The best there ever will be?
The WWE 2K17 release date of 11 October is fast approaching – and it promises to pack in a host of your wrestling favourites, past and present.
New faces this year include Bayley, Asuka, AJ Styles, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Shinsuke Nakamura, American Alpha, and Becky Lynch – plus the Dudley Boyz are back. Over the coming pages I'll profile every wrestler, male or female, confirmed for that release date, plus those coming to DLC such as Eddie Guerrero and (yes!) Papa Shango.
For ease of use, the list runs in alphabetical order. For the most part tag teams (as well as father-son pairing Mr Perfect & Curtis Axel, and women's legends Lita & Trish Stratus) are listed as their group names: The New Day, Edge & Christian, Breezango, etc.
[last updated on September 26]
The 38-year-old veteran has appeared in wrestling games before, such as 2008 Midway effort TNA Impact. But spending more than a decade with WWE’s biggest rival naturally means he’s yet to appear in the Smackdown/2K series. That changes this year, with Styles already a massive deal: at Backlash in September, Styles defeated Dean Ambrose to win the WWE World Championship.
Matt Bloom has been on WWE screens on-and-off for almost 20 years: as Prince Albert (he's covered in piercings), Tensai, and Sweet T and more. He's now head trainer in NXT, and so has a key role in MyCareer mode, but is also playable for the first time since WWE 2K14 as part of the Hall Of Fame showcase DLC.
Alberto Del Rio
Del Rio was a series regular for many years, and has already appeared on this generation of consoles by way of WWE 2K15 – but his brief departure for Lucha Underground saw him left off last year’s roster. We’ll likely also get a theme and entrance for the League Of Nations stable, which saw Del Rio team with Sheamus, Rusev and (the now departed) Bad News Barrett for no discernible reason other than they’re all ‘foreigners’. Nice one, WWE.
With former stablemates Blake and Murphy made available for WWE 2K16 as DLC, Bliss completes the set in its successor – as we predicted after spotting her on the NXT Edition box. Triple H has singled her out as one the company’s hottest prospects (not in that way), and there’s an air of a young Trish Stratus in the way she carries herself during interviews and around the ring. She was called up from NXT to Smackdown in July.
It's now eight years since Fox debuted on Smackdown as the wedding planner for Edge and Vickie Guerrero's big day – a big day which went awry after Fox shared a big smooch with the Rated R Superstar. Most fans remember that more than they do Fox's brief Divas Championship reign in 2010, which lasted all of 56 days.
The lady known as Madusa in WCW was persona non grata in WWE for two decades after dumping the latter company’s title belt in a dustbin live on air, but reconciled last year in order to take a WWE Hall Of Fame spot. DLC for WWE 2K16, this is her first on-disc appearance.
If you were ever a fan of the supremely athletic ‘World’s Greatest Tag Team’ pairing of Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, say hello to their natural successors. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan’s collective ring style incorporates Olympic-style throws and slams, mat-based excellence, and the odd genuinely funny comic moment. They were called up to Smackdown in July.
Andre The Giant
23 years after the Alp-sized Frenchman's passing, Andre remains one of the most famous names in wrestling. At 7ft tall and 520lbs, he's the biggest superstar in this year's game, and the one with the shortest WWE Championship reign – he 'sold' the belt to Million Dollar Man Ted DiBaise 108 seconds after winning it from Hulk Hogan in 1988.
Apollo Crews (DLC)
Like Shinsuke Nakamura and Nia Jax, the man once known as Uhaa Nation initially comes as an NXT Edition exclusive, but you can expect him to be released as standalone DLC in due course. He had a quiet start to his main roster career after a post-WrestleMania call up, but should prove one of Smackdown's best assets after being drafted to that brand in July.
Initially booked as a combination of Legion Of Doom and Demolition, no amount of facepaint could cover for Konnor and Viktor's in-ring sloppiness – and so for the last year they've languished in Defeatsville. A link-up with the now-departed Stardust as Cosmic Wasteland was a dismal failure, and it'll be a surprise if they're still contracted to the company by the time WWE 2K18 gets a release date.