Mat Mania – The Prowrestling Network, often shortened to Mat Mania, is a 1985 Japanese wrestling arcade game. The game was released in Japan under Exciting Hour: The Prowrestling Network, or just Exciting Hour for short. Technōs Japan developed Mat Mania and Taito published it as a coin-operated arcade system. Mat Mania is a spiritual successor to Technōs Japan’s 1983 arcade game, Tag-Team Wrestling. After its release, Mat Mania was highly praised in both Japan and North America. It became the U.S.’s highest-grossing arcade conversion kit in 1986.
Although the original game was released as an arcade unit, Mat Mania received several ports for home consoles. In 1986, only a year after the game’s initial release, the game received an updated arcade version that featured a two-player mode. This “enhanced” version was published under the name Mania Challenge. In 1990, Mat Mania – The Prowrestling Network was ported to the Atari 7800. Today, players can easily get ahold of this game by purchasing the Arcade Archives: MAT MANIA EXCITING HOUR version through the PlayStation Store or the Nintendo eShop for $7.99 each. PlayStation released the PS4 version in 2015 and the Nintendo Switch version came out in 2019. Both are still available for purchase.
Mat Mania was a best-seller in both Japan and America. Since it was an arcade game first, it’s difficult to track reviews of the original 1985 release, but the sales speak volumes. An arcade game being ported to multiple at-home consoles also proves how well-received Mat Mania was. Even today, modern consoles still feel justified in charging money for this arcade classic and gamers are more than happy to buy. Today, gamers still love this retro wrestling game. 96% of Google users who weighed in on the game claim to like it.
Mat Mania – The Prowrestling Network Premise
Like many arcade games of the 1980s, Mat Mania – The Prowrestling Network focused mostly on the gameplay aspect of the game. It didn’t go out of its way to tell a long, complicated story. It did, however, cleverly set the scene for the main character’s journey as a professional wrestler. The player controls Dynamite Tommy, a wrestler who qualifies for the televised Taito Wrestling Association (TWA) broadcast (in the Japanese version, it’s called the Technos Wrestling Association instead). The entire game follows the formula of a televised pro wrestling competition where the player faces off against other professional wrestlers.
Cory (Nari in the Japanese version) hosts the broadcast. He acts as the game’s official announcer or narrator. The point of the game is to challenge several pro-wrestlers so Dynamite Tommy can make his way up the ranks of the TWA. Each opponent has his own colorful costume and theme he attempts to adhere to. This mimics real professional wrestling well. Most wrestlers have elaborate and eye-catching costumes to create a distinguishable brand for themselves, so that’s what Mat Mania attempts to emulate.
Dynamite Tommy faces off against four opponents to make his way to the top. The fifth and final fight will be against the reigning TWA champion. Needless to say, beating the champion is the ultimate end goal of Mat Mania. If the player wins, Dynamite Tommy attends a presentation ceremony where he gets the championship belt.
That isn’t the end of the game, though. Now that Dynamite Tommy has become the champion, he has to retain the title by beating his challengers. All five defeated wrestlers can challenge Tommy to a rematch in an attempt to steal the title from him.
Mat Mania – The Prowrestling Network Main Characters
Many games from the 1980s put little emphasis on the characters. Even the main character usually had little backstory and not much emphasis outside of what they could do in-game. Mat Mania, however, decided to go into quite a bit of detail with its characters. The game includes the main playable character, Dynamite Tommy, and the five pro-wrestler adversaries he faces off against. Each professional wrestler takes inspiration from a real-life wrestler and actual trends in the wrestling world. Mat Mania – The Prowrestling Network also includes a full-fledged host that announces winners and adds commentary to each battle.
The Main Character:
- Dynamite Tommy: Dynamite Tommy is the main playable protagonist of Mat Mania. Many fans theorize that he was based on The Dynamite Kid (Thomas Billington), a British professional wrestler. Dynamite Tommy doesn’t have an official name in Mat Mania. Instead, the game refers to him as “You”. In Mania Challenge, the updated 1986 arcade version of the game, he was officially named Dynamite Tommy. Despite Tommy never officially being named in the original version of the game, if players pay attention, they can see signs in the audience that say things like “Fight Tommy”. Dynamite Tommy’s entire goal is to work his way up the ranks of the TWA. To do this, he needs to defeat five opponents. Tommy has an impressive range of abilities and moves that are dependent on what position he’s in and what his opponent is doing.
