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The EXCELLENCE IN WWE COLUMN WRITING is upon you and exclusively here, as always, at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. I’m just LAUGHING at the WWE right now… They actually hyped matches in advance and featured a RAW with a “Main Event” of Braun Strowman vs. Kane… The end result? Oh, just all 3 hours this week being UNDER 3 million viewers. Usually, that first hour creates some interest but not this week. It seems that the further we get away from Brock Lesnar appearing on RAW, the lower the viewership gets. Thanks to 2017’s booking of Lesnar disposing of Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman already, they’re NOT over to draw… Roman Reigns, the “chosen one”, isn’t drawing either because nobody has a real shot at beat him. I like Cesaro and admired the carry job he did this week, but did you really believe he had a chance to take down the Roman Empire?
Enough gloating… I have a responsibility to cover this week. Well, two responsibilities… One is an actual Video Game review, which is the first in about 15 years for my column, and then plastering on a fake smile to get through Pay Per View predictions.
Mr. Tito’s PHAT Video Game Review: WWE 2K18 for the Nintendo Switch
First and foremost, let it be known that I’m a loyal Nintendo gamer and have been since the late 1980s dating back to the NES, Gameboy, SNES, Nintendo 64, and then GameCube. Took a break from gaming during the Wii/Xbox 360/Playstation 3 days and then returned when Mario Kart 8 looked amazing to me and I got the Wii U. Enjoyed that system, actually, and then purchased the Nintendo Switch. I’m a Mario and Zelda guy and enjoy their games (and spinoffs) the most in gaming. First Person Shooters or anything like that actually give me motion sickness and I just don’t like reality based games where you have to kill often. Thus, I’ve stuck with Nintendo all the way and it often delivers me with my gaming fix.
The Nintendo Switch launched during March but due to the successful launch, Take-Two Interactive made an announcement that their 2K Sports line would place WWE 2K18 during July 10th, 2017. Mind you, they officially launched the Switch version on December 6th, 2017 and I received my physical copy version on December 8th. Timeline wise, this is 5 months to get this port on the Switch? That context must be understood.
I’m actually tired of hearing Nintendo getting a bad wrap on WWE 2K18. It’s not Nintendo’s fault as many software titles, both 1st Party and 3rd Party, run just fine on the Switch. I should know as I’ve bought most Triple A releases for this system both first and third. That also includes 2 other Take-Two Interactive games released for the Switch in LA Noire and NBA 2K18. Those games run just fine. If you’ll recall from the Nintendo Switch’s October 2016 launch trailer, NBA 2K18 was featured… Thus, Take-Two or 2K Sports was working on NBA 2K18 for a long while before it was released. NBA 2K18 and LA Noire require large portions of your microSD card, too, and run just fine. Skyrim, FIFA 18, and Mario + Rabbids run just fine on the Switch as 3rd Party games as do the many 1st Party games such as Mario Kart 8, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Splatoon 2.
It’s not the system… It’s the game. 5 months to port over a MASSIVE game that was meant for the more higher powered Playstation 4 and Xbox One…
That is clearly what is wrong with WWE 2K18 for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a game that appears rushed and/or not meant for the underpowered Switch in its current form. Reportedly, EA Sports got wise and ported a previous generation version of FIFA 18 to the Switch to make a good game. 2K Sports might have been wise to follow that path with a previous PS3 or Xbox 360 version instead of forcing a port meant for a stronger next-gen Playstation or Xbox system.
I could certainly understand the Graphics downgrade… You can clearly see it with the Switch game. However, that’s not an issue for me. Gameplay matters to me. To this day, I enjoy playing the Nintendo 64 WWE games and those wrestlers are very blocky. If a wrestler doesn’t look perfect, I’m not picky.
The issue is productivity and slowness. This game is brutally slow throughout the menu screens and then with the gameplay. In fact, the gameplay is so affected by slowdowns that it actually starts glitching. You’ll hear Michael Cole start and stop sentences often while also being delayed on certain things. The entrances are so slow with the video of the wrestlers entering the arena that the theme music and the wrestler’s actions are not in sync. Then with the action inside the ring, one on one is slow moving… But the if you dare to add more wrestlers or gimmicks to a match, it slows to a crawl and even threatens to freeze. Then, if you control tutorials turned on which could randomly interrupt your in-ring experience with tips on how to execute moves, that could threaten to freeze the game. If you play Royal Rumble, the next wrestler coming in will actually briefly freeze the game before he arrives… Sometimes, it won’t come back.
