What's shakin' brothers? We're over here clangin' and bangin', scarfin' down some wholesome milk, and puttin' on our tights for the big main event dude.
We’re just foolin’ with you guys. We’re totally just playing a bunch of awesome wrestling games while wearing our wrestling championship replica belts. That activity led us to compose another video games-related list.
Professional wrestling is home to some of the strongest and brightest sports personalities on the face of this earth. Hulk Hogan. Ric Flair. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (RIP). The Rock. Stone Cold Steve Austin. Dusty Rhodes. John Cena. CM Punk. The Undertaker. Triple H. Need we say more?
These wrestlers have shined in the squared circle and they’ve shined even brighter in the digital wrestling ring. Wrestling video games provided gamers eventful weekends full of multiple finishers, insane 4-way battles, hardcore matches, and profanity laced tirades from children (and grown men/women). Such sweet memories right there…
Anyway, we took the time to remember the 25 greatest wrestling video games ever made. Lace up your boots, say your prayers, and eat your vitamins (the legal ones, mind you) as we count ‘em all down.
25. Pro Wrestling
Sure, this game may not hold the spot as the first pro wrestling game on the NES (that honor goes to M.U.S.C.L.E.). But it definitely holds the honor of being one of the best wrestling games on Nintendo’s legendary console. You had your referee (WHO YOU COULD ACTUALLY SEE!), you had your ring, and you had your two diesel combatants flinging each other all over the damn ring. The graphics may be primitive compared to today’s standards, but the fun factor is still intact for this entry. Starman and Fighter Hayabusa will never be forgotten. Remember kids: “A Winner Is You!”
24. Tecmo World Wrestling
Tecmo knew how to make an awesome football game, but did ya know they crafted a kickass wrestling game too? Tecmo World Wrestling featured a long list of wrestlers who dealt damage with a moveset containing 20 different maneuvers And those replays? Revolutionary at the time. And how can we forget the training minigames between matches? The game’s single player campaign made you feel like you and your wrestler were actually improving in the ring and out of it. “The British Star” Rex Beat and his powerbomb got us through so many tough scenarios.
23. Saturday Night Slam Masters
Capcom is known worldwide for the work they’ve done on the Street Fighter series. When it comes to fighting games, Capcom knows a thing or two about making the best ones. Somewhere along the way, they put their fighting game expertise into a wrestling ring and came out with this underrated gem. Saturday Night Slam Masters feels fast and fluid in its controls, plus every character in the game is a cool nod to real life wrestlers. You’re bound to run into a Big Van Vader lookalike during your single player run through. We still drop a few hours into this fast paced brawler and it’s always nice to see the shared universe this game shares with Street Fighter.
22. WWF In Your House
This game garners some undeserved hate, in our opinion. The moves are over the top, yeah. But that’s what makes this game such a good time. The graphics were nothing to write home about, but they had a certain likable quality to them. Watching The British Bulldog wrap some loser around in the United Kingdom flag or getting to wrestle The Undertaker in some creepy dungeon was so ridiculous. But you know what? It was all a blast. This may just be Mortal Kombat: WWF Edition, to be completely honest. But we can’t hate too much on a game that lets us crush dudes into nothing but bones. We’re looking at you, Ahmed Johnson.
21. Fire Pro Wrestling 2 (GBA)
You wanna test your gaming reflexes? Then give this handheld wrestling game a spin. The Fire Pro Wrestling games are highly regarded for their tight and super precise controls. The learning curve may be off the charts, but mastering this title leads to those “hard-to-put-down” experiences. Hardcore wrestling fans will recognize the roster, even though they may have had their names changed to avoid some pissed off company lawyers. The roster is deep and the matches can run forever if you know what you’re doing. This is one of the deepest and most rewarding handheld games ever made. FPW FOR LIFE!
20. Def Jam Vendetta
If someone had told us that there would be a wrestling game starring rappers before this came out, we’d have laughed at them and continued listening to our Joe Budden CD. Def Jam Vendetta is a very real thing though and it’s incredibly fun to play. The famed developers at AKI Corporation put their familiar grappling system into this battle between Def Jam superstars. The story mode was dope, the finishers were off-the-charts, and even the rest of the cast was ill. Snowman and Moses ain’t nothin’ to play wit’! Def Jam Vendetta is a wrestling/hip-hop fan’s dream game.
19. Ultimate Muscle: Legends vs. New Generation
The Ultimate Muscle show is, quite simply, the ultimate wrestling cartoon. There were so may colorful personalities to follow and the matches tended to run as long as Dragonball Z fights. And the names of these guys got a good chuckle out of us (Kevin Mask? That’s totally Kevin Nash!). When this GameCube game arrived, we didn’t give it much of a chance. It was based off of the anime that was running on Fox, so we figured it would be a lame cash-in title. Oh how wrong we were. This wrestler is incredibly fun. There’s a decent amount of characters to choose from and the collecting element of the game is quite addictive. This is the definition of a pick-up-and-play game, thanks to its easy controls. BONE COLD! BONE COLD! BONE COLD!
