Wrestling video games are the perfect way to live out dream matches that are otherwise impossible thanks to the physical constraints of the real world. But what if your dream matches don’t just involve pro wrestlers, but also a range of celebrities from different industries, and varying levels of fame? Well, some pro wrestling video games have you covered on that too!
For your benefit, I’ve ranked the best of these surprise virtual appearances so you can beat up others as your favourite celebrities, or alternatively, destroy your most hated famous faces – here are the Top 10 Playable Celebrities in Wrestling Video Games.
10. Porn Stars
Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighbour wasn’t exactly the Okada vs. Omega IV of video games. For all its shortcomings though, it did offer a unique experience, along with some very strange cameos, including two real-life porn stars, Tera Patrick and Sunrise Adams. As you would expect, their outfits are scantily-clad, and their move sets include grinding their behind against their opponent, followed by a stunner. Have you ever wanted to simulate two adult film stars brawling in a shallow swimming pool? Well this is the game for you!
9. Carmen Electra
From the set of Baywatch to virtually fighting women in New York, Carmen Electra certainly isn’t somebody you’d expect to find in a wrestling game, especially one that uses the legendary AKI engine.
In Def Jam: Fight for NY, this famous actress and model turns up in a nightclub to challenge your character’s girlfriend to a fight in order to win your affection (because that’s how love works on the mean streets of New York). You seriously decide who you date in this game based on which one you’d rather win the fight. Carmen Electra’s appearance in such a violent, hip hop wrestling game is almost as questionable as the treatment of women within it.
8. MMA Fighters
MMA fighters crossing into the world of pro wrestling certainly isn’t an uncommon thing, as we’ve seen with Minoru Suzuki, Ken Shamrock, and most recently, Ronda Rousey, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that the Virtual Pro Wrestling Series in the late 90s included several MMA fighters, despite none of them having any pro wrestling experience at the time.
Legends like Rickson Gracie, Bas Rutten (before transitioning into wrestling), Guy Mezger and Kazuo Takahashi were all available to grapple with the best talents Japan and WCW had to offer at the time. As there weren’t any dedicated MMA games at the time, Virtual Pro Wrestling was quite the pioneer, and one of the reasons why it is so revered to this day.
7. Many, MANY Rappers
When WCW folded in 2001, video game company AKI, known for producing classic wrestling games like WWF No Mercy and the aforementioned Virtual Pro Wrestling, was creating a video game for the failing company. With no assets left to utilise other than their amazingly fun game engine, AKI turned to the world of hip hop of all things to create a crossover almost as epic as Infinity War.
Def Jam Vendetta and Def Jam: Fight for NY were wrestling video games (the latter was more of a street brawler, yet still kept the AKI engine and wrestling moves, so most people still class it as a wrestling game) featuring hip hop artists signed to the Def Jam record label as playable characters, along with many fictional grapplers. Included within these games were some of the biggest names in hip hop at the time, including Flava Flav, Snoop Dogg, Sean Paul, Xzibit, Lil’ Kim, DMX, Ludacris, and Wu-Tang Clan members, Ghostface Killa, Redman and Method Man.
I definitely shouldn’t have been playing these super violent games as a kid, yet they are arguably the most surprisingly brilliant wrestling games ever made. On the surface, they seem like strange, lazy licensed games designed purely to advertise the Def Jam brand, however what these games deliver is a unique experience with one hell of a game engine, interesting story modes complete with voice acting, superb soundtracks, and insane special moves.
6. Fred Durst
Limp Bizkit were so early 2000s that they even managed to invade a few video games during this era. In both WWF Smackdown!: Just Bring It and WWF RAW, lead singer Fred Durst appeared as a playable character thanks to his association with The Undertaker at the time. With no good moves and a rather cringe-worthy entrance, Durst’s novelty quickly wore off with all that played these forgettable games.
5. Andrew W.K.
WHEN IT’S TIME TO PARTY, WE WILL PARTY HARD.
You’ve all heard this early 2000s heavy metal hit, right? Well, Party Hard was enough to get Andrew W.K. a spot on the roster for Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighbourhood. Just a tip: don’t bother playing as Andrew W.K. in a wrestling game, or play Backyard Wrestling 2 at all for that matter, just listen to Party Hard and enjoy yourself.
4. Danny Trejo
Danny Trejo has a reputation for being in every kind of film and TV show imaginable, from Spy Kids to Breaking Bad, to Muppets Most Wanted. His willingness to work and his cult icon status earned Trejo a spot on the roster of Def Jam: Fight for NY. Admittedly, it’s pretty satisfying beating people up as Machete/Johnny 23/Tortuga/the bartender from Anchorman.
3. Henry Rollins (Fight for NY uses AKI engine)
Henry Rollins is a legend of punk rock music. A singer, poet, writer, actor, spoken word performer, radio host, columnist, and according to Def Jam: Fight for NY, he’s also a badass brawler that runs his own gym. Despite being from a world completely separate from hip hop, the former lead singer of Black Flag made an appearance as a playable character in this brilliant AKI-powered video game. With his iconic tattoos captured perfectly, and a great brawling move set to play about with, Rollins is always my top pick when playing this PS2 fighter.
2. Andy Kaufman
When I first played Legends of Wrestling 2, and I saw Andy Kaufman was a playable member of the roster, it instantly put a smile on my face.
Andy Kaufman was a beloved comedy actor that appeared on some of the biggest shows in America, such as Taxi and Saturday Night Live. In the early 1980s, due to his love of the sport, Kaufman regularly made appearances in Memphis-based wrestling promotions as the self-proclaimed “Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion of the World” – he would choose women randomly from the crowd, and defend his title by pinning them to the mat in an amateur wrestling style match.
His appearances caught the attention of Jerry Lawler, who began feuding with the Inter-Gender champion. The two even appeared on Late Night with David Letterman at a time where wrestling was not on nationwide television. Mid-interview, Lawler was sensing that the appearance wasn’t going as well as he hoped, so he decided to punch Kaufman in the face, something which left viewers in shock and confused as to how real the whole situation was.
The segment has gone down in wrestling history because of how groundbreaking it was, and how much exposure it brought to the business. Tragically, Kaufman died two years later in 1984 from lung cancer at the age of 35, but his contributions to comedy and wrestling were never forgotten.
Unlike every other entry on this list, Kaufman wasn’t included as a novelty or a cameo, he was included because of his contributions to professional wrestling. Kaufman was responsible for bringing this wonderful sport into a mainstream spotlight, and showed true love and dedication for the craft of pro wrestling, so it’s only appropriate that he would be honoured as a legend.
Muhammad Ali as Joe Bruiser in WCW/NWO World Tour
Insane Clown Posse in Backyard Wrestling
Colonel Sanders (Sort Of) in WWE 2K18
Crazy Legs in Def Jam: Fight for NY
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger
In recent years, 2K games has attempted to entice people into pre-ordering their annual WWE video games by offering legendary wrestlers such as Kurt Angle, Goldberg and Ultimate Warrior as pre-order bonuses. However, for 2K16, they decided to include a different kind of WWE Hall of Famer in their games – renowned body builder and actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Appearing as two different versions of his most famous character, The Terminator, Arnie’s cameos were surprising, yet awesome. Rather than an actual wrestler that should already be included in the playable roster anyway as the pre-order bonus, 2K offered something totally different that actually justified the DLC incentive. Playing as Arnold is a unique experience, and with a unique move set and high attributes, it was fun terminating opponents with the former Mr Universe.