Introduction:At one point, I was a relatively big fan of wrestling. I only started watching in 2006 but I had found a new passion that at this point has pretty much flickered out. Regardless, I still catch the occasional shows and I still love the video games (the good ones anyway). I'll be straight up, most of these games are WWE ones (only one isn't. I have played plenty of non WWE ones; WCW, ECW & TNA ones but those weren't really that memorable. As always, I'm limiting this list to one per series.
The Day of Reckoning series on the Gamecube is by far my favorite wrestling video game series. In terms of story and game modes, there isn't a lot here in either to be honest but when it comes to gameplay no series tops the Day of Reckoning series and it hasn't gotten more mileage than any other wrestling game for me. The gameplay is essentially the one from the old N64 games (one of which will appear later on this list) but perfected. The first game does have a better physics system but the second game more than makes up for it with the best submission system I've ever seen and the introduction to stamina. I also prefer create-a-wrestler mode here to the ones used in the most recent games. The match modes are great too, nothing quite like a chaotic fatal four way steel cage or last man standing match. It may not be for everyone due to the limited amount of game modes (story mode's fun and a good story but that's it) but if gameplay is what you're looking for this is the perfect game for you.
It was a relatively tough call between this and Here Comes The Pain but I went with 06 simply because of the amount to do in the game. The match stipulations are awesome so exhibition can be quite a bit of fun, season mode is a lot of fun and GM mode is probably my favorite game mode of any wrestling game ever. However this is not the polar opposite of Day of Reckoning 2 as the gameplay here is really solid too. One of the best out of all the wrestling games and one of the few that I can regularly have competitive matches with against the CPU. It also has great graphics that I honestly like better than the more recent games. Most importantly though, this still remains to be the only wrestling game I've ever played with great commentary. I have never had a line repeated once during a match and several of mine last twenty minutes. This is the complete package in terms of wrestling games but most times out of ten I still tend to pick Day of Reckoning 2 to play so this has to settle for second best on this list.
An oddball choice but to put it simply I haven't had as much fun playing a season mode than I had in this game (maybe Here Comes The Pain). Granted, it really isn't an in-depth mode or anything but the fact that it's multiplayer really helps excel it to something stupidly fun. Even all the dumb glitches, like how anyone who interferes in a title match can end up winning the title instead of whoever wins the match, just adds to the ridiculous fun. This game series also has the greatest Royal Rumble in any wrestling game for two reasons. I) You can exit the ring through the bottom rope and fight/stay on the outside (which has been done in real life though sparingly) & II) You can have as much wrestlers in the Rumble as characters on the roster. Most games limit you at thirty like in real life, the more recent ones at forty but in this game you can easily have 70+ Royal Rumbles. I think I've had 100 man one once but my memory is foggy there. The gameplay is fun but it's easily the weakest of the five on here. Finally, it shares one attribute with the next game that I really like, their are different referees with different attributes.
After years of playing WWE games this one took quite awhile to get use to but once I did, oh man the matches you could have on here were incredible. I still vividly remember one bout I had, where I was Bret Hart facing the British Bulldog. It went on for around twenty-six minutes if I recall correctly and was completely back and forth. It's easily one of the best matches I've ever had on a wrestling game and this one had plenty of fun matches. Unfortunately, my time with it was short, probably only a few weeks before I had to sell it (monetary reasons). Still, along with the referee system I mentioned above or the gameplay, it also had great creative options and stands strong as my fourth favorite wrestling game.
Okay, I understand for what is the most lauded wrestling game in history (at least for the WWE ones) it's unthinkable that it only places this low. Look, I'm not going to talk about it's positive, if you're reading this list you know them but as for why it's only five there are two reasons for that. The first being, when I spend hours meticulously crafting my magnum opus wrestler only to have everything reset-ed on me half way through season mode . . . it kind of kills the game for me. I understand this problem was eventually fixed and you could get cartridges without this problem but I never had that luxury. The game I spent my time in had that bug which really hurt my impression of the game. Secondly, I just didn't have as much fun with it. I had a ton of fun with it don't get me wrong but the gameplay is perfected in the Day of Reckoning series, 06 has more game modes & GM mode which again is my favorite, the season mode isn't multiplayer so I couldn't sit down for hours playing with my friend and/or brother & I haven't had any really memorable bouts unlike Fire Pro. The game is awesome but for me, it's also only my fifth favorite.
While my top five probably aren't the same as yours, I think anyone who plays as much wrestling games as I will at least find some common ground. Whether it's the extreme versatility of Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 or the completely time precision gameplay of Fire Pro. There's a large selection of wrestling games and even if they've been essentially shelling out the same thing for the past few years (with a couple of good/great improvements but not enough to warrant the price tag in my opinion). Let me know what your favorite wrestling games are in the comments!
select one here...