18. Galactic Wrestling: Featuring Ultimate Muscle
And now we arrive at the super sized sequel for the PS2! Galactic Wrestling took the best parts from its GameCube predecessor and added a ton of new wrestlers on top of the old roster. We even got a cool Mask Hunt mode that made the Lucha Libre fan inside of us smile. Sure, the create-a-wrestler mode was gone. But the large roster made up for that omission. Not only could we play with some new Legends, but we got some added New Generation stars to take into the ring. Find this PS2 game for cheap, cop a multi-tap, invite your buddies, and enjoy the rest of your evening. You’ll have a hard time putting this one down.
17. WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role!
The SmackDown series of wrestling games offered the owners of Sony’s consoles a nice piece of the action. The second game in the long running series improved upon the first game and added some changes to the long-running Season mode. The character models got improved a bit graphically and the Create-A-Wrestler mode was as solid as ever. The unlockable wrestlers made us take a couple of spins in Season Mode, plus we had a good time just running some plain old Exhibition matches. Sure, Season Mode could be random at times. But hey, the random nature of pro wrestling is something we’ve come to appreciate.
16. WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth
Just take a look at this game’s incredible roster. Hulk Hogan during his return to the Red and Yellow. A rookie Randy Orton. “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. BILLY AND CHUCK! The list of great wrestlers this game had goes on and on. This sequel seemed to have a more visceral feel to the moves, plus the arena took on a darker lighting sheen. The championship belts looked pretty damn nice for the entrances this time around, too. This game came after the end of the Invasion angle, so the split roster led to this game having a roster full of WWE/WCW/ECW greats. Walking around the arena during Season Mode was a sweet added bonus.
15. WWF Superstars
Now we’re going to head back to the arcade on this one. This is the first WWF arcade game to make it’s way to your local pizza spot or movie theater lobby. This brawler operated a bit differently from past wrestling games, since you had to select two wrestlers for your fight to the top. WWF Superstars’ gameplay allowed us to go crazy with fast paced grapples and rebound rope maneuvers. When we finally took on the Mega Bucks for the belts and beat them, we felt like a million bucks. This simple arcade wrestler never gets old.
14. WWF WrestleFest
Most wrestling heads/video game fans are more familiar with this WWF arcade game. Two new modes were added to give players something new to contend with – Saturday Night’s Main Event mode and the Royal Rumble. The tag team format was still intact, plus your final opponents were changed to the Legion of Doom (man, they were hard). We gravitated to the Royal Rumble mode more because of how crazy that match could get. Just like in wrestling reality, the ring would get crowded full of the WWF’s best. The cartoony graphics and cool roster makes WWF WrestleFest an old but still well respected favorite.
13. WWE All-Stars
This game doesn’t seem to get a lot of love, but it’s one of the most enjoyable WWE wrestling games we’ve ever taken for a spin. We appreciated the stylized look, as it paid homage to our young selves and our interpretation of our favorite wrestlers. The roster damn near featured the greatest wrestlers to ever step foot into a WWE ring. All of the fantasy matchup’s you could pull off (Hulk Hogan vs. John Cena, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. CM Punk) made this game a dream come true. This was the WWE WrestleFest reboot we’ve always wanted.
12. WWE ’13
In our opinion, this is THQ’s best effort when it comes to their series of WWE games. The Attitude Era is arguably the best and most memorable era in wrestling history, so it made sense to create a mode around it. Sure, we enjoyed controlling the best of this current generation but we had more of a good time just running with older versions of The Rock and Triple H. Plus you had The New Age Outlaws, Ken FRIGGIN’ Shamrock, X-Pac, and many more. The tight grappling system and the superb presentation served this game well. 2K Games, the ball is in your hands now. WWE ’14 better live up to past standards.
11. WCW vs. nWo: World Tour
We consider this game to be the catalyst for great wrestling games on the N64. AKI’s famous video game grappling system was introduced to the world in a game that featured the best of WCW and the nWo. It also featured a bunch of recognizable Japanese wrestlers that got the rename treatment because of copyright issues (Hannibal aka Hayabusa). WCW wrestling games got their first big hit with this brawl for all. The iconic cover with The Giant and “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan mean mugging all potential buyers is hard to forget.
10. WWE WrestleMania XIX
The Nintendo GameCube is well known for hosting some of the finer games in the WWE line. One of the first WWE games to make a splash was this one, which featured a grappling system that was similar to AKI’s old mechanics. It was a trip seeing guys like Brock Lesnar, Lance Storm, Scott Steiner and Goldberg all together in the same game. When you turned your wrestler into a hyper finisher throwing machine, the music and the crowd’s roar sent you into overdrive. Sure, the single player campaign was beyond atrocious (beating up everyday work men wasn’t very fun or nice). But the game itself was still a solid effort from THQ. This one was a huge step above WWE Wrestlemania X8.
