It’s been over 30 years since the release of the first ever WWE video game, but it’s only been since the start of millennium where developers have produced the true masterpieces.
Though sport gaming giant 2K have dropped the ball since acquiring the WWE licence in 2013, with its last title WWE2K20 in particular bombing out, 2K has spent the past two years getting things right with WWE2K22, which is set to release this month.
With a new era of wrestling gaming upon us, here’s a look back on the best ten WWE games of the 21st century.
10. WWE ’13
Released in October 2012 for PS3 and XBOX 360, WWE’13 would be the final game to be published by THQ going out with a bang, producing one of its finest wrestling games.
Being the first game without the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’ feature since Smackdown VS Raw 2008, it was replaced with the Attitude Era story mode instead. This allowed you to play out the biggest moments in WWE from 1997 to 1999 – WWE’s most popular period.
It also served as a history lesson for younger fans that didn’t grow up during the WWE’s peak in the late 90s and early 2000s. The game allowed you to play out the best moments of stars such as Stone Cold, The Rock, Undertaker, Kane, Shawn Michaels, Mankind and Bret Hart.
The game had an impressive roster, with 108 (including DLC’s) available wrestlers to choose from, with a good mix of current talent and legends. It also saw the return of the ‘I Quit Match’ and the option to be a special guest referee.
Overall WWE’13 was a great game that still holds up today, and was a fitting way for THQ to bow out.
9. Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth
Released in October of 2002, Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth was one the first games of the ruthless aggression era.
The game was a massive step up from the previous title Smackdown: Just Bring It, boasting a large roster and big range match types. The look and feel of the game was impressive for a game made in 2002. The season mode was in-depth and rewarding as it had plenty of un-lockable wrestlers to obtain. The game provided a lot of freedom when roaming for a wrestling game, and the storylines were enjoyable.
With the game turning 20-years-old in October, it has aged like a fine wine.
8. WWE All Stars
Released in 2011, it would be the final wrestling game to be available for all of main consoles (PSP, PS2, PS3, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo 3DS and XBOX 360) and it was a good note to leave the older gaming consoles on.
Having produced largely simulation based games, WWE All Stars was totally different with a more of an arcade Mortal Kombat type feel to it. The WWE wrestlers were figuratively referred to as ‘larger than life characters.’ In WWE All Stars they were literally larger than life, with the wrestler models being largely exaggerated.
The aesthetics of the game are one of the best in WWE gaming history. The art style, colour scheme and visuals of the game are a thing of beauty. The gameplay is great, with the style of fighter actually mattering, a brawler will strike and use power moves, while high-flyers will use flips and kicks to break you down.
A totally different look and feel to what the annual Smackdown VS Raw games were at the time, and a game certainly worthy of a remaster down the line.
7. WWE 2K19
When it was announced that sports game giants 2K would develop WWE games, there was a lot of hype. Fans across the globe were feeling positive about having such a large reputable company producing the series.
But the 2K series on the PS4 and XBOX ONE were largely underwhelming, and after back to back disappointing games in WWE2K17 and WWE2K18, the same was expected for 2K19, but 2K overdelivered on this one.
The game boasted a large roster of 186 playable wrestlers, a big range of match types and arenas to play in, and the gameplay had massively improved from the games that 2K had previously put out. The wrestling is fluid and faster, with 2K scrapping the boring simulation type gameplay and made it feel more like the traditional style of gameplay from the mid 2000s.
Though 2K would take a massive step backwards the next year with a very disappointing WWE2K20, WWE2K19 is a great modern wrestling game that feels like the classics of old.
6. Smackdown VS Raw 2010
Following an underwhelming Smackdown VS Raw 2009, THQ and Jukes got it right 12 months later with Smackdown VS Raw 2010.
While the roster lacked legends to play with, it still proved to be impressive. The match types were largely the same from previous titles with inferno matches being added to the game.
Having replaced season mode with the Road to Wrestlemania in the previous years game, it was underwhelming. However, the storylines in which you play as Edge, John Cena, Mickie James, Triple H, Randy Orton and your custom wrestler makes SVR2010’s Road to Wrestlemania’s mode extremely rewarding. The storylines are fun and the un-lockable content was worth the effort you’d put into finishing the game mode.
For a game made in 2009, the graphics are still impressive with the aesthetics of the game still ageing well in 2022, especially the attention to detail in the wrestlers body damage, attack an opponent’s certain area and it become bloodied or turn red, something modern wrestling games now don’t even have.
5. Smackdown VS Raw 2011
The final game of the Smackdown VS Raw series. THQ and Jukes went all out in the last hurrah and developed one of the best WWE games to date, still holding up well a decade after its release.
