Top 10 Best Pro Wrestling Video Games

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Being that both are heavily targeted to the young, wrestling and video games seem to go hand in hand.  Over the years we have been subject to many crappy games in the genre but, when done right, the joy one gets from it is almost second to none.  Here is a list of the 10 best that I’m sure won’t disappoint.

10.  Pro Wrestling (NES, 1987)

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Some tend to think that this is the first wrestling game ever created, and they are most certainly wrong.  It is, however, the first good wrestling video created, so I can see why it gets labeled as such.  Pro Wrestling may not have the best gameplay, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up with character.  The characters/wrestlers are some of the most memorable in video game history.  Whether it be the Ric Flair-inspired King Slender, the super-cool (at the time) fan favorite, Starman, or any of the other four combatants, you are sure to be charmed by this 8-bit brawler.

9.  WWF Royal Rumble (Sega Genesis/SNES, 1993)

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In WWF Royal Rumble, you have the first good console game WWF/E ever made.  Yes, it took four years for us to get a WWF/WWE licensed console wrestling game worth anything.  Could be worse, as it took WCW seven years to finally put a good one out (WCW vs. The World).  The game features a great roster, nice graphics, and decent, but sometimes frustrating, gameplay.  The bread and butter of this game was the inclusion of the match that this game is named after for the first time on consoles.  While not as fun and exciting as the one featured in WWF Wrestlefest (Arcade), it was a good enough alternative until you had enough quarters to go waste an hour playing that one.

8.  WWF Superstars (Arcade, 1989)

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After suffering from the abomination of the first WWF/WWE licensed game called WWF WrestleMania (NES) earlier that year, this jewel was released in arcades four months later and made you forget the former ever existed.  This game had all you could ask for; with its tight controls, solid gameplay, good graphics, slick presentation and a great roster that featured all the wrestlers’ signature moves, taunts, and mannerisms for the first time.  WWF fans finally had a winner.

7.  Saturday Night Slam Masters (Arcade/Sega Genesis/SNES, 1993)

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If you ever wondered what it would be like if you combined the classic arcade beat-’em-up, Final Fight, and wrestling, then here is your answer.  Yes, this is more of an arcade fighting game at heart, but it’s not too ridiculously over-the-top like WWF’s WrestleMania: The Arcade Game (1995), as it retains just enough pro wrestling elements to feel authentic to the sport.  Even without an official license, the game is super fun, and a must play.

6.  WWE Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain (PS2, 2003)

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I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the Smackdown series.  I always liked the presentation, graphics, and story/career modes, but always felt that it was too fast paced and unrealistic.  When HCTP was released, all that changed.  Yes, there were still a couple things in there that made me cringe, but it was all outweighed by the good.  This game is the most balanced of the series, where it’s still a bit arcade-y, but not too much to ruin the experience.  This game features an awesomely deep roster, tight controls, a plethora of match types, and a good season mode.  Sadly, I was expecting them to build upon this great game with the Smackdown vs. Raw series, but was let down time after time.

5.  King of Colosseum II (PS2 Japan, 2004)

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A lot of people probably never played or even heard of this game, but if you are fan of Puroresu (Japanese wrestling,) you have to give this one a shot.  This was a Japanese release only, so if you don’t have a Japanese PS2, or a PS2 modified so that you can play import games, you are out of luck.  Just like Puroresu, the gameplay is paced and methodical, building up to a satisfying climax in each match.  The game features an unparalleled grappling system, impressive roster (150+ wrestlers), and the best game when it comes to actually working a match, and recreating the drama of a great bout.

4.  WWF WrestleFest (Arcade, 1991)

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Improving on the engine from #8’s WWF Superstars in every way, WWF Wrestlefest is still the most fun of all wrestling games after all these years.  It may not do everything that other games can do, but all the things it does, from the vibrant cartoon graphics that reel you in, to the simple-yet-effective control scheme, to the flawlessly executed presentation, it does perfectly.  I can rave about this game forever, but I’d much rather play it.

