These wrestling games are just the worst!
I’ve taken on the unenviable task of whittling down the 10 worst wrestling games of all time. Ugly, frustrating and downright bizarre, we’ve had to endure some truly terrible wrestling games over the years.
Brace yourselves as we dive headfirst off the top rope, and into the stinking pit of wrestling mediocrity.
10. WWF Raw (Xbox, PC)
WWF RAW had the potential to be the number one contender in the wrestling game world. Even by today’s standards, the game holds up remarkably well – in the graphics department, at least.
Unfortunately, WWF RAW was an absolute slog to play. You had to try and raise your voltage meter, which would rise and fall depending on your actions. To prevent the voltage meter from dropping, you had to vary your moves, string attacks together, and avoid taking any damage – and I mean any damage – otherwise your hard work would be quickly undone. This resulted in lengthy and frustrating matches as you see-sawed back and forth with your opponent, willing the game to end, along with your life.
9. Rumble Roses XX (Xbox 360)
A hit in Japan but derided in the West, Rumble Roses XX was a titillating wrestling game featuring an entirely female cast for the Xbox 360. It’s the 5th highest selling Xbox 360 game in Japan, apparently, which says it all.
The game’s unique selling point was the ability to wrestle as scantily clad women, which wasn’t the strongest foundation to build on, admittedly. The biggest problem with Rumble Roses XX, like so many games on this list, was that the gameplay was thoroughly mediocre. It was as though you were playing an outdated, soft porn version of SmackDown! – and if you find that appealing, you’ll love Rumble Roses XX.
8. Legends of Wrestling (GameCube, PS2, Xbox)
Legends of Wrestling rounded up the greatest wrestlers of all time, gave them comical, Johnny Bravo-esque physiques, and then attempted to ruin their legacies by shoehorning them into an awful video game. OK, that’s a bit extreme, but Legends of Wrestling was certainly an insult to wrestling fans everywhere.
The selection of superstars chosen was controversial at best, as most of the stars were from the early days of wrestling’s heyday. Unless you’d been watching wrestling since the early 80’s, chances were you’d struggle to recognise most of the cast.
The roster of old fogies fit the gameplay surprisingly well, as every action seemed to have a massive, crippling delay, as though the wrestlers were fighting in a tar pit, leading to frustrating and unappealing encounters.
I spent far too long with this stupid game and thought it had slipped my mind forever. But like any individual who experiences trauma at some stage, the mental scars from this terrible wrestling game remain, forever etched into my memory.
7. WWF In Your House (PlayStation, Sega Saturn)
What do you get if you cross Mortal Kombat and wrestling? Well, you get WWF In Your House. And no, it isn’t as good as it sounds. So don’t invite it round for tea next time, OK?
Fast-paced and frenetic, WWF In Your House played more like a bastardised, knock-off version of developer Midway’s esteemed bloody beat ‘em up. Each wrestler had ridiculous special moves and abilities, including the trademark Mortal Kombat uppercut.
The worst thing about the game, however, was the irritating sound effects that would accompany every match. It was just a barrage of incessant noise, like a stampede of wild elephants running through a Slayer concert. It’s easy to see why WWF In Your House is renowned as a headache-inducing affair.
6. Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This At Home (PS2, Xbox)
First of all, I can’t stand games that tell me what to do. What I do at home is my own business, alright? Stay out of it. Oh, and if people didn’t try wrestling at home (guilty as charged) then this game wouldn’t have existed in the first place, would it? Exactly, so back off.
Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This At Home was one of many games that thought players preferred to whack each other with weapons outside of the ring until someone eventually dies. At least that’s what would happen if you tried this at home – so yeah, maybe they’ve got a point after all.
5. WCW/nWo Thunder (PlayStation)
Credit where it’s due, WCW/nWo Thunder had the best character selection screen of any wrestling game – ever. You could watch a short, cringe-worthy clip from each wrestler as they tried to convince you to pick them, or in some cases, to avoid them entirely. I must have watched these clips more than I played the actual game, which sums up just how crap WCW/nWo Thunder was.
The graphics were truly terrible at the time, and the atmosphere from the crowd made it feel like you were wrestling in a morgue. The game was also fundamentally broken: you could quickly wear down an opponent by winning grapples repeatedly, hit them once, and then pin them within 30 seconds to win. Fun stuff.
WCW/nWo Thunder had 98 hidden characters for players to unlock, which was impressive, to say the least. It’s just a shame most of them were entirely made up, and no one could stomach the game long enough to unlock them all.
4. WCW Backstage Assault (PlayStation, N64)
Another misfire from the boys at WCW, WCW Backstage Assault left the ring behind to fight in parking lots and other vapid backstage areas.
Even though both SmackDown! and WCW Mayhem let players brawl behind the scenes as well as in the ring, WCW Backstage Assault decided that the game should revolve around these hardcore locales exclusively, with no ring in sight. And this didn’t go down well.
The game has only sold 200,000 copies to date, and its popularity wasn’t helped by the fact WCW was bought out by WWF three months later. Ouch.
3. WWE Crush Hour (PS2, GameCube)
Does this game actually exist? Better yet, who the hell gave this monstrosity the green light in the first place? “Hey, let’s put WWE wrestlers in a bunch of gas-guzzling, weaponised cars and have them fight to the death!” God have mercy.
WWE Crush Hour was a desperate stab in the dark and a blatant attempt to milk money out of gamers who may have had a passing interest in WWE. The game was essentially a mediocre homage to Twisted Metal, which is the only compliment I’m willing to give it. The cars were supposed to embody the superstars who drove them – spoiler alert: they didn’t – and they even had laughable entrances for the sorry few who were selected.
One for the scrapheap, WWE Crush Hour was the stuff of nightmares for any wrestling fan, especially when the quality of wrestling games was so low at the time.
2. Celebrity Deathmatch (PS2, Xbox, PC)
In a time where Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber reign supreme, it would be great to see the clay characters of Celebrity Deathmatch return. How else will we see this terrible trio beaten to a bloody pulp for our entertainment?
Yes, Celebrity Deathmatch was a fantastic programme to watch, but sadly the humour and unique visual style were lost in the video game adaptation. The gameplay was uninspired and descended into a dull, button mashing beat ‘em up full of gore and lowbrow jokes.
The selection of celebrities on offer was also disappointing. Highlights included Marilyn Manson, Justin Timberlake, and Jerry Springer. The game would have sold far better if it had more people the public despised – let’s hope we see Kim Kardashian as the cover star should Celebrity Deathmatch ever return.
1. The Simpsons Wrestling
Can a game make you hate wrestling and The Simpsons at the same time? Yep, The Simpsons Wrestling managed to achieve such a feat.
Widely regarded as one of the worst wrestling games in existence, and without a doubt the ugliest, The Simpsons Wrestling was a loose interpretation of the sport. Gameplay mainly involved running around an over-sized ring, spamming attacks, and special moves until you could pin your opponent, then attempt to get your money back from wherever you bought it.
The game contained many of the show’s famous characters, like Bart, Homer, and Krusty the Clown, but aside from a fairly decent audio track, which is the bare minimum you’d expect, the Simpsons’ universe did little to elevate the game in any meaningful way.
A terrible wrestling game, fit for the Treehouse of Horror, The Simpsons Wrestling tops them all.
Is it over? Phew, we made it. You’ve seen the worst, now come and see the very best. Check out the 10 best wrestling games of all time.