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Summit Background

A Short History of e-Wrestling, 1990-1995

by Jeff Berry

with lots of help from:
  • Aidan Palmer
  • Ray Duffy
  • Scott Baxter
The term "e-Wrestling" was coined by Scott Baxter during the WeWF
This document is dated Apr 25, 1995

Feds I know I'm missing:
  • ILIW
  • MBWF
  • NeWA

A (Biased) Overview

Any view of e-Wrestling written by one man will have biases, I just wanted to get my own out in the open. I will refer from time to time to "mainstream e-Wrestling", by this I mean a number of e-Feds which share a certain common grounding: they have many of the same players, wrestlers move more or less freely among them, they tend to contribute to an umbrella magazine (currently Ramblin' Round the Ring), and, perhaps most centrally, they are involved with the Summit of e-Wrestling.

This does not mean that the mainstream groups (or as we are beginning to refer to them, the SWA, Summit Wrestling Alliance), is a closed group or even a particularly organized group. I see it rather as a cultural thing. These are Internet originated wrestling groups with a lot of crossover. As new groups join the Internet, some will no doubt find themselves part of that culture, others will remain aloof. I make no judgment about whether this is good or bad. In fact, the whole point of this is really just to warn people that when I make generalizations I am probably speaking about SWA wrestling. whether or not that term existed when the federations did.

Finally, the federations that I consider to be SWA at this moment are:
EWC,EWF,EWWA,IIWF,SLAM, and VCW. There is no "official" list, to my knowledge.

Past federations that I would consider to be part of this culture are the fore-runners of those feds: all the WeWF style feds, all the OWCH style feds, all the PWGeA style feds, all the WrestleScript style feds, and perhaps a few others.

This document focuses on those feds.

Jeff Berry

Early Federations

EMWA (Nov. 1990 - Spring 1992)

e-Wrestling as we know it began with the EMWA, which was started by Ben Pierce. Little did he know what he had wrought.

The EMWA ran off and on, primarily because Ben didn't have net access over the summer.

Some of the stars were Brewster Cogburn, the New Mystics and the rest of the Mage's Gallery and John Girder.

PWGeA/UFWS (Spring 1991 - Spring 1992)

In 1991 Francois-Dominic Laramee brought his Professional Wrestling Gamers Alliance rules to the net, first as the PWGeA then as the Usenet Free Wrestling Simulation. The UFWS was a solidly run federation, that came out on a regular schedule. Several noted e-Wrestlers came to the UFWS, such as Brewster Cogburn and the New Mystics, and several more began their careers there, such as Bobby "The Cavalier" Windsor and Baron Von Klaw.

Scott Baxter notes that the UFWS was also important because it marked the beginning of a change of focus towards character and angle, a trend which continues to this day. In other words, feuds became important.

The WeWF Legacy

WeWF (Dec. 16 1990 - Spring 1992)

Created by Aidan Palmer, the WeWF began shortly after the EMWA. At the time the WeWF and EMWA were the only two games around, and since the WeWF was being advertised in rec.games.pbm, the it got all the attention. At one point there were fifty players in the game, although not all of them were participating heavily. The WeWF is where Dominic Laramee, Scott Baxter, Mark Whittaker and Paul Thompson got their starts in e-wrestling.

The WeWF used a rules system that borrowed from the PBM game Imaginary Wrestling Alliance and improved upon. The idea is that each wrestler chooses from a list of moves, which have varying (unknown to the players) values every week. Whoever has the moves with the most total value wins the match.

Some of the stars in the WeWF were: the Four Corners, Flint and Steel, the General and the Hoosiers, and a bunch of others.

UeWF (Nov. 18 1991- Jun.1994)

Mark Whittaker created the UeWF rules set (influenced by the WeWF) and the federation that also bears that name.

