5 Things I Learned Playing WWE Immortals

So I’ve spent the last two weeks of my commutes playing WWE Immortals. NetherRealm and WWE’s insane mashup of injustice and the WWE universe. Now having waded through some clunky gameplay I’ve realized that this simple little phone game has a lot of little surprises and issues that help with a pretty good commentary on the current WWE products, so I feel it’s only right to share them with you.

1. This might be the most self-aware product WWE has ever had a hand in producing

Having spent a few hours plugging away at the game I’ve come to realize that the team working on it either snuck a large part of the product past the WWE, or were given the perfect amount of free range. By all rights WWE immortals should be nothing more than a terrible cell phone game that kills an hour of your time and is never touched again, similar to WWE Supercard; it has clunky gameplay, very little replayability, and quite a few glitches (Kane can clothesline people forever, or at least until they viewer dies of boredom, just like he does on Monday nights). On the opposite hand, unlike the extremely flat Supercard which tries to take the game, and the WWE brand as a whole seriously, Immortals took one look at the product and decided to present it as insanely as possible.

Just take a second to think about it, when you describe wrestling characters to your friends it is rarely a realistic description. Instead of saying, “John Cena is a large muscley dude who slams people from his shoulders and does not lose, he is wrestling Brock Lesnar, who is an evil muscley man who does german suplexes” you’ll notice that you usually use a combination of wwe buzzwords, and slang that smark fans pick up on the internet, “John Cena is superman, and Brock Lesnar is a monster in UFC trunks who tries to murder people in the ring by throwing them on their heads”. Immortals delivers that, John Cena is literally superman, Brock Lesnar is a murderous beast in a pair of shorts, the undertaker is a giant magical zombie thing. But as much as this is a hilarious look at the characters, it shows just how aware the team was of the product and brands they were producing, something we don’t normally see with WWE’s very bland presentation of the product in other media.

2. Daniel Bryan doesn’t need anything more than a beard and solid fundamentals

So in part one I brought up how everyone has had their character turned up to 11, but Daniel Bryan is the exact opposite, he’s just a dude in a T-shirt who kicks pretty hard just like you see him on TV, and to me that’s amazing.

This is important because the game expects you to pay for characters, either through randomly opened booster packs that cost up to $10, or by selecting them specifically, which sets you back a bit more than a random booster. Since this freemium aspect is in effect it’s a bit of a big deal when you luck out and are given a free character as a reward for beating a level, and I was never more excited while playing the game than when I got Daniel Bryan.

This isn’t because Bryan is one of my favourite wrestlers, he’s actually pretty middling on the list for me, but any other time I unlocked a character there is always that feeling of “Well evil sorceress Paige is pretty cool, but I wouldn’t have minded sketchy druid Sheamus”, this didn’t happen with Daniel Bryan because in the game he’s presented as is, a man with a beard, t-shirt, and solid fundamentals and that still connects with fans even when everyone else is full on cartoon insanity.

3. Even when he is a major plot point Bray Wyatt ends up forgotten

So the “plot” of the game has to do with Bray Wyatt having absorbed enough evil power into his dark lantern to destroy the world/conquer the WWE/create a never-ending supply of Hawaiian shirts; but he is double crossed by the authority and they steal his lantern and instead do whatever is best for business. Now obviously we’re not playing this game for its riveting plot (we are playing it for lumberjack Big Show), but all things aside the second you look at the roster you have to ask, where is Wyatt?

In a game where the greatest selling point is taking some of the most absurd parts of the WWE to their illogical extremes you have to wonder who thought it was a good idea to leave out the bayou snake cult leader with the haunted rocking chair? This also calls back to what has been going on recently on Raw, Bray seems to be floundering around, we’re reminded weekly just how scary of a person he is and that he must be a major player in the federation, but in the end he’s just become background noise.

4. Roman Reigns might be nothing more than a move set, that other people do better

So Roman Reigns big move in immortals is the Spear, but not just his normal tackle, instead he throws a harpoon to pull them in before tackling them. It’s a great call back to Scorpion of Mortal Kombat fame, but also left me a little sad when I noticed that I was using Roman reigns so that I could do Scorpions moves, it wasn’t that I wanted to play as Roman, it was that I used him because I couldn’t be Scorpion.

So what does this have to do with the current product? While in a recent interview Roman Reigns brought up that he’d brought the superman punch to wrestling, and made the spear his own move. Now it is true that he was the first wrestler to get the superman punch as a kind of believable move, he still gets it over based on the fact that the viewer’s know it can end fights in MMA. Roman Reigns did not make the superman punch, the superman punch made Roman Reigns. Add on to that the spear as a finisher has been extremely devalued in the last few years, so many wrestlers have done it, and they all run into the issue of trying to look as good as Goldberg’s, which is difficult if you’re not try to legitimately crush the person you’re tackling.

5. The WWE may finally just let their talent be the cartoon characters they were destined to be

So the best part of Immortals is that everyone is such a crazy version of themselves, and lately that has also been occurring in the WWE. A few years ago every character seemed to fall into the very similar category of “man in tights who punched other men in tights, maybe with a nickname” with the only breaks being legacy characters such as Kane, and Taker, or comedy acts like the Boogeyman or Kizarny. It felt like a blending of the popularity of UFC, as well as the company coming to terms with the idea of a reality/internet era of fans who knew a lot more.

Lately that quasi-reality characterization has been breaking down, even though Randy Orton, John Cena, Daniel Bryan and Cesaro still fit the role of legitimate athletes fighting other athletes, they’re now contending with snake cultists, murderous truckers, star children, evil motivational speakers, and whatever a Ryback is.

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