In 1999 Nintendo Had A Real-Life Wrestling Match Starring Mario3 min read
Back in 1999, around the time of the release of the original Super Smash Bros. on the N64, Nintendo had a big idea. To help promote the game they would go to Vegas, set up a wrestling ring, get a bunch of actors to wear Nintendo character costumes and have them go at it.
So they did just that. The event, known as Slamfest ‘99, wasn’t just performed in front of a live crowd, it was also streamed online—in 1999!—and then available to watch for a few months afterwards as well. You would think that would mean that some footage of the stunt has survived, but somehow no, it hasn’t, and so for a few years now a group of “fans and archivists” from the Lost Media Wiki have been scouring the internet looking for some.
Here’s how one of that team, bozo_ssb, describes their efforts:
Despite the live broadcast, and despite it being available to be rewatched in RealPlayer for several months afterward, no video footage of Slamfest ‘99 is known to survive anywhere on the modern-day internet – it’s completely lost. With little evidence of the event even occurring, it has languished in extreme obscurity for over two decades, even among hardcore Nintendo fans. Since May 2020, a group of fans and archivists from the Lost Media Wiki have been actively searching for the lost broadcast footage (of which I’m a member).
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The bad news is they still haven’t found any. The good news is that they have now found something. The LMW team managed to track down Ed Espinoza, who was the producer for Slamfest ‘99, and Ed was kind enough to share a bunch of photos he took on the day so that the world could get a fresh look at Mario punching Donkey Kong in the tit.
While no footage has survived, some eyewitness accounts have, which LMW have catalogued here:
Mario and Donkey would start the match. Donkey Kong, being much larger than our favorite plumber, quickly took Mario out. Yoshi came in and got his revenge on the gorilla. Pikachu would come in for the monkey only to be knocked down by Yoshi’s lethal tail. Then, before anyone knew it, Mario went crazy. He wiped out Donkey Kong, Pikachu, and his own teammate, Yoshi. Ultimately, the match would end in a crash which knocked out everyone resulting in a draw. “Everyone’s a winner!” the announcer yelled – Zelda64
Mario and Yoshi were on one team, Donkey Kong and Pikachu were on the other. It was quite funny to see the life-size mascots bouncing around a wrestling ring. Mario went on a crazed rampage hitting everyone in sight, and instead of Yoshi, Donkey Kong accidentally hit himself with his ‘mallet of doom.’ And in the most heated moment, all four mascot smashed into each other in the center of the ring, and all fell to the mat. That’s right, in true Nintendo fashion, it was a draw…and everyone is a winner! – Nintendorks
Even the ref got in on the act, biting Pikachu’s ear and declaring that it tasted ‘like chicken’. Mario shocked us with his low blow antics and Kong knocked himself out with his own magic hammer, but they all wound up best of friends at the end, the match being declared an honourable draw – N64 Magazine
We’ve shared a few of the images here, but here’s a link to the whole gallery, which is fascinating not just for the images from the bout itself, but also for the shots of the wrestlers warming up out of costume. And fun fact: there’s a good chance this whole stunt was just a chance for Nintendo to get their money’s worth out of those costumes, since they’re the same ones featured in the classic “Happy Together” Smash commercial:
Super Smash Bros Commercial (N64)