In 1998, the Playstation wrestling game WCW Nitro made the frankly insane decision to have each wrestler record a promo of themselves begging the player to pick them. A year later, the 1999 Playstation wrestling game WCW/nWo Thunder did it again, meaning there are 48 videos of confused wrestlers with 48 different ideas of what’s going on screaming 48 very insane things at children navigating a character select screen.
We have selected the sixteen best and seeded them into The 2022 WCW Playstation Promo Pickme Tournament. These are all real, and painstakingly transcribed. You’re going to love them; every single one is magical.
Seanbaby: So here’s how this works. We’ve matched up 1998’s Macho Man Randy Savage against 1999’s Anvil in a high-energy, throat-straining faceoff. These are, word-for-word, the pleas they made to players. Brockway and I will each pick a wrestler, and if we pick the same one the lucky screaming madman advances to the next stage of the tournament.
Seanbaby: Macho Man knew he was better than this the second his agent said, “Your WCW contract says you need to record a cute little clip for their video game.” So he went into this with no effort. This is Randy Savage at a zero. This is how Macho Man asks a waitress if he can get the Monte Cristo but with no powdered sugar. “I win at wrestling and hurt people,” he suggests? Not Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. Anvil was like, “YES YES YES ANVIL VIDEO!! THERE ARE THINGS PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ANVIL. AND ANVILS! THEY’RE A PART OF EVERYONE, OH FUCK, WERE WE ROLLING!? LET’S DO ANOTHER ONE HA HA HA ACTION! ANVILS! NOW… HIT THE MUSIC!“
Brockway: As always, Macho Man has my heart. But Anvil has my attention. He was utterly unprepared for even the most lighthearted improv, an integral part of his job, and he is possibly unsure of what anvils are? Again, a foundational part of the life he chose. There are only three things required of Anvil – be able to ad lib boasts and threats, understand what an anvil is, and aggravate his fellow wrestler’s back problems in an entertaining way. He’s so proudly incapable of the first two that I don’t trust him with the third. But hot damn if his laughter isn’t infectious.
RESULT: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! HEY! Anvil (1999) advances!
Seanbaby: We put 1998’s Stevie Ray against 1999’s Rick Steiner. They’re both tag team specialists, so this is a rare treat to see them threaten to kill someone alone.
Brockway: Stevie Ray, all the way. He’s the only wrestler aware that this is a video game, or what a video game is, or possibly what a button is. There are 50 wrestlers to choose from and Stevie Ray is the only one getting a C+. He’s barely passing and it is destroying the curve. He gets so close to a perfectly reasonable intro… and then he promises you that pressing X will teleport you to his house.
Seanbaby: You bring up a good point about these videos. Most of them don’t know how anything works. Some wrestlers seem to understand that when we pick them we will be them, while others are under the impression we’re challenging them to a fight. Stevie Ray was the only one who thought this was software for buying plane tickets to Harlem, though. I’m assuming these were produced by a game designer whose only direction was, “B-before we start, can you please sign… this action figure?” I mean, what would the danger have been in telling a barking lunatic, “Cut! Okay, Dog-Faced Gremlin, let’s maybe get a second take where at least the non-dog parts of your speech fucking make sense?”
Steiner is my pick, by the way. Nobody can stop from the bulldog.
RESULT: Both wrestlers eliminated.
Seanbaby: I don’t remember these guys, but you have to respect men who, in an industry where you can give yourself any names, still went by Alex Wright and Brian Adams. It’s like two guys getting super powers and declaring, “With these abilities we shall be called: Richard Marks and his dentist: Doug Taylor, DDS!” Anyway, let’s hear their pitches:
Seanbaby: Brian Adams talks like a high school football coach auditioning for 12 Angry Men, and I mean that in a good way. He is so hilariously bad at pretending he’s pissed at you, and if he went up against any other Playstation One wrestling promo, he’d be a winner. But Alex Wright’s video changed my life. He growls out a list of random kicks and words like he learned English this morning from a karate ambush. Plus, I think some of it’s still in German? “Top turnbuttle drop kick,” he says with all the charm of an Austrian coroner identifying “top turnbuttle drop kick” as his wife’s cause of death. He’s the best, and I pick him.
Brockway: How could it be anyone but Alex Wright? This is how a dream helps you solve a murder in the German dub of a David Lynch movie. After hearing his promo, I don’t even believe he’s a wrestler. I think he might have been separated from his tour group and is trying to buy Traveler’s Checks from a frightened Applebee’s waitress.
RESULT: Alex Wright (1998) advances!
Seanbaby: It’s Sting from 1998 vs. Sting from 1999! It was an era when Sting’s star was so bright he could do anything. Imagine if you went to see The Crow and came back to work on Monday in The Crow makeup and said, “Hey, everyone, I’m The Crow now. For the next thirty years.” Sting did that! Nobody cared!
