Last week was All Elite Wrestling’s second episode of Rampage, and the entire world was watching as CM Punk made his highly-anticipated debut. Naturally, the first thing I wanted to do was run downstairs, fire up the PlayStation 5, and play an AEW video game. But with no “true” AEW game currently on the market to hold me over, and the last several years to think about the perfect wrestling video game, I thought it would be fitting to put together my AEW video game wishlist.
So, here is everything I want to see in AEW’s debut wrestling game.
AEW Video Game Wishlist
There have been many prestigious wrestling video games over the course of history. Some gamers prefer the simplicity of Wrestlefest (RetroMania), While others may look at the original SmackDown or WCW Mayhem games and prefer that gameplay style. There may even be a few people that prefer the three- or four-button combos that we all remember frantically trying to master from the WWF War Zone and Attitude. But for me, there have always been two wrestling games that stood out above and beyond the rest.
Those two series are Fire Pro Wrestling and WWF No Mercy/WrestleMania 2000/WCW/nWo Revenge. And while I respect and love everything about the Fire Pro series (I plan to have an article on this soon), the games that have always held a special place in my heart, and the games that sit alone at the top of the mountain are the ones that were developed by AKI/Yuke’s. They are the kings of the virtual ring.
Based on the early footage and what we know about the game, The SUPER ELITE agrees.
For me, an updated version of No Mercy is everything I could ask for, and something wrestling fans have hoped for since the aforementioned debut on November 17, 2000 on the Nintendo 64. And after seeing early footage for AEW’s game, Kenny Omega and The ELITE seem to agree. Because everything about the trailer gives off that old-school WWF No Mercy vibe — and I must say, I’m here for it.
I’ll go into more details about the graphics and overall look and feel of the game, but this is 21 years later so the game should look a little more advanced than what we had become accustomed to with No Mercy. But to this day, that remains the elite wrestling video game, and in my opinion, the one with the best gameplay. The simplistic grappling system made it easy for fans to pick up, but yet so refined, with each wrestler possessing an array of moves.
Let’s not forget the counter system, which was beyond its years. It really is hard to explain without the N64 controller in my hands, but that was the pinnacle of wrestling video games.
— AEW Games (@AEWGames) June 17, 2021
Despite being a newer brand of professional wrestling, AEW has done a great job building a roster that fans care about. Yes, we all knew who Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, Brodie Lee (RIP), and Sting were before all this started. But as AEW has slowly transitioned into must-see TV on Wednesday nights (and now Friday nights), so too has the roster. I’m not going to sit here and list all of AEW’s roster because that could take a long time. But take a look at what the roster could look like.
Current AEW champions*
- Hangman Adam Page
- Jon Moxley
- Matt Hardy
- Chris Jericho
- Hikaru Shida
- Kenny Omega*
- Rey Fenix
- Miro *
- Young Bucks*
- Darby Allin
- Orange Cassidy
- Lance Archer
- Rey Fenix
- Bryan Cage
- Ricky Starks
- The Dark Order
- Jade Cargill
- Kris Statlander
- Cody Rhodes
- Britt Baker MD*
- Brandi Rhodes
- Dustin Rhodes
- Nyla Rose
- Jake Hager
- Orange Cassidy
- Sammy Guevara
- CM Punk
- & more!
Note: There are currently 100+ wrestlers on AEW’s official roster, and there is speculation a few big names may be coming in the next few months!
There are still so many more superstars than what I listed. But can you imagine the wrestler selection screen broken down by factions in the same way that No Mercy was? I mark out just thinking about it, but it’s true. AEW does a great job with its stables. Whether it’s The Dark Order, The Pinnacle, Super Elite, Inner Circle, Death Triangle, Team Taz, Best Friends, the Nightmare family, or the endless list of tag teams, that is what wrestling is all about. They even do a good job of including valets and superstars of old to accompany their talent to the ring.
And who could forget the current cross-promotions with Impact Wrestling and New Japan? Kenny Omega has made it clear his goal is to hold ALL the gold (but for how long), and The Forbidden Door has already been opened. There’s so much potential here to truly give fans one of the biggest and most diverse rosters in wrestling gaming history.
Best of all, Omega himself has said he wants to update the game in real-time. So, fans shouldn’t have to wait a few months to get Omega’s attire from Double or Nothing, or Miro’s TNT title attire before he threw Darby Allin’s lifeless body across the ring. Omega knows what gamers want. After all, he’s a gamer himself. And with one of the greatest minds in the history of wrestling video games in his corner as an advisor (Hideyuki “Geta” Iwashita), I’m not going to doubt how great this game could potentially be.