3.  Total Extreme Wrestling 2010 (PC, 2009)

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With this entry, we have the perfect case of “one is not like the others.”  The main reason for that is that you don’t get to see any in-ring action with this one.  What TEW 2010 does give you is the chance to book and/or own your own wrestling company.  The only graphics you will see here are pictures of the grapplers, and words to describe what’s going on.  That’s right, TEW 2010 is a text-based wrestling sim, and it is simply amazing.

Even if you are not a fan of games in this genre, there is plenty of fun to be had.  Seeing as though the game isn’t licensed by any real wrestling company, it comes with a fictional universe that, after playing through it for a bit, you may feel to be real.  The true selling point for me though, is the real-life mods you can download online that feature real wrestlers of today or the years past.  Want to try and take the TNA or ROH of today to the top of the mountain, and put the WWE out of business in the process?  There’s a mod for that.  You want to try and save WCW from going out of business by putting on good shows and PPV’s instead of the crap they were churning out?  There’s a mod for that.  Or maybe you want to book Hulkamania, or raise Hell with the 4 Horsemen all over again?  If so, there’s also a mod for that.

The possibilities are endless, as you craft storylines, hire and fire workers to make your company better, deal with the egos and backstage politics of your workers, go to war with rival promotions, and everything else you can think of.  Highly recommended!

2.  WWF No Mercy (N64, 2000)

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Here we have the pinnacle of the AKI wrestling games.  No Mercy was damn near perfect for a wrestling game.  It had the same top notch control scheme, great roster, a very good Create-A-Wrestler mode, awesome story mode, the ability to defend titles anytime, ladder matches (a first for AKI wrestling games, and still probably the best recreation of it to date), good pacing to the matches, decent enough graphics, and all around great gameplay.  Getting three friends together and plugging in four controllers is all you’d ever need for a night of good fun.  And believe me, I’ve pulled many all-nighters in that same scenario, so I know what I’m talking about.  Sadly, there was never a true sequel released for this, which they could have upgraded the few weak spots it did have, but even still, you can pop it in today, and relive all the glory that is WWF No Mercy.

1.  Fire Pro Wrestling Returns (PS2, 2007)

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Here is the greatest wrestling game ever released.  A lot of people may scratch their head as to how this highly unknown game got the nod over the coveted No Mercy, but trust me, this game is just that damn good.  Seeing as though there aren’t many weaknesses to this game, I might as well get them out of the way first.  First off, this is a Japanese made game translated for American audiences, so the starting roster (all 327 of them) is a who’s who of Puroresu (Japanese wrestling) under fake names, which you can edit to their real names.  Don’t let that turn you off though, as there are saves you can download that have all of them renamed correctly to save you time.

The control scheme, which I consider a plus, may turn a lot of people off if they are used to button mashers, or Smackdown-type controls.  It’s hard to get the hang of, but well worth it.  What turns most people off are the graphics.  The simplistic 2D sprites used here are great to me, but if you are looking for a lifelike 3D experience, you may think this is a 16-bit or kids’ game.  Don’t let it deter you though, as you would be missing out on the deepest wrestling game around.

Now on to the good, and there sure is a lot.  To make up for the lack of recognizable wrestlers, you can create up to 500 wrestlers in its stellar create-a-wrestler mode.  The reason I find it has the best CAW mode is because with all the heads to choose from (most of which belong to familiar US wrestlers not in the game), clothing layers, and so on, it is easy to create a spot-on FPR version of any wrestler you want.  With 1649 beautifully animated moves to choose from when creating your wrestler’s moveset, a 100% accurate replication isn’t difficult at all.  What makes this CAW system better than any other, bar none, is that addition of logic to the created wrestlers.  This means if you want to create a real-life wrestler to behave exactly like himself (going for certain moves more than others at certain times in a match, chaining together certain maneuvers, focusing on wearing down certain parts of their opponent’s body), you can.  Again, if all this seems overwhelming to you, there are wonderful saves online to save you the trouble of creating all your favorites.

