Total Extreme Wrestling, a pro wrestling management game, has a thriving community that's existed since the early 2000s, but you wouldn't know it. Forum user TCP1 told me he's played it as far back as a decade ago.
"The idea of running Jushin Liger vs The Rock at WrestleMania was too much to ignore." he told me.
In real life, that happening is a longshot—Liger wrestled predominantly in Japan, the Rock in the United States. But in Total Extreme Wrestling, the main draw isn't necessarily playing the default game, which, due to copyright issues, is full of fictional characters. It's being able to rewrite history, which thanks to the thriving modding scene on TEW's forums, continues to be entirely possible.
Total Extreme Wrestling is similar to management simulation games such as Football Manager and NFL Head Coach in that you don't actually play as a wrestler like in WWE 2K16—rather, you control your own professional wrestling organization. Every managerial aspect of the promotion, from hiring and firing wrestlers to setting up your own television and PPV matches is available at your fingertips. It can be competitive, especially when fending off against rival promotions, but the effort pays off big time when the ultimate goal—to become the top professional wrestling organization in the world—is reached.
The most intriguing thing about Total Extreme Wrestling that separates it from other managerial simulators is that you're managing a sport that yes, shock of shocks, is predetermined. So when you take control of one of TEW's mods, you're able to choose anyone, no matter what their ability level is, and make them into a star. And not only that, you can change the course of history. If you don't like the WWE (known as the WWF from the late 70s until 2002) or Hulk Hogan, you can play TCP1's Death of the Territories mod, set one year before either became mainstream entities, and destroy WWF promoter Vince McMahon's dream of pro wrestling dominance by building your own promotion full of wrestlers who never got a shot at the big time.
That is what is so intriguing about TEW—and that is why so many people dedicate their time to it. If you put in the right amount to work to create pictures, banners, titles, title histories, wrestlers, announcers, historical events, and so much more, the greater the illusion will be when you start the game. People in this community love rewriting history, so much that another popular section of their forums, dynasties, features players taking their games and creating episodic content that can last for years.
In Total Extreme Wrestling, it is you that tells the story, through your own imagination. That's why I've played the game for many years, and it's also why many people in TEW's community still play and participate to this day. TCP1 told me the same thing.
"It's about storytelling in its purest form. I love telling stories."