Much like the legitimate (read: boring) sports of football and baseball, pro wrestling has been a yearly gaming staple for multiple console generations. WWE 2K15 marks the franchise's entrance into the Royal Rumble that is the PS4 vs Xbox One console war. Visual Concepts, the newest WWE developer, hopes to make new-gen releases look more lifelike than ever, thanks in part to the same advanced facial capture tech that NBA 2K uses. But which superstars will be lucky enough to be faithfully recreated right down to the last scar and tattoo? The ever-growing list is starting to look quite impressive.
Many (but not all) of the roster has been announced, and that includes the the newsworthy addition of Sting, marking the icon's first ever appearance in a WWE game. See who else has been announced so far, and I'll join you in hoping to see Bo Dallas as part of this list!
The self-proclaimed "Best in the World" left WWE on less-than-ideal terms earlier this year, but that doesn't mean he won't be a presence in 2K15. The Voice of the Voiceless is going next-gen and is even headlining the new 2K Showcase mode that's being introduced in the game. Players will be taken through his 2011-2013 rivalry against the status quo as embodied by John Cena, hopefully including a full-fledged recreation of 2011's epic Pipe Bomb speech.
One of his best matches: CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan, Over The Limit 2012. Instead of focusing on 2K15's prime rivalry, check out this under the radar classic from a couple years ago. This match is a virtuoso performance by the two icons, showing a level of technical know-how that usually goes unseen in a WWE ring.
Arguably one of the greatest in-ring performer of all time, Shawn Michaels is a no-brainer for inclusion despite being retired for years. After recovering from a back injury in 2002, HBK seemed rejuvenated in matches against veterans and new blood alike. The Heartbreak Kid is part of 2K Showcase as well for his comeback feud against Triple H. But just how bloody will 2K15 get in recreating the duo's visceral feud?
One of his best matches: Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin, Raw May 2, 2005. There are literally hundreds of awesome matches to choose from, but let's go with this late era HBK classic that some missed. Shelton Benjamin is outstanding here, and it features what may be the greatest Sweet Chin Music in Michaels' career.
The Game, The King of Kings, and a million other titles have been given to Stephanie McMahon's husband, and (despite some internet haters) he has earned them all. Triple H is one of the most consistently great performers around, and 2K Showcase is built around his brutal feud with Shawn Michaels from 2002 to 2004. And you have to give Helmsley credit for being such a detestable bad guy, even if you're never too sure how much of an act it is.
One of his best matches: Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H, Wrestlemania 30. 2014's Wrestlemania saw the rise of Daniel Bryan to the main event, and he did it by plowing through Triple H to get there. The two opened the first Wrestlemania with a truly memorable battle that proved not only Bryan to be an A+ player, but that Triple H hadn't lost a step.
The cover star of WWE 2K15, Cena is a divisive figure in wrestling. He's beloved by WWE's younger audience and despised by many older fans, yet the superheroic figure rises above it all to keep winning championships and selling boatloads of merchandise. After more than ten years on top, the 15-time world champion shows no signs of stopping... and neither will his haters, I'm sure.
One of his best matches: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels, Raw April 23, 2009. If you ever said John Cena can't wrestle, then you haven't seen this hour-long classic. This outdid the duo's match at Wrestlemania of the same year, captivating viewers with its compelling storytelling--on free TV, no less.
I'm fairly certain you've heard of this man, because Hogan is--without a doubt--the most famous pro wrestler that ever lived. The blond behemoth has done it all with his 24-inch pythons, selling out arenas everywhere he goes, preaching about the power of Hulkamania. This retro version of Hogan shows the promise of many more old school roster members, all of which will likely be felled by Hulk's killer leg drop.
One of his best matches: Hulk Hogan vs. Randy "Macho Man" Savage, Wrestlemania V. It took a year to set up this match, and it was worth the wait to see the Mega Powers explode in what many called Hogan's greatest in-ring battle. Savage and Hogan entertain throughout this grueling back and forth, but this could only end one way at Wrestlemania, brother--Hulkamania ran wild.