In addition to that, you have the ability to create up to 8 titles, promotions, logos, rings, and referees.  There are a plethora of match types to choose from, and you can even have MMA matches on here with its onset of grappling mechanics, so it’s kinda like two games in one.  Overall, the gameplay is amazing once you get the hang of it.  As a testament to how incredible it all is, I have just as much fun, if not more, watching the computer-controlled wrestlers go at it in dream matches.  In no other game have I had the desire to do that, but with the added logic to every wrestler, you get such joy out of seeing the wrestlers perform just how they would in real life.  On the surface this game may not look like much, but under the hood, this game can’t be beat.

Written By Jawone Ray


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55 Comments

    • It was very hard for me not to add Revenge, seeing as how I find the roster superior to any of the other AKI wrestling games, but I decided against it because if I had, I would have had to also add the great WWF Wrestlemania 2000. In the end, I felt taking up 3 of the 10 spots would not make for a fair and balanced list, so I chose the overall best one of the bunch to add to the list.

      The same would have happened with the Fire Pro series if I decided to go that route.

      • i have to tell you..i played most of these and as a lifelong wrestling fan, enjoyed the trip down memory lane with these awesome games..but i have to put WCW/NWO Revenge as the best wrestling game i ever played..i remember playing the rumble for hours and hours either by myself or with my best friend…and that doesn’t include the roster and the edit feature…but i loved this list and thank you for posting it!

        • You’re welcome. I’m glad you loved the list. I have the same fond memories of Revenge that you have, so I know exactly why you feel the way you do. I had more fun with Revenge (even without the CAW mode, and numerous match types), probably because I was a bigger WCW fan, but it came down to which was better overall, so No Mercy got the nod.

          Thanks a million for reading.

        • Great list. Still feel like Revenge should be there for the same reason Royal Rumble was there instead of Raw, plus Revenge had the NWO!! I still enjoyed the read,Thanks!!

        • If I made the list today, I would definitely choose it over No Mercy, as I have finally discovered it since then, and it is superior.

  1. Hey, thanks for this top.
    Can you please let me know where can I find some of these games? My nephew is in love with this sport and he never misses such fights on TV. I am pretty sure he’d love to play some wrestling games on his PS.

      • The thing is, I couldn’t find all of these games there. Anyway, I will look into it and come back with a reply in case I find a good source.
        Thanks!

  2. WCW/ NWO Revenge was probably the best of all time because of all of the characters but at least you have it’s follow up No Mercy on here.

  3. TEW being the exception (and a good one btw), in the past 5 years nothing makes it?

    I haven’t played any wrestling games in years, but I would think PS3 or Xbox360 would have something make the list. There has to be a dozen wrestling games for each system.

  4. its seriously mind boggling how everyone totally forgets the awesomeness of smackdown 2, granted the loading was unbearable, but it was so worth it. it was the first wrestling game to have actual unlockable characters, the first authentic story/season mode, an unbelievable CAW selection, (taunts, body parts, clothes, move set, etc…). this game also brings back a hell of alot of memories for my childhood and imo, others also. it still lacked a little, AND I MEAN LITTLE, but overall it set the foundation for future wrestling games and its the most underrated wrestling game of all time, bar none.

    • redmicasupra on

      Not to mention special referee matches and the ability to move around the entire backstage area during the match, things that aren’t even in today’s games! Smackdown 2 was definitely one of the coolest games ever.

  5. WrestleFest was indeed awesome and Pro Wrestling was great at the time. But that WCW game that was out in the late 90s was by far the best of the bunch. It was probably WCW Revenge. We played that game for a full day once. No joke. It was that engaging. We had to order a pizza and have it delivered because we were starving but it was so much fun, you couldn’t stop. Great, great, great game.