Rick Gualtieri and Ray Duffy modified the rules and continued Universal e-Wrestling Federation, which is the longest running e-Wrestling Federation in history. Using the UeWF rules, it created numerous legends like the Headbangers and Satan's Little Helpers. Unlike the UFWS rules, the UeWF rules were simple and fast-playing. Once built, the characters wrestled more or less on automatic without any judgment calls needed by the Federation Head.

The UeWF had a long and successful run, until Rick shut it down. He was graduating and had no job at the time and hence no access. Ray Duffy did not have time to run the entire federation by himself as it gotten very large, and so it prepared to close its doors. The UeWF was then "bought out" by long time e-Manager, Scott Childers, who renamed it the MIW and continued the titles and traditions.

PWA (early 1992 - late 1992)

The PWA was created by Paul Thompson (who created Metal in the WeWF). \ It used the WeWF rules. Flint and Steel (multiple time WeWF tag champions) were in the PWA, along with Crime and Punishment (in this case Ray Duffy's guys, although the name has since cropped up elsewhere.)

GCW (?)

The GCW was started by Pete Barlow, using a rules system similar to the WeWF and UeWF using a division structure (Pan American, Euro-African, Austrail-Asian) subdivisions. The league was a little less serious than some of the other leagues (with gimmicks like the Smurfs, Barney and Moe from the Simpsons). When the PWA folded, the GCW recognized their titles and eventually had unification matches between their champions.

MIW (Jun. 1994- Feb. 1995)

Maximum Internet Wrestling is the latest incarnation of the UeWF style Federation. Using the same Whittaker/Gualtieri/Duffy rules set, it continued the structure and formula used so successfully by the UeWF. Scott Childers ran it with the same dedication that followers of the UeWF had come to expect.

After a run that was all too short, the federation went the way of all flesh.

IIWF (1995-

Before the MIW was cold in its grave, the banner of UeWF-style e-Wrestling was again raised. This time by Paul Bryant.

The OWCH Dynasty

OWCH(Fall 1993 - Winter 1993)

Scott Baxter developed a rival rules set to the UeWF and PWGeA rules, which he intended to "split the difference" between the complexity of the PWGeA and the simplicity of the UeWF. The result was Overall Wrestling Championship Headquarters. These rules have proven to be immensely popular and with modifications have become one of the most commonly used rules sets. Scott also notes that the design was inspired by Champions, GURPS and other point based Role-Playing Games.

From a design standpoint, the rules marked a shift from the "move based systems" which included both the UeWF and PWGeA to an "attribute based system", where a limited number of moves augmented a wrestler who was defined by attributes. (In fact, the PWGeA has some few attributes but is predominantly a move based system.)

The federation was a roaring success, so much so, in fact, that it shortly fissioned becoming the Atlantic WCH and the Pacific WCH.

AWCH/PWCH (Jan. 1994)

AWCH/PWCH was a bold idea in the world of e-Wrestling - two division of the same federation, with a common set of titles. Challengers would rise through the ranks of each division, with top contenders alternately competing for the belts. Scott Baxter kept control of the AWCH and Bruce Onder took over the PWCH.

Sadly, the idea collapsed as Scott Baxter became incommunicado (taking with him e-Wrestling Mega-heel Baron Von Klaw.) The PWCH staggered on for another few cards, before Bruce Onder changed it's name and rules set, converting it into Pacific Championship Wrestling.

PCW (Spring 1994-Fall 1994)

Pacific Championship Wrestling marked the debut of yet another e-Wrestling rules set. Where the OWCH rules intended to split the difference between the UeWF and PWGeA, Bruce Onder's WrestleScript rules were a reduction of e-Wrestling to its simplest. Very fast and very easy they also enforced a "strategy" mailing from the players to control the wrestler's actions. WrestleScript with its focus in Role Playing and fast resolution time has become, with the modified OWCH rules, one of the most popular rules sets in e-Wrestling.

