Home Gaming A not at all brief history of WWE wrasslin' games

A not at all brief history of WWE wrasslin' games

20 min read

WWE Aftershock – 2005


WWE Aftershock was a game released on the Nokia NGage. Which means that roughly seven people in total probably played it. I wasn’t one of them.

WWE Wrestlemania 21 – 2005

wrestlemania 21

WWE games had started to become cluttered in the control locker room at that time, with too much going on and far too few buttons available to take full advantage of the moves on offer. Enter Wrestlemania 21 which sought to rebuild the franchise from the ground up, with simplified controls and action.

And sweet pyrotechnics, was it a cluster-Doink. The gameplay was horrid, the AI was slower than Eugene and hit detection was non-existent and the controls were just awful. Added to all those woes, were visuals reminiscent of Kane without a mask and an overall case of glitch-slaps, resulting on one of the worst Wrestlemania games of all time.

WWE Smackdown! vs RAW 2006 – 2005

WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2006

With the first Smackdown! vs RAW game proving to be a smash hit, work began almost immediately on an annual update. While fans rushed to trade in their 2004 copies of the game for the new faces and moves, they also got to experience a WWE title that packed more realism and authenticity onto the CD-ROM.

As well as having more content than Vince McMahon had contempt for Stone Cold Steve Austin, the improved gameplay, visuals and audio also helped make this a classic main eventer.

WWE Day of Reckoning 2 – 2006

Day of reconing 2

One of the last really well received WWE games, Day of Reckoning 2 improved on the original in almost every single aspect, from storyline to gameplay and quantity mixed with quality. It was just a pity that the specially created wrestlers from the first game couldn’t make an appearance here.

WWE Smackdown! vs RAW 2007 – 2006

WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2007   

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, amirite? With last year’s wrasslin’ game now all over second hand shelves, the 2006 release of the Smackdown! vs RAW brand saw a new analogue control scheme implemented in the gameplay, alongside more interactive areas that took place outside of the ring.

But somehow, a number of glitches snuck into this release. Ring announcer Tony Chimmel somehow shared a voice with Lillian Garcia, game breaking bugs were prevalent and match difficulty resulted in numerous cheap shots from the enemy AI.

WWE Smackdown! vs RAW 2008 – 2007

WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2008

And that downward trend just kept on elbow-dropping the franchise. Despite the influx of some ECW talent, Smackdown! vs RAW 2008 just couldn’t match the precedent set by the 2006 version of that brand, with slow gameplay and generally tedious strikes halting any momentum that some of the more experimental gameplay tried to enter the ring with.

WWE Smackdown! vs RAW 2009 – 2008


And in 2008, it was business as usual. The gameplay was becoming noticeably dated at this point, despite the inclusion of the enjoyable Road to Wrestlemania mode. But on the audio, visual and quality front?

It was a paper champion.

WWE Smackdown! vs RAW 2010 – 2009

WWE smackdown vs Raw 2010

But at least the 2010 iteration was a major improvement. Character models looked insanely detailed, while the core gameplay had been spruced up to create a game that successfully defended the title in both the arcade and authentic arenas of combat.

It wasn’t without fault though, as long loading times and limited creation modes made this a game that was more mid-card than main event. Still, after a few years of mediocre games, it was well received overall.

WWE Legends of Wrestlemania – 2009


It had been a couple of years since a Wrestlemania game, and with Legends of Wrestlemania celebrating the 25th anniversary of that event running wild, it should have been a few years more. Rushed on the surface, cheaper than your girlfriend and with an over-abundance of quick-time events that were designed to recreate signature events through tedious input-mashing, this game was counted out before it had even entered the ring.

WWE Smackdown! vs RAW 2011 – 2010

WWE smackdown vs Raw 2011

This was it. Never before, never again would a WWE game be this much fun. The final Smackdown! vs RAW game may have had some limited story modes and commentary that was performed after Jerry ‘The King” Lawler had received one too many steel chair concussions, but on the gameplay front?

It was pure solid action. The foundation of previous franchise titles had resulted in this evolution, a final link between the old school and the new. And from that point on, wrestling games have yet to be capable of dishing out this much action. A decent multiplayer and create a wrestler helped cement the legacy of this game, which wasn’t exactly a step forward, but for once, wasn’t a step backwards either.

WWE All Stars 2011

WWE All Stars

To say that WWE superstars are big fellas is like saying that Vince McMahon has a funny strut. Everyone knows it, but what happens when you take those superstars and pump them up to cartoon levels with more muscles than a locker room full of Human Growth Hormone?

You get WWE All Stars, an old school arcade game which put emphasis on ridiculous combos and finishers over such real world concerns such as realism and gigantism syndrome. A rough gem, All Stars wasn’t perfect, but it was a hell of a lot better than the complacent attempts that developer Yukes would put forward over the next two years.

WWE 12 – 2011

WWE 12

WWE 12 is like suicide for your brain cells. As tired as Ric Flair, and more frustrating than trying to escape a Chris Masters Master-lock, the game was a train-smash except only less appealing.