  6. Tony Jabroni on

    Stumbled on this article through a link at msn.com
    Great list! Smooth writing style. Felt like I was reading an EGM article, something I do appreciate.

    • Yeah, I remember Mat Mania, and like you, I also had a great bit of fun with it. There are a few others good one’s that missed the list, like Tecmo World Wrestling (NES, 1990), 3 Count Bout (Arcade, 1993), Natsume Championship Wrestling (SNES, 1994), and Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 (N64, 2000).

        • Great call. FPW 2 was actually the first Fire Pro game I’d ever played, which led me to play every one ever created. That one is still awesome to this day.

      • The Mad Groper on

        Yeah too bad we only get 10! Sometimes there just isn’t enough space!! Thanks again for making such a great list! Brought back a lot of good memories!

        • You’re very welcome. I created this list because I’m a big fan of these games, and because I knew that others just like you would enjoy it immensely.

  7. this is the best list ever, (besides the exclusion of smackdown 2 which can get a pass because of your awesome taste in wrestling games), FPW is also one of my favorite wrestling games, i remember in the christmas of ’03 when my mom bought me a gameboy advance sp, i was so young back then that i actually requested shut your mouth to my newly acquired handheld, obviously my mom couldn’t find it and she instead bought me FPW 1, turns out the game was better than shut your mouth. couple of months later, i heard that their was a FPW 2, and i remember sneaking out my house to go to gamestop to buy it. my mom caught me sneaking back into the house and beat the mess out of me, thank god i hid the game in my sock, and that eventful evening was so worth it once i played FPW 2. your list brings up so many fond memories, thank you.

    • Thanks a lot! You’re very welcome. I’m very glad you like the list as much as you do. Your story brings back memories for me, as it is very similar to a episode I had with my mom over WCW Revenge. The things we would do for these games. In the end, they were well worth it though.

  8. What about Wrestlemania the arcade game…. It was like Mortal Kombat with wrestlers. Plus, the complex moves, combos and finishers…. best wrestling game, ever.

  9. I believe you have the WWF wrestlefest image for WWF superstars as well. WWF superstars has smaller graphics and less wrestlers…

    • You’re welcome, and thanks for reading. I agree that the wrestling games of today just don’t possess the quality they once had. I’ve pretty much given up on another great one being released.

  10. Always liked the Fire Pro series, glad one of them made it in there. I had no idea that PS2 game came out. I pretty much wrote off finding a modern wrestling game with good mechanics at that point.

    • If you have always liked the series, you will love Fire Pro Returns. It is simply amazing how deep it is. And seeing as though it was $20 when it was released a few years ago, you should be able to find a copy for as little as $5 today.

      You will not be disappointed.

  11. A pity… I always kinda had a soft spot for the Smackdown/Smackdown vs Raw series.

    Though I will always have a large space in my heart for WWF Attitude. I spent many a free night in my college days with my cousin mastering that game on all skill levels. Created my first character, well first awesome one anyway, on it and made iterations of that guy on every wrestling game since.

    Good times, man. Good times.

    Flynn 24

  12. Really enjoyed this list, I’ll have to have a look for Total Extreme Wrestling 2010. I was a fan of EWR back in the day

  13. Nice list! Obviously there are going to be other games that people who love the genre like myself and have been playing these damn games since M.U.S.C.L.E. Wrestling. I would like to give an honorable mention to Tecmo Wrestling for the Nintendo. The first wrestling game I’d ever played that let you throw your opponent in a figure four, a Boston crab or a drop attack. The Fire Pro series is incredible, I can’t tell you how many hours my buddy and I put into those games. He even modded his console so we could play the Japanese versions.

