Smackdown survives legal meltdown

The Smackdown wrestling series has survived the legal wrangles between grappling supremos WWE and the games' publisher THQ, can exclusively reveal.

While THQ originally signed up for the licence to produce WWE-themed games until December 2009, a cast major doubt over the future of THQ's critically and commercially successful Smackdown franchise.

But a source at THQ has today revealed that they have already been briefed on the next five WWE games - none of which, as yet, have officially been announced. The current run of WWE titles ends with WrestleMania 21, which will be belatedly released for Xbox in May.

There had been doubt over whether THQ would survive the lawsuit in which it was alleged that a former WWE licensing and merchandising boss received bribes from toy manufacturer Jakks Pacific in 1998.

These were supposedly made to ensure that a joint venture between Jakks and THQ would be given the rights to produce WWE videogames - even though there were "superior" proposals from other publishers at the time.

However, while a Jakks Pacific executive is awaiting sentence on a federal bribery conviction, it appears that THQ will be cleared of any wrongdoing and will subsequently hang on to their official warrant to produce fully-branded armlock action.

Expect the next five WWE titles to be Smackdown's final outing on PS2 before the series moves to PS3; another wrestle-fest for Gamecube; and handheld outings for DS, PSP and mobiles.