THQ Superstar Challenge 2009
April 4, 2009
THQ Superstar Challenge 2009
The THQ Superstar Challenge has been a yearly event that pits several WWE entertainers against each other in an elimination tournament playing the latest WWE game. This year’s tournament would be a little different due to the release of the WWE Legends of WrestleMania game. Since the game was just released no single WWE entertainer should have an advantage over the rest of the competitors. Who would win this year, especially since the reigning champion Shelton Benjamin wasn’t entered into this year’s challenge?
Here at GameZone we were invited to attend not only the Superstar Challenge but cover the entire WrestleMania weekend. This allowed us and several other media outlets the opportunity to speak with current and former WWE Superstars about a variety of subjects ranging from the new Legends game to other events. The group I was in had the opportunity to speak with “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Sgt. Slaughter, Shelton Benjamin, Kofi Kingston, and Shad. We also asked questions with THQ producer Paul Edwards and even had a brief run in appearance from “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart.
Shad was the first Superstar that we spoke with at the event. He talked about playing the game as himself and taking on Hulk Hogan (and having to lower the difficulty to take Hogan out). His favorite game is Ms. Pac-Man, even though he plays plenty of the newest releases. If he sees a Ms. Pac-Man game anywhere he has to stop and play it for 20 to 30 minutes just to get his Pac-Man fix in. When he is playing Legends of WrestleMania he loves to play as The Rock or Hulk Hogan and has even created a Tag Team with both Superstars. One question asked was when does he have time to play games due to his hectic travel schedule. Shad said it was easy since they usually take a system with them on the road and play in the car while they travel. He even mentioned how he’ll get mad at the other Superstars in the car when they’re not performing up to his expectations.
When asked which WWE Superstar was an inspiration to him while growing up Shad said Hulk Hogan and The Rock. He said he didn’t know a single kid in the neighborhood that didn’t like Hogan or The Rock. He mentioned that he wants to get to the level of The Rock one day since The Rock is now in Hollywood making movies. I asked Shad about his time in Ohio Valley Wrestling in Louisville, KY and who was his favorite trainer. He said he learned a lot from Al Snow and Danny Davis about a variety of subjects inside and outside the ring. He enjoyed his time in Louisville even if other guys didn’t find the city to their liking since Louisville isn’t a huge city such as Houston.
Next up was THQ producer Paul Edwards and he was grilled with a variety of questions about Legends of WrestleMania. When asked if DLC is coming for Legends he said to stay tuned and keep asking since he couldn’t say right now. He’s been happy with the response to the game when it comes to the reviews posted online, which my score was a solid 8.2 for the PS3 version. He talked about the challenges of fitting in as many people as possible in the roster since guys can be coming and going. I asked which Superstar didn’t make it in the game that he wanted to see included. He mentioned Randy Savage was a big one and discussed how Bret Hart almost didn’t make it since they didn’t get the paperwork from his agents until later in the development process.
Next up we had a visit from “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and Sgt. Slaughter. Slaughter talked about how humbling it was to have the moves he used copied by other Superstars, which prompted a question from DiBiase. He wondered if Slaughter was trying to imply that the Million Dollar Dream was the same move as the Cobra Clutch, which Slaughter jokingly said yes! That was a great moment there between the two legends. DiBiase talked about his greatest moment in wrestling and he mentioned wrestling Harley Race in St. Louis and the twin referee angle on Saturday Night Main Event back in the 80’s. Slaughter said that he had the honor of wrestling Harley Race as well and felt that Harley was one of the greatest in-ring generals of all time.
Unfortunately Slaughter had to leave but Ted was asked how he felt about watching his son Ted wrestle in the WWE now. He said he is extremely proud of Ted and his younger son Bret since they are both in the business. He told a story about how they will never have a second chance to make a first impression and how much tougher it will be for them since they are associated with his name. Ted talked about watching unbelievable matches while he was in college between Jack Brisco and Dory Funk Jr. He joked about working with Hogan while in the WWE since he made the most money with Hogan, since Ted is the Million Dollar Man. He told a great story about him and Bret Hart having their first match together and how Pat Patterson commented that they must have been working together for a long time. Ted told Pat that was the first time Bret and himself had ever wrestled together but since both Bret and Ted were 2nd generation wrestlers they just knew what had to be done in the ring.
