Like any of the main professional sports, pro wrestling has had video games based on it going back as far as most people can remember. At the forefront of those games is WWE, the top wrestling promotion in the world. They’ve put out video games across every system from the Super Nintendo to the PlayStation 4 and more.
RELATED: 10 Best Wrestling Video Games That Aren’t From WWE
Throughout that history, a lot of these games have been well-received by fans and critics alike. A few years ago, WWE 2K20 was panned by almost everyone for several issues, including plenty of glitches, but there have been some iconic games released in the past.
Updated on March 30th, 2022 by Kevin Pantoja: What a difference a few years make. The release of WWE 2K20 was considered such a mess that a follow-up wasn’t even put out the next year. However, WWE 2K22 is now officially out and many critics and casual gamers seem to agree that it is a turnaround for the franchise. Almost every aspect has seen improvements, popular gameplay modes have returned, graphics are better, and it is far less glitchy. However, the question remains if that is enough to put the new game among the very best released by the company throughout history.
15 WWE Day Of Reckoning 2 (2005) – 76
It’s not traditional for wrestling games to have sequels. Similar to other sports games, you typically just get a new arrival each year with the title designated as such but Day of Reckoning 2 was different. This was a fun follow-up to a well-received game from a year prior.
A Nintendo Gamecube exclusive that holds up well today, Day of Reckoning 2 is boosted by a fantastic roster featuring the top stars of WWE’s Ruthless Aggression era. It also has a wild story mode that is unlike any other in wrestling game history.
14 WWE 2K19 (2018) – 77
One WWE game that had a long lifespan was WWE 2K19. Due to the massive disappointment that was WWE 2K20, gamers gave up on that entry and went back to playing 2K19 since it was a success. It was praised for the graphics, gameplay, and improved MyCareer mode.
Taking concepts from the NBA 2K series, this mode allowed players to create a wrestler and go through the various stages of a career from independent wrestling all the way up to WrestleMania. The Showcase Mode centered on the career of Daniel Bryan was also a hit.
SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
13 WWE ’13 (2012) – 78
Following the string of games titled Smackdown vs. Raw, the franchise shifted to become simply WWE ’12 and then WWE ’13. These were among the best games in the history of the series and this one was a commercial hit that put the popular CM Punk on the cover.
RELATED: 10 Best Games Like WWE 2K22
This marked a big change for the franchise with additions like an audio system called WWE Live and a new gameplay engine. The true selling point was a focus on the Attitude Era, as gamers were allowed to relive some of WWE’s most iconic moments and use wrestlers from that legendary time period.
12 WWE 2K22 (2021) – 78
WWE 2K20 scored ratings in the 40s range across various platforms but thankfully, WWE 2K22 bumped things up and it nearly hit 80. As noted, the gameplay engine changed and was seen as an improvement, MyGM mode debuted, and the Rey Mysterio Showcase mode was a success.
The debut of the MyRise mode was also seen as a really fun idea that kept players on their toes. Some of the wrestler ratings on WWE 2K22 make no sense but for the most part, pretty much everything else about the game seemed to work.
11 WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2009 (2008) – 79
It is quite easy to overlook certain aspects of wrestling video games. There are major modes to get right, graphics to be sure of, and so many other aspects to note. One thing that tends to get forgotten is as simple as the tag team match.
Thankfully, Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 actually put an emphasis on this bout by implementing realistic things like the hot tag. Along with that interesting call, the game also added multiple new modes like Create-A-Finisher and Road to WrestleMania, which were hits.
10 WWE Day Of Reckoning (2004) – 79
Nintendo hasn’t played host to many great WWE games as releases for systems like the Wii often felt like lesser versions of what Sony and Microsoft got. However, one series stood out from the rest and it was likely because it was exclusive to the GameCube.
That would be Day of Reckoning, which started in 2004. The gameplay style was praised even if didn’t feel like real wrestling, as was the roster that featured the top stars from the company’s Ruthless Aggression era. The most unique aspects were the wild single-player story mode and some of the locations where you could fight.
9 WWE Smackdown vs. Raw (2004) – 80
Following the success of Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain, THQ developed a whole new series for the PlayStation. That started with 2005’s Smackdown vs. Raw, the first in a slew of games covering the dueling brands that went on until the early 2010s.