Folks, on my FIRST GAMEPLAY where I played as AJ Styles taking on Bobby Roode in a regular singles match, the game froze on me and required me to close it. The VERY first match! Click here to see my Tweet to prove it (exclude the sideways photo, as I crudely uploaded it from my phone). First match!
Here’s the thing… I see a potentially GOOD GAME with this… I enjoyed working with the Create-a-Wrestler and the controls seem pretty good and simple. I have played through a handful of matches, tried the MyWrestler mode (or whatever), and enjoyed taking the time to customize my own wrestlers. At times, it did remind me of the pacing of the Nintendo 64 games… But then it would get slower. Getting through Menus and then the entrances, even if you “skip” them, is an absolute chore. The menu system, entrances, and in-ring action perform poorly on the Nintendo Switch based on the way Take-Two’s 2K Sports has programmed this game. It’s so sloooooowwwww…
Now, if this game receives some sort of PATCH that could significantly overhaul the way that the game performs, I believe that this could become a GOOD game. From what I would slowly see and play, I saw potential… I could imagine that if I owned Playstation 4 or Xbox One (don’t want either), I could enjoy this game. Sort of reminds me of the GameCube WWE Day of Reckoning games and those are among my favorite wrestling games of all time. I played some of the late 2000s WWE games for the Xbox 360 and I certainly liked the controls better for WWE 2K18. However, it’s the slowness that kills this game.
Take-Two Interactive HAS to fix this game. It’s not fair what they delivered to the Nintendo Switch, especially with the Switch receiving criticism for a poorly programmed game. Again, other Take-Two games (LA Noire, NBA 2K18) perform just fine on the Switch as do other 3rd and 1st Party Games. WWE also needs to take charge, as the Switch is red hot with sales (just reportedly crossed the 10 million mark in just 9 months!) and establishing a presence on this system could be necessary. If not and Take-Two leaves the game as it is, then it will kill sales of this game and ruins Nintendo’s growth in the gaming market.
GRADE: Slowness kills this game. Brutal to get through menus, loading times, slow entrances not in sync with theme music, and slow in-ring action that gets worse with more wrestlers added and gimmicks. Even just playing regular one-on-one matches can become slow and as experienced in my very first match, it can freeze or glitch. 2K Sports had 5 months to port this correctly and that apparently was not enough time. It seems to me that they rushed it to make the Christmas Season but may have destroyed any goodwill gained with Nintendo players with a botched effort. Worse yet, 2K Sports kept very quiet on the problems that they were potentially having and that’s not good customer service. I’d rather take delays to enhance quality of a game instead of silence to hide a bad game looming. Game gets a grade of a “D” for severe slowness throughout the game. I do see potential for a major grade revision if a patch greatly improves the productivity of this game. I like the features, create a wrestler, and controls… If 2K Sports can just overcome the slowness of how the game performs, I would upgrade my grade. If not, they deserve a massive FINGER OF SHAME for simultaneously upsetting WWE and Nintendo fans at the same time.
You know, this WWE 2K18 for the Nintendo Switch reminds me a lot of the actual WWE company… The infrastructure for both seem to good… As I said with WWE 2K18, I like the features, create-a-wrestler, and easy controls… For WWE, you’ve got strong production, great big events, WWE Network, and a dedicated tour… But it’s the in-ring product that is lacking in both from quality. And I’m not talking about the wrestlers, as I’d argue that both WWE and WWE 2K18 have nice rosters full of talent. But it’s the presentation of them that crushes both the WWE company and the WWE 2K18 game for the Switch.
Take Jinder Mahal as a fine example. Did you see what happened in India with his match against Triple H? Freakin’ Triple H actually BEAT HIM in India. How about that? Talk about a burial because Jinder’s overpushing didn’t cause any growth in India. WWE cancelled one of the India houseshows due to poor ticket sales and Meltzer reported that WWE Network subscriptions in India actually declined since Jinder’s push. Yet, since a few weeks following Wrestlemania 33, that’s all Smackdown has been about and that’s Jinder Mahal rise to becoming WWE Champion.
