The Fool’s Speedrun 2023: WrestleMania Arcade Game (SNES – 100%)

Each year for April Fool’s Day, I try to feature an off-kilter video game through a speedrun or a 1CC. This year’s April Fool’s Day happened to coincide with the first night of WrestleMania, so everything finally aligned to bring me to the fate of a 100% playthrough of the Super Nintendo version of WWF WrestleMania The Arcade Game.

If you’ve yet to see it, I did a massive writeup of WWF WrestleMania by Midway on the fantastic Gaming Hell website. This dumped every nugget of information I knew at the time based on the game to cover its development, home versions and sneaky tricks. If you are even remotely interested in this Midway-developed WWF game, you have to check this out, and then stick around on that site for a number of quality articles on all manner of video gaming.

One of the sections in this tell-all feature details the Super Nintendo version. I’ll just pull a few quotes from this to demonstrate the beast that is the SNES version of WrestleMania the Arcade Game and what puts in the infamy category to deserve an April Fool’s Day speedrun:

“The Super Nintendo version of WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game was pretty well panned by critics and is universally considered the worst possible version of the game … What’s wrong with the Super Nintendo version? Well, when there is a conversation about this port, people will go straight for the glaring issue – Yokozuna and Bam Bam Bigelow are completely wiped from the roster, leaving players with a meager six characters to choose from. I must stress this is the one and only version of the game where this cut has been made.

“… However, then you start getting into the content trimming a lot of people don’t seem to be aware of. Squeezing WWF WrestleMania into a Super Nintendo cartridge not only required the developer to cut 25% of the character roster, but also remove the one-versus-three gameplay element … The SNES version simply cannot handle four characters being on screen at the same time, meaning the WrestleMania Challenge and two-player Tag Team modes are also impacted … Still, another setback that rears its ugly head when you dig into this title is the game’s struggle to even handle three characters on screen simultaneously. This game absolutely chops along when you get to the one-versus-two matchups and suddenly picks back up to speed once one of the opponents are knocked out.

“… Taking a look purely at the game that did make its way onto the cartridge, I don’t feel it’s as bad as most people claim. It’s still highly functional as a one-versus-one game and its presentation is quite acceptable for the format. As a product, though, you just can’t forgive the cuts made to the game. I’m sure the developers worked very hard to make sure a Super Nintendo version was possible, and there are small victories in the few positives in the game, but anyone who paid full price for this version deserves to be upset.”

In fact, the SNES version of WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game has popped up a couple of times on GemuBaka, and is detailed in my feature of speedrunning the game with Lex Luger.

What makes the SNES version so intriguing is its very easy difficulty setting. While the other versions of the game feature CPU opponents that function in the easiest setting, the SNES version at times seems to remove the “I” from AI. I even recorded a comparison video a few years ago that shows how dramatically different the AI can operate on the easiest difficulty between the Super Nintendo and SEGA Genesis versions of the game.

The key thing to note when you play WrestleMania the Arcade Game on very easy in the Super Nintendo version is that the CPU never reverses your head holds. I’m certain on any other format, the CPU will at least occassionally attempt a reversal. With this in mind, on top of the fact the SNES version can’t handle more than two opponents at the same time, this version of the game is essentially the preferred speedrun format of WrestleMania the Arcade Game.

The generally accepted routing is an any% free-for-all, that sets the difficulty on very easy, sets the player’s maximum health to 90% to avoid a “PERFECT” flourish that wastes time, and the music is turned off because it slightly bogs the game speed down (try to act surprised by this at this point).

In 2020, I found the lack of CPU reversals made a “DPS” approach possible. I took into consideration how much time opponents were spending in a state where they couldn’t be damaged (in a recovery state after knockdown). I figured if there was a way to avoid knockdown, there would be quicker ways of doing the run. After a little more gameplay, it seemed to me that Lex Luger would be the ticket due to a grapple/striking reset coupled with his high damage output.

After a handful of runs, I managed personal-best times of 6:21 on the Intercontinental Championship mode and 8:34 on the World Heavyweight Championship mode with Lex Luger.

However, one thought lingered in my head and stayed there three years later: There is a 100% category for the game.

The 100% category uses the same settings as any%, but this sees the player beating the game with all six characters between the two game modes. Taking six characters through the Intercontinental and World championship modes meant 12 times beating the game, tasking the player to win 84 matches consisting of 162 rounds (the World title mode ends on a “WrestleMania Challenge” that pits you against eight opponents, but is only one round).

When I tackled the speedrun with Lex Luger, I went through the “DPS science,” and the allure of doing the same for five more characters was too much. Against better judgment, I set off to do everything you can possibly do in the Super Nintendo version of WWF WrestleMania the Arcade Game.

Lex Luger’s strategy works on the premise of a reset because the CPU refuses to reverse head holds in the easiest difficulty on this format. Luger can hold forward and combo power kick for multiple strikes in a head hold. The game would normally want you to complete the string with kick (a rising knee that does knockdown), but you can then instead press power punch to do a strike and then reset back into head hold.

The other five characters work on a very similar premise, but the majority of these characters just don’t do as much damage as Lex Luger. I completed the 100% run in 1 hour, 57 minutes and 1 second, and I found it was fun to run the game as Lex Luger, Razor Ramon and Doink the Clown. I may have to go back to the drawing board, because it was considerably less fun to do the same with Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker.

This process led to a new discovery, and I need to see if this works in other versions of the game. While every other character can do multiple strikes out of a head hold and then reset back into a head hold, if you try to reset the head hold with Doink, he simply does another uppercut instead. What this means is the game technically now has a full 100% juggle combo outside of the Bret Hart uppercut exploit versus Lex Luger.

However, again, the CPU can reverse these mini-combos. This is only viable because the very easy difficulty on Super Nintendo never has the CPU executing reversal maneuvers.

On April Fool’s Day I used an emulator and played the game casually, and I was able to land a sub-2-hour time. While I got the 100% play out of my system, the thought is still lingering in my mind – what would happen if I used actual hardware, studied a little more and played it out seriously?

I’ll probably revisit the concept at some point, but this most recent playthrough just shows I find something new with this game nearly every time I play it!

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Categories: GemuBaka Feature


Arcade enthusiast and game collector. Affiliate Twitch retro streamer and games archive writer at Gemubaka ( For business only: gemubaka at gmail


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