ECW Anarchy Rulz is a professional wrestling video game released by Acclaim Entertainment in 2000 based on Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). It was released for the PlayStation and Dreamcast. The game is the sequel to ECW Hardcore Revolution and the last ECW game released by Acclaim. Acclaim would later start another wrestling game series with the release of Legends of Wrestling the following year.
After ECW Hardcore Revolution was disappointingly received due to, among other reasons, the lack of an ECW feel. Acclaim tried to compensate for this by adding many new match types. Among these are the Table Match, Inferno Match, Dumpster Match, Rage In A Cage, Hate Match, and the Backlot Brawl.
The game featured new control mechanics as well, however these felt very similar to the controls that had been with the series since WWF War Zone. Rounding out the additions is the revamped career mode. There was going to be a Nintendo 64 version of this game but it was cancelled as the console was approaching the end of its life.
This was the last game that was made for ECW before it filed for bankruptcy and was purchased by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Acclaim went on to produce the Legends of Wrestling series. The more recent incarnation of ECW would appear in three games in the WWE Smackdown vs. Raw series (2008–2010).
As in 'ECW Hardcore Revolution' the game also features bonus characters called 'Jobbers'. By pressing 'Right' while highlighting any wrestler on the selection screen, the player can see the jobber list. They are characters based upon non-performers in ECW and Acclaim, although some are completely imaginary. At first, Trainer is the only one available as the others must be unlocked.
This game featured five arenas.
- House Stadium - A basic arena. Quite dark and gray. There would be no pyrotechnic or lighting effects during entrances.
- Brick Stadium - An arena which was usually seen on ECW Pay-Per-View events.
- Elks Stadium - An arena loosely based upon the Elks Lodge in Queens, New York. Entrances in this arena may include lighting and pyrotechnic effects.
- ECW Stadium - An arena which features a set that bears a strong resemblance to the ECW Arena in South Philadelphia.
- Backlot - Based upon the back lot of a large building, it is a large concreted area surrounded by chain link fences, a brick wall and a truck bed. There is an immovable trash can which players can use as a turnbuckle. As there are no ropes, certain corner moves cannot be performed. The surrounding fence can be climbed. There is no color commentary, and various weapons are randomly thrown into the area.
The career mode returned with two major differences. The fictional Acclaim world title was removed, leaving only two titles in the single-player singles career. This made the mode considerably shorter. The player would begin by only competing in matches at non-televised House shows. As they progressed on, they would appear on televised shows, and then pay-per-views. Even though each match was billed in different cities, the arenas only differ depending on what type of show was scheduled. As the player moves up the rankings, the caliber and number of opponents increase and harder stipulations added.
In a singles career, a player begins at the bottom of the ECW World Television Championship rankings (#15). Every time the player won a match, they would progress up one rank, or go down one place if they lost. If the player won at a pay-per-view, they would move up 3 spaces. If the player is ranked #1 on a pay-per-view date, they will get a title match. If they have won the title at a pay-per-view, they must defend the title at the next 5 matches. If the player loses any of these matches, the player loses the title and falls down 5 places in the rankings. If the player wins all five title defenses, they move onto the bottom of the ECW World Heavyweight Championship rankings (#10). If the player wins the Heavyweight title, every match thereafter will be a title defense.
Winning a pay-per-view match will sometimes lead to an unlockable item being awarded. The player must remember to save the game in the Utilities menu as saving in Career Mode would not save unlocked items.
In a tag team career, the player selected team begins at the bottom of the ECW World Tag Team Championship rankings (#15) and must win a series of Tag Team matches, eventually winning the Tag Team titles. The player would always begin the match with the first character they had chosen, but could use the other during the match.
In a stable career, the player starts at the bottom of a fictional ECW World Stable Championship rankings (#10). You use a pre-made stable of four characters. After this, you can choose which member(s) of your stable will be active before each match. As you progress through the rankings, the number of members representing each team will increasingly favor the computer (starting 2 vs 2, but ending 1 vs 3). The final match is a stable match for the title. Once the title has been won, the career ends.
In a multiplayer career, up to four players can progress through career mode at once. Two can work together in Tag Team career or a Stable career. If players choose to rival each other, they will begin with a match that incorporates all players. The winner would automatically advance further up the rankings than the other players, with the remainder being ranked dependent upon their success in the inaugural match. From then on, each career date will feature an individual match for each player. Or the players will be required to face off again. In a singles career, players can only compete for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship. When one player reaches the top, he must compete against all other players. If he loses this match, that player will drop 3 places and the winner will advance one space. If the person who reaches the top of the rankings wins this challenge, he also wins the title, thus ending career mode for all players.
Belt Tour Mode
One of the few features that made the game unique was 'Belt Tour' mode. This consisted of four 'King of the Ring' style tournaments, but could only be played in single-player mode. There was no save function between rounds, so one loss automatically lost the entire tournament. Each mode could have between 0 and 3 added stipulations, depending on game difficulty, tournament selected and progress.
- TV Belt Tour - Unlocked when a player won the ECW World Television Championship in 'Career Mode'. The first match would be a normal match, however the semi-finals and finals would also have an added stipulation. Most of the opponents in this mode would be individuals that had never won the ECW World Heavyweight Title in real life.
- Heavyweight Belt Tour - Unlocked when a player won the ECW World Heavyweight Championship in 'Career Mode'. The first match would have a special stipulation, with the remaining two matches having as many as three stipulations. A combined 'Iron Man' and Last Man Standing' match is very common. All opponents would be people that had won the ECW World Title in real life (and Dusty Rhodes). Completing this mode with different characters on the Hard difficulty setting unlocked new options or characters.
