It’s no huge secret that I’m a fan of the Professional Wrestling Arts. Have been for most of my life. Video games based on the spectacle are usually pretty hit or miss, and more often than not miss.

WWF Raw is the first wrestling game that I ever played on my Super NES. I was pretty excited because the last console wrestling game that I played was pretty awful, and a new game on a new system means an all new way to disappoint me.

The game is more or less like you might expect: take your chosen grappler through a series of matches that increase in difficulty to become champion. You win the matches by beating your opponents senseless and pinning their shoulders to the mat for three consecutive seconds. Each character also has a ’signature move’ that he or she has purportedly perfected to such a degree that it is extra damaging.

You might notice that the characters in this game all appear to be about the same height, weight, and build. Luna Vachon (5′ 5”, 135 pounds), the lone female in the game, and Yokuzuna (6′ 4”, 538 pounds) somehow manage to stand eye to eye and are about the same width. I’m sure there’s a technical reason for that, but I’m not going to be bothered finding out what it is.

In this game you perform the wrestlers’ moves by first initiating a ‘collar and elbow tie up’ (that thing they do where it kind of looks like they’re hugging each other real high up), then pressing a direction and a button as fast as you can. Each combination of a direction and button will do a different move, assuming you managed to press the button faster than the other person.

I told you that story so I could tell you this story. This is (thus far) the only game that I’ve ever injured myself playing. On New Year’s Eve in 1994 I, along with a friend of mine, decided to rent this game to pass the time until midnight rolled around. I don’t know how many matches we played, but it was a lot. Each match was essentially several minutes of pushing the buttons as quickly as I could with my thumbs. About six hours of this and we rang in the new year and went to bed. About an hour later, I woke up with the most unusual pain in my forearms. It turns out that I had pulled the muscles that ran from my thumbs all the way to my elbows. Since the place I was staying at had no pain killers on hand, and I wasn’t yet old enough to drive I had one recourse, soaking my arms in cold water to numb the pain enough so that I could get about an hour’s worth of sleep. Then I’d wake up and repeat the process.

That would be the day that I decided to no longer play games in which you have to press the buttons in direct opposition to another player to win. Hopefully that’s a decision that will stave off carpal tunnel for another day.

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