ring.

(Hello! It's Gaming Hell's normal writer again. To cap things off, we've got a few videos for you too!)

(First, the Retro Pals made a retrospective of the Playstation port of the game for their Playstation Year One series. It's pretty great.)

(Next, D.J. Tatsujin made some videos too! What a trooper, eh? First, here's a 1 Credit Clear of the arcade game with The Undertaker complete with commentary.)

(And finally, an exploration of some of the weird and wonderful glitches and exploits in the game, including, of course, a double KO, very on-brand for us.)

(Both of these even come with a custom Gaming Hell video intro D.J. Tatsujin made for me, wow! I think this means we've finally made it, YouTube stardom here we come!)

So there you have it- my definitive observations on Midway's WWF WrestleMania. It's a game I have lot of memories with, so I hope you enjoyed going over its deep history and gameplay. I'll be happy if readers learned more about this game, and it would be excellent if any of this information encourages people to revisit the game or even pick it up for the very first time!

(It's the writer of Gaming Hell again, thanks go out to D.J. Tatsujin for providing this in-depth look at WWF WrestleMania!)