We all love a good old wrestling game. Whether it’s the simple yet perfect control scheme of WWF No Mercy, Here Comes the Pain’s story mode, or the 2K games vast range of content, there are plenty of great grappling games to please any video game fan. However, just like every other genre, there are plenty of bad wrestling video games. For every Fire Pro Wrestling or SVR 2006, there’s a WCW Backstage Assault or WWF Steel Cage Challenge. But there’s this weird thing about wrestling video games: no matter how bad they are, there’s always some kind of joy to be had out of them. Whether it’s the ridiculous features they have or simply just laughing at how terrible the whole thing is, bad wrestling games provide plenty of entertainment for true fans. So if you’re looking for a bad game to fall in love with, look no further than these: here are my Top 5 Wrestling Video Games so Bad, they’re Good.
5. Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighbourhood
The Backyard Wrestling games always intrigued me as a kid. I never had a chance to play them, but I always noticed them sitting on shelves in game shops, enticing me with the promises of hardcore wrestling action. After years of waiting to discover the treasures that lie within those game disks, it’s fair to say I wasn’t exactly blown away. However, don’t let that discourage you. Sure, they’re plenty of better wrestling games out there, but there is still some pleasure to be had for any fans of the graps.
Featuring a roster of wrestlers from ECW, XPW, and CZW, including New Jack, John “JEEEEESSSSUUUSSS!””Zandig, and The Sandman, you’ll have plenty of hardcore stars to battle against using your CAW. With unique environments, Def Jam Vendetta-esque finishing moves, a story mode, and a range of unique foreign objects, Backyard Wrestling 2 is a decent game with a gritty charm.
4. WWF RAW
This original Xbox exclusive is not a good game in any sense of the word, but much like Matt Hardy, it’s the game’s brokenness that makes me love it. Play with a friend, and you’re guaranteed to laugh at the terrible AI and dreadful controls. Oh, and you can use a baseball cap as a weapon, and then wear it – that’s a whole day of fun right there.
3. The Simpsons Wrestling
I don’t understand quite why this game receives the criticism it does. Sure, it’s not the best game I’ve ever played, but the charm of seeing a wrestling ring in some of my favourite environments from the town of Springfield, as well as some of the references and characters included, will always have a place inside my heart. A word of warning though, this game WILL make you hate Bumblebee Man and Ned Flanders thanks to their overpowered special moves (until you unlock them that is, then you’ll never stop using them).
2. WCW Nitro and Thunder
The gameplay in these two PS1 games will give you some delight and laughter purely because of how terrible it is, and the ridiculous amount of run-ins that occur, but the true magic in these games happens before the matches even begin. Every single WCW talent included in the game, regardless of how high up the card they were, cuts a promo on you on the wrestler select screen to tell you why you should or shouldn’t select them in a mini FMV clip. Highlights include Randy Savage at full-on Macho, Ultimo Dragon talking down the lens in Japanese, Alex Wright describing himself simply as “The German”, and Roddy Piper just generally being mental.
The fun doesn’t stop there though. Go passed all of the legit wrestlers, and you’ll find something wonderful. The true highly of these games are the weirdest hidden bonus characters in possibly any video game ever made. Here are just some of the ‘wrestlers’ you can select in this unassuming licensed wrestling video game: a snowman, a human-sized bee, an ant, a horse, a scuba diver, a robot with an old 90s computer for a head, an astronaut, a cow, a giant praying mantis, and even a star fish. A FUCKING STAR FISH. Even if the gameplay itself isn’t quite up to other wrestling titles available at the time, it’s certain that the novelty of beating up Hollywood Hogan with a giant snowman will not get old any time soon.
WCW Mayhem – The gameplay is slow, boring, and at times, extremely frustrating, but you can create a completely invisible CAW in this game, so that should keep you entertained for 15 minutes.
ECW Anarchy Rulz – The engine used in this game was already out of date when it was first released, yet it’s the only wrestling game where you can play as ECW-era Dusty Rhodes and actually murder other wrestlers by throwing them into lava in a Blistering Brimstone match. The appeal of this game will wear off rather quickly, but it will be fun while it lasts.
Hulk Hogan’s Main Event – The Kinect is probably the most disappointing piece of technology I’ve ever owned, and just like every single other game ever released for the hardware, Hulk Hogan’s Main Event is no WWF No Mercy that’s for sure. However, there is still bound to be a lovely sense of childish glee bubbling inside you as you pretend to do wrestling moves on your own, probably in your pants, and your CAW performs them on-screen. Far from a masterpiece, but good for some temporary pleasure.
- Wrestlemania XIX
I’ve already written at length about this game twice, once in my list of the Weirdest Inclusions in Wrestling Video Games, and in my Top 10 Story Modes in Wrestling Video Games, so it should be no surprise that I adore this game’s strange charm. As a standard wrestling game, it’s nothing to get too excited about, and yet, it’s nothing too terrible either – it’s just average. However, once you start to play Revenge Mode, that’s when the fun really starts.
It begins with your chosen or created superstar being fired by Big Bad Vinny Mac, and literally thrown out of the building. With the help of Stephanie McMahon, you exact your revenge on the chairman by travelling to various locations in order to halt the preparation and construction of McMahon’s flagship show, WrestleMania. You destroy WWE property, blow up a skyscraper, crash a barge, wreck cars and buildings with just your bare fists, all without a wrestling ring in sight. That’s right, the story mode in what seems like a bog-standard WWE game named after an actual Wrestlemania has basically no wrestling in it.
Big Vin isn’t exactly happy with you destroying his empire, so he sends hordes of WWE Superstars and random employees (construction workers, security guards, secret agents, etc) to try and stop you; there are even boss battles with the likes of Bartender Bismark, Agent 999, and the Master Builder. As we’re not in the squared circle anymore, a simple three count will no longer suffice – the only way to eliminate your opponents is to pretty much kill them. I’m not even exaggerating, you have to beat them down, and then proceed to either throw them off skyscrapers, or into deep water so they drown! There’s even a level where the sole objective is to throw your opponents in the path of moving cars. Let me repeat that, THE OBJECTIVE OF A LEVEL IN A WWE GAME IS TO THROW INNOCENT PEOPLE JUST TRYING TO DO THEIR JOBS IN FRONT OF MOVING CARS!!!
Once you’ve caused millions of dollars in property damage and become a mass murderer, Vince finally agrees to face you at WrestleMania XIX (meaning that all of your efforts didn’t stop the show going ahead whatsoever). So in the main mode of a wrestling game, there is only one actual wrestling match, and it’s the easiest, most anti-climactic final boss in wrestling video game history. The man with the giant grapefruits barely puts up a fight, and you can clinch a victory within around 3 minutes.
Revenge Mode is unlike any mode in any wrestling game that I’ve ever played – it essentially turns the game into a Beat ‘Em Up. It’s so terrible and ridiculous (sumo wrestlers and secret agents try to prevent you from destroying fixtures in a mall, it’s fucking crazy) in a game that seems to be so serious and mainstream at first glance, that is simply glorious. Obviously Revenge Mode is an absolutely terrible idea, but that’s why it’s so brilliant. You’ll spend the entirety of your playthrough questioning if it is actually real, and giggling to yourself as you throw Goldberg off a crane or Rob Van Dam in front of a moving limousine. Although Wrestlemania XIX is completely bonkers, and understandably not to everyone’s taste, it’s so wonderfully bad that you won’t be able to stop yourself from falling in love with it.