As with all sports, pro wrestling has a long history of video games. Dating back as far as most fans can remember, there have been great games and poor ones. We mostly remember the good and that's what we're here to celebrate with this list. The best of the best.
Most of these entries are WWE video games but they don't quite dominate the way you might think. You'll find plenty of games from other companies or ones that don't even relate to a specific promotion. Either way, these are the 10 greatest pro wrestling games ever created.
10 Total Extreme Warfare
We start with something completely different from the rest of the list. The Total Extreme Warfare series has been around for nearly two decades but most casual gamers probably don't realize that. Often shortened to TEW, this is a text-based simulator that allows the player to run and manage their own promotions.
While the concept might not appeal to those who want to get in the ring and play the matches, there's a big audience for it. Similar games exist for sports like basketball and baseball. Modders have found ways to include real-world companies and wrestlers to add to the fun.
9 WWE 2K14
The WWE 2K franchise is the current cornerstone of wrestling video games. Unfortunately, a lot of gamers have felt that their work on current-gen systems has been lackluster. A possible reason that it feels that way is because they did their best work with their final release on the last generation.
WWE 2K14 was the first WWE game officially released by 2K Sports after taking over for THQ. It came out on October 29, 2013. The gameplay engine mostly remained the same but was about as good as it got here. It also had help from the 30 Years of WrestleMania mode and a roster that was loaded.
8 Smackdown vs. Raw 2007
The back half of the 2000s was the highlight of the Smackdown vs. Raw series. The 2006 version did a ton right and nearly made this list. But Smackdown vs. Raw 2007 took what worked in that game and improved upon it. One way it did that was by leaning into being a realistic simulation of wrestling.
Concepts like a stamina bar were added to increase realism but the fun factor remained as the ability to fight in the crowd was also included. This game, released on November 14, 2006, balanced those things with grace. They also made big improvements to the popular General Manager mode that were well received.
7 WWE All-Stars
It is pretty wild that there was never a sequel released to WWE All-Stars. This game arrived on March 29, 2011 and was wildly unique when compared to the rest of the market. That's because of the highly enjoyable arcade-style take it had on a wrestling video game.
Matches in WWE All-Stars would regularly see wrestlers flying 30 feet in the air to perform incredible moves. The models looked larger than life like the characters they were based on. And the roster included a perfect mix of legends like Hulk Hogan and regular roster members like John Cena.
6 WWF WrestleMania 2000
When THQ got the license to make WWE games, Nintendo 64 fans rejoiced. THQ's old WCW games on the PlayStation were bad but the N64 got some gems. Thankfully, THQ and AKI worked together to create their N64 debut, WWF WrestleMania 2000. And it was incredible.
Arriving on October 12, 1999, it had all the elements that made AKI games work in the past. But it was even better. The roster was stacked with every notable member of the company at the time. Gameplay was addictive, the arenas looked good, and it was a huge success, selling over 1 million copies in the first two months.
5 WCW/nWo Revenge
The final WCW game made by AKI and THQ on the Nintendo 64, debuting on October 26, 1998. As noted, WWF WrestleMania 2000 improved on a lot of this entry. However, we give WCW/nWo Revenge a slight nod because it felt like the place where AKI truly locked down the gameplay style that is still considered by many to be the best.
Plus, there's no better game out there featuring the WCW roster. Guys like Sting, Diamond Dallas Page, Goldberg, and many others in their prime. You can't beat that. From the cool customization options to the unique roster to the stellar gameplay, this is arguably the best wrestling game released in the 90s. It remains a classic.
4 Def Jam: Fight For NY
The idea of mixing hip-hop and pro wrestling doesn't seem like one that would make for a great video game. However, following AKI's split from working with THQ, they teamed up with EA Sports to release Def Jam Vendetta. It was a wrestling game starring musical artists and including a near-flawless gameplay engine.
As dope as that game was, the sequel Def Jam: Fight for NY was even better. Released on September 21, 2004, this was outstanding. Ludacris, Method Man, Redman, Joe Budden, and even Carmen Electra round out the roster. Along with that sound gameplay, it had a bumping soundtrack and an engaging story mode.
3 Fire Pro Wrestling World
For those folks who didn't care for the last few WWE games, they turned to Fire Pro Wrestling Returns. It boasted a roster of over 300 characters and several hundred more were available if you went to the Create-A-Wrestler mode. The graphics couldn't touch WWE games but the gameplay was genius.
About a decade after that originally got released, the world was treated to Fire Pro Wrestling World on December 18, 2017. And it took whatever worked before and made it better. The logic-based A.I. allowed for realistic matches relating to each specific wrestler. They also struck a deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling and Stardom to get real roster members like Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, and Mayu Iwatani in the game. Almost untouchable in terms of simulation.
2 WWE Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain
October 27, 2003 saw the release of one of the most beloved WWE games ever. WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain was a brilliant installment. It gave us an improved grappling system and character scales to change the way we played WWE games up to that point.
On top of that, it was also the first game to feature the Elimination Chamber and Bra and Panties matches. Who didn't have fun wrecking opponents as the unstoppable Brock Lesnar or Goldberg? And they kept the wacky fun bits like dropping an elbow off the top of a helicopter.
1 WWF No Mercy
The pinnacle of the THQ/AKI/WWE combination. Released on November 17, 2000 for the Nintendo 64, WWF No Mercy was as close to perfect as you can get. It took what made WWF WrestleMania 2000 great and added things like a bigger roster, more match types, and an impressively dense story mode.
Here we sit nearly two decades later and this game is still getting played. There are tons of mods available that have updated this to include the current WWE roster, including NXT wrestlers, and much more. Folks are putting in long hours to bring you new versions of a game that is timeless. That's the mark of something truly special.