Ted was asked about how the product has changed from his era to today’s era. He said that today’s product is more of a television show than the old days. The old days were more about getting people to go see a live event based on watching the TV show. But now the product is more centered towards putting on a TV show that is entertaining. He was asked about the Chris Jericho Legends match set for WrestleMania 25 and told a funny story about how he ran into Jericho recently at a TV taping. Jericho commented that no one knew that Ted was going to be there and Ted replied “that’s because I didn’t want to get a beating” since Jericho has been taking out the older legends in the storylines recently.
I asked Ted a question if we needed to have more smaller, regional territories that we use to see years ago in wrestling. He said that since the product is so much bigger than it ever was years ago that the development areas like they have in Florida now is probably the best way to grow the wrestlers. He did mention that having the younger guys wrestle with the top Superstars will always help them grow and develop. Ted was asked how he felt about his representation in the Legends of WrestleMania game. He was very happy with how he was portrayed in the game and commented that everyone says he never looked that good in real life. He also talked about having to practice for the Superstar Challenge and getting help from Kofi Kingston on how to play the game. Ted was a great guest and told some very funny and interesting stories during his short visit with us.
Next up we had Kofi Kingston. Kofi talked about how Ricky Steamboat was one of his favorite wrestlers to watch when he was growing up. He enjoyed watching the martial arts and lucha wrestlers and Ricky did a great job of incorporating some of those moves. Kofi said one of his favorite guys to wrestle against is Chris Jericho since Jericho is currently one of the bigger guys in the promotion right now. Kofi said it was a great feeling to be in a WrestleMania match this year since WrestleMania is the pinnacle of industry. Since Kofi was competing in the Superstar challenge he said that he has been practicing a little with the game and enjoys the game. His favorite guy in the game was surprisingly the Ultimate Warrior. He said that he’s not afraid to admit that he was a big Warrior fan growing up.
Kofi talked about how he tries to watch as much wrestling as possible to come up with new moves to keep the matches fresh. I asked him to tell us what he would think if they changed his match at WrestleMania to have him face the Ultimate Warrior, since he was such a big Warrior fan. He said that would be pretty cool but actually getting on the show is the most important part. He brought up the recent No Way Out PPV and how he was supposed to compete in a match but was jumped so he didn’t actually wrestle at the PPV. The next question for Kofi was if he was considered the favorite to win the Superstar challenge since Shelton wasn’t competing this year. He said he would rather be the underdog and mentioned how he’s been finishing 2nd in most of these tournaments.
Next up we had two short appearances by Jimmy Hart and Shelton Benjamin. Jimmy made a funny comment about how our press badges didn’t have his face on them while the cover of the game does. He also talked briefly about just how excited he was to actually be a part of the WrestleMania Axxess events. Shelton came in and was asked why he wasn’t competing in Superstar Challenge. He said that it was time for someone else to step up. He joked that he hasn’t retired from the Challenge but it was time for some fresh blood to step up.
After the interviews we then had the chance to go downstairs to the Axxess event and get setup ringside to watch the Superstar Challenge. I took a little detour first and walked around the Axxess event. There were plenty of booths setup for autographs and events for fans to participate in. You had a Hell in a Cell cage setup, a Call a Match feature (with Joey Styles in attendance-ECW, ECW), Undertaker’s Graveyard with a Shawn Michaels Tombstone already setup. In the middle of the arena was the regular ring where the WWE Superstars were competing in the Superstar Challenge. The game was being played on the PS3 and there were usually two matches going on at the same time.
The finals of the Superstar challenge came down to Kofi Kingston and Cody Rhodes. Cody played as his father “The American Dream” Dusty Rhoads. Kofi played as himself but also added Jimmy Hart as his manager. Jimmy was in the ring providing play by play assistance with “The Fink” Howard Finkel. It was actually a very entertaining match to watch as Kofi kept Cody on the defensive during most of the match. Kofi even pulled out the steel steps and was able to lay the smack down on Dusty. Cody could never recover and Kofi was able to get the pinfall after a few minutes.
Yet even as Kofi was celebrating a surprise was waiting for him on the ramp way. Shelton Benjamin made his way out to the ring and we had an impromptu match. Both entertainers picked themselves, which seemed a little strange since neither of them are in the official roster of Legends of WrestleMania. Unfortunately for Shelton he was never able to get any type of advantage during the match. Kofi kept the pressure on Shelton and after a few minutes Kofi had Shelton down for the 1-2-3. It was a fun and entertaining event to watch since they played the Superstar Challenge up as a wrestling angle.
Many thanks to the WWE Superstars and Legends and to THQ for a great event.