So, I'm going to come across as a bit of a hypocrite here. In my last piece on the upcoming WWE 2K17 video game, I lamented on the usage of "historical" eras or careers that featured in the series' Showcase modes. In the last game, for example, players got to relive the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin, starting with his "Stunning" days in WCW. For the most part, those Showcase modes were actually pretty good (the WWE 2K15 "WWE Rivalries" wasn't particularly good, but, otherwise...) but I thought, as I wrote it, that they were running out of eras or careers they could conceivably use.
What I mean by "conceivably" is that in order to do it, it would have to be a career/era that most current fans would have either a fond memory or ,at least, a passing knowledge of. It would also have to involve individuals that they have permission to include. That kind of limits your options. Plus, as I wrote it, I was also kind of sick of the whole thing. But, that's me. I'm weird like that.
Having said that, it did get me thinking: what if none of that mattered? What if you could have any era and any superstars in a historical Showcase mode? How awesome would that be? So, I'm listing the 15 careers and historical eras I'd like to see in a future WWE video game. Some of these may overlap, but I hope you'll agree, they'd all be fun to play.
15 Ric Flair
If we're gonna start this list, we're gonna start it right - and that's with Space Mountain himself. Flair has had a career that's lasted longer than most of you have been alive. Just imagine a Showcase mode spanning his whole career: his first NWA title match against Harley Race; the formation of the Four Horseman; his battles with Dusty Rhodes, Sting and Lex Luger; and his original WWE run.
Imagine playing through the 1992 Royal Rumble as Flair with all the original participants included.
If the WWE 2K game makers really wanted to get adventurous, they could find a way for the gamer to play out all of Ric Flair's career (with certain portions cut of course). There's no career more decorated in the history of the industry and Flair has countless classics that could be played out. This is absolutely a no-brainer to include at some point.
14 The Rock 'N' Wrestling Connection Era
Interestingly enough, this is an era in WWE that doesn't get a lot of reflection. Which is weird, considering 1980s nostalgia can sell really well if done right. Have this span from "The War To Settle The Score" to WrestleMania III and include lots and lots of footage of MTV from the era. Really set the mood. An over-the-top 1980s nostalgia trip would really go over well with both older fans as well as younger ones who enjoy retro stuff (just wait and see how many of them buy the NES Mini).
This was the era where the WWE and professional wrestling as a whole got really mainstream and names in the industry became well known to outsiders.
There's no greater finish to a possible showcase mode than seeing Hogan slam Andre or having to re-enact the classic encounter between Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat.
13 Glenn Jacobs (aka Kane)
Glenn Jacobs's career as The Undertaker's brother Kane is worthy of a Showcase mode in of itself. But, really, why stop there? Let's go back to his USWA career where he was known as Unibomb. Or when he was Jerry Lawler's dentist, Issac Yankem D.D.M., or "Fake Diesel". Let's go all the way to Corporate Kane and his feuds with Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt.
Jacobs's career really took a long time to get his break in the industry. He was very athletic for his size and there was definitely potential in him, but he was saddled with some of the worst gimmicks imaginable. His break came as Kane and he's now run with that gimmick for nearly 20 years, with some minor tweaks along the way.
As interesting as this could be, it probably would get pushed aside for...
12 The Undertaker's Streak
Any career mode featuring The Dead Man would have to focus on his legendary WrestleMania undefeated streak. Not the rest of his career wouldn't be worthy of a Showcase mode - it's just there's so much of it. Narrowing it down to his WrestleMania matches would give the mode a much needed streamlining.
Of course, you could skip a few matches - WrestleMania XIX, anyone? - as well as matches with those not on speaking terms with WWE - CM Punk, anyone? It would still, however, be a pretty awesome career retrospective. This is the biggest part of 'Taker's legacy, so it'd only be fitting.
Imagine having to replay those classic encounters with Shawn Michaels or going back to his first encounter with his younger brother Kane? While we're at it, could we change history in the game and see to it that his streak isn't ended by Brock Lesnar?
