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How wrestling game fans worked together to get the best unlicensed outfits

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Modern character creator games are astonishing achievements of technology and design, allowing players to create almost anyone – or anything – they can imagine. And over the years, pro-wrestling sports have led the way in this regard. Wrestling manufacturing equipment came about several years before it became standard in other styles, creating passionate communities of fans who were bound by a shared love of wrestling. A unique prodigy of the wrestling industry, she also learned important fashion lessons along the way.

Unlike many other sports, pro wrestling has never been united under a single umbrella organization. Because of this, the same sport could never feature every famous wrestler, as the big names tied their rights to different venues. So as a workaround, games have added costumes inspired by wrestlers from other brands to their character creation options, allowing players to design their own costumes.

This use of these parts was discussed in a court case when The Ultimate Warrior sued THQ in 2005, arguing that his games featured the elements necessary to make him his signature character. Wale Facepaint – There was trademark infringement. THQ argued that all the parts were generic and that no consumer would guess their existence, meaning the game was officially tied to Ultimate Warrior. Both parties settled out of court.

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However, by that time, unofficial replicas had become common practice. In the late 90s, wrestling fans began flocking to sites like GameFAQ and sharing guides on how to create wrestlers using lookalike parts. This became known as create-a-wrestler trading (or code trading), with many text guides listing the parts and what colors they should be. As options expanded, the wrestling sports community began to focus on clothing rather than clothing lines.

How CAW became a community

These communities became fashion-centered because of when and how methods of wrestling sport manufacturing came about.

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The first wrestling game franchise to feature the CAW mode was Fire Pro Wrestling., A series, with few exceptions, Licensed real-world wrestlers are not featured due to cost and developers’ concerns that the game will be “too colorful” by licensed wrestlers. Instead, early games shipped with “bootleg” consoles and, starting with the 1993 Japan-exclusive Super Famicom game. super fire pro wrestling 3: final match, The series has offered an editing mode for players to create their own wrestlers. Its first version was barebones, allowing players to simply clone an existing wrestler and change the color of their outfit before saving up to 12 on cartridges. Edit mode returned in expanded form in 1996. super fire pro wrestling x premiumAllows players to clone a built-in wrestler and slightly change the look and color of certain parts of the costume before saving 80 of them to a cartridge.

A screenshot shows the edit mode from Super Fire Pro Wrestling 3: Final Bout and how players can change their character's name, type, and body color.

Super Fire Pro Wrestling 3: Final Fight It features a character based on WWF wrestler The Ultimate Warrior.
Image: Human Entertainment via Jonathan Greenall

A screenshot showing how players can customize their character in Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium's edit mode.

super fire pro wrestling x premium It includes a character based on WWF wrestler Hulk Hogan.
Image: Human Entertainment via Jonathan Greenall

Most American gamers won’t get a chance to experiment with CAWs until wwf war zone And WCW/nWo Revenge Launched in 1998. Revenge‘S The editing mode allowed players to change the wrestler’s name, put them in someone else’s costume, and repaint them. It was also an early example of copyright dodging through the creation mode, as alongside WCW wrestlers, the game included Japanese wrestlers with altered names and appearances, allowing players to appear closer to their inspirations. CAW mode was encouraged to be used. wwf war zone It included an in-depth construction mode that allowed players to build a wrestler from scratch using a vast selection of parts, and this mode was further improved in 1999. wwf attitude, Players who viewed these manufacturing methods found several parts inspired by non-WWF wrestlers, including Sting’s iconic facepaint and the mask worn by luchador Rey Mysterio.

This boom in CAW manufacturing coincided perfectly with three other important developments. First, increasing Internet penetration, with home Internet penetration in the US increasing from 18% in 1997 to 41.5% in 2000. Second, gaming forums were becoming more functional and accessible, with well-known forums launching around this time, including GameFAQs. Forum, which started in 1999. Finally, this era was also the peak of the “Monday Night Wars”, a time in which America’s largest wrestling promotions, the WWF and WCW, were fighting to be No. 1, with wrestlers often jumping in between. Two. All of this created the perfect conditions for CAW communities to grow and flourish as players wanted to keep their game rosters up to date.

