Update: The third and final part is now a thing that you can read!
I’ve been playing WWE 2K15, a game where men and women chiseled out of marble and spritzed with what must be the highest quality spring water fight for the entertainment of cheering, howling, jeering masses. It’s gladiatorial combat, but with the absurdity and drama of an American soap opera. I’m in love.
Since I sort of got stuck doing this whole writing about video games thing, I never got to be a professional wrestler, or wrastler if you prefer. Fate has been cruel to me, but like its console counterpart and predecessors, WWE 2K15 has a career mode.
Join me as I explore its sweaty nooks and crannies.
PART THREE - RISE AND FALL AND FALL AGAIN
I have been a professional wrestler for almost a week. It’s been a career devoid of drama or excitement, and I have become intimately familiar with the fists of my enemies and the mat; both being things that my face has collided with many times.
If a wrestling pundit was to sum up my career, it could only be described as an embarrassment to the sport. “Why would anyone let a giant baby-man into the ring,” they would ask. And nobody would have an answer.
I have yet to win a single match, and the name Baby-Faced Babyman has become synonymous with failure. But it’s also become synonymous with a stalwart refusal to give up. I am the underdog of underdogs, always dusting himself off and getting back into the ring for another round of humiliating wrestling.
Now I’m about to face what might be the most important match of my life.
William Regal, the one man who always had faith in me, has come to the realisation that I might be quite shit. My pressing R2 skills are just not good enough. I’m too quick. I’m too slow. I’m never just right. So, when arranging my next match, William Regal selected an “easier opponent” for me.
Enter, this dude.
He’s bad, guys. Like, I can probably beat this dude bad.
I put my pale, flabby body to work, entertaining the audience with my exceptional athleticism, my killer moves and the piece of popcorn chicken that fell out of one of my rolls of flab. They don’t cheer, they roar, with an ecstasy that threatens to bring down the whole building.
I do stuff like this.
But other stuff too.
I do all the stuff. All the moves.
And then, my enemy, Ray Rich, collapses as I punch him right in his gorgeous face. He’s down, and he’s not getting back up. I lie down on top of him, our sweat mingling, and sort of just stay there, rubbing my nipples against his. It’s a classic pin. The ref counts to three, and it’s over. Finally! After all this hard work, I can walk up to someone on the street, grab them, and yell “I am a man who has won the wrestling,” and it won’t be a lie.
I am a man who has won the wrestling.
I now know what it feels like to be a Mighty Duck, the Karate Kid and Sylvester Stallone in that one film where he plays football against Nazis in a POW camp.
William Regal is extremely proud of me. So proud, in fact, that he’s setting up a match with one of the top guys in NXT and if I win-- wait, you’re making me fight what?
William Goddam Regal, you sonuvabitch. This is clearly a bad match. Me, Baby-Faced Babyman, a giant baby, against a proper wrestler. A “top guy”. I’m starting to wonder if this is a Trading Places deal; like there’s a wrestler, somewhere, who's had everything taken away from him, while I, a giant baby, take his place for the amusement of William Regal and his rich friends.
There is nothing I can do. When William Regal sets up a match, you get up and you do some wrestling. And, frankly, I couldn’t conceive of doing anything else. Wrestling is inside me now; it’s what I was born for.
This is who I am to face.
Bo Dallas, one time NXT champion. An inspiration.
I get the feeling that the crowd prefers his entrance to mine. He’s all smiles and giving everyone the thumbs up, while I enter the arena and do a bird impression and then I hit myself.
Bo Dallas is a better wrestler than I am. He wrestles the absolute shit out of me, and I find myself spending pretty much the entirety of the match either on the floor, or being picked up and slammed onto the floor. I’m utterly helpless.
There’s no inspiring underdog story here. Bo Dallas beats me into the ground and leaves me a battered, damp mess. And as I’m carried off, presumably, on a stretcher, Bo Dallas decides to start a fight with the ref. Look at him, sassing.
I’d never do that. I wilt in the face of authority.
With another dismal defeat under my belt, William Regal continues trolling me.
I never thought that William Regal would become my nemesis. I thought he had my back. But this is exactly the sort of soap opera treachery I should have been expecting. I’ve been such a fool.
And who exactly will I face in this contender fight?
This is a sick joke.
For the third time, I face THE WALL. I begin to wonder if he’s in on this conspiracy to shame me, and it all starts to make sense. But it becomes clear that something is different this time. In our last battle, THE WALL might have been declared the victor officially, but I defeated him mentally.
He’s been left with scars. Scars that I dramatically exploit with super awesome wrestling moves.
This time, he goes down and he doesn’t get back up.
I have no way to cope with this. He always kicks out. The world has changed in a thousand, tiny imperceptible ways. THE WALL has come down. What does this even mean?
William the Bastard explains.
It means I’m going to do something very, very silly. I’m going to fight the the NXT champion for a very gaudy, highly sought after belt. And then I’m going to die.
My opponent is a man from Newcastle who also looks like a redneck Dracula.
It’s a fight in the same way that a tank crushing a squirrel is a fight. He shrugs off every attack and retaliated with smug, casual assaults that utterly demolish me without any effort. It’s like watching a man throwing a baby around.
I manage to kick out of a couple of pins because I’m now quite good at hold down A and releasing it at the appropriate moment. But the third time, I do not release A at an appropriate moment, and the ref slaps his hand down one last time, signalling my defeat.
I’m in bad shape, sure. But the real blow comes from William the Bastard’s post-match tweet.
The WWE Universe would pitch a fit if I was fired? Me? That’s when it dawns on me, William Regal is just as much a slave to the universe as I am. He’s not been pulling my strings; he’s just another victim.
Unlike William Regal, I still have my will. There will be no more title fights for me, no more beatings. I’m done. Baby-Faced Babyman isn't the butt of anyone's jokes.
That wraps up Baby-Faced Babyman’s journey from nobody to somebody. It’s been traumatic. The final tally was 2 victories, countless losses and one pair of extra-cool sunglasses.