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The Time Nintendo Hosted A Real Wrestling Match Between Yoshi, Mario, And Donkey Kong

While video game graphics have come a long way, many fans still want to know what their favorite characters look like in real life. Sometimes that dream becomes a reality – as it did with the 2023 adaptation of "The Last of Us" – but fans mostly have to make do with imagining. But back in the Y2K era, before the prestige television adaptations and realistic graphics, Nintendo decided to up its marketing ante with a live version of "Super Smash Bros."

"Super Smash Bros.," the now-famous fighting game that pits characters from various Nintendo IPs against each other, first released in early 1999 in Japan. To promote the brawler in America, Nintendo released one of the weirdest ads of all time, which featured mascot characters punching each other mercilessly in an open, idyllic field. Apparently, Nintendo went all in on the mascot idea, as it decided to host an in-person event that closely mirrored the commercial. Enter Slamfest '99, an event intended to build hype for the North American release of "Super Smash Bros." and wow audiences in Las Vegas (and online) with the fight of the millenium. Yoshi, Mario, Donkey Kong, and Pikachu entered a giant wrestling ring to engage in some WWE-style mayhem, throwing punches and kicks in a chaotic match. Slamfest '99 may sound like a fever dream, but that's only because any evidence of the event was lost to time. Fans have been searching for clear documentation of the event for years, but have never managed to discover evidence of its existence. Until now.

A chaotic brawl

Ancient fansite Zelda 64 Planet posted a description of the event soon after it happened, describing the chaotic brawl that concluded with Mario dominating all of the other characters before a crash necessitated a draw. In typical Nintendo fashion, everyone was a winner, lending a wholesome air to the fight. Still, the writer for Zelda 64 Planet noted that the match wasn't that interesting, and joked that the fight was rigged. The accompanying grainy photos on the fan site didn't give fans a clear picture of the event, but more recently released pictures do. A new round of photos plainly captured the fight, with multiple images of the mascots throwing blows and lying defeated on the mat.

Ed Espinoza, who produced Slamfest '99 released professional photos from the event in early 2023, giving gamers a clearer look at what really happened that day. In an interview with GameXplain, Espinoza elaborated that he worked for Nintendo's PR firm at the time of the event – although he called it SmashFest instead of Slamfest, adding another layer of mystery to the true events. Espinoza had no idea that gamers were fascinated by the promotional spectacle, and was delighted to hear how it has lived on through gaming lore. Finally, an ancient piece of gaming history has come to light.