Gaming Stories: Video Game Championship Wrestling III

WWE’s Royal Rumble 2013 will take place this weekend, so it’s as good a time as any to check on one of my favorite online video gaming streams, Bazza87’s Video Game Championship Wrestling.

Several developments have taken place since when we last checked in with Video Game Championship Wrestling. The most significant development has been Bazza87’s agreement to a partnership deal with Twitch, which caused a number of fans to raise their concerns about how the stream would theoretically need to change in order to maintain the partnership. In many ways, Bazza87’s partnership with Twitch, which would generate revenue for Bazza87 for the work he puts into making the stream one of the most interesting views on the Web, reminded me of when independent wrestling companies sign deals with television stations and must change. 

When Extreme Championship Wrestling, at the time the third largest wrestling promotion in the United States, signed a national television distribution deal in 1999 with TNN, which was then known as The Nashville Network and transformed into The National Network and is today known as Spike, Extreme Championship Wrestling fans balanced their hope for the company’s survival because of the revenue that this deal brought and the concerns that the company would have to tone down its content in order to satisfy TNN’s advertisers. In many ways, Extreme Championship Wrestling fans’ fears were ultimately confirmed. Recently, when Ring of Honor, the largest independent wrestling company currently in operation and in many ways Extreme Championship Wrestling’s successor, signed a national television distribution deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group, the same concerns about how Ring of Honor would have to change its content in order to satisfy Sinclair Broadcast Group and its advertisers arose among Ring of Honor fans. The fear boils down to the effect money has on art.

Extreme Championship Wrestling, the cautionary example for all independent wrestling companies that followed.

Modern professional wrestling tradition dictates that a wrestler who is perceived to prioritize money over the fans must be taunted with chants of “You sold out!” I can’t say that the chant originated in Extreme Championship Wrestling when its wrestlers would leave the company for more lucrative contracts with World Championship Wrestling or World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment), but its use in Extreme Championship Wrestling certainly popularized it. So, when Bazza87, through “Baz McMahon,” his avatar in Video Game Championship Wrestling show, announced his deal with Twitch during the January 22, 2013 Video Game Championship Wrestling show, he piped in the “You sold out” chant into his show to tie his show to professional wrestling tropes once again. He then addressed his fans’ concerns that the partnership would cause Bazza87 to stop using certain songs during the show by stating unequivocally, “If I play certain music that I don’t have permission to use…this channel could get shut down. Well, what stops me from making a new channel if that happens? I’d lose my partnership sure, but VGCW will live on. So let’s answer the question. Will I stop using certain music? No chance in hell.” And of course the scene ended with “No Chance in Hell,” the theme song for both Baz McMahon in Video Game Championship Wrestling and Mr. McMahon in World Wrestling Entertainment. 

Bazza87’s broadcasting pace has not slowed; since our last post, Bazza87 has held shows on December 23, January 1, January 5, January 13, January 16, January 17, and January 22. The regular scheduling has also continued, but it does not seem to have negatively affected Video Game Championship Wrestling’s popularity. Each show continues to be viewed live by 2000-3000 viewers, and the Twitch chat and the NeoGAF thread remain active during shows.
The Video Game Championship Wrestling championship churn that I discussed last time seems to have stabilized a little. The VGCW Championship bounced from Proto Man to Donkey Kong on the December 19 show and to Solid Snake on the December 23 show, but it has since remained with Raphael, who defeated Solid Snake on the January 1 show. Raphael has defended against Dr. Eggman’s master plan twice and Dan Hibiki. Meanwhile, the team of Dr. Eggman and Dr. Wily, collectively known as The Practice, defeated GameCenter FU, the team of the Angry Video Game Nerd and GameCenter CX’s host Shinya Arino, for the Co-Op Championship on the December 19 show. The Practice defended their titles against Ganondorf and Zangief’s Gerudo Skies before losing them to Mr. Satan and Dan Hibiki’s Raw Power, who have so far successfully defended their titles against Mega Man and Proto Man’s Team Light. 
F.K. In the coffee!

