Thankfully, the everlasting feud with former best friend Kevin Owens finally appears to be over – but Zayn is still treading water on Smackdown, in battles with Mike Kanellis and Aiden English. Rectify that in 2K18 by playing out fantasy bouts with AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe, to name three.
WWE missed a huge opportunity this summer when Joe managed to present himself as being on the same level as Brock Lesnar – and a shock Universal title win, even if only for a brief reign, would have cemented his status among WWE's elite. Instead Lesnar won out easily, and Joe remains well beneath Brock, Roman Reigns and John Cena in WWE's pecking order. Shame.
NXT stable Sanity are added to the 2K series for the first time – and incredibly, that means five individual wrestlers making their debuts. Current members Eric Young, Killian Dain, Alexander Wolfe and Nikki Cross all make the cut, along with former partner Sawyer Fulton. Very, very cool.
Rumours persist of a 'Four Horsewomen' reunion between Banks, Becky Lynch, Charlotte and Bayley, but with the quartet split across separate rosters it won't occur until WrestleMania 34 at the earliest. In real life, anyway. WWE 2K18's new ability to play four-on-four matches means it's now an event fans can trigger in-game instead, long before the WWE circus rocks up to New Orleans next spring.
The former Shield member and current 'Architect' is 2K18's cover star, and the centrepiece of its 'Be Like No One' advertising campaign. His in-game likeness was hugely improved in WWE 2K17 – what we'd really like now is more options for Rollins' in-game attire, such as the white gear worn during his NXT Champion days.
Shane & Stephanie McMahon
Two of the key McMahon family members make it in: Smackdown onscreen commissioner Shane, and real-life WWE chief brand officer Stephanie. But curiously dad Vince – AKA the big boss of the company – appeared to be omitted for 2K18, after appearing as a playable character in 2K17. That was just a tease, however, with Vinny Mac eventually confirmed in early September.
The Heartbreak Kid was always going to be included on 2K18's roster; but it's inauspicious news for one-time D-Generation X stablemates Billy Gunn and 'Road Dogg' Jesse James, AKA New Age Outlaws. As we reported in early September, both have been axed from this year's game after appearing in WWE 2K17 – and that's despite James still working for the company backstage. Curious.
Sheamus & Cesaro
Raw's unlikeliest tag team has turned their mix of Euro-style suplexes (Cesaro) and smash-nose brawling (Sheamus) into a regular Monday-night highlight; and as WWE mainstays for the last half-decade, both were certainties for 2K18. Let's hope returning rivals the Hardyz also make it in.
Last year's decision to have Nakamura as a DLC-only character met with fury from grap fans; thankfully, there'll be no such controversy this time around, following Nak's ascent from NXT to the Smackdown Live title picture. In addition to an on-disc videogame debut, expect a world title reign in 2018 – perhaps as soon as January's Royal Rumble.
I've mentioned a few potential WWE Universe mode scenarios throughout this feature, and for the artist formerly known as Hunico a move to cruiserweight show 205 Live is one of the more obvious. He's lost on Smackdown, yet surely capable of fantastic digitised bouts with the likes of Akira Tozawa and (if confirmed) Gran Metalik.