9. King of Colosseum 2
It’s time to enter the world of Puroresu. If you follow some of Japan’s biggest feds (NJPW, AJPW, Zero-One, Pro Wrestling NOAH etc), then you probably didn’t have a hard time recognizing the stars in this game. King of Colosseum 2 was a Japan-only wrestling game that only the most ardent importers could play. The extra dough for this game was worth it, we say. The grapples were unique, thanks to different button combinations and timed presses. A game that features Japanese legends like The Great Muta/Keiji Mutoh and KENTA is a dream game for puroresu fans. You can’t go wrong with a game that awards you with over 80 badasses to choose from.
8. WWE Day of Reckoning 2
The second Day of Reckoning WWE game came the farthest in being the best wrestling game on the GameCube. It took all the elements introduced in all the prior GameCube WWE games and worked out the finer details to perfection. The roster includes some forgotten yet wholly underrated superstars (Carlito, Muhammad Hassan, Eugene etc.), plus a new Submission system changed up the flow of the in-ring action. The story mode was a cool little diversion, but we spent the majority of our time in Create-A-Wrestler mode. The Super Saiyan hair was available, so that meant we could throw a few DBZ characters in the ring. WWE Day of Reckoning 2 is the last great WWE wrestling game for the big N’s purple box.
7. WWF SmackDown!: Here Comes The Pain
In our humble opinion, this is the best SmackDown game in the entire franchise. Everything looked so clean and polished as far as the visuals go, plus this was the game that brought about the tradition of adding WWE Legends to the roster. The game engine introduced a more robust grappling system that featured setup holds for all the face buttons. The action was a wee bit faster, the roster was much deeper (Ultimo Dragon and Sean O’Haire are in the same game, son), and the Elimination Chamber added to the fun. This game right here? Pure, unadulterated fun.
6. Virtual Pro Wrestling 2
TNA wrestler AJ Styles is cited as saying that this title is his favorite wrestling game of all time. That’s high praise from a wrestler who’s deserving of some high praise himself. This Puroresu-based fighter played host to AKI’s famous grapple mechanics, which made it a standout amongst Japanese and American gamers. There was a $h1tload of moves in every wrestler’s arsenal to choose from, too! You could pick legends like Kenta Kobashi (BURNING HAMMER!!!) or hardcore icons like Masato Tanaka. The creation modes just sweetened the package deal for Virtual Pro Wrestling 2.
5. Giant Gram 2000: All Japan Pro Wrestling 3
Japanese wrestling as a whole is just incredible to watch if you give it a chance. The wrestlers themselves may not exhibit the overwhelming charisma of their American counterparts, but their passion and burning desire to win is admirable. Thankfully, this Sega Dreamcast wrestling game captures the undying spirit of Puroresu’s greatest athletes. Not only do you get to play with Japanese wrestling stars, you get to run with Japan’s best imports (Big Van Vader and Stan “The Lariat” Hansen are gods in Japan!). The game mechanics themselves are solid and provide instant fun in every match. The “Burning Fan Meter” and the climactic grapples made this game a special pick-up for Dreamcast importers.
4. Fire Pro Wrestling Returns
We’re back for another dose of that hardcore FPW! This PS2 entry in the long-running series took the creation aspect of the game over the top. The game already featured a recognizable roster of American/Japanese copycats, but it also came fully stocked with the options to make even more of ‘em. 500…count ‘em, 500 different wrestlers could be made at your will and choosing. The death match types and the MMA-styled Octagon Ring filled out this already packed package. Sure, this series is hard to learn and master. But once you get the basics of the game down pat and appreciate the graphics for what they do, you’ll understand why this is one of the best wrestling games of all time.
3. WCW/nWo Revenge
WCW had another digital hit on its hands when this game landed on the N64. The greatness began as soon as you hit that power switch, thanks to the ill intro movie that provided some backstory on the beef between Hogan and Sting. We finally got entrances, ringside managers/valets, real PPV arenas and so much more in this sequel. The roster was beefed up to even include silly grapplers like AKI Man (who was awesome, by the way). The new combo system, battle royale, and devastating looking finishers all equaled up to a fantastic WCW video game.
2. WWF WrestleMania 2000
At the time, WCW had the upper hand in the video games department (and in the ratings department at another time). Finally, this game came along and gave Mr. McMahon’s empire a much needed win behind the control pad. WWF WrestleMania 2000 adopted the best elements of past AKI wrestling games and gave them some “Attitude.” The roster was 50+ deep full of past Attitude Era stars, plus you could edit them in any way you see fit. The game’s story mode was a tough, demanding endeavor but it was a rewarding one. We had most of our fun in this game just running some multiplayer fests and running through the vast amount of awesome moves. THQ created a gem right here, but they went on to do better…
1. WWF No Mercy
Ladies and gentleman, gamers and wrestling fans alike! You know you can’t get enough of this game. WWF No Mercy took everything that was already established in its N64 predeccessor and improved it all. The Create-A-Wrestler mode was well worth the price of admission alone, but the entire game was well worth even more of your time. The Story mode changed depending on your titles, so there’s your instant replayabilty. The roster featured the best of the WWF in 2000 (HHH at the height of his awesomeness, Biker ‘Taker, former WCW/ECW stars etc.). Oh and we totally love the cheese ball music that plays during the main menu selection screen. DIGGITY DOG! This game is the pinnacle of wrestling games… period.