Professional wrestling video games are similar to sports titles in that they allow us to pretend to be our favorite personalities and attempt to win championships in competitions such as World Wrestling Entertainment, New Japan Pro Wrestling and defunct organizations like World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling. Obviously, pro wrestling is scripted action, and the outcomes of matches are predetermined. That isn’t the case in video games, though. One must be a skilled player capable of utilizing the right moves at the right times to defeat CPU or human opponents en route to getting their character’s hand raised at the end of matches. Part of the glory of these games is that wrestlers who “suck,” either as workers or as characters booked by writing teams, can win if the right person controls those personalities in titles.
Those of us who have loved pro wrestling and wrestling video games since the late 1990s and early 2000s have played several entertaining simulations on systems as old as the Nintendo 64 all the way up through the days of the Xbox One. In some cases, sucky wrestlers who rely on using only a handful of moves to get through matches are downright fun to use in video games. Others are fan-favorites that we push to the moon in these titles because we know they’ll never actually win the WWE Championship in real life. Last but not least are those wrestlers we loved using in video games only because they had awesome entrances or cool theme songs. Whatever the case, these games helped increase our love of pro wrestling over the years.
15 Eric Bischoff
We start with Eric Bischoff, if only because we loved both using him and also beating the crap out of him in video games. Particularly in WCW/NWO Revenge, Bischoff had a rather limited move set, which made using him in that game all the more difficult. Because of that, those who hated the New World Order and wanted to squash the on-the-air heel authority figure could do so without much difficultly regardless of the wrestler you used in any given match.
Younger fans who never played this game may take for granted that characters such as Bischoff added realism to these titles. After all, the announcer-turned-boss shouldn’t be able to hang with main-eventers in matches, and, for the most part, Bischoff couldn’t unless you were an elite gamer.
14 Scotty Too Hotty
We’re not going to pretend that Scotty Too Hotty could have been one of the biggest singles stars of his era or that he should have been placed in feuds with the likes of The Rock, Triple H or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in his day. The reality here is that we loved using Scotty because he had one of the best theme songs in those old video games, and because you could taunt opponents with his “Worm” dance in and outside of the ring during matches.
To this day, we enjoy giving Scotty’s theme and move-set to other WWE performers. If you can’t laugh at guys such as John Cena, Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar doing the “Worm,” it's possible that you take pro wrestling way too seriously.
We mean no disrespect here, as Kane is undeniably a WWE legend who has done well to remain prominent for two decades. Even Kane would, if pressed, have to admit he isn’t one of the greatest workers in the history of the business and that he’s never had a five-star match.
We love using Kane in video games up through 2018 for the same reason newer fans enjoy watching him today. He has a cool and unique theme song, and he uses awesome power moves to down opponents. Who doesn’t like using the choke slam and tombstone piledriver before setting pyro off merely by waiving his character’s arms? At least when we win the WWE Championship with Kane in video games, he isn’t forced to drop the belt to Steve Austin the following contest.
Rose-colored glasses and fond memories of the “Attitude Era” may have you misremembering the Gangrel character who once captained heel faction The Brood back in the day. Gangrel was a solid gimmick, no doubt, but there are multiple reasons why he ended up being the least-pushed of the trio that included Edge and Christian.
Nevertheless, we loved using Gangrel in video games because of his tremendous theme and his ring entrance. Depending on the set design you selected for a match or event, Gangrel would usually rise up from the stage, offer several maniacal laughs and then drink and spit-out a red liquid from a chalice. Yes, this was wacky, and it probably wouldn’t fly in front of fans in 2018. It’s still a lot of fun to see in older and current video games.
11 Stephanie McMahon
Perhaps the only thing worse than the Stephanie McMahon heel boss character who berates male and female performers on editions of Raw is McMahon being pushed as anything resembling a legitimate wrestler. Maybe we should even consider the idea that we only enjoy playing as McMahon because it’s a guilty pleasure.
One of the best parts of utilizing McMahon’s character in older or current games is that we get to do so while adding those great Triple H themes from the early 2000s to her entrances. Fans are also able to relive the McMahon-Helmsley Era that may have featured arguably the best work from both of those performers during their WWE runs. If nothing else, it is somewhat funny to watch animated versions of McMahon do the Pedigree en route to winning matches.
10 Buff Bagwell
It wasn’t until going back and watching old versions of Nitro via the WWE Network that we remembered how ordinary and lackluster Buff Bagwell was as a worker, even when he was over among audiences. The best part about Bagwell the wrestler and the video-game character was the Buff Blockbuster, the finisher that featured him diving off the middle turnbuckle and hitting a somersault neckbreaker on an opponent.
Those of us who grew up loving wrestling during this portion of WCW programming had never before seen such a move, and no current major WWE wrestler uses it as of the winter of 2018. The Blockbuster is just flashy and somewhat unrealistic enough that it makes for a maneuver that looks particularly cool in video-game form.
We are not here to poke fun at anybody who injured himself during a match. However, let’s not forget that Sid was so unathletic late into the biggest run of his career that he actually suffered a fractured leg during what looked to be a routine leap from the turnbuckle. Sid never gave us anything close to an in-ring classic in the WWE or WCW, even when he was able to perform with all-time greats such as Shawn Michaels, but he remains a lot of fun to use in video games because of his power moves.