11 The Brawl-For-All
An obviously embarrassing footnote in WWE history, The Brawl-For-All - which was a legit (shoot) fighting competition mixing boxing and grappling - was still entertaining in a trainwreck sort of way. If not a full Showcase mode, it would be funny to see this added as a "bonus" mode, compete with alternate controls to incorporate the different fighting styles.
Okay, it would probably more trouble than it's worth - much like the Brawl itself. Still, it would be funny to see them try it.
Perhaps you could pick Bart Gunn and play as him to go through the entire tournament, or you could pick another superstar and have him go through the finals. Perhaps a fitting ending to the mode would see you having to face Butterbean and on increased difficulty, somehow find a way to win.
10 Legacy Legends
If you caught the WWE Hall of Fame this year, you probably noticed the very cool video package of the "Legacy Inductees". These were inductees from the early days of pro wrestling in the 20th century - legends like George Hackenschmidt, Ed "Strangler" Lewis, and Lou "I invented that jumping move Steve Austin did" Thez. These performers paved the way for the product we now enjoy.
I'm picturing a Showcase mode spanning from the Carnival days all the way to the early days of television - when all there was on TV was the news, Milton Berle and pro wrestling. Plus, it would add some cool "outdoor carnival" and "black and white TV" match options to the regular game.
We're pretty much aware of all the wrestling that took place in the 80s, 90s, heck even the 70s. Playing a mode like this would be a good way for gamers to become more educated about the history of the business.
9 The World Heavyweight Championship
While we're enjoying (or we're not, depending on your temperament, I suppose) the latest WWE Brand Split and the two new World Championships (or, in this case, World and "Universal"), let us look back at the history of the World Heavyweight Championship. While clearly not a direct lineage, the title had "spiritual ties" (much in the same way that BioShock was a "spiritual successor" to System Shock) to the title that legends like Ric Flair, Harley Race, Ricky Steamboat, and Lou Thez held.
There's so much history behind that big gold belt that the possibilities are endless if this were to be included as a showcase mode.
For this mode, it might make sense to feature just a small number of these champions and their epic title defenses/wins. You can also move on to the more modern era up until the title was unified with the WWE Championship. Speaking of which...
8 The WWE Championship
When I was a kid, I prided myself on being able to name all the (then) WWE champions to that point (I was born in 1978 if that tells you how short a list I was working with). But, even as a snot nosed brat, I was still familiar with the great lineage that the WWF/WWE Championship had. Buddy Rogers, Bruno Sammartino, Ivan Koloff, Pedro Morales - I knew them all. And, unlike the World Heavyweight Championship, I think a Showcase mode featuring this title lineage would work better for a WWE game.
For starters, the WWE Championship has a lot fewer years to work with, which means fewer legends to sign deals with. Plus, it's more company-centric. Consider how many former WWE Champions have Legends deals. This would be a lot easier to throw together and perhaps provide more familiarity with casual WWE fans purchasing the game.
7 "What If?"s
There's no doubt that alternate history is big with the viewing public in general. The TV show Sliders ran for five successful seasons on this premise. The same hold true in wrestling fandom - discussions surrounding subjects like "What if WCW won the Monday Night War?" or "What if Vince McMahon was found guilty in his steroid trial?" So, why not create a showcase mode around some of these questions?
What if.... Andre the Giant won at WrestleMania III? Or the proposed Ric Flair/Hulk Hogan match happened at WrestleMania VIII? What if WWE were able to sign WCW's real big stars (Sting, Goldberg, Nash, etc.) for the Invasion angle? These any many more would not only make for a fun game mode, but a fun exercise in fantasy booking.
Obviously not all of these would be plausible, but working out a few 'what ifs' into an annual game is something that's definitely doable.
6 Brock Lesnar
Just think of how quickly Brock Lesnar rose to the top of WWE. He debuted right after WrestleMania X8 and by SummerSlam that year, he was WWE Undisputed Champion. Within a year in the company, he defeated the likes of The Rock, Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker and Kurt Angle. His initial run in the WWE lasted only two years, which is a good time length for a showcase mode. Even though his run was only two years, there's plenty of action packed into those two years to make a great showcase mode.