The Championship Host:
- Cory: Cory (also known as Nari in the Japanese version) is the host and announcer of the Taito Wrestling Association (TWA) broadcast. As expected from a host, Cory’s job is to keep the crowd entertained, announce the winners of each battle, and provide insider insight into how each fight is unfolding as it goes. A wrestling tournament is only as good as its host and Cory’s presence helps the game feel like a realistic championship.
Dynamite Tommy’s Opponents:
- Insane Warrior: Insane Warrior is also known as “Insane Worrier” due to a misspelling in the Exciting Hour version of the game. He is one of five opponents that Dynamite Tommy has to face off against. Insane Warrior fulfills the fanciful, dystopian punk and/or barbarian theme made popular by professional wrestlers like Road Warrior Animal (Joseph Michael Laurinaitis). He can pin Dynamite Tommy with one hand. He specializes in clubbing blows and uses moves like Elbow Smash and Clothesline. Gorilla Press body slam is Insane Warrior’s ultimate move.
- Karate Fighter: Karate Fighter, as the name suggests, is a martial arts-themed wrestler with a Manchu-styled outfit. Some players have pointed out that kung fu is more accurate to Karate Fighter than karate. Karate Fighter is fast and relies on moves like kicking strikes, jump kicks, and karate chops. Some fans have pointed out that he seems to take inspiration from a few different martial artists and wrestlers, like Bruce Lee and The Great Kabuki (Akihisa Mera). Karate Fighter is the only character in Mat Mania who doesn’t use any of Dynamite Tommy’s moves. The NES version of Double Dragon adapted Karate Fighter into a new character. His Double Dragon counterpart was Chin Taimei.
- Coco Savage: Coco Savage has a Wild Man theme inspired by Bobo Brazil (Houston Harris). He is a standout in the ring because of his choice to wear an animal pelt. Coco Savage goes barefoot too, which seems to help him be the fastest character in the game. His advantage comes from how swift he is in battle. He uses the player’s shoulder block move against him. Notably, Coco Savage is unpredictable in the ring. Most wrestlers wouldn’t even think to do what he does, which makes him a deadly opponent.
- The Pirania: The Pirania is a masked “rúdo” wrestler based on Mil Mascaras (born Aarón Rodríguez Arellano), a Mexican luchador. This opponent is one of the most difficult to overcome because he’s willing to cheat to win. He is the only opponent in the game that will use illegal maneuvers in a fight. The Pirania will choke opponents and even gouge their eyes. What makes facing off against The Pirania worse is that he’s not just in it to win, he wants to humiliate his opponents too.
- Golden Hulk: Golden Hulk (named Blues Bloody in Exciting Hour) is the reigning TWA World Champion and the “final boss” of the game. Dynamite Tommy has to go through all of the other wrestlers before he earns the right to challenge Golden Hulk. Bruiser Brody (Frank Donald Goodish) originally inspired Golden Hulk, but some versions of the game changed him to resemble Hulk Hogan (Terry Gene Bollea) more. Golden Hulk even uses Hulk Hogan’s famous “Legdrop of Doom” finisher in the game. He relies on his incredible strength to overwhelm and dominate his opponents.
While these character appearances aren’t the main characters, Mat Mania shines the spotlight on some extremely famous cameos hanging out in the audience. Players can find some recognizable fictional characters and real-life celebrities hidden in the crowd. Spotting them is like a game within a game.
- Superman, Batman, and Robin from DC Comics
- ZZ Top
- Alien aka the literal Xenomorph
- Stevie Wonder
- John Travolta
- The Jackson Five
- The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters
- Darth Vader and Princess Leia from Star Wars
Mat Mania – The Prowrestling Network Titles in the Series
Despite Mat Mania – The Prowrestling Network’s popularity and success, the game didn’t spawn a franchise. In 1986, one year after Mat Mania’s release, an “enhanced” two-player version of the game was released under the name Mania Challenge. Several consoles have Mat Mania ports. These systems include the PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch, but there are no other titles in this specific series. Taito published Mat Mania, the same publisher behind some iconic retro games like The Legend of Kage.
