WWF Smackdown! Just Bring It was literally a bolt out of the blue in my after-school days. A demo disc found in a magazine – I think many of those who will read this WWE 2K23 review are finding themselves in these words of mine – that I casually decided to try it together with some friends. come to visit me at home to spend the classic three-hour afternoon pretending to study.
Impossible to forget the laughter, jumping, and unmitigated screaming that accompanied every single and tag team match (maybe there was also TLC but I’m not sure), the only two game modes available in the demo. The wonder at the first splash of blood that erupted from poor Triple H ‘s head after he suffered yet another violent sit-down while, between matches, we were breaking among ourselves the sacred law of wrestling, “Don’t Try This at Home” with a few pillows taken from the couch.
The Smackdown period! Here Comes The Pain
From that day, video games dedicated to wrestling became a must buy every year. The first name that comes to mind, as is obvious, is Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain, probably the most famous title among fans of the sport born like me in the 1990s. I still remember a tournament organized by a classmate of mine on the occasion of his birthday complete with a purpose-built scoreboard to get to the finals, putting all the poorer kids on his side.
The next period instead, that of Smackdown Vs Raw, burned as fast as Kurt Cobain. Let’s say that already two to three years after that magical beginning, the wonder effect was gradually beginning to wear off for several reasons. I was growing up and meanwhile becoming more and more aware of the fact that wrestling was pure fiction (as much as I didn’t want to admit it); my friends gradually began to abandon the medium to pursue those things you did at that age like what do you know, going out for coffee with the girl you liked.
Last but not least, generational turnover: athletes to whom I could in no way connect, caged in that silly nostalgia effect that often made me say, “eh of Eddie Guerrero there will only ever be one.” In short, for one reason or another, eventually there was no more opportunity for all of us to play together.
The return to the cage with WWE 2K23
The last game I got to try dedicated to the world of Wrestling was WWE 2K16, the one with Stone Cold Steve Austin on the cover, after that, the void. So imagine the hype mixed with curiosity as I start a new game of WWE 2K23, ready to pick up Eddie Guerrero or John Cena to whom 2K has dedicated this edition’s garish cover.
And while the tutorial of Xavier Woods confuses me between holds, rapid and charged blows to be chained together to kick off spectacular back-breaking combo, dodges and attacks to block, yes creates a clean break between the much more basic gameplay of the old WWE titles and the current ones (although we are not talking about a difficult tutorial to pass but the notions to be memorized are numerous and might initially bewilder a neophyte). Soon after, I am catapulted into the ring to take on John Cena himself in the first big match of WWE 2K23 in which, amidst broken noses and hobbled legs, I take home a nice win.
What impressed me most about the match, however, was noticing how emotionally involved I was: commenting on the match in real time; marveling at yet another shoulder lift of my opponent on the ground and cursing at the referee because he had started counting too late. These are all reactions that I haven’t felt in at least a decade.
The spectacle of the Elimination Chamber
As chance would have it, last Monday the good Freaking News partner Matteo Regoli showed up at my house for an important cinephile day. That same evening, in fact, we had the preview of Dungeons & Dragons – The Honor Among Thieves(if you missed it, here is our review of Dungeons & Dragons – The Honor Among Thieves) and so what better opportunity to shoot a few games of WWE 2K23 with company before getting going. So here we are impersonating the best wrestlers ever: Shawn Michaels, The Rock, Edge with Alter Bridge’s immense Metalingus as their entrance song, Batista and Goldberg.
We start with a couple of tag team matches followed by a scrappy Triple Threat where I manage to snatch a win by the skin of my teeth. To conclude, we shoot ourselves a crazy Royal Rumble In which we struggle tooth and nail. In an orgy of sweat and hypertrophied muscles., holding out until the climax of the event, however, missing that final stroke of the kidneys necessary to bring down from the third rope the last four opponents left with us in the ring. The same screams and laughter from the demo of WWF Smackdown! Just Bring It, gestures of stinginess by waving the joystick And long live the new wrestling game from 2K Games.
Movie at 8:30 p.m. ending at 10:30 p.m. Quick sandwich at McDonald’s and then off home. Once back, after the refreshing post Crispy McBacon glass of water, we exchange a look of understanding knowing that we were both thinking the same thing: “last match before bedtime?”
From then on we started I don’t know how many Elimination Chamber, mentally exhausting, adrenaline but at the same time confused – we were backpedaled a couple of times at the same time, and we didn’t know to whom the referee was turning the count up to three–and yet there is no rosiness or defeat in the heart of those who know they just spent two amazing hours mindlessly fucking around.
It became 1 a.m. How? Unknown. In fact, there may be a reason; I realized it the next day while rearranging my thoughts for the review. I’m pretty sure that with WWE 2K23, time has stood still. in one of those rare cases where the video game puts the hour count on standby, even allowing the hands to turn counterclockwise To rewind time and catapult you back into those memories that never really disappeared as the great Viva La Raza.