If WWE wants to extend it to Lesnar's current run, they could have two halves of Lesnar's career, with the latter starting with his WWE return back in 2012. This could go all the way up to Lesnar breaking The Undertaker's streak. It's so easy to name this showcase mode. Just call it "Beast Mode".
5 Jerry "The King" Lawler
The WWE Network has recently been offering on-demand access to the Mid-South wrestling tape library. If WWE were able to get the likeness right to some of the legends on that era, Jerry Lawler's career would make for a fascinating showcase. The highlight, of course, would be his legendary feud with comedian Andy Kaufman - plus, fans have been clamoring the get Kaufman in a game for years.
There's so much more of Lawler's career to showcase though. A showcase mode could carry over into his feud with Bret Hart when he first made it to the main roster. The King has over 40 years in the pro wrestling business, so a showcase mode featuring him would give 2K Sports plenty of options to explore.
It would probably be best though if his 2011 feud with Michael Cole was left out of things. Nobody wants to relive that again.
Okay, this would actually be pretty terrible. Yet, also kind of hilarious. In their constant search for mainstream approval (that's not a criticism, by the way), the WWE has always looked to celebrities and involve them in their product. From the days of MTV and the first WrestleMania to the RAW guest hosts to that guy from Arrow wrestling a match, famous people have been a regular part of the WWE fabric.
So, how about a showcase mode featuring some of the best (and worst) celebrity WWE moments? Recreate the first WrestleMania main event and team with Mr. T! Challenge Bam Bam Bigelow as NFL legend Lawrence Taylor! If you want to get political, include Donald Trump in the game and the gamer gets to shave Vince McMahon's head. Play as that guy from Arrow that I just mentioned! Play as Kid Rock and ruin a PPV! The possibilities are endless!
3 The "New" Generation
The early-mid 90s era in WWE, after Hulk Hogan left, sort of gets a bad rap. And, rightfully so - a lot of it was pretty terrible. WWE was dealing with their steroid/sex scandals and they still had a focus on really cartoonish, over the top characters. But, there was actually a lot that was good. For starters, it was the era that performers like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels hit their stride, moving wrestling away from an exhibition of muscleheads and more towards skilled performers.
A showcase mode featuring some of the better moments of this era would actually be a lot of fun. The WrestleMania XII Ironman match between Michaels and Hart would be a blast to recreate (if it hasn't been already... has it? Sorry, guys, I'm getting old), for starters. Also, personally, I'd like to play as the original, evil Doink the Clown. Shut up, you know you would, too.
2 Randy "Macho Man" Savage
Is there a wrestling fan on Earth that doesn't love Randy Savage? Probably. But, no one will ever admit it. The WWE Hall of Famer, who passed away in 2011, was one of those performers who seemingly had everything. He was exceptionally skilled, he had charisma to spare, he had a unique look, and, to top it off, he had an extremely hot lady manager - which, let's face it, never hurts in wrestling.
I'm picturing a showcase mode that spans both his WWE and WCW careers. His WrestleMania III match with Ricky Steamboat. The Mega Powers and their eventual explosion. Especially his feuds with Jake "The Snake" Roberts (oh my god, that was so awesome) and Diamond Dallas Page (oh my god, that was so awesome, too). Savage has such a storied career to cover and any true fan would love to play it.
Oh, and The Genius could be in it, too.
1 The Rock
You have to know that this one is coming at some point, right? Currently the highest paid actor in Hollywood, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is also a future WWE Hall of Famer and just simply an outright legend. Just like the Steve Austin career showcase from WWE 2K16, the career of The Rock is certainly to be featured soon, as well.
And, let's face it, it would actually be pretty awesome. They have to start with his fanny-pack-and-blue-streamer wearing days as Rocky Maivia. Oh, they HAVE to. Follow that up with a fun recreation of his gradual evolution into The Rock, and you have so many great matches to choose from. His WrestleMania main events with Steve Austin. His Royal Rumble match with Mankind where he nearly murdered him with a chair. Hell, even the Rock 'N Sock Connection would be fun to relive.
Just bring it, 2K Games!
You guys probably have all sorts of other wacky ideas for showcase modes, so let us hear them. That's why we got the comments section.