FPW Returns distinguishes itself from THQ's SmackDown by way of its deep, strategic gameplay, specifically its grappling mechanics. Rather than seize opponents via face buttons or analog sticks, FPW Returns dictates that characters overlap, which automatically instigates a tie up. "Small," "Medium," and "Big" attacks are subsequently executed depending on which face button and d-pad direction a player chooses.
Also contrary to SmackDown, grapple attacks are heavily timing-based. Once a grapple has been initiated, players must wait for just the right time in order to perform a move. If another player beats them to the literal punch, the move is countered. The precision involved in grappling is what has attracted hardcore wrestling fans to Fire Pro's take on wrestling, but is also responsible for deterring casual fans who don't want to invest in the game's learning curve.