In many ways, video games are the perfect platform for the grand drama of professional wrestling.
Sure, a lot of pro wrestling is “fake” insofar as wrestlers will often communicate moves to one another and storylines are planned ahead of time, but there’s still plenty of potential for real physical injury, and it remains an intensely dangerous and exciting sport to watch.
The melodramatic, infinitely compelling storylines are just the cherry on the pro wrestling cake, and what better way to experience them, as well as everything else great that wrestling has to offer, than through gaming?
Here are our 10 favourite PS4 wrestling games that you can check out right now. A quick note: some of these may no longer be available on the PlayStation Store, but you should be able to hunt them down if you look for a physical copy.
1. WWE 2K23
Continuing the run of form started with last year’s WWE 2K22, the series’ latest instalment is another example of THQ’s redemption arc.
With a story mode in which you play through the career of John Cena (and, rather uniquely, attempt to take him down by playing as his opponents), as well as plenty of multiplayer modes and lots of extra content, WWE 2K23 is the ultimate wrestling fan’s dream, so let’s hope that 2K and Visual Concepts can keep pulling it out of the bag for future instalments.
2. WWE 2K22
This is the game that restored a fanbase’s faith in its developers.
Prior to WWE 2K22’s release, the last mainline WWE 2K game had been the utterly execrable WWE 2K20, which you won’t see on this list. Frankly, you’re better off playing an old-school WWE 2K game than revisiting that one.
Luckily, Visual Concepts and 2K managed to pull off a real heel-face turn with WWE 2K22, which was a much less glitchy, much more feature-rich proposition with all of the things wrestling fans loved included.
Whether you’re after a wrestling game with a different roster of stars or you simply want to break out of the confines of 2K’s WWE series, AEW Fight Forever is a serious contender.
It might not be quite as polished as the WWE 2K games (which feels odd to say, given their reputation for glitchiness), but it’s a scrappy go-getter with plenty of modes and customisation options. If you miss the feel of the chunky N64 wrestling games of yore, you should check this one out.
If you’re looking for a more arcadey, less realistic take on professional wrestling, then Fire Pro Wrestling World is the game for you.
This game may not have the flashy graphics or high budget of WWE 2K or even AEW Fight Forever, but that frees it up to heavily emphasise customisation, which is arguably the best element of any wrestling game.
Every single wrestler in the game can be heavily customised, as can many other elements, including the very ring in which the bouts take place.
Continuing on a theme of retro wrestling games with a strong emphasis on arcade-style gameplay, here’s RetroMania Wrestling, which will surely make you nostalgic for pro wrestling’s halcyon days.
With 2D spritework taking the place of 3D models, RetroMania Wrestling isn’t going to wow anyone in the graphics department, but its gameplay is fast, fun, and zippy, and it’s got 16 playable characters, including legends like Tommy Dreamer and Animal, among others.
Boy, there really is no shortage of arcade-style wrestling games for the PS4, huh?
Action Arcade Wrestling bills itself as “the most over-the-top wrestling game ever conceived”, and when you check it out for yourself, you’ll probably find yourself agreeing.
This is very much not intended as a realistic simulation; it’s a game that emphasises the ridiculous and fun elements of pro wrestling, and the customisation is incredibly extensive too, making this one great for a night or two of pure entertainment with your friends.
7. WWE 2K19
It’s such a shame that WWE 2K20 turned out to be the disaster that it was on launch, because WWE 2K19 was such a promising game.
Boasting a much-improved gameplay engine over the already-great WWE 2K18, 2K19 brought in Daniel Bryan for the showcase mode, as well as introducing the excellent Tower Mode.
To put it simply, if you want to know what the glory era of WWE 2K games looked like before the tragic fall that was WWE 2K20, then WWE 2K19 is your best bet.
8. WWE 2K18
It stands to reason that 2K would keep improving its craft over the course of the WWE 2K series, and such was the case with WWE 2K18, which was itself a huge improvement over the previous year’s instalment.
There was nothing earth-shatteringly new on offer here, but what was included was polished to a mirror sheen, and edges that critics and players had noticed in WWE 2K17 were sanded down, creating a palatable and enjoyable wrestling title. It wasn’t going to set the world on fire, but at that point, wrestling fans just wanted consistency.
9. WWE 2K15
As the first WWE 2K game available on what was then the new generation of consoles (i.e. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One), WWE 2K15 showed what Sony and Microsoft’s new graphics tech could do for sports sims.
With wrestler likenesses feeling more realistic and true to life than ever, as well as a tweaked and improved gameplay engine that boasted a superior feel to WWE 2K14, the future looked bright for WWE 2K15. How little it knew about the monster the series was to spawn in just a few short years.
As a publisher, 2K is known for the microtransactions it often includes in its games, and unfortunately, WWE 2K Battlegrounds was no exception to this rule.
While the game itself is a fun, solid arcade brawler packed with over-the-top action to enjoy, the fact is that the monetisation and paywall-heavy nature of the unlockable material in the game makes it a slightly tough sell.
If you can get past those egregious microtransactions, WWE 2K Battlegrounds is worth a look. Just don’t expect to get too much bang for your buck.