Seanbaby: I pick young, furious Sting in full Crow face screaming his finishing moves at me like witnessing the video game version of them might be more than I can handle. I think this reveals more of the creative creative process. It’s like he asked the gameplay animator what they were looking for and he said, “S-Sting, I don’t know, Sting… maybe mention y-your signature holds?” To which Sting replied, “LIKE THIS!? LIKE THIS, YOU GODDAMN WORM!!??” To which the animator replied, “N-no, not reall– oh, you’re leaving. Okay, bye, Sting! Great take, Sting!”
Brockway: Oh I pick old, apathetic Sting. Look how full of vitality he was in 1998! Then 1999 Sting seems like you can’t leave him alone with appliances lest he hang himself with the cord. This broken Embarrassed Crow Sting carries such a story with him. His very existence proposes a question: What happened to you in that one year, Sting, that aged you an entire life?
RESULT: Both Stings eliminated.
Seanbaby: We’re also putting 1998 Kevin Nash up against his 1999 self. What would one more year of experience and wisdom do for Kevin Nash’s persuasion skills?
Brockway: Every single wrestler misunderstood the assignment so badly that some might have died from it. But 1998 Kevin Nash got it right and wrong at the same time. He specifically mentions that you should pick him, and then also offers to attack you like lesser men would offer a free cheese sample at Costco. Of course I pick him.
Seanbaby: I feel like Kevin is using reverse psychology in each game, which means he wants me to pick him in the one where he tells me not to pick him. But I refuse to get tricked by a Kevin, so I’m going to choose him in the game where he’s begging me to pick him so he can… power bomb me? Hold on, I’m starting to think both of these are a trap. I pick both. No, neither. I choose 1991 Super Shredder Kevin Nash even if it means all three Kevins are destroyed.
RESULT: All Kevins eliminated.
Seanbaby: It’s Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Diamond Dallas Page! Let’s hear how these two legends made a case for themselves to 1999 Playstation owners.
Seanbaby: Rowdy Roddy Piper can hear the other in-game promos and he’s reacting to them! He might be the first and only video game character who has started a fight from the character select screen before he’s even been selected. I, of course, pick him. Truly amazing. It’s like logging onto Netflix and seeing this:
Brockway: I respect the level of commitment that DDP demands. You need to be on steroids just to pilot his little virtual puppet. If you don’t backbreak your little brother after every match, you’re more of a Sting 1999 player. But Rowdy Roddy Piper becoming self aware and trying to fight the rest of the character select screen? Oh baby, that is the start of the Terminator reboot the world needed but never got. It may be why everything turned out so badly for… everything.
RESULT: Rowdy Roddy Piper (1999) advances.
Seanbaby: Both of these competitors are from 1999’s WCW/nWo Thunder, but I should warn everyone up front: I’ve been a huge Alex Wright fan for almost an entire article, so Raven had better say something incredible if he wants my pick.
Brockway: What an impossible dilemma. If Sophie had this choice she would have death dropped from the upper balcony in defiance of a world so full of injustice. I can’t do this. Each are bringing opposite energy in equally powerful directions. Raven is intentionally flunking his Poe book report, while Alex Wright is about to get kicked out of student UN for adderall abuse.
I… I think I have to pick Raven. I don’t know, I want to smoke weed with him behind the tetherball courts and struggle for his approval by ranking Megadeth albums.
Seanbaby: I’m so glad Alex Wright won’t understand me when I say this, but I think I pick Raven too. I’m fascinated by all his choices. He hates everything and looks like a person of interest in a string of van masturbations. Don’t get me wrong, Alex Wright’s promo was incredible. He 180 degree jumped into an announcement of his German ancestry, the most unnecessary announcement there could ever be. No one has ever said to Alex Wright, “Oh, I can’t quite place your accent. Are you from Mad Scientist or Cartoon Nazi?” And he just screams so much nothing. “I’m German!! And I svear to you zat vill help you vin!” There’s nothing like it. But I had to pick between him and some guy who got all dressed up in his dirtbag wrestling costume and drove to an Agoura Hills game studio to tell a camera crew he’s so totally over this? It’s too beautiful. Raven wins.
RESULT: Raven (1999) advances, though a strange voice whispers “ze German” from a direction you can’t explain.
Seanbaby: It’s Scott Steiner (1999) vs. Scott Hall (1999), who you might know from every link on Wikipedia’s disambiguation of “substance abuse.” Let’s see what these chemical-filled men had to say to 1999 gamers!
Brockway: I refuse. This will ruin the game, and I’m doing it anyway: I pick neither. Scott Hall’s low confidence “boom” was delivered like he just found an excellent reference for the bibliography on his paper about testosterone deficiency in Corvette drivers. I refuse, Scott Hall. Scott Steiner mistaking arms for freedom, a personality, a destiny? I refuse, Scott Steiner. This is some prime Scott bullshit and I will not be party to it.
