Next year marks the All-American American’s tenth in WWE, but his star has fallen since a 2010 World Heavyweight Championship reign. Many assumed he was gone for good after briefly deleting his Twitter account, but he’s still clinging to a roster spot and thus makes the cut for WWE 2K17.
The Attitude era has a lot to answer for, perhaps nothing more so than the team this two-time Women's Champion formed with Terri Runnels and Ryan Shamrock called… Pretty Mean Sisters. Thankfully, Miss Jackie also contested intense feuds with Trish Stratus and Ivory – and it's these, not PMS, that you should look forward to recreating in WWE 2K17.
Jake 'The Snake' Roberts
Personal problems plagued the real-life Aurelian Smith Jr for decades, as showcased in 1999 documentary Beyond The Mat. But moving in with fellow grappler (and yoga guru) Diamond Dallas Page sparked a change of mindset, and The Snake was inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 2014. This is his second consecutive WWE 2K series appearance.
Most found the former Acolyte's WWE Championship reign to be the perfect cure for insomnia, yet a switch to the commentary desk transformed Layfield from humdrum villain to cult hero. (Although 2016 has not produced his best work.) Listen out for the comedic cow moo just after his music kicks in – an ingeniously subtle nod to his Texan upbringing.
Doubling WWE 2K17's ginger beard count after Erick Rowan's confirmation is Bret Hart's former Hart Foundation tag-team partner. Sadly, the leap to current-gen saw the removal of mixed gender tag matches, meaning it's no longer possible to team Jim up with daughter Natalya. If 2K has a hart (sorry), perhaps that option will see a comeback this year.
Whisper it, but the much-maligned WWE answer to Superman was the company's MVP in 2015. He made the US Championship matter again, his feud with Rusev far surpassed expectations, and a summer series against Kevin Owens delivered two of the year's standout matches. His knockers remain critical, but few deserve their placing here more than Mr Wash-Your-Mouth-Like-Colgate.
For a chunk of 2015 and early 2016 it appeared that WWE was seeking to turn this plucky luchador into a modern Rey Mysterio – but it never gave him the in-ring time to make a significant impression. For instance, a US title defence against Ryback on the WrestleMania 32 pre-show played out in front of an empty arena, and lasted just nine minutes. Regardless, his acrobatic moveset should make him one of the most fun characters in WWE 2K17.
Masked, unmasked, masked, unmasked: Kane’s status these days essentially equates to being a Scooby Doo villain. For WWE 2K17 he’s back to hiding his face, but having gone to the lengths of scanning his likeness for last year’s edition, you’d wager a maskless version of his character will also be selectable.
Kerry & Kevin von Erich (DLC)
Kerry von Erich is better known to the WWE audience as Texas Tornado – but prior to signing with Vinny Mac's troupe, his entire family were megastars in World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW). WWE 2K17 reignites the family's feud with the Fabulous Freebirds, who as a result are also available as DLC.
WWE's second Universal Champion won't get to brawl with Toad from Mario Brothers in WWE 2K17 – more's the pity, according to an interview with GR+ – so instead will have to make due with reignited feuds against John Cena, Sami Zayn and Dean Ambrose. He says he's delighted with his character model, as WWE 2K16 contained his NXT likeness despite him being called up to the main roster before its release.