I’m going to make a new stable in Fire Pro Wrestling World. My goal is loftier than simple recreations of famous wrestlers, though. I’ve set myself an objective of Promethean arrogance: I’m going to create a compelling sports entertainment story using members of the PC Gamer team.
I’m going to limit myself to members of the team I know, because the only thing stranger than meticulously creating a colleague is doing it to someone you’ve only met once. I’m also going to be realistically unrealistic about stats. PC Gamer might be the most physically imposing team in the games industry, but they’re not wrestlers. To represent this, I’m giving them stats that are good, but not great. Fire Pro is as much about the quality of the match as it is about who wins and loses, which is handy, because I’m expecting a few failures.
I start with Phil. I could have saved time by downloading Damien Sandow from the Workshop, because he and Phil have the actual same face, but the rules dictate I must make him myself. This is my first ever creation in a Fire Pro game and I strive for perfection. I get the height about right—Phil’s a solid six foot three inches, which is wrestler-big anyway—but I exaggerate the weight. I’m struck by how creepy this idea is around the same time I’m checking Facebook to get all the birthdays right. I can’t stop now, though, because details are important and I’ve already been commissioned. Thus, Big Daddy Savage is born.
Making his model is more complicated. The character creator in Fire Pro Wrestling World is a lovely paradox—it looks basic, but everything slots together to allow a staggering degree of creativity. I get stuck early on—there’s a blank space where a human ass should be—but I get the hang of it. I subconsciously cast Phil in the image of Decker from a long-forgotten Taito coin-op called Champion Wrestler, a game that was almost certainly terrible, then move on to tweaking stats. I decide to give him insanely high defence because fighting Big Daddy Savage should be like punching a multistorey car park, but again, the rules dictate that I’m not allowed to max him out. His finisher is a chokeslam I call ‘Savatage’.
Samuel Roberts is next, and he’s relatively easy—I call him Slamuel (because why wouldn’t I?), give him massive arms, then spend 20 minutes trying to find the right face. I give up when I realise there are over 300, and just go back to my first choice. He’s a monster: if you say ‘suplex’ three times in the mirror at midnight, Slamuel will appear and drop you on your neck. My favourite creation, however, is Tom Senior. Because his Twitter name is PCGLudo, Tom becomes The Ludodor—the world’s only videogame-based lucha libre wrestler, complete with a PC Gamer-themed colour scheme. You can add another layer of authenticity to his character by producing Tom’s surname in the style of Speedy Gonzales (don’t do that). I’m tempted to keep going—art editor John Strike has a name that screams ‘spin kicks’ and Drew Sleep already sounds like a finishing move—but it takes ages to make each one, and I’m keen to get my slam on. The only thing left is a name for my new stable. After discarding some dogshit ideas (The Beta Males, The 4K Horseman, and The Roguealikes), I settle on The Noob Day. Yes, that was honestly the best one.
I set up a three-on-three tag match between The Noob Day and a team of NPC wrestlers. I was aiming for a boisterous tornado match, but I miss the option to change it from a normal tag team bout. It’s not bad for a debut, but the chemistry isn’t there—that’s another way of saying it takes me ages to find the tag button, and that The Ludodor refuses to tag out even though he’s getting pulverised. He reaches Big Daddy Savage, who charges in and chokeslams Bobby Bobby (yes, that’s really his name) for a muscular win. The match gets 82%. Not bad.
It’s then I realise I’m doing Fire Pro all wrong. Not the fighting itself—the match was a slobberknocker—but the structure. Why the hell am I using cabbagey default wrestlers when I could download a superstar? The game’s only been in Early Access a week and there are already over 150 pages of custom creations featuring every notable wrestler that is, was, or ever will be. I open up the Workshop to find pristine versions of the biggest names in sports entertainment. I think about pitting The Noob Day against Shinsuke Nakamura, Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada, but then something changes my mind.
It’s Bob Ross. Someone has actually made Bob Ross, and he’s perfect. The clothes, the beard, the trademark sunrise of curls. Even the height is correct (a surprising six foot two inches, not including permed Afro). I decide that pitting The Noob Day against niche wrestlers will only entertain 50% of readers, so I cast my net wider. I scroll past Solid Snake, Chris Redfield and A Bear (description: ‘IT’S A BEAR’), but they’re not good enough. No, I need to pick cultural touchstones that every PC Gamer reader will understand and adore. I chose Gabe Newell, Geralt of Rivia (complete with three different clothing options) and, erm… Bob Ross. I was always going to pick Bob. I’m not apologising.
I set up a mighty Battle Royale and pick the teams, forgetting that a Battle Royale, by its very definition, is all-against-all. I decide there’s a very good wrestling reason why Samuel, Tom and Phil are enemies now—fast friendships strained to destruction by arguments over the positioning of Dragon Age 2 in the Top 100. Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Whatever the cause, as soon as the bell goes they’re kicking the hot takes out of each other.
I’m playing as Big Daddy Savage (BDS for short, which is an ‘M’ away from being a far more sinister gimmick). Phil locks up with Gaben first—two mastodons of the squared circle, smashing into each other like angry ice cream trucks. The match breaks up, and Savage hits a monstrous double powerbomb on Bob Ross, helped by Geralt of Rivia. A high spot early in the match? This is going to be good.
I notice a red stain in the corner of the ring—Gaben has been busted open. He staggers across the ring wearing a crimson mask that matches his shirt. On the other side, Bob Ross has mounted Slamuel and is headbutting the devil out of him, blows apparently not softened by Bob’s fuzzy hair. The referee checks to see if he submits. Roberts is made of sterner stuff, but the damage is done.
The trauma of being brutalised by the man famous for popularising the wet-on-wet oil painting technique has left Samuel physically and mentally wrecked. He stumbles around the centre of the ring like a child lost at a car boot sale, and the canny Geralt sees an opportunity. He wraps Roberts up in a La Magistral cradle, pins his shoulders to the canvas, and we have our first elimination. Sam leaves the ring, disgusted with himself, but maybe, just maybe, relieved to be a safe distance from Bob Ross.
Phil forgets the probably-betrayal of his former colleague, picks up Geralt and hits the Savatage. It’s enough to keep Geralt down for three, but the match doesn’t let up. Gabe takes a superkick from Tom Senior and Phil capitalises, snapping Newell into a figure four leglock. There is no escape. Perhaps this is revenge for those bankrupting Steam summer sales. Or perhaps Phil was trying to hurt Tom and got confused. Whatever, Gaben taps and we’re down to three competitors. Phil, Tom, and softly-spoken submission machine Bob Ross.
But there are no friends here. Tom and Phil go at it, and Bob Ross lurks in the corner, like a panther in double denim, darting in to apply cruel submission holds to anyone unlucky enough to fall. Tom is next. Bob locks him in a modified kabel naria—a type of surfboard stretch with a facelock, which I’ll rename to The Happy Little Tree if I ever remember. Phil could save his former colleague, but this has become more than just a wrestling match: this is war. Battle war. The pain of betrayal and actual pain is too much for Tom, who submits, and we’re down to the final two.
Big Daddy Savage isn’t underestimating Ross. He might be a pacifist with a fondness for waterfalls, but he’s dangerous. He locks Phil in yet another horrible submission move, but Savage powers free and takes his chance. He draws a deep breath, grabs Bob Ross and hammers him into the mat with a chokeslam. He falls on top of him and the referee counts. The unholy bloodbath ends. The dance of slams is over. The lights in the nightclub are on, and Violence and Spectacle are leaving together. Phil has done it. The Noob Day have splintered after just two matches, but a long and illustrious singles career awaits the one they call Big Daddy Savage.