  14. Jawone, though your list of wrestling games is a good one, I’ve been hearing pretty good things about WWE ’12. Now, granted, I’m a bit jaded when it comes to the SDVR series (WWF/E should have never split up the brands and did the stupid draft thing nor should have thehy lieft the World Wildlife Fund walk all over them, but those are stories for another time), but I think that this title is truly many steps in the right direction. While I like FPWR (and if any of you don’t like my acronym for the game, well, too bad, so sad), I don’t like the lack of choice when it comes to making a grapple, navigating through one of the absolute clunkiest, cumbersome, and just plain worst menu systems that I’ve ever played in not only any wrestling game but any game period, I don’t like the fact that you can only alter one outfit for the 327 in-game wrestlers, and I don’t like my 500 wrestlers only being able to wear one outfit, yes, ONE outfit, not to mention the fact that you can’t throw people into turnbuckles from the middle of the ring. FPWR people, would it have killed you to make a few more frames of animation for such a thing? Also, certain staples of past FPW games were not there, such as the fire and electric cage matches. The story mode in that game is just as appalling as the Road to WrestleMania in WWE ’12 and that is a real shame. Granted, the Road to WrestleMania was not as well done as earlier SDVR games but the control scheme is very similar to what you would find in WWE SmackDown!: Shut Your Mouth and WWE SmackDown!: Here Comes the Pain!, which I, for one, welcome this series FINALLY waking up and going more to its roots. However, as for the guys that mentioned Virtual Pro Wrestling 1 and 2 and WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role, you are right on the money. Those games get WAY overlooked and they need to be noticed. However, as for you, Jim, no one knows Top Wrestling for the Amiga 500 from Adam because, 1. people from the UK, EU, and Japan have far more obscure video and computer consoles than we do in the USA and 2. just because you say that the game is good doesn’t mean that there’s a lot of people that might agree with you. While that might sound like I’m being short with you, believe me, I am not doing so; I just haven’t got the chance to figure out this game for myself. Oh well, there’s always YouTube to fill in my lack of wrestling knowledge.

  15. Do you know if WWF Wrestlefest (#4 on your list) is coming to the Xbox 360 Arcade? I thought I read somewhere that it was. Do you know when?

  16. Rodney Ross on

    Great list. I would add WWF Attitude. The creation of characters was awesome for its time. We made people like Fred Rogers aka Mr. Rogers (who lead the Rogers Army, which included Sesame Street icons Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster and Grover.), Lemmy from Motorhead, local Pittsburgh news anchors Paul Long and Don Cannon (who were tag team champs). We would make PPV cards, and the last match would be 4 4-man teams in a battle royale. Brings back good memories.

  17. Fire Pro has been my main game for the past 5 years due largely to the online community that supports it. (FireProClub and the newly created FPWArena) Words can’t express how great this game is. Nice to see it getting the credit it deserves.

    • Same here. As you are, I am also a member of both boards, and I must say that they make the already great game even better.

      Thanks for reading.

  18. I (beatzNrhymez) just want to give a shout out to my fellow TEW 2010 players on the Grey Dog Software forums who have just now discovered the list.

  19. TEW only number three?! NONE of these other games have “The Alpha Norwegian” Bam Bam Johansson, bro, NONE!!! *ANGRY FLEX*

    But seriously, great list. I still think I’d give a nod of No Mercy over FPW, but only because FPW was so staggeringly deep that it was a massive time eater in order to tap into its full potential. Then again, No Mercy did release with the horrid memory-erase bug.

  20. First off thank you for the list, It only inspires myself to to comply a bullet proof GLOBAL list. It’s hard to disagree with what Human has done with the Fire Pro series, I have been a fan since the SNES. But maybe it’s like the Virtual Pro by AKI you just hadn’t found it yet (glad you did) Now there is one series that should should and will be in my top 3 if not number 1 by Yukes Japan, Toukon Retsuden (NJPW) it was what the US Smack Down should have been but they stripped the gameplay for the US. In my opinion Champion Wrestler by Tatio (coin-op & PS1) blows WWF Super Stars away (I own both arcades) Seriously WWF Wrestle Mania the Arcade is a top 10’er. A side note to the Fire Pro series 6 man scramble on the Saturn with 6 LIVE players is as wild as it gets.

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