First and foremost, the “Superstar Shake-up” was a joke as *I* predicted it would be. Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, the Miz have actually become worse and become lesser wrestlers, in the scheme of things, on RAW than they were on Smackdown. Hell, Ambrose and Wyatt were former WWE Champions recently and Miz revitalized his career on Smackdown. I’d argue that Alexa Bliss was better on Smackdown, too, but I could see a debate on that.
Also in the “shake-up”, it moved Jinder Mahal to Smackdown following his role as a jobber on RAW. In fact, Bryan Alvarez reported that before his Smackdown move, he didn’t win a televised RAW match since August 2016. I believe that the Pro Wrestling Data Based showed that he won less than 18% of his career WWE matches and that includes tag matches. Yet, he’s moved to Smackdown and instantly becomes #1 contender, wins the WWE Title in his first attempt, and then has a lengthy WWE Title reign. He almost had a match with Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series 2017 until WWE ditched those plans by having AJ Styles win the WWE Title 2 weeks before that event (had a fantastic match against Lesnar, too). Then, the WWE places the dirt over the Jinder grave by having Triple H defeat him in India.
It’s always nice when part-time wrestlers can defeat full-time wrestlers anytime they want to. It’s also funny when part-time non-wrestlers like Shane McMahon can keep up with full-time wrestlers. You wonder why no current roster guys are drawing?
But the reason why the current roster guys aren’t drawing is because WWE keeps pushing the WRONG guys, like Jinder Mahal, to the top. What’s left for Jinder to do now that he’s failed as WWE Champion to draw (before he was champ, Smackdown averaged 2.6-2.7 million viewers, now it does 2.5 million or less… Live attendance has been embarrassing)? Go back down the midcard like Miz or Sheamus did after their failed main event runs? Look at how many years it took for Miz to rehab himself between 2011 and 2016. Ridiculous. Sheamus has never recovered from his multiple over-pushings.
Then on RAW, you have the other example of a manufactured top guy in Roman Reigns. He beats CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Undertaker, Triple H, and John Cena 100% clean and yet he’s NOT OVER. What if I gave this same push to his recent RAW opponent, Cesaro? Do you think he’d be as over as Roman, if not more? How about during 2013 following SummerSlam 2013? What if you let Daniel Bryan beat a bunch of top guys 100% clean instead of letting Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt have their way with him? Imagine if CM Punk beat Triple H during 2011 with a 100% clean finish? What if CM Punk got a win over the Rock during early 2013?
WWE has completely forgot how to make top superstars… They’ve ignored the entire process of developing a singles wrestler as a midcarder and if the fans buy into that guy, push him towards the main event. Instead, every newer wrestler is pushed to the top just after they debut. Last time I checked, Hulk Hogan, John Cena, the Rock, Bret Hart, Steve Austin, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels, Batista, Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Triple H, Mick Foley, etc. all spent years in the midcard to develop their characters, draw with midcard titles, and get strong as in-ring wrestlers before getting that promotion.
It’s like at a real workplace, maybe yours… What is on every job description? Not just the Education, but usually “5 Years Experience”. The dirty secret in the job market is that your education won’t get you hired… It’s job experience + education that lands you a job. I always tell incoming hires who take entry jobs that YES, a college education will lead to higher paying jobs… But usually in your 30s. You need experience first and then when you become a strong employee that exceeds their current job description, that’s when the promotions start… Or, you can market yourself elsewhere.
With the WWE, they higher hand-picked individuals out of college and promote them immediately. Roman Reigns was rushed through the developmental system and as a detriment to himself, he was hidden in Tag Matches from 2012-2013 before venturing off into Main Event singles matches during 2014. He wasn’t ready for the spotlight… Jinder Mahal was a midcarder who jobbed often on RAW. Then on Smackdown, he was instantly pushed to the top. He wasn’t ready.
As I said in my previous column(s)… Can we get the Vince McMahon who was responsible for the 1980s Hulkamania Era that had nationwide growth or the late 1990s Attitude Era? Will the real Vince McMahon PLEASE STAND UP? Because I haven’t seen him in years… Were you that reliant on Hulk Hogan, Pat Patterson, Steve Austin, and Jim Ross and should they receive more credit for WWE’s growth than you?
