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Wednesday, April 17, 2019


What a 12 months WWE has had. As much as discussion and discourse surrounding professional wrestling can get muddied with jaded cynicism, April 2018 to April 2019 brought us a lot of good. The slow, steady climb of 205 Live and the creation of NXT UK; the First All-Women’s PPV, and the First Women’s WrestleMania Main Event. Career-defining stretches for superstars like Ronda Rousey, Daniel Bryan, Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins, Ricochet and Mustafa Ali. Twists and turns through intricately-woven stories: Dean Ambrose turning his back on The Shield, “The New” Daniel Bryan embracing his duty as the Planet’s Champion, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, The Aleister Black Whodunit, and the aforementioned rise of The Man.

Even with all that good however, there were some WWE decisions that left its’ fan base scratching their collective heads. From questionable business dealings with The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to more tangible story points like Brock Lesnar’s seemingly never-ending stranglehold on the Universal Title and the lack of direction for stars like Rusev and Asuka.

Therein lies the desire to re-book and re-create the last year of WWE action (and further), and I don’t necessarily think it’s a malicious desire. So much chatter between active wrestling fans is playing armchair booker, and it’s a sort of harmless-fun endeavor to undertake. It’s an endeavor I’ve been wishing to undertake since WWE 2K17’s release cycle, though it fell through multiple times. But it’s ready to begin now, and it’s WWE 2K19 Universe Mode!

An explanation of how the mode will run: firstly, the format isn’t really Universe Mode. At least not in the traditional sense. There’s not much in the way of “gameplay” to be seen (though there has been slider and attribute editing done behind the scenes to make playing the matches off-screen more engaging for me, and in turn, giving me more inspiration for match structure). Rather, the stories are told in-text, with screenshots from WWE 2K19 and an attached Excel spreadsheet that covers The 2018 WWE Draft, the rosters of each brand and where every superstar has ended up, divisions and contendership rankings towards titles on all the brands, a list of current champions, 2K19 ratings for all the superstars (starting at where I felt each superstar’s momentum was at on 4/9/18, and influenced by weekly power rankings), trades/signings between brands, injuries, and the WWE’s Current PPV/Event Schedule.

For the time being, the Universe will stay within the sphere of WWE’s talent roster. Acquisitions that WWE made from April 2018 to April 2019 like Matt Riddle, KUSHIDA, Mae Young Classic competitors and members of NXT UK’s roster will be slowly implemented; there’ll be an attempt to incorporate them at or around the same time they signed in real life, but in cases where the logistics don’t pan out (like the case of me not currently looking to make an equivalent NXT UK brand), it might not be 1:1. Eventually, some of these “indie signings” may be my own Original Characters plopped into NXT or 205Live just for personal fulfillment, but those will be handled on a case-by-case basis and will have a chance of trickling in only when the direction for the real-world roster is in place.

Injuries are accurate to 4/9/18, and the expected time-table for injury returns are as well. This caveat mainly effects a case like Jason Jordan’s, in which news coming out around WrestleMania 34 had him slated for a RAW After ‘Mania or early summer 2018 return, but as of writing one year later, it seems unlikely that he’ll ever see in-ring competition again due to the unfortunate circumstances of his injury. An example like Jordan’s would have him return in-game despite not doing so in real life.

And of course, the elephant in the room: comparisons to real-life ongoing storylines and emulation of those stories in Universe Mode. As previously mentioned, WWE was responsible for good and bad this year, and some of the good to come out of the creative banks has been really good. Some stories after WrestleMania stretching into the summer months felt like a logical progression for the characters in question, such as Axel & Dallas being separated from Miz via a draft/shakeup, and as a result, become fish-out-of-water plucky underdogs; that is a real-world WWE storyline worth emulating in Universe Mode.

Some of “the bad”, even, may be just minutia that only requires small tweaks (I think “Bludgeon Brothers” is kinda campy), and there is power to change the bad or ignore it/retcon it based on personal preference. Overall, current day WWE storylines, in a small way, are an inspiration for the creative direction of this Universe Mode, as are many other wrestling-based sources of inspiration that I’ve compiled in my time watching the medium.

So, with all the ground rules and explanation out of the way, it’s time to get started! The aforementioned Excel Spreadsheet is attached, and accurate to 4/9/18, just before the RAW After ‘Mania and right after the 2018 WWE Draft (surprises to come on the night’s RAW are intentionally omitted). The RAW After WrestleMania 34 is coming soon! Thank you all for your interest in this project, and catch you all for RAW to get this kicked off right.

~Tim K. (TheGoldViper)
Category: Pilots/Intros

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