- Tag Team Belt Tour - Unlocked when a player won the ECW World Tag Team Championship in 'Career Mode'. There would only be two matches. Both were tag team matches with at least one added stipulation.
- Toughman Belt Tour - Unlocked when a player won the ECW World Heavyweight Championship in a multi-player 'Career Mode'. All three matches would be handicap matches with up to three added stipulations. The first match would be a '1 vs 2' match, with the others being '1 vs 3' matches.
In this mode, the player can see the 4 alternate costumes of each unlocked character and their attributes. When viewing a character, the character's theme tune plays. The characters are listed in four categories, 'A-M', 'N-Z', 'Jobber' and 'Created'.
This game featured stables; teams of four characters that can be used in the Stable career mode. The player could choose a name (maximum 10 characters including spaces), a stable theme, logo and four members. During the Stable career, the player could choose up to two from the four stable members in each match.
Some of the stables were based on genuine teams in ECW (e.g. 'Impact Players' featuring Justin Credible, Lance Storm, Jason and Dawn Marie), some were genuine teams with additional members (e.g. 'Ghetto FBI' featured both 'The Baldies' and 'Full Blooded Italians' tag teams), and some were completely fictional (e.g. 'Pure ECW' featured Jerry Lynn, Super Crazy, Paul Heyman and Francine). There were no other advantages to a stable in the game.
- Hate match - Player 1 would face off against 12 opponents. The match begins with Player 1 and the first three opponents in the ring at once. If Player 1 defeats an opponent, they are replaced with a new and fresh team mate. In order to win, Player 1 must defeat all of the 12 opponents. The entire rival team wins if anybody defeats Player 1.
- Rage In A Cage - Similar to a cage match, however the removal of the ring allows for a much bigger space to fight it. The entire surface area is a concrete floor, which causes additional damage to certain moves. Players cannot win by climbing over the cage walls, but can still perform diving attacks from the top.
- Backlot Brawl - The match always takes place in the back lot of the arena. See 'Arenas' for details.
- Blistering Brimstone Match - This is a battle royal variation which allows 2, 3 or 4 participants. In order to defeat an opponent, their health must be lowered to critical (red), and then an attacker must perform an Atomic Whip or Body slam over the top rope when the opponent is stunned. Players cannot leave the ring voluntarily. The major difference is that the arena floor is covered with burning firewood and coals. When a player touches the floor, they will burn up with an agonized scream.
- Dumpster Match - At the top side of the ring is a dumpster. To win, the player must put one or all of their opponents into the dumpster. This is done in exactly the same way as in Battle Royals.
- Table Match - Either 2 or 4 tables are placed around the ring. If a move is performed near a table, it would break. If you perform a move near a table, it will cause 'Extreme' damage. After time, the table would return. The tables break very easily, as someone climbing out of the ring can break a table without taking damage. Unlike actual table matches, the match continues when someone is put through a table. The tables cannot be moved or manipulated in any way.
Due to copyright constraints, Acclaim were not allowed to use many of the theme tunes used by ECW wrestlers. Instead, they composed similar-sounding themes for the characters. But they were able to secure the rights to four songs which do feature in the game.
- "This is Extreme" by Harry Slash & The Slashtones - This is the main ECW theme, used as the theme song for Paul Heyman, Joey Styles, Joel Gertner, Cyrus, the 'Pure ECW' stable and the 'Commentary' stable.
- "Holy Man" by One Minute Silence - This features as the theme for Dusty Rhodes, Tajiri and Mikey Whipwreck. It is also played at the 'Press Start' screen.
- "Debonnaire" by Dope - This is used as the theme tune for Rhino and the overall game. This was Rhino's actual theme song in ECW.
- "New Jack" - This was a unique track which featured New Jack performing. It was commissioned by New Jack himself to be used as a theme song in ECW, but it never happened. It was intended to be exclusive to the PlayStation format of the game.
ECW Hardcore Revolution was heavily criticized for being too similar to WWF Attitude. Many of the moves and taunts appeared in both games, with the former having only a few additional moves. Some moves were simply renamed (for example, the Seated Powerbomb was renamed Awesome Bomb).
In Anarchy Rulz, there are very many unique moves added to the game, with none being removed. Some moves are in twice under different names (in the same fighting position). For example, the 'Wham-Bam Thank-You Ma'am' and the 'Double Arm DDT' are the same move performed in the Ready position.
There are a large number of moves which are not assigned to any in-game characters. And also, certain moves can only be performed in certain matches. All corner moves with the word 'Springboard' in its name can only be performed in matches in which the ring ropes are active. Also, there were many moves added to the game which were unique to ECW. For example, the Reversal DDT sees the attacker appear to fall victim to a powerbomb, however they counter the move with a Tornado DDT.
- Bill Alfonso
- Amish Roadkill
- Beautiful Billy
- Balls Mahoney
- Big Sal E. Graziano
- C.W. Anderson
- Chris Chetti
- Steve Corino
- Justin Credible
- Dawn Marie
- Danny Doring
- Tommy Dreamer
- Joel Gertner
- Little Guido
- Paul Heyman
- Judge Jeff Jones
- Jerry Lynn
- Kid Kash
- Lou E. Dangerously
- Jim Molineaux
- New Jack
- Dusty Rhodes
- Rob Van Dam
- Super Crazy
- Simon Diamond
- Spike Dudley
- Lance Storm
- Joey Styles
- The Prodigy
- Jack Victory
- Mikey Whipwreck
The game was met with negative reception. GameRankings and Metacritic gave it a score of 45% and 38 out of 100 for the Dreamcast version, and 44.86% and 43 out of 100 for the PlayStation version.