With the SVR series becoming stale in the years prior, this game freshened things up and gave the player more creative freedom than in previous wrestling games. With the feature of match creator, you could set the rules and settings to suit how you would want a match to take place.
The addition of Universe Mode was a huge hit, giving wrestling fans who’d be screaming for the return of GM Mode something to cheer about. Allowing you to take control of the entire WWE roster and book how every WWE show plays out, who fights for championships and who feuds with who.
Road to Wrestlemania was back and the storylines in this edition of the game were amongst the best of the entirety of the SVR series. The game mode had a diverse range of storylines which you could play as Christian, Chris Jericho, John Cena, Rey Mysterio and your own custom wrestler, all of which were enjoyable and rewarding.
It would also be the first time in either Road to Wrestlemania or Season Mode which allowed you to play as a heel rather than a wrestler the fans got behind. As Chris Jericho you’d be evil and snarky on your way to winning the WWE Championship. As Rey Mysterio you’d team up with Jack Swagger on the way to capturing the World Heavyweight championship and would play dirty in the storyline, which was unique given Rey Mysterio traditionally has never played the role as a heel in WWE.
4. WWE 2K14
The best WWE game of the 2K era. WWE2K14 was the final game made solely for the PS3 and XBOX 360 and it would be the last good wrestling video game for years.
With WWE’13’s Attitude Era game mode being a hit, 2k14 again featured a historical game mode to celebrate 30 years of Wrestlemania. The game mode had you play through the most memorable and important matches from the past 30 years of Wrestlemania (1984-2014), in which you were able to re-live big moments and play as a large selection of wrestlers.
There would also be a feature where you’d attempt to break Undertaker’s legendary Wrestlemania streak. Overpowered to the max, Undertaker would pull out all the stops. Beating him felt like a challenge and though it’s often frustrating feeling like you’re dominating a match only to be hit with a tombstone pile-driver out of nowhere, it’s equally rewarding when you actually win.
The roster is also one of the deepest in wrestling game history with a great blend of WWE legends and the current crop of WWE talent at the time. With a good range of match types and playable arenas and a satisfying Universe Mode, the game is one of wrestling’s finest and a shame 2K didn’t continue to go the same route on the new console wrestling games.
3. WWF No Mercy
Regarded by some as the greatest WWE game of all time, WWF No Mercy is the oldest game on the list, releasing in 2000.
Despite it’s blocky textures and lack of features compared to wrestling games that followed, WWF No Mercy provided one of the best gaming experiences due to its fast-paced gameplay and control simplicity. For a game made at the start of the 21st century, it gives you a lot of creative freedom, allowing you to change a wrestler’s complete appearance.
The game has a decent sized roster, plenty of match types to choose from, and would mark an end of an era for wrestling games, being the last WWE game released for the Nintendo 64.
2. Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain
Released in 2003, Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain is one the most complete wrestling games in history, having a great look and feel with great gameplay.
It’s fast paced and the wrestlers in the ring perform like their real-life counterparts would. There were a large selection of match types for a game made in 2003, and choosing matches that took place outside of the ring were just as fun. Backstage fighting allowed you to venture in the locker room areas and even outside the arena. It’s fun and totally dramatic, and something that is lacking in the 2K era of games which goes for realism, rather than being an arcade style of wrestling game.
The season mode of the game is enjoyable although slightly ridiculous at times, and is one of the many game modes that makes this one of the greatest WWE games ever.
1. Smackdown VS Raw 2007
In 2006, THQ and Jukes dropped the greatest WWE video game to date. Smackdown VS Raw 2007 ushered in a new era of wrestling gaming, being the first game available for both the PS3 and XBOX 360.
Though not boasting the largest roster or a large range of match types to play, SVR2007 proved that quality over quantity is the best route to go down when it comes to WWE games. The gameplay is fluid and fast paced, and is one of few games where your choice of wrestler matters when you play.
While the heavyweights will use power moves to weaken opponents, the lighter wrestlers will use flips and non lifting moves to counter. Size and weight matters as the lighter guys like Rey Mysterio won’t be able to pick up the Big Show and suplex him, how it should be.
GM Mode in Smackdown VS Raw 2007 was the of the mode while it was in WWE Games while Season Mode in SVR2007 boasts the greatest storylines in a WWE game which is lengthy, enjoyable, and rewarding.
With the THQ and Jukes era of developing wrestling games ending in 2012, Smackdown VS Raw 2007 remains their finest game, and 15 years later, still holds up as one of the greatest video games of all genres to be developed.
This is the benchmark of what wrestling games should be.
READ MORE: The Most Iconic WWE Entrances