Seanbaby: Bad news, Scotts: you’re always wrong. Scott Steiner put so many create-a-wrestler points into arms he can no longer talk, move, or think. Scott Hall already has his pants off and he’s guessing about the extremely vague things he’s going to do to you if you pick him. How does he still not get it? At this point they’ve worked with Scott Hall on two video games. They should have had the confidence to explain, “No, Mr. Hall. You’re not going to rub their face in a mat. They are you. Let’s take it again.” But I imagine he would have said, “Do what again, you little punk? I’m your rodeo accident? I’m here to make meat pancakes out of that tail of yours? Until it’s time to take it out for a pain night on the town? Mm.”
So I’m also picking neither. But wait! Wait! You know what we could do? We could use this opportunity to right an unfortunate wrong! We could go back and give our picks to Alex Wright (1999)!
Brockway: Hell yes, I always knew it would be us that destroyed history. But if you’d told me it would be in an article about FMV wrestler intros from a PS1 game I would have called you a brother, and embraced you in Christ, for it is clear you speak only truth.
RESULT: Both Scotts are eliminated and Alex Wright (1999) from earlier advances. He and the other Alex will join Anvil, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and Raven in the next round of the tournament! Oh, but first…
Seanbaby: Not all the wrestlers put their everything into their PS1 video game promos, so we chose these two reluctant, shy boys for a special Shy Boy Showdown. Saturn and Billy Kidman didn’t want to be there and didn’t know what to say, but we only love them more because of it.
Brockway: Aw, my guys! My little dudes too scared to make friends on the first day of school! They’re both adorable, but I think Saturn takes it for being so shy that he put no emphasis on his own pun. It’s arguably the only thing he actually did in his intro, and I would argue he didn’t actually do it.
Seanbaby: That was a pun? I didn’t even notice. Maybe because he delivered it like he was saying goodbye at the tail end of a snakebite death. His name is Saturn and he made his Saturn reference like it came after the words, “Aaarrghh, I told you I didn’t want to do this, mom! Jupiter’s parents don’t make him make wrestling videos!!” Hey, Perry Saturn, see if you can, in the sentence you just read, spot my planet reference! They can be a real gas! Shit, what am I doing? I’ll pick Saturn as my way of apologizing.
RESULT: Saturn (1999) wins a spot as a Guest Shy Commentator in the final matchup.
Seanbaby: Our first semi final matchup is Alex Wright (1998), a man trying to sound tough in his 4th language, going up against the somehow worse English-speaker, Alex Wright (1999).
Seanbaby: How do you judge two men reciting schnitzel recipes from their underpants and leather jackets? Comparing the kick list of Alex Wright (1998) with the German wictory promises of Alex Wright (1999) is a slow fall into infinite madness like two Furbies left alone together. This matchup has imploded the entire tournament bracket taking Anvil with it. “YOU GOTTA IMPLODE AROUND THE ANVIL, BABY! YOU EVERSEE A ANVIL YES DROP IN THE BLACK HOLE? SPPWAAAAM! HA HA HA HA HA,” he would probably say.
Brockway: You always know this is gonna happen when you meddle with the timeline, but you’re never prepared to lose a brave warrior like Anvil, who has been undone from our universe so completely that every alternate dimension version of him forgot all they knew about wrestling, basic improv, and the definition of anvils. Holy shit, this backwards explains Anvil.
RESULT: Der Katastrophe!!
Seanbaby: So with the elimination of all the other semi-finalists, that only leaves Raven and Rowdy Roddy Piper. Which means we are about to find out whose FMV video from a 1999 Playstation WCW game was the best one!
Seanbaby: How do you compare a grouchy couch surfer complaining about his hangover with a vibrant performer passionately begging to become your instrument of violence? For me, it comes down to what you’re looking for out of life. The Rowdy Roddy Piper in WCW/nWo Thunder knows too much. He knows he’s trapped in a sadistic game with no escape. Raven, on the other hand, doesn’t give a shit about what’s going on. He’s so clueless he thinks his catch phrase works and his head lice will go away on their own. So if you’re asking me, an American in 2022, to pick between Piper’s impossible metacognition or Raven’s nihilism, there’s no contest. Let me watch the world burn down through Raven’s angsty, indifferent eyes.
Brockway: This contest never wanted to be, it fought at every turn to not exist. And it won. I choose Rowdy Rodder Piper, cyberspace’s Rowdy Roddy Piper, the Matrix’s Rowdy Roddy Piper, Rowdy Roddy Piper the Lawnmower Man. I choose Rowdy Roddy Piper to escape the game, become the internet, and usher in an entirely new world of connectivity where the mind is everything, bodies are just meat, and we are all subject to the whims of a kilted god who can’t talk for shit but never let that stop him. For some it will be a heaven, for most it will be hell. For Raven it will be whatever.
Saturn: If I could ring in here, I have some ideas to float?
I guess you guys forgot about… forgot about dumb old Saturn.