One thing that could push AEW games over the edge is their unique and growing list of match types.
Besides strong gameplay and a lengthy roster of wrestlers, nothing is more important in a video game than match types. Most wrestling video games have the standard match types and specialty types we know and understand at this point. But AEW could choose to go beyond that. I remember repurchasing an ECW game in the fifth grade because they promised to have inferno matches. Needless to say, the game was rubbish, but the unique match types literally made me buy the game. And AEW’s debut game should be no different.
After Double or Nothing, TIAA Bank Field has now hosted not one but two iconic wrestling matches. TIAA Bank Field, for those that don’t know, is home to the Jacksonville Jaguars. In this match, two teams of five battle in a falls count anywhere anything goes match that literally takes place all over the stadium.
We have seen wrestlers fight in the crowd, the corridor, the parking lot, the swimming pool, the 50-yard line, the locker room, suites, bars, and even Urban Meyer’s office. There really is nothing off-limits, and in a stadium that holds 68K people, the possibilities are endless. This is the second year in a row we’ve had the pleasure to watch a Stadium Stampede match. Could this become the next AEW yearly tradition?
Yes, translating this to a video game might be a bit difficult, but we’ve seen games throughout history successfully pull off a transition from one backstage environment to another. This is usually done by whipping your opponent, but there have been other ways. Nevertheless, this is a game mode I’m begging to see.
Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch
Everyone became intrigued when they heard Kenny Omega was going to end Jon Moxley in an exploding barbed wire deathmatch. I mean, what isn’t there to love about a gruesome match that sees the traditional ropes swapped out for barbed wire. Best of all, every time a wrestler is whipped into the ropes, explosives go off, and in this match in particular, Kenny Omega had several “traps” around the ring. Giving users the option to set weapons and traps up around the ring accordingly like Action Arcade Wrestling would be ideal — and would give gamers so many options.
No exploding barbed wire deathmatch can be complete without Moxley’s signature barbed wire baseball bat or Omega’s barbed wire wrapped broom. The end of the match can even conclude with an actual dangerous explosion (unlike the real match) since it’s only a video game. Being able to include an exploding barbed wire deathmatch in a wrestling video game will give even the most casual fans a reason to play.
Blood And Guts
Wrestling fans waited patiently for Blood and Guts for over a year, and the match did not disappoint. Here are the rules.
- Two men enter the cage for one five-minute round
- Then every two minutes, another participant enters
- Match officially begins after all ten men have entered the cage
- The winning team is determined by making any opponent submit or surrender (no pinfalls, no count outs, or by escaping the cage)
The first Blood and Guts match between the Pinnacle and Inner Circle did not disappoint. This match is a must for an AEW game and something I think will become a yearly tradition in All Elite Wrestling. Plus, have we ever had a “true” War Games match type in a video game?
Casino Ladder Match/Casino Battle Royale
These two match types have been around for a long time. But one thing AEW does an excellent job of is making these matches count. They give these matches purpose and save them for special occasions. In fact, besides a tag team titles match, All Elite Wrestling has saved the ladder match for their yearly PPV event. This year, a giant ring (like something out of a Sonic the Hedgehog dream) dangled from the rafters as 10 competitors battled for a shot at the TNT Championship.
The Casino Battle Royale, which last took place at Double or Nothing, was for a shot at the AEW Championship. In this match, players draw cards prior to the event. As the match begins, wrestlers flock to the ring in waves of four (based on suit). The wrestler that draws the joker card is the final participant.
Both match types should find their way into AEW’s wrestling simulation, with the chance at a title shot more prominent in story mode.
I’m not sure we will ever see another match like this in All Elite Wrestling, so maybe it’s not something the developers should spend a whole lot of time and resources on. But if you’re asking me whether or not I’d select a Mimosa Mayhem match, where a huge swimming pool of champagne and orange juice is waiting patiently at ringside to entrench its next victim in its nectar of the gods, then the answer is yes. Absolutely.
Other potential match types include Arcade Anarchy, Tooth and Nail match, Cracker Barrel Clash, Lights Out Match, and a Bull Rope Match.
