Pro Wrestling has had a very interesting relationship with video games for many years. Throughout the genre, one can find all kinds of flavors and unique concepts that have are littered throughout the various console generations. While most of the more publicized games were from one major organization of the wrestling business, there are some coveted gems that get a lot of credit for holding their own outside of the mainstream. It is arguable that wrestling may not have the same spark as it once had; fans of wrestling have plenty to love in some of the following titles that embody the best in the genre.
There are a ton of games that have been made for the wrestling genre, and not all of them are featured in this list. While in no particular order, and certainly not a complete look at the whole genre, these are all games that will quell any fans thirst for a fun wrestling title. The main factor with any of these games, much like in pro wrestling on TV, is the “it” factor, or how much fun and enjoyment one may get out of the total experience. Everyone’s preferences and taste may be different, but anyone will definitely feel something when booting up any of these wrestling games for the first time.
WWF Royal Rumble – Genesis, SNES
While not the first WWF game created back in the day, it was one of the first titles to have a true arcade feeling on a home console. Games like Super WrestleMania, Wrestlefest, and Superstars all had the roster and branding of WWF back then, yet Royal Rumble was the first title to really take the experience to a whole new level. This was also the first game to showcase WWF’s classic Royal Rumble match-type in its purest form, where up to 6 characters can fight on screen at the same time for a full Rumble. The game was a bit different for both the SNES and Genesis, sporting different rosters of 12 wrestlers, but the experience was equally satisfying on both consoles. The success of the game was followed up by a sequel, WWF Monday Night RAW, which sported the same mechanics, but with an updated Roster and some new match types.
Fire Pro Wrestling – Saturn, GBA, DreamCast, PS2
Arguably the best wrestling fans game ever. Fire Pro Wrestling was a series originally on the Super Famicon and continued on through the PlayStation 2 with a bunch of titles released for various consoles. This series was very popular in Japan and did not see an international release until much later towards the 2000s. Outside of featuring many different wrestlers from a variety of promotions outside of North America, the series was well known for having a lot of customizable options in later iterations. Being able to not only customize and create various characters for the already big roster, fans could also customize different ring/arena layouts and match-types, providing endless replay potential. While a new version of Fire Pro was created for the next generation consoles in 2010, it bore no resemblance to the original titles, which are still played heavily among hardcore wrestling fans today. Many videos could be found on YouTube sporting dream matchups and customized characters and matches from the titles on many of the various versions released.
WCW/NWO World Tour – N64
While many have praised a lot of the WWF games on N64 for their innovative controls and mechanics, it was actually a WCW game that laid the foundation for what WWF would capitalize on later. What made WCW/NWO World Tour so good was the introduction of the Grappling System that would be endlessly reused in later wrestling games. The roster was large and the gameplay was fun, making for a total package that wrestling fans would love. The game would drive enough success over the competition’s game, WWF Warzone, and spawn a sequel a year later. The follow up title, WCW/NWO Revenge, would expand upon the visuals and gameplay mechanics of its predecessor, along with a larger and more updated roster of wrestlers that were popular at the time.
Def Jam Fight for NY – PS2, Xbox
While have some claimed that this title isn’t really a wrestling game, a lot of what made it so popular is really credited to aspects from wrestling titles. Def Jam is a game that blends the over the top action of pro wrestling with the flair and attitude of Hip-Hop and Rap. Players could take control of some of their favorite artist, such as Ludacris and Snoop Dog for example, or other original characters and have crazy, action-packed dream match brawls. The gameplay took a lot of inspiration from the grapple system from WCW/NWO World Tour and the later WWF games and mixed together unique styles of fighting for each character. The result was fast paced, over-the-top, hard hitting action that resonated with many gamers who were fan of the genre.
WrestleMania: The Arcade Game – Arcade, Genesis, SNES, PlayStation
Arguably the most outrageous and crazy fast paced wrestling game ever made. This licensed WWF game was developed by Midway and featured some of the top wrestlers of the WWF in the mid-90s while going to the extreme end of the arcade spectrum. Everything about this title lives up to its arcade name, where the wrestlers are executing their signature moves in the craziest fashion possible. While the game’s roster was not big at all, featuring only eight wrestlers total, the action after the bell rung was unmatched by any other wrestling title released at the time. Buzzers, chickens, tombstones, and barbells filled the ring as wrestlers would battle out for victory, making for some out of control situations. The high octane action was crazier than previous titles Wrestlefest and Superstars, making it the best arcade wrestling game released.