The E’s star female signing of 2015. The former Kana spent 11 years dominating the Japanese wrestling scene before being tempted to the States as a member of NXT. Despite not being part of the main roster as yet, many consider her the female Brock Lesnar – and being left out of 2K17 would have triggered considerable fan backlash.
Austin Aries (DLC)
Like AJ Styles, Aries' long run in rival company TNA means he's never been in a WWE game. Until now. The NXT heel has drawn impressive performances from the likes of No Way Jose and Andrade Almas over the summer, and will take his 2K series bow by way of DLC. A main roster call-up shouldn't far behind.
Bam Bam Bigelow
Along with Vader, the beast from Asbury Park, NY is among the most athletic big men ever to step into a WWE ring – and his early ‘90s run included memorable bouts against the likes of Bret Hart and NFL player Lawrence Taylor. Sadly, WWE 2K17 is the only way to see him once more step through the ropes – Bigelow passed away from a drugs overdose in 2007.
Former NFL lineman Tom Pestock made an immediate impact on his main roster debut at WrestleMania 32, emerging victorious from the annual Andre The Giant battle royal. But he's made little impact since – a seemingly interminable feud with Dolph Ziggler only serving to make fans care about neither. Perhaps WWE 2K17, and a switch to Smackdown, will see his 'lone wolf' character reinvigorated.
There was no spot for Bayley during the WWE Draft, but she finally received a long-overdue main roster call-up the night after Summerslam, in August. GR+ successfully predicted Bayley's inclusion after seeing WWE 2K17's NXT Edition - it'd have been super misleading to place a wrestler on the packaging of a product, then leave them out of the game itself.
Incredibly, the flame-haired Dubliner worked as an Aer Lingus flight attendant for two-and-a-half years after retiring from wrestling in 2006. A WWE tryout tempted her back into the ring in 2013, and she’s since prospered alongside Banks and Charlotte, first on NXT and then – from last summer onwards – as a member of the main roster. In September, she became the first WWE Smackdown Women's Champion.
Big Boss Man
If you ever take a trip down to Cobb County, Georgia, you’d better read the signs – respect the law and order. Not our advice, but that of the Boss Man’s legendary (in WWE term’s) theme song, frustratingly omitted from last year’s game. Let’s hope 2K has learned its lesson and makes the necessary fix.
Sadly, the 'please retire' chants which accompany every slow Show snooze-a-thon aren't likely to find their way into 2K16 – derogatory catcalls are an area where WWE isn't seeking believability. And to be fair, his power-packed move set makes him way more fun to play as in-game than he is to watch in real life.
Blake & Murphy
With an NXT tag title run already long-forgotten, and manager Alexa Bliss promoted to the main roster in July, immediate prospects for this pair don't look overly exciting - particularly as they're now trying to make it in singles competition. At least a second consecutive WWE 2K17 appearance is now confirmed, after Blake was spotted on the box of the NXT Edition.
Irwin R Schyster's baby boy has been treading water for some time now, reduced to comedy jobber status as a member of the Social Outcasts. A link-up with real-life older sibling Bray Wyatt would instantly revitalise him, but WWE clearly isn't interested in such a natural tandem. No matter: put them together in the game instead.