Mat Mania – The Prowrestling Network Cheats, Controls, & Trophies
The 1980s and ’90s were full of video games that came with in-game cheats of some kind. Back in the day, games were quick-paced, grew more challenging in a short amount of time, and often didn’t have a way to save. Players needed to keep going until they either beat the game or received a Game Over. Developers were aware of how challenging their games could be to beat, so they often incorporated game-breaking cheats or exploits that players could take advantage of if they wanted to. This allowed dedicated gamers to beat the game “authentically”, but if a player knew about the cheats, they could overcome the challenge more easily.
Sadly, Mat Mania – The Prowrestling Network doesn’t seem to have any cheats, cheat codes, or exploits to take advantage of. Even some of the most popular sites that provide tips, tricks, and cheats, like GameFAQs, have nothing for cheats or exploits. Since Mat Mania doesn’t have much to offer in this category, let’s take a look at how to play the game. Since Mat Mania is also available on PlayStation, let’s also take a look at the available PlayStation Trophies.
Controls for Mat Mania
GameFAQs user Julian Bongat aka ONGANJU put together a detailed guide that covers Mat Mania’s controls as well as tips and tricks on how to beat each opponent. For a more detailed step-by-step (or fight-by-fight, in this case) guide to the game, please refer to Julian Bongat’s post. Below are Mat Mania’s basic abbreviations and commands:
Key to Abbreviations:
- P – Punch Button
- K – Kick Button
- U – Move the Joystick to the Up position
- D – Move the Joystick to the Down position
- L – Move the Joystick to the Left position
- R – Move the Joystick to the Right position
- MM – Mat Mania
- EH – Exciting Hour
- MC – Mania Challenge
Both Characters Standing Commands:
- P – Punch
- K – Kick
- P + K – Run in the direction Tommy’s walking. If players just press the buttons themselves, Tommy will run toward the opponent instead.
- To Grapple, walk towards the opponent.
- U/R or U/L toward the Upper-right or Upper-left Turnbuckle to climb it.
- When outside of the ring: Climb back in by walking to the front of the ring and pressing the joystick Up.
Commands While Grappling:
- Bodyslam: U/D + P
- Whip to Ropes: L/R + P
- Brainbuster: L/R + K
- Piledriver: U/D + K
After Rope Whipping Opponent Commands:
- Back Body Drop: P
- Elbow Pat: U/D/L/R + P
- Rolling Sole Butt(Spinning Heel): K
- Clothesline: U/D/L/R + K
Commands While Running at Opponent:
- Shoulder Tackle: P
- Flying Body Press: K
Commands While Opponent is Down:
- Pick Opponent Up: P
- Pin Opponent: K
- Somersault Senton: Climb the Turnbuckle then K
- Kneedrop: Climb Turnbuckle then P
- Body Splash Pin: Run at a downed opponent and press K
- Players can perform this move if the opponent is outside the ring. Tommy won’t pin them, but the move will still hit.
Mat Mania PlayStation Trophies
Mat Mania only has nine PlayStation Trophies to get and it is possible to obtain them all in a single playthrough. In fact, players can achieve most of them just by navigating the game’s various menus and options. Mat Mania is an easy way for PlayStation users to bump up their overall account level a little bit because the trophies are incredibly easy to achieve.
- Settings can be accessed from here: Options menu opened.
- Optimal display settings: Display settings opened.
- Customize game settings: Game settings opened.
- Set button configuration: Button settings opened.
- The manual has been read.: All of the manual has been read.
- Aim to be the best!: Online rankings opened.
- Game Reset: The game has been reset.
- Record score: The score has been posted to the online rankings.
- Mark high score: The high score has been updated.
Mat Mania – The Prowrestling Network Cheats FAQ
If an interested party Googles “Mat Mania – The Prowrestling Network cheats”, a few frequently asked questions pop up. Unfortunately, most of them are irrelevant to the game in question. The first result inquires about what happened to cheat codes in the gaming industry as a whole. The only relevant question asks about the game characters, which readers can find detailed above. Simply Googling “Mat Mania – The Prowrestling Network” turns up no FAQ results.
As a last-ditch effort, players can try Googling the game by its other names. Unfortunately, “Exciting Hour: The Prowrestling Network cheats” doesn’t turn up any relevant questions either outside of asking about the characters. Searching any variation of “Exciting Hour: The Prowrestling Network“, “Mat Mania cheats”, “Mat Mania“, “Exciting Hour“, or “Exciting Hour cheats” still turn up nothing of relevance.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©SwitchedOn Gaming / Technōs Japan / Taito.