The Ridler Wrestling Federation (1989-1990)

Once upon a time, I told my wife about one of the geekiest things I ever did: create a pro wrestling role playing game. She said that makes me an amateur game designer. Here I thought it just made me king of the uber dorks! Here’s the story:

I loved RPGs as a kid. I loved the idea of making epic stories with cool characters, and I figured writing was my sister’s thing so why the heck should I do it? But so few of my friends had patience and hated fantasy and SF. They just wanted combat, combat, combat! So, I cut out the story and elves and space ships and made my own pro wrestling RPG.

I ripped off the Paladium combat and character stats system, devised my own rules for how a wrestling match would work, created character classes (brawler, technical, high flyer, freak, powerhouse) and a pretty epic list of wrestling moves for folks to choose. Everyone got a finishing move (top rope piledriver!) and a gimmick (he’s morbidly obese!). Once I’d revised it a few times, we were off to the races with the Ridler Wrestling Federation (RWF, trademark pending)!

And everyone loved it! I was hanging with cool kids two years older than me, the kind that drank and smoked, and they wanted to play this game! Epic steel cage matches ensued between the Irish tough guy Mr. Hurt and the fan favorite The Mongoose! The tag team champs, THE NIGHTMARE EXPRESS, actually killed someone in the ring! But the funniest moment was when fake violence became real violence. Steve Gowan, one of the tougher guys in our crew, had his bad-ass Texas Hangman lose to Al Bucan, the gentlest soul on earth, and his Native American wrestler Little Cub. Let’s just say dice were thrown and crotch shots ensued.

Funniest thing about this whole RWF episode was that every single one of these guys wanted to do mock interviews. So, I’d play either “Mean Gene” Oakerland or Ed Karl, the announcer for the worst wrestling show on earth, All Star Wrestling from Vancouver (featuring such innovative characters as the fat bald guy called, wait for it, JR Bundy. Yeah, King Kong Bundy Jr.).  Trash talking and bad jokes commenced. And more than a few real headlocks.

I figure all my interest in RPGs was leading me, somehow someway, to being a writer. But does this madcap game, “inspired” by others, make me a game designer? Or just the World Champion of Dorkdom? I fear the answer lies in Parts Unknown! And now, some insane ramblings from everyone’s favorite anabolic philosopher, The Ultimate Warrior!


About ridlerville

Jason S. Ridler is a historian, writer, and improv actor. He is the author of A TRIUMPH FOR SAKURA, BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers and has published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. He also writes the column FXXK WRITING! for Flash Fiction Online. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Mr. Ridler holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Richmond, CA. Visit him on Facebook at
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