If you’re having a bad day or just want to vent some frustration, you can start up a title, select Sid among a group of wrestlers and then throw an opponent all over the ring before hitting him with the powerbomb for the win.
8 Disco Inferno
We are old enough to remember when the gimmick with Disco Inferno was that he sucked so badly, it was actually astonishing when he managed to win a match or that he felt that he belonged in the NWO Wolfpack. His move-set wasn’t anything special, he didn’t have a great finisher, and he managed to make the Stunner used by Steve Austin as somewhat of an ordinary move.
Despite all of this, we still loved using him in video games because he performed Disco dance routines as taunts. Not everything about pro wrestling has to be presented as real and authentic, as there is a place for a comedic act like Disco. If nothing else, having Goldberg do Disco’s taunts during matches brought us to tears.
7 Lex Luger
We are not going to try to convince you that Lex Luger was more talented a worker than you may remember, but the guy did deserve better during the second half of the 1990s when he was an over babyface who feuded with the heel nWo and with “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan. Luger is a fun video-game character to use in older and newer titles because of a move-set filled with high-power offensive attacks.
We laughed when the Luger character would automatically flex after hitting his running forearm in old games for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo, and the Torture Rack backbreaker has always looked awesome regardless of if you were playing the Nintendo 64 or a current-generation system. In our games, Luger doesn’t have to job-out to Hogan immediately after winning the big gold belt.
WCW did well to hype Glacier, a character actually ripped from the Mortal Kombat video game series, as a serious wrestler with a mixed-martial arts background capable of beating anybody who came before him. Then, Glacier debuted, and both the worker and character sucked in the ring and as a gimmick. It didn’t matter when WCW turned him heel in an attempt to get him over. Fans didn’t buy it.
That aside, Glacier was always fun to use in video games because of his character’s assortment of kicks that separated him from others on rosters. We didn’t love that his finisher was essentially a boring version of the Sweet Chin Music superkick made famous by Shawn Michaels, but the rest of Glacier’s attacks were a lot of fun to use in games such as WCW/NWO Revenge.
5 Road Dogg
We can hear some of you out there daring to claim that “Road Dogg” Jesse James was awesome and a great wrestler. We enjoyed watching Road Dogg as much as the next fan, but it wasn’t because of his memorable matches or because he was one of the best workers of the 1990s.
Road Dogg had one of the best entrances of his time, one that included him introducing himself and that allowed fans to get into the act up through the start of a match. Unfortunately, the fun usually ended once the bell rang. After all, do you really love using the Pumphandle slam as a finisher in a video game? His “Shake, Rattle and Roll” punches are entertaining, but even those lose their luster rather quickly after you see them several times.
4 Diesel/Kevin Nash
Versions of Kevin Nash in video games are humorous because they perfectly sum-up his wrestling persona. Nash the real worker and Nash the video-game wrestler has an assortment of “moves of doom” that include a sidewalk slam, the elbows in the corner, choking somebody with his boot in the corner, a big boot that is hit on an opponent running off the rope and, last but certainly not least, the Jackknife Powerbomb.
Just as with others mentioned in this piece, Nash makes for a wrestler we love using in video games because he simply throws opponents around and then hits impressive-looking moves that we simulated in our back yards when we were kids. Remember, young readers, that you and your friends should never try such moves at home.
3 Enzo Amore
Even the WWE has gone out of the way to tell us, viewers of Raw, that Enzo Amore is probably the worst overall wrestler in the Cruiserweight division and is an underserving champion. That’s presented well in games such as WWE 2K18, as he doesn’t have the most exciting move-set in that title.
We don’t play as Amore because we want to turn him into a version of A.J. Styles or because we want to have him perform 450-splashes off top turnbuckles during matches. Players select Amore for his entrances that feature him telling us that he’s a certified G and a bona-fide stud, and that you can’t teach that. With that said, we’d be lying if we didn’t admit we do take some enjoyment in making Enzo the Universal Champion.
2 Ultimate Warrior
We love using the Ultimate Warrior in video games for the same reason we loved watching him during his WWE career. Warrior ran down to the ring as fast as he could, to the point that he was often blown-up at the start of matches, he had a killer theme song that made you want to rock out even if you were watching from your couch, and his moves involved him plowing through opponents, slamming them over his head and then splashing them for pins.
We didn’t care that Warrior wasn’t a tremendous in-ring worker at the time of his run as champion, and we don’t care that others have more spectacular moves in video games. Using Warrior allows fans to feel nostalgic about the wrestling they watched as kids.
As a wrestler, Goldberg had, at most, a handful of moves. That’s one reason diehard WWE fans would’ve said, back in the 1990s, that Goldberg sucked and was nothing more than a cheap ripoff of Steve Austin. Whether that’s fair or not is irrelevant as it pertains to this piece, because Goldberg was one of the best characters in WCW/NWO Revenge, and he remains an awesome wrestler to use up through current versions of WWE 2K.
He pretends to breathe fire during his entrance that includes lots of pyro, he runs people over with a devastating spear, and the Jackhammer was one of the best finishing moves in all the WWE throughout 2017. Goldberg looks and acts as if he’s out of a video game. No wonder we loved using him in older titles, and still love doing so today.