The tale of Raymondo in the CWL Universe begins back in 2014. Raymondonia and the mighty Derek were but a twinkle in the eyes of myself and a good friend of mine. Together, we set about making two wacky, ludicrous characters, with the express aim of making each other laugh with more or more layers to this ridiculous background to them.
“Yes, he took over an entire country!”
“Oh yeah well mine is quantum and time travels when he sneezes!”
“I bet he has hayfever!”
And this continued an entire day, down to furnishing custom moves for them that were called whatever we could convince 2k14 commentators to say in-game.
This became an elaborate inside joke, and over time we even took to making Raymondo and Derek in each installment of the WWE series, with more and more layers and layers of jokes slapped on every time.
Raymondo almost hits the internet
I was vaguely aware that people do wrestling “shows” much in the way of fantasy football… but these were text based in old forums and geocities…it seemed a little bit too abstract for me. But the idea of Raymondo appearing in a virtual show using in-game footage sounded pretty funny, so I submitted him as a potential character to appear on a live video game stream.
I expected to have to tone down the character to make it logical, to make it an actual wrestler rather than a dictator of the South American country of Raymondonia… but the people in the chat kind of latched onto the character and even started to add their own facts, about why it didn’t appear on maps for example.
Then… without a show having aired, but a lot of preparations having been made by some talented people, the shows never happened. All the character ideas just sat there, and I said to myself “well that was a laugh and I made some friends” and thought nothing of it.
I then a few months later see another person posting, but this time about the WWE games series, and we then exchange backwards and forwards about what the show is and isn’t, and it sounds like a bunch of fun, so I join the CWL (Created Wrestler’s League) and bring Derek along for the ride to the CWL Universe with my buddy’s blessing.
I hate joining groups, I’m a very quiet human, but these people felt so like minded and positive, and I felt pretty at home within the first hour. CWL even had and have a “help and support” section so that anyone with looking to vent about their mental health, life in general, or who just needed a positive comment could reach out. It was lovely.
Again, I figured, I’d tone down this character, introduce him gradually as a legit competitior, as I figured that’s what people want, and this is a team effort. I made the brilliant mistake of joking about Raymondo’s dictatorial aspirations in the off-topic chat, and again the snowball rolled, “do they even have elections?” “do they just show videos of Raymondo winning matches 24/7 on TV?”…
I felt okay enough to post some of the elaborate backstory my friend and I had crafted over the years to the Wiki (I helped create the original CWL Universe page as a google site, but thankfully someone stepped in to make a legit wikia page before it took someone’s eye out!).
An element of what the show is, happens on the Discord group, we cut promos using text or whatever calling someone out or promoting a match for the coming week. Only, in the case of Raymondo, we get some pretty funny exchanges going on.”Von Cody wants to take over Raymondonia”, “penguins descend from a hot air balloon”… Eventually I realise that these friends I’ve made know as much about this guy as I do!
Eventually life got the better of me, a rough couple of months with doing a Masters and a breakup left me reclusive, and I dropped off the show for quite a long time, maybe 9 months. I kept wanting to rejoin, but every time I did, I thought that everyone might resent the fact that I’d dropped off the face of the earth, or that people may have left, and it wouldn’t be the same.
I was wrong, very very wrong.
In fact, I looked up the show occasionally when they streamed, and to my shock, there was a redheaded dictator and his friend Derek in his purple gorilla suit bumbling away in the lower card of the show. I was astonished they kept The Chess Club, and I guess I took that as a sign they might still have room for me.
Around this time I got a message from the owner of the CWL Universe on social media, asking if I was okay and saying he missed me. I basically didn’t have a clue what to say, but I remember how much it meant that he took time to check up on some person on the internet.
Since then I’ve been back as much as possible, and got more involved than ever. There are new people… and they are brilliant, all of them. I just had a big interdimensional battle with one of them! I’m not kidding, lasers and portals were involved. The show gets new members all the time at this point; not all stay, but some amazing new folk are mingling with the original crew as if they’ve been there forever.
I started this off thinking about how the story of CWL and Raymondo could be something that interests people, but I am just brought back to how it’s actually a story of how good people look after each other, and how no matter what, it’s the people that make a community.
CWL do charity drives, we’ve raised over a thousand for American charity the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), do LGBT awareness events and raise money for charities such as the Trevor Project, and the NAACP. The community has statistically had a net positive effect on the world, but for me it has also been a beacon of what the internet was intended for, bringing together a community from anywhere, any background, and creating something wonderful from the sum of its parts. The group does a lot of people a lot of good, and that is why I am so proud to be a part of it. Heck, I’m even making a free game for them about the show we put on! 🙂