‘Fire Pro Wrestling World’ Gives The Gift Of A Blank Canvas For Pro Wrestling Creativity

It’s been ten long years since the wrestling video game world was graced with a proper Fire Pro Wrestling. Now, the classic series that captured the imagination of pro grapz and MMA fans is on Steam Early Access, reaching a new generation of fans and giving the passionate community the gift of a blank canvas for pro wrestling and combat sports creativity.

In the up-and-down history of wrestling video games, the AKI-THQ collaborations that produced WCW vs. NWO, No Mercy, and WrestleMania 2000 will always be remembered as some of the best ever. But for a certain sect of hardcore fans (the type that would be up late at night dubbing tapes to trade), Fire Pro was it. If you’re unfamiliar with Fire Pro, it’s been a hardcore/indie darling for the better part of 25 years.

The Fire Pro series features an unprecedented level of customization options that aren’t bound by a license, and the sprite-based characters have a special throwback charm to them. The graphics may not be next-gen, but Fire Pro has always inspired by igniting imagination, and Fire Pro World takes it to a whole new level.

In Fire Pro Wrestling World, you can have an MMA fighter take on a pro wrestler using strong style in an exploding barbed wire match, or have two Lucha Libre practitioners square off in a kickboxing match. The endless amount of moves and fight logic able to be programmed into the games led to years of healthy activity through emulators and mods, where thousands of characters and arenas were created, but Fire Pro Wrestling World’s implementation of the Steam Workshop has stepped it up a notch.

While FPWW is still in Early Access, meaning it’s awaiting more modes, moves, and optimization until its full release, the Steam Workshop is thriving with activity. There are now thousands of characters to choose from, and there’s no limit to how many you can download, with each character landing on your hard drive at around 10kb each.

How can you deny something that gives you Terry Funk vs. The Joker in a garbage match?

When FPWW launched, there were already 50 CAFs waiting in the Workshop from the devs. Just 24 hours later, there were 500. Another 24 hours later, and there are over 1,000 created characters, from Steph Curry to Homer Simpson, all programmed with a deep fighting logic and with dozens of moves. It’s truly incredible.

Now there are over 4,500 and the game has barely been out for a week.

Want Seth Rollins to take on Principal Skinner in an exploding land mine death match with light bulbs set up in the corners? That can be done. Want an over-the-top-rope 8-man battle royale featuring the ability for fighters to submit and knock out your opponents in what I call a “shoot battle royale?” Fire Pro World has you covered. The ability to book a potpourri of fights in different rulesets is half the fun. The created wrestlers and fighters, for the most part, will have finely-tuned logic which allows for dramatic AI matches that are better than most modern fighting games.

Here’s Big Van Vader, Bolo from BloodSport, Jean-Claude Van Damme, a random gentleman from the crowd, Don Frye, Doink the Clown, an Obi-Wan Kenobi cosplayer and a sumo wrestler in said shoot battle royale:

The beauty is setting the match up and just letting it go so you can sit back and see what plays out. If you set up a tournament, the damage will carry over into the next round, adding a dramatic “anything can happen” element to the show. Recently, Andy Griffith was able to take down a tired, injured Undertaker in a one-night, 16-man MMA tournament. It was the ultimate underdog tale.

Despite the healthy amount of game modes, the tournaments are absolutely where it’s at. They are consistently entertaining and surprisingly fun to watch, which is leading to a healthy streaming community. Normally, people want to play the games they buy, but Fire Pro World continues the franchise’s special brand of “play with your toys” rather than throwing players into competitive matchmaking. It’s full of joy, rather than the stress some modern games can put on a gamer’s shoulders.

And if you decide to actually play rather than simulate, the game still feels like the Fire Pro of old. The timing-based grappling system has been bolstered by over a hundred new moves (adding to the pool of thousands already there). You can put on an entertaining, back and forth kickboxing match and a 4.5-star tag team battle with equal amounts of ease, and button mashing still won’t help you.

Unfortunately, the online play still needs a lot of help. Players become de-synced often, and there are a few bugs that will lead to players being put in the boots of their opposition, but this is Early Access after all. At this point, it almost seems like this game is nothing but a create-a-fighter suite and deep promoter simulation at the moment. Considering the game still has a while to go before it’s complete and finally released on PS4, that’s not entirely a bad thing.

For now, Fire Pro Wrestling World is fan service. Delightful, creative fan service. If you’re new to the series but love wrestling and a weird love for making impossible superfights, Fire Pro is for you. If you love challenging but rewarding fighting games, Fire Pro Wrestling World is for you. If you want a less serious MMA and kickboxing game than EA UFC 2 FPW is for you. And if you want to drop $20 on a charming game made by developers who clearly love sports entertainment, then there is no better money spent than Fire Pro Wrestling World.