To anyone that likes to think human society has refined itself since the renaissance era, I present wresting. The 'entertainment sport' is the finest example of the modern day circus, with impossibly-sized men strutting around with a knowing wink and smile, ceaseless theatrics and giant widescreen tellies as the stage. There's plenty of money to be made here and, like the proverbial Golden Goose, THQ's annual tie-in video game Smackdown Vs Raw keeps laying lucrative eggs.
Now on its millionth instalment, 2011's update comes complete with an entirely new physics engine that allows tables to ruggedly collapse into lots of chunky bits. Ladders can be propped up against drooping ropes and - while nobody really wanted it, though it's nice to see it anyway - chairs can finally be flung at other players.
The most significant changes come from when you step outside the ring, however. Wrestling has always been about absorbing yourself into its pantomime spectacle, the feuds and rivalries of its rotating cast and the long-running soap opera of a make believe universe where friendship, love and rivalry are sorted out by not wearing a lot of clothes, getting really sweaty and pretending to clothesline each other.
To incorporate all that we have this year's Road to Wrestlemania, which plops your chosen superstar (provided your favourite superstar is either Undertaker, Christian, John Cena, Rey Mysterio or Chris Jericho) into a third-person WWE backstage. You can bicker with your wrestling amigos, check out some mini-games or boost your stats by pumping ginormous weights in the gym. Alliances and rivalries are quickly formed and broken, and interactive cutscenes frequently let you choose which specific gaudy wrestler, from a selection of gaudy wrestlers, you fancy elbow dropping.
It's hardly Dragon Age, but the infusion of RPG elements to Road to Wrestlemania helps forge (or further) a bond between you and your chosen wrestler. That's essentially what the WWE is all about, after all.
Complementing Road to Wrestlemania is WWE Universe, a compound of former Exhibition and Career modes. This generates endless reams of pre-selected matches for you to grapple through, tweaking alliances and rivalries in the background depending on the results. It's completely adaptable, allowing you to fiddle with the game's selection whenever you want - doing so will cause it to remember your favourite choices and make sure they're more likely to turn up in the future, too.