PCW continued on for a short while longer, before it, too folded due to lack of time on Bruce's part. The final holder of the PCW Heavyweight Belt was the Electric Youth, who lost it to Bobby "The Cavalier" Windsor some time later after their historic meeting in the finals of the Slick Ric Tournament at the Sixth Summit of e-Wrestling.

EWC (Jan 1994-

The OWCH rules, however, did not die with the passing of PWCH. Mike Falkner and Shawn Pearce (founders of the Midnight Angels Protection Agency and dedicated e-Wrestlers) took the rules and began the Eletronic Wrestling Council. A number of the disaffected OWCH wrestlers as well as a variety of newcomers flocked to the new federation.

The rules set were given a thorough hashing out as the Federation moved along, and several revised editions of the rules were made to plug some holes in the earlier editions.

EWF (1994 -

The Electronic Wrestling Federation also took the OWCH rules and modified them to suit their purposes. At this point, the EWC rules and EWF rules, while obviously sharing the same parentage have diverged enough that characters are no longer directly compatible.

The EWF was formed by Joshua Stein and Nat Lee and has quickly gained fame and prestige, drawing famous names from other federations such as Roker Showtime from the EWC, Barry Bromowitz from the ESW, and Kyle Masters from the MIW, as well as the ubiquitous Derek Machismo, as well as creating its own legends like William the Conqueror and The Cavity Christopher Monroe.

The PWGeA Style Federations

ESW (Summer 1993 - Summer 1994)

Aidan Palmer, who had already established himself as both a Federation Head and an e-Manager began Electronic Superstars Wrestling using the PWGeA rules. Several UFWS stalwarts immediately joined, glad to see their original rules set active again. The federation took fire, Tropical Storm set a record as yet unequaled in e-Wrestling for most consecutive wins (11-0 before losing a match), and Rick O'Malley Licorice Whips became a household word.

USeW (Summer 1994 - Spring 1995)

When Aidan stepped down as the head of the ESW, BJ Hughes stepped up. Without missing a beat, he changed the name to the Universal Superstars of e-Wrestling and continued the grand tradition.

ICeW (1994-1994)

Meanwhile, the managers of Tropical Storm, Mark Ramos, Henry Broaddus, and Tim Dunham, tried their hand with Internet Championship e-Wrestling. Although successful in its early day, it rapidly became plagued with delays and officially closed its doors in late 1994, although it had effectively been dead for months.

What About the Girls?

EWWA (June 1994-

Although some federations had female divisions (notably the UeWF derived federations), it fell to The Magpie, Andy Lipscomb, to found the first women's only federation, the Electronic Womens' Wrestling Association. He chose to use the WrestleScript rules debuted by Bruce Onder in PCW for his effort, after flirting briefly with OWCH (the initial tournaments used OWCH style rules, but the change over to WrestleScript came within weeks of the federation's start.)

Keeping to the idea of short match reports except for titles and special occasions, the EWWA managed to keep a regular schedule of reporting; no mean feat in the world of e-Wrestling.

Along the way, they shifted over to the WrestleScript 2.0/WRENCH 1.0 rules designed by Jeff Berry and Bruce Onder. Using Bruce's initial WrestleScript rules, the new rules attempted to inject a little more strategy and differentiation into the wrestlers without adding in a great deal of complexity or subjectivity (a continual problem in PWGeA/OWCH style rules which are essentially face to face real time rules.)

What about the others?

ECWA (Spring 1993 - Summer 1993)

The ECWA was run by Don Becker (TNT Enterprises) using Ben Peirce's EMWA rules. (Don had worked with Ben during one of the EMWA's incarnations). The federation ran in the Spring of 1993. It attacked some of the talent from Paul Thompson's PWA which had folded. It closed in the Summer and was to re-open in the fall, but nothing came of it.

SLAM! Madhouse Wrestling (1994-

Matt Legare, the brains behind the zany Wild Hazard fired up SLAM! to provide a low-pressure, high-weirdness federation for people to play in. Using the WrestleScript/WRENCH rules by Jeff Berry and Bruce Onder, it became the playground for The Fat Ninja, Mayhem, Inc. and Fill-in-the-blank Yankovitch (whose gimmick changes with the weather.)

