Last year I wrote that Konnor and Viktor were on WWE's endangered species list after 12 months in which they'd achieved little; yet despite a similarly dismal win-loss record in 2017, here we are again. Rumours abound that some main roster talent may be sent to NXT in order to add some big-fish-in-a-small-pond value to WWE's developmental territory, and it's a move that would suit this pair.
After a dominant stint in NXT, Asuka recently dropped the division's title after an astonishing 500+ day title reign. The storyline is that she's in negotiations with Raw and Smackdown; in reality she broke her collarbone at NXT Takeover Brooklyn III, and is currently healing up. Whichever brand she returns to, another undefeated streak through 2018 feels highly likely.
Authors Of Pain
In wrestling terms, ‘green’ means inexperienced to the point of making fans grimace – and long-time NXT tag champions Akam and Rezar have often epitomised that description. Yet in a video game, their power-packed catalogue of brutal moves should make them super fun to control, and their inclusion here means we also get Paul Ellering added as a manager.
Bam Bam Bigelow
Memorable for his all-over head tattoos and ability to throw himself off the top rope with ease despite weighing close to 400lbs, Bam Bam was one of '90s-WWE's most reliable heels – putting in an especially memorable performance against Bret Hart at the 1993 King Of The Ring. Major WWE gold nonetheless evaded him, but that oversight can be corrected via 2K18's Universe mode.
Former NFL lineman Tom Pestock was granted a Money In The Bank briefcase win in July, which seemed to telegraph an imminent WWE Championship reign – but he lost his 'cash-in' match to Jinder Mahal. No real life titles just yet, then, but you can instead assign one (or more) to him yourself using WWE Universe mode.
Last year, I wrote about the 9 superstars shockingly dumped from WWE 2K17 after appearing in 2K16 – and Big Dave topped the list. Thankfully, this year developer 2K has seen fit to fix that wrong. Batista returns as part of the 'John Cena (Nuff)' Special Edition, and should ultimately also be available as purchasable DLC.
After looking a can't-miss prospect while in NXT, Bayley endured a surprisingly underwhelming first year on the main roster – culminating in multiple losses to Alexa Bliss, and a serious shoulder injury. What's next? A feud with best pal Sasha Banks? Shocking heel turn? The likelihood is that you'll book her return better than WWE's scriptwriters will…
The person likely to be happiest about Irish 'lass kicker' Lynch's inclusion here? Her mum. "[I bought her some merch – and she got me to sign it! I was a bit, like, 'but you know me. You birthed me!' She’s proud as punch and can’t really get over it all," she told GamesRadar+ following the release of WWE 2K17.
Neither Nikki or Brie is currently appearing on WWE television, but few female wrestlers have garnered as much mainstream attention in recent years, justifying their inclusion here. Neck injuries have prevented Nikki from resuming a full-time grap career, while Brie is taking time off to look after her first child with ever-popular Smackdown general manager Daniel Bryan.
Beth Phoenix (DLC)
The last two years have seen 2K take WWE’s Hall Of Fame class, announced in the build-up to each year’s WrestleMania, and present them in game as a self-contained DLC pack. This year, disappointingly, we don't get a complete 'HOF' pack; but three members of that class – Beth Phoenix, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson – are on their way as DLC.