If you’re a wrestling fan looking for something new to watch on YouTube, consider CelJaded’s first video series where I play Total Extreme Wrestling 2020 (TEW2020). In this series I book World Wrestling Entertainment using a real life mod by Mammoth called Shifting Sands. So far it’s been fun.

This follows my recent experiment revisiting pro wrestling booking simulators. I needed to play TEW2020 to get a more complete look at where this niche genre is at present, especially since newer simulators are starting to appear on Steam in early access. Either way, this post is another collection of casual thoughts and observations I’ve made after fantasy booking one month of WWE programming in January 2006.

One of TEW2020’s most substantial changes is removing the concept of “pushes” by automatically raising and lowering the perception of workers depending on how the player uses them. If they repeatedly lose and don’t get inserted into angles, their popularity wanes and the fans lose interest, whereas someone who gets dominant wins over established stars, will steadily become more recognisable.

There are some foibles to this system (in a sandbox sense it’s almost impossible make everyone on your roster super popular at the same time), but it is a more organic system for creating top stars. You can’t cheat it as easily any more, and not getting swamped with messages from workers complaining about their stupid push is a radical improvement for sure.

TEW2020 has random events, backstage controls, and a dynamic segment editor to let players tell their stories and rate their workers on whatever statistics are most relevant to the scene at hand. One major problem though is the over-designed menu system which makes finding certain niche settings a hassle. There are links everywhere on the main booking screen, and they sometimes direct to places which look too similar. For example, when you open a worker profile, do you know if you’re editing their company persona or their real life details? Equally, I remember seeing the Medical screen once, and then promptly losing it again because it sat camouflaged among a dozen more identical buttons!

TEW2020 menu screen showing wrestler Mickie James

TEW2020 has fantastic detail in its worker’s profiles, even if the nested menus are a bear to use.

CelJaded Plays TEW2020 uses the Shifting Sands real world mod set in 2006, partly as a continuation of my stint playing the same year on TEW2005, and partly because 2006 was such a mediocre year for WWE, I don’t feel as much pressure offering my own take on it! Shifting Sands is a superb mod, although its database is light on female wrestlers, and the funky picture pack uses full body shots which don’t scale well with TEW’s fixed resolution. When a show is in progress, the worker pictures display at postage stamp size, so I eventually tapped out and created my own picture pack to make the YouTube footage look clearer when the resolution is scaled up to 1080p.

A crucial note about these simulators is the time investment they demand. Booking a huge company like WWE is a daunting task for a new player, with two brands, a bloated roster, and far too many title belts (just like today’s product). I used a depth chart and spreadsheet to map out the first four months of programming, and just getting a rough skeleton in place took months of work. Plans change, after all, especially when you’re a first-timer who will make many mistakes when starting out.

I’m a proud “save-scummer” when it comes to TEW2020. Reloading saves after botched angles, and other common rookie errors like rating a segment purely on passive skills, or featuring workers the fans don’t care about, were just some of the mistakes I’ve reloaded and recovered from. Although, I’ve found part of TEW’s charm (for me anyway) is going back into my shows at a granular level and tweaking stuff to be as effective as it can be. Things like assigning the right commentator for the right match; the right road agent for the right segment; the right worker to go 15 minutes (or five minutes if the story calls for a squash). Then I’ll reload and set different road agent notes or segments rated on a different stat, just to experiment and see where the higher segment ratings come from.

This being a WWE save, I kept the real life 2006 feud running between John Cena and Edge (simply because they start with high momentum). I also put my own spin on the famous feud between Mickie James and Trish Stratus, whilst pushing my own Gregory Helms vs Ric Flair story, a few unification matches to organise a very mid-looking midcard, and a Booker T-Shawn Michaels program I’m surprised never happened in real life.

TEW2020 gives players control over some of it’s more contentious simulation elements like workers complaining they were left off a show, morale modifiers, and the crowd burn out feature. Players can decide if they want more of a video game or a sandbox, which is good.

TEW2020 menu screen recapping a fantasy match between CM Punk and Rob Van Dam

With so many modifiers for worker momentum and popularity, TEW2020 is out to prove wins and losses DO matter!

It’s too early to think about how I’d improve TEW2020 beyond just chopping out some of the more extraneous detail and endless menu systems. Although one thing I would really like to see are the hidden skill changes workers get for taking part in a segment. Keeping track of when someone’s popularity or skills are increasing or decreasing, is an obtuse process at present. I think showing these incremental changes during the actual segments would give players a sense of accomplishment because they’d be able to see the fruits of their booking without trawling through yet more menus and clicking on so many things to get the same data.

As far as my YouTube series goes, it took so much time setting everything up, that a video series felt like a payoff for the effort! I was actually tired of the idea after so much prep, but reading back my notes for the Mickie James/Trish Stratus story got me excited again because the material felt that good (if I do say so myself).

So, that was a behind the scenes look at CelJaded playing TEW2020. If you feel like giving the series a watch, start with the first episode of Raw for week 1 of January 2006. Just remember the storylines do take some time to heat up from a cold start. And who knows? If I enjoy this YouTube lark enough, maybe I’ll consider doing another playlist in the future.

See ya next time!