Intermittent, chaotic and full of dumb ideas (like its first ever stupid stipulation match - the Dumpster Match between Ralph "Rail" Road and The Big Red Basher, where the Basher put Road in the Dumpster and rolled it all the way around the ring for the victory - take that Coffin Match!), SLAM! provides a rest from the sometimes too serious feuds of mainstream e-Wrestling.

JCWF(1994-

Uses the Wrestling League Simulator, unless it has changed systems recently.

AWE(1995-

American Wrestling Enterprises came to the net in 1994 but didn't actually hold a card until 1995. An offshoot of a different network's wrestling league, it has a history all of its own. It uses a system derived from two commercial wrestling games; Coliseum Wrestling and the WWF Wrestling Game.

Experiments and Short Timers

IWF(1992-1992)

The Imaginary Wrestling Federation was the brainchild of Jeff Berry, who wanted a federation that involved more strategy and player interaction in match resolution, since he was and is a gamer first and e-wrestler second.

The system was not a great one, and the federation folded after a fairly short run. In its time, though, it did play host to a selection of e-wrestling greats and almost greats, including the "Da Boss" and the Chicago Torpedos, Lightning Bolt and Abd al-Hazrd the Arabian Knight.

VCW (Feb 1995-

Continuing his quest for the perfect e-wrestling system, Jeff Berry wrote FastMatch! wrestling and started the VCW. Lord only knows how it will do.

Companion Pieces

This Week in Wrestling

TWiW debuted as a companion magazine to the WeWF under the management of Scott Baxter. At some point, it became interfederational. It also underwent a few changes of management, passing through the hands of Chris Kennedy and at least one other person whose name has been lost in the mists of time (do you know who? I'd love someone to tell me.) before ending up with Don Becker. It contained things like summaries, a few interfederational interviews, and was home to the TWiW TV Titles. The Titles were traveling belts, defending across federational boundaries.

Ramblin' Round the Ring

RRtR was the successor to TWiW, I think that Mike Falkner was the original producer. It followed almost exactly in the steps of TWiW. Mike was also Federation Head of the EWC, though, and eventually gave up RRtR to keep on top of the EWC. Mike used a modified Summit resolution system to determine his belt winners.

Then Jeff Berry took over, and ran it on his usual obnoxiously regular schedule. He also switched systems, using a brand new one that very few people ever saw. It also featured transplanted announcers from the IWF and from the ESW reports which Jeff had been doing during Mike's tenure. (Interestingly, this seems to be a fairly common phenomenon, the recycling of favorite announcers into the reports.) Jeff eventually left around the time of the Seventh Summit of e-Wrestling in order to found the VCW.

That leaves RRtR in the hands of Mark Varley, where it is languishing somewhat.

The Summit of e-Wrestling

The Summit of e-Wrestling, of which there have been seven, are something of a defining moment in e-Wrestling. They are a group effort by a number of different federations to bring the various characters together into an extravaganza.

Since the federations use a variety of rules, determining the outcomes of the various matches is somewhat problematical, and has varied over time. Often, the person in charge of an event simply evaluates the various strategies and assigns percentages. For some matches during Summit VI, WrestleScript was used.

The effect of all this is to create or encourage a sense of community among the participating federations. Recently, with the influx of new federations and players, this has resulted in the SWA as a convenient way to refer to those federations as a group.

The actual line-up of events at the Summits varies somewhat, but a number of events are traditional, these are:

  • The Slick Ric - a singles tournament for the best wrestlers in e-Wrestling
  • The Road Warrior Cup - like the Ric, only for tag teams
Less well established but common enough to be considered regular are:
  • The Freebirds/VonErichs Cup - for six man tag action
  • The Lei-Lanai Kai Cup - for singles women wrestlers

Jeff Berry
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