RELATED: The 10 Best Wrestler-Turned-Actors, According To Ranker
That first entry proved to be a good one as it kept some of the gameplay mechanics from the heavily praised prior installments but improved upon them. Little aspects like the pre-match minigames were welcome, as were modes like Create A Championship and the clean/dirty system.
8 WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 (2009) – 81
By the time Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 arrived in late 2009, the series had already established itself. While most versions were praised, some of the handheld iterations for the PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS missed the mark. The gameplay mostly remained the same but they added plenty of new modes.
First up was Story Designer, which allowed gamers to create and play out their own storylines just like on WWE television. There was also Superstar Threads so players could make their own attires for wrestlers. Last up, the game added Road to WrestleMania, a fun story mode.
7 WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2007 (2006) – 81
In 2006, Smackdown vs. Raw 2007 hit shelves and added yet another quality installment to the ever-growing series. After two good efforts to start, this proved that the franchise was going to be a staple. It did a good job of taking what previously worked and building on it.
RELATED: MCU Characters & Their WWE Counterparts
For example, the beloved General Manager mode saw improvements like the addition of storylines, while Create A Championship included new possibilities. This was also the first game to feature the relatively new Money in the Bank ladder match as a playable option.
6 WWE Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth (2002) – 82
In the days before the SvR series, the PlayStation games were called Smackdown with subtitles that often related to The Rock. 2002’s Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth immediately had something different to offer thanks to the real life brand extension.
The game’s season mode included this concept, allowing players to get drafted to either Raw or Smackdown, which set up what they would eventually go through. One of the coolest things about this game was getting to explore the backstage area, going as far as to battle in Times Square.
5 WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 (2005) – 84
Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 still holds up as a classic WWE video game for several reasons. The biggest is likely the addition of General Manager mode. With Raw and Smackdown as different brands, this allowed players to pick one and compete against the other for ratings.
The mode is so beloved that gamers clamor for it to be brought back in future installments. This version also introduced match types like Buried Alive and Fulfill Your Fantasy among the 100+ possible matches that could be played.
4 WWE Supercard (2014) – 85
For the most part, these games tend to have a shelf life of about a year before a new version comes out. That’s actually not the case with WWE Supercard, which premiered in 2014. This mobile game has remained popular for several years with constant updates still coming.
RELATED: The 5 Best & 5 Worst Movie Roles Played By Popular Wrestling Superstars
The concept of this game is simple, as players collect cards of varying power levels featuring WWE superstars and legends. Different models like King of the Ring and Road to Glory have helped keep things fresh for the game, as have the introduction of new roster members.
3 WWE Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain (2003) – 85
In the eyes of many fans, this is still the cream of the crop when it comes to WWE video games. Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain arrived in 2003 and was the first game to use a subtitle relating to someone other than The Rock (Brock Lesnar).
It boasted an impressive roster by being the first game to feature John Cena, Batista, Goldberg, and many others. The updates to existing game modes weren’t too big but the gameplay itself was a huge improvement that later games tried to imitate but couldn’t. It’s a classic.
2 WWF No Mercy (2000) – 89
Speaking of games that fans consider the best in WWE history, there’s 2000’s No Mercy. Released for the Nintendo 64 and developed by the AKI Corporation, this continued a trend of quality games like WCW/nWo World Tour, WCW/nWo Revenge, and WrestleMania 2000.
Although the blocky graphics don’t hold up too well, this game is still played by fans everywhere. They continue to mod it to include current wrestlers because the gameplay is something special. It also featured new concepts like ladder matches and the Smackdown Mall to purchase unlockable items.
1 Smackdown 2: Know Your Role (2000) – 90
This might come as a surprise to many fans because Smackdown 2: Know Your Role isn’t often named among the best WWE games. However, according to the ratings on Metacritic, it scored the highest and is certified as “must-play,” which no other WWE game has been labeled.
It was the final WWE game released on the original PlayStation and remains the highest-selling sports game on the platform. There were additional creation modes, a deeper story mode, and an expanded roster that included unexpected unlockable names.
NEXT: John Cena & 9 Other Pro Wrestlers Who Have Moved Into The World Of Voice Acting
Pokémon: The Water Starters, Ranked
About The Author
(609 Articles Published)
Born in New York City, Kevin eventually went on to attain his Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment at Full Sail University as Valedictorian. He has written in the past for various websites covering movies, TV, pop culture, sports, and wrestling. You can always find him on his Twitter, @the_kevstaaa.
More From Kevin Pantoja