WWE found a new spin on gothic horror with the strange collective known as the Wyatts, including leader Bray, one of the first superstars announced for 2K15. He looks like he just crawled out of the swamp, and he's known for playing mind games with his opponents before he beats them into unconsciousness. I expect to see Bray backed up in-game by his equally weird goons, Eric Rowan and Luke Gallows.
One of his best matches: Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan, Royal Rumble 2014. Bray started out as a weirdo taunting other oddities, but this hard-hitting war with fan-favorite Daniel Bryan established Wyatt as a main event player. It stole the show at Rumble, and primed Wyatt for his big time feud with John Cena.
Cesaro has indie cred, a very creative moveset, speaks five different languages, and may be the strongest pound-for-pound person in WWE. What more do you need to know to like the guy? There's also the fact that the Swiss Superman's has maneuvers that seem they would only be possible in a video game? His insane uppercut alone is a sight to behold.
One of his best matches: Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn, NXT August 21, 2013. NXT may be WWE's developmental show, but Cesaro and Zayn had one of the best matches of 2013 on it. This old school two out of three falls match is packed with novel attacks and unique psychology, with Cesaro pulling off some moves that are nuts even by his high standards.
Formerly the muscle behind the trio known as The Shield, Reigns is on the fast track to the top as one of the most dominant young men in WWE. He has looked like a megastar when facing guys like Cena and Triple H, spearing them right out of their boots at every opportunity. This guy seems destined for a Wrestlemania main event, and none too soon.
One of his best matches: The Shield vs. Evolution, Payback 2014. Reigns has yet to really prove himself in a solo match, but he did great in The Shield's final night as a team against the veterans of Evolution. This had a number of extreme moments, including Roman taking a hellacious beating, but he ultimately came out on top, looking like the next big thing.
Sting began his career as a hyper positive pretty boy, then numerous betrayals turned him emo, as he donned The Crow's make-up and took to the arena rafters. Of course, he'd come down at the most important moments to beat the NWO silly with his ever-present baseball bat. Back in the late 1990s it was hard to imagine any WCW wrestler being cooler than Sting, with a mystique that sold a million t-shirts.
One of his best matches: Sting vs. Bret Hart, WCW Mayhem 1999. Honestly, this era of WCW is infamous for terrible product, but there were rare exceptions like this one. Hart and Sting did some of the best work of their late careers here, showing that Sting could still give an awesome performance when not facing someone as decrepit as Hulk Hogan. However, I must warn you to just watch this match--the rest of the event is terribly depressing in retrospect.
Before he got mopey and bought black and white facepaint, Sting was the most positive mofo in pro wrestling. That's the man retro Sting recreates in WWE 2K15, with his neon colors, bleach blonde hair, and unstoppable charisma. Many kids of the '90s still remember this man's wars against the likes of the Four Horsemen and Vader, as he steamrolled the competition at WCW.
One of his best matches: Sting vs. Cactus Jack, Beach Blast 1992. The easy choice would be any of Sting's amazing matches with Ric Flair from the early '90s, but I'm going with his all-out brawl with Cactus Jack. This was hardcore wrestling before most fans knew the term, and Sting proved here that he could get as rough as anyone in this battle with the future-Mankind.
And in this corner...
But the list of superstars and divas only begins there. Take a look at the long list of wrestlers confirmed for WWE 2K15 so far. And if your favorite isn't there, don't worry, because this isn't the full roster just yet.
The Big Show
Rob Van Dam
Stone Cold Steve Austin
Don't stop Bolieving!
That's everyone at the moment, but expect some big updates to the roster in the lead up to the October 28 release. Bo Dallas has yet to be confirmed for the game, so Bolievers like me are worried we might be left out in the cold. But I know he'll appear in the game. I'm sure it will happen, so long as all us just… BO-lieve!
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