It was a DLC appearance in WWE 2K15 that triggered the Stinger's first ever WWE match – he proved so popular in-game, the company couldn't resist finally negotiating his real-life debut. It also sadly (and indirectly) led to his retirement, due to injuries suffered in a match against Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship in September 2015.
Stone Cold Steve Austin
A WWE offering without Austin would be like a Street Fighter one minus Ryu; he's the biggest name in the game. (Unless you're a Scrabble fan, in which case Larry Zbyszko might be preferable.) And with a stack of fellow legends also included, classic feuds with The Rock, Kane and The Undertaker can all be resurrected to your own liking.
One-time Lingerie Football League star (yes, it's a thing) Danielle Moinet hasn't wrestled since 14 August 2016 as she recovers from undisclosed injuries – but an appearance here confirms the lady known as Summer Rae is still on good terms with WWE, and suggests she'll be back in a real ring before the year is out.
Sid Justice, Sid Vicious, Sycho Sid: if you watched WWE or WCW at any point in the '90s, you knew the perma-permed one to be one of wrestling's great powerhouse heels. Which is ironic in retrospect, as his actual 'rasslin skills were limited – but that won't make Sid's heavy-hitting moveset any less satisfying to deploy in-game.
Once affiliated with the Usos, these days Tamina is embroiled in a storyline where Lana is helping her hunt Natalya for the Smackdown Women's Championship. It's news of the Ravishing Russian's 2K18 status that fans most want to hear – approaching her fifth year in WWE, she's still never been included as a playable character.
A fact which may surprise those who remember Tatanka from his early-'90s spell in the then-WWF: real-life alter-ego Chris Chavis genuinely is a Native American. 2K18 delivers the chance to relive his most-heated feud: Chavis is upgraded from DLC last year to on-disc this, with rival Rick 'The Model' Martel headed to the series for the first time ever.
One of Japan's greatest has taken the brunt of fan frustration over this year's roster; Fujinami was apparently little-used in WWE 2K17, yet he is retained while popular characters such as Billy Gunn, Road Dogg and Arn Anderson are dropped. Given that his heyday was in NJPW rather than WWE predecessor the WWWF, those negative voices do have a point.
The man behind the Titus Brand gets his full complement of charges for WWE 2K18, with Apollo Crews upgraded from DLC to on-disc roster, and Akira Tozawa among the key 205 Live debutants. Outside of a Cruiserweight title win for Tozawa the bizarre trio have had a low-key summer, but could yet gel into an intriguing unit – if given some notable victories.
Another of this year's debutants, TJP broke into WWE in 2016 by winning the company's Cruiserweight Classic – making him the first owner of WWE's purple Cruiserweight Championship. That reign fell flat, however, and it's taken a summer heel turn and entertaining feud with Rich Swann to finally make him feel like one of 205 Live's major players.
In what must rank as the most surprising inclusion in any WWE game ever, Australian pair Shane Thorne and Nick Miller make the 2K18 roster despite only ever having had five matches in the company. (Note: this is very much a happy observation.) They're expected back on NXT soon, after Thorne recovers from a long-term knee injury.