I’m actually struggling with my 2017 WWE Awards because it wasn’t a good in-ring year for the company. Pay Per Views during 2017 weren’t anywhere near as good as Pay Per Views that I saw on the WWE Network from 2015-2016. Funny how that happens with a split WWE roster and then the “Superstar Shake-up” that followed Wrestlemania 33.
Like WWE 2K18 for the Nintendo Switch, the WWE itself needs reprogrammed.
WWE Clash of Champions Predictions
I cannot be the only one who hates the “Clash of Champions” Pay Per View name… It’s a nod to WCW, but their shows were called Clash of THE Champions which makes more sense.
Zack Ryder vs. Mojo Rawley
Both guys have had their Wrestlemania moments such as Ryder winning that midcard title ladder match and Mojo winning the Andre the Giant battle royal… How did either moment help their careers again? What hurts both wrestlers are them being marks for themselves or appearing to be from different eras. There’s just nothing there from either guy to extend themselves from being midcarders. However, a strong match between the two could change things. I think if both wrestlers do something abnormal from their characters in this match to cause doubletakes of fans, it could help both long-term. Then, change their music, looks, attitudes, and finishers. Repaired.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Zack Ryder
WHO WILL WIN: Mojo Rawley
Breezango vs. Bludgeon Brothers
Please. Size matters and the hosses will kill these guys.
WHO SHOULD WIN/WHO WILL WIN: Bludgeon Brothers
Women’s Title: Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Natalya – Lumberjack Match
Too many variables in this one with the Lumberjack match. That said, I don’t see the WWE wanting to take the title away from Charlotte with recent Ric Flair news in the mainstream media. I’d keep that title on Charlotte for a long, long time… What she needs is a fresh heel to wrestle other than Natalya whom we’ve seen for years. The rest of the Smackdown women’s roster is basically the same but with Becky Lynch having strong in-ring talent of them all. I’d take a page out of Lynch’s playbook from her old NXT takes and push her as a heel for Charlotte’s opposition. Both Lynch and Flair would tear down the house for workrate.
WHO SHOULD WIN / WHO WILL WIN: Charlotte Flair. If Natalya wins, Charlotte will regain the title quickly. I’m convinced now that it will be Charlotte, not John Cena, who breaks Ric Flair’s record.
Fatal 4 Way for Tag Titles: Usos (c) vs. New Day vs. Rusev/Alex English vs. Gable/Benjamin
Hard to say if WWE wants to try Gable/Benjamin or not… I just don’t see it, yet. Rusev and English are just warm bodies for this match. If anyone wins, it would be the New Day but we’ve seen New Day vs. Usos many times before. However, the Usos have been kept strong throughout the year and keeping them strong as heel champions sets the stage for a worthy babyface team to come along and beat them. I just don’t know if Gable and Benjamin are ready for that role, yet.
WHO SHOULD WIN / WHO WILL WIN: The Usos
Randy Orton/Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn/ Kevin Owens with Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan as Special Guest Referees
“Sports Entertainment” match here… I think that a heel turn for Daniel Bryan is coming and that may set-up Daniel Bryan vs. Shane McMahon at Wrestlemania or reportedly, SummerSlam. I don’t know… But what I do know is that WWE probably wants to shake-up their two babyface authority structure. Be careful what you wish for, WWE, because if Daniel Bryan goes heel and creates a tremendous character with it, he can take that to another company… Or the heel character just gets over with the WWE as a babyface.
WHO SHOULD WIN / WHO WILL WIN: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
WWE Title: AJ Styles vs. Jinder Mahal
A few weeks ago, the plan was STILL to have Jinder Mahal vs. John Cena at Wrestlemania 34. That’s crazy… But then Jinder lost his WWE title and then lost to Triple H in India. I believe that WWE is beginning to finally give up on Jinder… Does that mean that we’ll maybe see AJ Styles vs. John Cena at Wrestlemania? That would be amazing and if the WWE Title were on the line, that would be incredible. Probably wishful thinking.
WHO SHOULD WIN: AJ Styles
WHO WILL WIN: Jinder Mahal, as I hate myself for predicting this. I really do.
SO JUST CHILL… ‘TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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