Bazza87 has also tried to refresh the roster by introducing new characters, such as Capcom’s Mike Haggar, Gary Oak, Locke Cole and Sabin Rene Figaro from Final Fantasy VI, and Ron Burgundy while also removing characters like Wreck-It Ralph. Every viewer probably has characters whom he or she thinks should be eliminated or added, and the Video Game Championship Wrestling Wikia now has a character suggestion page to accommodate the fans’ desires. As always, Bazza87’s ability to meet fan requests for characters depends on the availability of the Create-a-Wrestler model in the PS3’s WWE ’13 online community, the need to balance introducing too many new characters and eliminating old favorites, consideration of whether the character would appeal to enough viewers, and whether the character was imbued with enough personality in his or her home game to make him or her worthwhile in a freeform meme melting pot like Video Game Championship Wrestling. For example, Francis York Morgan from Deadly Premonition might be a great character to introduce because of Deadly Premonition‘s cult status, the notoriety of “Life Is Beautiful” from the Deadly Premonition soundtrack, the sheer number of remixes available for “Life Is Beautiful,” and the memes that originated from Deadly Premonition, but he wouldn’t be a good character to add because he’s visually similar to Phoenix Wright, who’s already in the game.

The intersection between the information that viewers bring with them and what happens in the game’s simulation continues to be a primary source of Video Game Championship Wrestling’s entertainment. In the Pokemon cartoon, Ash Ketchum toiled in Gary Oak’s shadow. On the January 6, 2013 show, Gary Oak debuted in Video Game Championship Wrestling to challenge Ash Ketchum and remind him that Gary Oak is better than Ash Ketchum. To the viewers’ surprise, Ash Ketchum beat Gary Oak, as the game’s AI decided that Ash Ketchum was better than Gary Oak on that day.  

Ash was no loser on the January 6, 2013 show.

Furthermore, Bazza87 has addressed the difficulty of creating compelling professional wrestling storylines caused by his inability to directly control the matches’ outcomes by relying more heavily on WWE ’13‘s story creation tools. The current storyline concerns Phoenix Wright’s quest to uncover who ran down Little Mac with a sedan. Nappa joined Phoenix Wright in this investigation, while Baz McMahon continued to hinder their attempts to uncover the culprit by pitting them against his stooges, Ezio, Raphael, and Gary Oak. On the January 22, 2013 show, Phoenix Wright, Nappa, and Solid Snake were able to defeat Ezio, Raphael, and Gary Oak in a tag team match, which then allowed Phoenix Wright to arrest Baz McMahon. However, Bazza87 was able to use another tool available to him, direct text insertion into the Twitch video player, to create a cutscene to show that Baz McMahon was only a red herring and that there is someone else responsible for Little Mac’s accident.

If Baz McMahon wasn’t the real culprit, who is?

While Phoenix Wright’s investigation continues to be the central storyline running through Video Game Championship Wrestling, my favorite has been the rise and fall of Vegeta, jobber extraordinaire. Vegeta had earned his reputation for futility by losing almost every singles match in which he’s participated until he faced fan favorite Charles Barkley. While Charles Barkley has one of the best theme songs in Video Game Championship Wrestling, he’s had middling success in matches. He reached his lowest point when he lost to Vegeta on the January 16, 2013 show; this loss started a small feud between Vegeta and Charles Barkley and between Vegeta’s fans and Charles Barkley’s supporters. While Charles Barkley was able to win a Best Out of 3 Falls match against Vegeta, Vegeta has actually won 2 matches against Charles Barkley, to Barkley’s eternal shame. Everyone enjoys stories of redemption, and Vegeta’s little redemption at Barkley’s expense was particularly entertaining.

Finally, the community’s involvement with Video Game Championship Wrestling expanded when the Video Game Championship Wikia opened. Fans sprang to action to create entries detailing each wrestler, the stream’s history, and documenting the universe that Bazza87 and the fans have created, such as the sordid history of Table-san. This type of community involvement is key to Video Game Championship Wrestling’s sustainability.

Time passes and things change, but Video Game Championship Wrestling continues to be one of the most enjoyable parts of the gaming community that I’ve experienced. There was a rumor that the organizers of the Evo Championship Series were willing to exhibit Video Game Championship Wrestling at Evo 2013, but nothing seems to have come out of that rumor so far. Bazza87 has addressed some of the major concerns about the stream’s sustainability that I outlined in my previous posts about Video Game Championship Wrestling, and I look forward to how Video Game Championship Wrestling will continue to evolve in the future. 

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11285103196469452246 Mahala

    Great articles on VGCW, keep it up!