Two more leaps in character building came in the 2000s. WWF SmackDown! 2: Know your role An in-depth creation mode was introduced for the PlayStation, allowing players to layer clothing, opening up many new avenues for customization. That same year, wwf no mercy The CAW mode arrived on the N64, giving players even more parts to work with, including parts inspired by WCW’s Raven and New Japan’s Great Muta.

A character creation screenshot shows players the ability to change their character's body, head, face, hair, and more.

in edit mode wwf no mercy WCW gives players the option of choosing pants and facial hair to mimic wrestler “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan.
Image: THQ via Jonathan Greenall

As the complexity of these suites increased, so did the complexity of CAW trading communities, as players now had more options and could create more complex designs, making guides essential for players who could quickly learn a specific game. Wanted to become a wrestler.

These communities – whether they were centralized such as the GameFAQ forums, wrestling-specific sites such as CAWS.WS, or the many smaller forums present on free hosting sites such as Proboard and ezboard – were special because of the unique social environment they fostered, an environment This helped the users to share their love for wrestling and to express and explore their creativity.

While those who attended these forums were already fans of wrestling, the forums helped them appreciate it on a deeper level, as outside of CAW trading, live and passionate about the latest pro wrestling news, events and sports Discussions took place. CAW Trading also allowed users to appreciate a variety of wrestlers’ styles. By watching interesting CAW, users will have the chance to learn about wrestlers they may not have heard of before, including wrestlers who work for companies they could not see, allowing them to gain more exposure through this medium. There will be a more comprehensive knowledge and appreciation of

A character creation screenshot shows players the ability to edit their character's costume, mask, and colors.

in edit mode WCW/nWo Revenge It also features wrestler Han Zo Mon, based on the Japanese wrestler Hayabusa.
Image: THQ via Jonathan Greenall

These forums had a collaborative atmosphere, where users came together to help improve each other’s creations. Threads are often filled with users analyzing photos of wrestlers to help each other find the parts and moves needed to create a perfect likeness. In addition, users often post requesting code or asking for advice for wrestlers they are unsure of how to build, with other members stepping in to help, which over time has led to the collective growth of the community. The knowledge base grows, leading to better CAWs.

Because of this, these locations often focus more on fashion than gameplay, with the actual mechanics of the game often rarely mentioned in the latter. Instead, users focused on creating the best and most accurate-looking wrestlers rather than the best-performing characters, with users often working on intensive projects to recreate a promotion’s entire roster at a specific moment in history. Are.

A screenshot shows the character creation tool from WWF Attitude, showing a character in a blue mask and blue and black pants.

A fabricated wrestler wearing a mask inspired by the mask worn by WCW wrestler Rey Mysterio wwf attitude
Image: Acclaim Studios/Acclaim Entertainment via Jonathan Greenall

CAWs today

While the CAW mods and code trading of the 90s may seem downright bizarre by today’s standards, these mods stood out not only for their quality at the time, but also because they gave fans a chance to discover fashion and visuals in a low-pressure environment. Was allowed to experiment with the design. , Personally, trying to recreate the wrestlers I saw on TV using the often rudimentary tools of the sport taught me a lot about color, texture, and layering. It also taught me that costumes are much more than the sum of their parts, that if just one element is removed or altered, their look and feel change dramatically.

CAW modes are common in modern wrestling games, but technological advances have led to the development of code trading. since wwe smackdown vs raw 2010, Most major wrestling games allow players to create or import custom graphics and share the created wrestlers online using the built-in content browser. So the developers no longer have to slip in identical looking parts as they can give players the tools and let them build their own. As a result, there are still vibrant online CAW building communities on sites such as Reddit and, giving a whole new generation a chance to experiment with fashion and character design, even if they trade design rather than code.

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