Thanks to a ridiculous AI that required god-like reflexes to pull off a counter, let alone win a match, it had become painfully obvious that the WWE franchise was in need of some new blood. Pity that they weren’t going to get any then, with THQ losing millions thanks to a drawing tablet.

WWE 13 – 2012

WWE 13

Are you ready? WWE games were in need of a revolution, but that was yet to come in the 2012 effort. Things remained the same to the detriment of the franchise, although Yukes did manage to at least work on the areas that hampered the previous title.

Hell, at least they could have gone with a marketing scheme that read “Not as bad as WWE12”, and still scored some decent reviews in the process.

And that’s the bottom line for this feature, because Darryn 3:16 just whupped your ass and cracked open the china to drown a Lipton’s brewskie!

Last Updated: April 5, 2013

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  1. Amen brother! AMEN! ‘rasslin made me the man I am today… Raw is War!


    • FoxOneZA

      April 5, 2013 at 16:50



      • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

        April 5, 2013 at 17:00

        RAW is JERICHO!!


  2. Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    April 5, 2013 at 15:38

    Day of Reckoning was actually a mighty fine game, just a pity it was restricted to the GameCube. WWE Raw on the other hand was what WWE games were like between those grim Post-Here Comes the Pain years till just before WWE 10.


    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      April 5, 2013 at 15:44

      Amazingly, a drawing tablet delivered the finishing move on THQ… Most of us, had just fallen into this cycle of yearly wrestling games… and now that we’re free, we stare into the deep abyss with sadness.

      Damn you drawing tablet… you killed and saved us all at once.


    • Hadlee Simons

      April 24, 2013 at 07:31

      I still got DoR2 for GC! If you are looking for a game using the same engine, try Wrestle Kingdom 1 and 2 for PS2. 😛


  3. Rincethis: Microsoft President

    April 5, 2013 at 15:50

    Me first piledrive into OVG’s side was
    WWF Wrestlemania Challenge – 1990, What a game!


  4. Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    April 5, 2013 at 16:09

    I always thought All Stars would become a true contender. It just needed more modes, maybe a CAW section, and that over-the-top action would have been awesome.


    • Leon-Ben Lamprecht

      April 8, 2013 at 11:55

      It has a (broken) CAW section. And incomplete. The bare bones of a truly great wrestling game are there. Here’s to hoping…


      • Hadlee Simons

        April 23, 2013 at 08:13

        considering that it was from some of the same team who did the fun but flawed TNA Impact, I’m not surprised. That game looked cool but had like 40 moves shared among everyone.


  5. Anon A Mouse

    April 5, 2013 at 16:13

    My first WWE game was here comes the pain. It was absolutely brilliant, I did get WWE12 (I think) for free but only played about 10 minutes of it before putting it away. Only game I’ve never finished in all my years of gaming.


    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      April 5, 2013 at 16:31

      Here Comes the Pain was brilliant. It’s still one of my favourite WWE games. WWE12 on the other hand… wow… I remember leading up to WWE13, I was very vocal that I was done with THQ wrestling games. Fortunately, I was given a review copy, thought that I was going to rip it to shreds and discovered to my shock that It was actually decent. They clearly learnt from their mistakes with WWE12, but I think the damage was done by then.


  6. Ryan Williams

    April 5, 2013 at 16:48

    You forgetting the best of the best – WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game. This was an awesome title with some memorbale quotes
    “You have to give credit to Bret Hart” – Vince
    Bam Bam Bigelow’s BOOOOMSHAKALAKA
    Nobody Messes With The Bad Guy – Razor Ramon
    Thanks for this trip Darren! Cant wait!
    The Attitude Era was the best escpecially Shane O Mac Titontron jump on Steve Blackman!


    • Major Commodore 64 Darryn B

      April 5, 2013 at 17:29

      It’s there, top of page two man. Grud, how I hated that fucking Doink the clown with his special attacks.


  7. Tbone187

    April 8, 2013 at 10:16

    Royal Rumble on megadrive was epic…


  8. Leon-Ben Lamprecht

    April 8, 2013 at 11:54

    I loved All Stars. I’m fully hoping for All Stars 2.0. In making wrestling absurd, it got closer to it’s core than all these “simulations” ever did.

    On a side: did anyone else ever play the bestest wrestling game of all time: Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium on the SNES? Was a thing of beauty.


    • Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      April 8, 2013 at 12:01

      I did! One of the best wrestling games ever made. Unoftunately, human entertainment no longer exists.


      • Leon-Ben Lamprecht

        April 8, 2013 at 12:11

        There is something wrong with me… I still play it on an emulator. You can actually still find ROMs with edits of (mostly) up to date WWE roster.


        • Hadlee Simons

          April 23, 2013 at 07:55

          You can get Fire Pro Wrestling Returns for PS2. Got US version when TakeAlot still did Amazon imports for like R160. 😛 Got myself a decent save too, with MMA fighters, puroresu guys and American wrestlers. 😛


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