The series gained a bit of popularity when Extreme Warfare Deluxe was released, but gained an even higher level of fame when Extreme Warfare Revenge was released in 2002.
The series jumped from freeware to a professional product in 2004 when the first Total Extreme Warfare was released. The series soon changed its name to Total Extreme Wrestling.
Games in the Series:
- Extreme Warfare: The initial release of the series and reportedly very basic compared to what the series would become. Nine different versions were released.
- Extreme Warfare Deluxe: Coded entirely from scratch instead of using the code from the previous version. Enhanced the financial and game world.
- Extreme Warfare Revenge: The final version of the series to be initially released for free. Overwent four major revisions with minor changes along the way. Notable in that several actual wrestlers mentioned playing this game.
- Total Extreme Wrestling: Released via .400 Software for the 2004 version and with Greydog Software for 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2020. Greatly enhances the game from Revenge, adding in more realistic development territories and more micromanagement when it comes to event times. 2005 was eventually made freeware to promote TEW 2008 and other games made by Ryland.
"Total Extreme Tropes":
- After-Action Report: A significant number of players run these, and references to some of the more popular and influential ones can be found in the game - see Ascended Meme below.
- And the Adventure Continues: The game can run potentially forever, with characters who retire from the game being replaced.
- Ascended Meme: A number of diary characters, gimmicks and aliases have been referenced in the official database.
- Author Avatar: A borderline example, as Tommy Cornell—a very famous and successful wrestler and promoter in the created universe—is named after an eFed character that Ryland once played.
- In Extreme Warfare Revenge, applying the "Ryland Effect" gimmick to a wrestler essentially turns him into one of these. Naturally, it's the most over gimmick in the game.
- Competitive Multiplayer
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Several of the restrictions that apply to the player don't apply to the AI.
- Expy: Countless. Ryland has admitted that a number of characters were originally inspired by real life wrestlers, generally as composites rather than direct counterparts. For example, wrestler "Paul Huntingdon" has his name and gimmick based on the young Triple H, but some of his stats and attributes are less, er...Levesque-esque. Threads debating who in real life may have inspired which character are always popular on the forums. There are, however, some obvious parallels, such as "The Force" being based on Ultimate Warrior's in-ring gimmick and face paint. And in 2015, the Mexican luchador "Hush" wears a skull-like mask and is infamous for targeting his opponent's throats...
- Fictional Document: Ryland has written a series of articles on the characters, promotions and history of the Cornellverse.
- Game-Breaking Injury: Just like in Real Life, there are injuries that can severely limit a wrestler's ability to work. You can expect to see someone never be the same after a long injury.
- Game Mod: Several for all iterations of the game, most of them being based on several earlier years in wrestling. The Alternate Universe mod iDomination is also fairly popular.
- Also completely fictional universes, including the GDS-Verse and the Thunderverse (the first mod officially approved by Ryland.)
- Holiday Mode: In Extreme Warfare Revenge having a show on a certain date such as Christmas, Valentine's Day and certain other holidays unlocked special angles that could only be used on that day. A non-holiday example was the creator's birthday, where a segment could be selected where he comes out and beats up a wrestler of your choosing.
- Just One More Level!: Or show, in this case.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: More than 2,000 in the Cornellverse, which comes packaged with the game. Some mods contain much more than that.
- Named After Somebody Famous: "Sammy Bach," for instance, works a rock star gimmick and his name is a portmanteau of '80s rock icons Sammy Hagar and Sebastian Bach. There is even a wrestler (also working a rock star gimmick and one of the Cornellverse's most popular characters) who is named exactly after the late Cream bassist Jack Bruce.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: The owners of the companies can impose some stringent hiring rules, quite apart from preventing you hiring anyone they don't like.
- Professional Wrestling: Simulates being the booker (matchmaker) and/or owner of a professional wrestling promotion.
- Pro Wrestling Is Real: One of the few wrestling games that subverts this. You choose which wrestler wins the match and how (in most versions).
- Retraux: The Death Of The Territories mod, set in a stylized version of 1983, comes with a graphic pack that gives the user interface a more "1980's Wrestling" feel. The normally red background is replaced with a wall of old promotional flyers and pictures from the era.
- Reference Overdosed: Adam Ryland is clearly a fan of classic rock, as well as the Buffyverse. For the former, there are a few examples already on this page, as well as the Eisen family and Steve Frehley, references to KISS members Paul Stanley (b. Stanley Eisen) and Ace Frehley respectively. For the latter, the wrestler "Puffy the Sand Iron Player" rhymes almost perfectly with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Spin-Off: Ryland released two more similar games with sequels: Wrestling Spirit; a game in which Pro Wrestling Is Real and you control a single wrestler throughout his or her career; and World of Mixed Martial Arts.
- Status Quo Is God: The details may change, but the game world broadly remains the same from version to version for reasons of Competitive Balance.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: There are a few workers and federations that are clearly based off of current or historical things in the real world.
- Wide-Open Sandbox: Dozens of companies, thousands of wrestlers, and lots of mods available to put players at almost any point in the last thirty years or so of the real world wrestling business.
- Writing Around Trademarks: Due to copyright issues, the freeware's habit of having a default scenario based off of the real world couldn't happen once the game went up for sale. Ryland responded by creating his own fictional world.