Gallows & Anderson
After winning over Japanese audiences in stables with AJ Styles and Finn Balor, fans had high hopes for WWE's signing of this pair – but they've mostly been kept away from their former comrades, and hence struggled. Little doubt that a Bullet Club reformation will therefore be high on the list of many fans' 2K18 Universe plans.
The Godfather & Papa Shango
Despite retiring in 2002, Charles Wright's alter-egos have become commonplace in the 2K series. In 2K16, we got Kama Mustafa as part of the Nation of Domination; last year it was both The Godfather and Papa Shango. The middle of those three was the only one announced during 2K's weekly roster reveals, but Shango was finally confirmed too in early September.
After a decade away from WWE, last year's videogame appearance triggered negotiations which led to Goldberg's return to the real ring – and a shock Universal Championship win in March. He was so popular that there's clamour for another comeback in 2018; for now, a second consecutive 2K series slot is a welcome consolation prize.
Goldust & Dusty Rhodes
And then three became two. WWE 2K17 afforded the possibility of playing as the entire Rhodes family, with legend Dusty and sons Dustin (Goldust) and Cody (Stardust) all included. But with the latter having departed the company in 2016, there's next-to-zero chance of that occurring in 2K18. At least, not until the always-talented community creators get to work.
If Aussie double act TM-61 (who I'll get to later) are the most surprising tag-team inclusion in this year's game, Gran Metalik surely wins the solo award. Initial appearances on cruiserweight show 205 Live were fleeting, and he's only had a handful of TV victories all year. But an athletic move-set should make Metalik a riot to use in-game, whatever his real-life prospects.
Hardy Boyz (DLC)
After returning to WWE at WrestleMania 33 and capturing the Raw Tag-Team Championships on the same night, Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy seal a digital comeback, too – although it's only as DLC. Obviously, your first port of call with the Brothers Extreme should be a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match with old rivals Edge & Christian.
Heath Slater & Rhyno
Former ECW veteran Rhyno returned to WWE after a ten-year absence in 2015, to form a comedic tag team with Heath Slater – and score a three-month tag title reign as a result. With that division now dominated by the Usos and New Day, a move to Raw has seen the pair flounder; but he at least has a WWE 2K18 appearance to look forward to.
The former KENTA was supposed to be the next big thing on signing with WWE, but injuries caused NXT fans to lose interest – until a masterfully handled heel-turn this summer, and feud with Kassius Ohno. Ohno's return likely came too late to make the videogame, but the newly nefarious Itami suddenly has a tantalising array of opponents across Raw and Smackdown.
2017 has delivered tickets to Splitsville for many a WWE tag-team: so long, The Golden Truth, and arrivederci, Enzo & Big Cass. It's perhaps for that reason that the divorce between Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley teased across the summer hasn't materialised; but it feels inevitable that these two will be solo artists again by the time WWE 2K19 gets itself hyped.
Ivory & Jacqueline
DLC additions last year, this pair get on-disc spots for WWE 2K18, and a it's more than welcome call – the number of female alumni in the game remains one of its few weak points. 2K should now seek to add further depth than merely Ivory and Jacqueline; long-term we'd like to see Tori, Stacy Keibler and Molly Holly garner consideration too.