Graphics And Presentation
Based on early footage, AEW’s wrestling video game probably won’t redefine how wrestling video games look. But that’s okay. For me, I almost prefer the more unique, blocky style of wrestlers — like we’ve become accustomed to seeing in those N64 games of the past. This takeaway is also based on extremely early footage of the game, so there is a possibility the game will still have that next-gen feel to it. Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that we care more about the core gameplay, match types, and other key elements than we do whether or not you can see Kenny Omega’s facial hair grow in real-time. Or every ripple in Chris Jericho’s aging body. You get the point.
The graphics are nice, but the reason we loved the wrestling video games of old went well beyond the aesthetics. Sometimes all fans really want is a game that plays great and represents the sport to the fullest degree. That is what we want to see from All Elite Wrestling.
I won’t go into great detail about what PPV and TV arenas/stadiums I specifically want to see in the game, but for me, “the more the merrier” is always the saying. Arenas for all the PPVs, Dynamite, Rampage, Elevation, and Dark are only the beginning. Then we have all of the special Dynamites like Bash at the Beach, the Jericho Cruise, Fyter Fest — the list goes on and on. Again, give us every unique ring/arena that we’ve been blessed with throughout AEW’s duration, equipped with fully functional poker chips and an entrance ramp.
Story Mode + Online Play
This is where things get tricky and ultimately where some of the more recent wrestling installments have failed.
I hate to always go back to No Mercy, but they really did an outstanding job of setting the bar for what the future of wrestling video games should be. For those that don’t remember, No Mercy‘s story mode was broken down by titles. For example, each belt had its own unique story mode — and I believe they had several paths based on the decisions you make. Kenny Omega has already confirmed a “campaign mode” but how that stacks up against previous single-player game modes is yet to be determined.
Another game that had one of the better season modes is SmackDown 2. I remember being able to play year after year after year. There would sometimes be new cutscenes that I would discover, and ultimately, it was the most time I’ve ever devoted to a wrestling game. Finding a way to add a season or franchise mode that keeps things fresh and allows gamers the opportunity to play five or more seasons with a wrestler would be nice.
I had one other thought for story mode: What if the story derives from Kenny Omega’s current title reign? He wants to be the belt collector, traveling from promotion to promotion. With every belt your wrestler acquires, the difficulty gets harder and more is asked of you. You can have your Bullet Club or faction that comes to your aid, but every choice along the way has a consequence. Heck, you could even go back to when he and Hangman Page held the tag titles. There’s a lot of different avenues the team could go.
The first thing wrestling fans want when it comes to online play is a smooth experience. If you’re trying to throw a punch or block and there’s any lag, the entire game is thrown off. This has been the issue in the past and something AEW will have to try to reinvent if they want fans to experience the game with their friends and other gamers around the world.
Another thing I’d really like to see implemented is cross-platform play. Beyond that, please, make it easy for gamers to share created wrestlers and other user-created content. Lastly, the biggest ask is to find a way to implement “online leagues” or “promotions” for people to join. I’m not entirely sure how this would work, but I believe gamers had to jot down their weekly wrestling cards and storylines manually in the past.
All of that might be asking a bit much, especially in the first game. But a smooth experience that gives users full control over the match is ideally what I’m hoping to see from day one. The truth is, I’ve played every wrestling game under the sun, and it has always been nearly impossible online to have a fun experience that gives gamers reason to keep coming back again and again.
It would have been unjust for me to discuss my wishlist for the official AEW video game without reminding the developers how important it is for a sports game — especially a wrestling video game — to have a seamless and thorough create-a-wrestler mode. It sounds like Kenny Omega wants to keep AEW’s wrestling game as realistic and up to date as possible. But even still, fans will surely want to create their favorite WWE superstars — truly opening up The Forbidden Door. How easy it is for players to upload and download wrestlers will be critical as well.
Here’s what Kenny Omega said about CAW on the first episode of AEW Games 2.Show.
“Absolutely. One of those favorite modes, aside from people wanting to take the role of their favorite wrestler, people want to create their own wrestler. Sometimes they want to create something wacky or something that looks like themselves or a wrestler in another promotion. We’re going to give you the opportunity to do that because we understand it’s one of the most fun parts of these games. We’re going to make sure it’s robust and a lot of options and maneuvers to add to your character. We’ve placed that as a high priority.”
I know this is a long list of demands for a video game we don’t know a lot about. In fact, it’s probably a bit much. But with All Elite Wrestling’s continued success, I really had to put all of my thoughts to paper. After all, this is not only the most excited I’ve been for a wrestling video game in years, but this might be the most excited I’ve been for any sports video game in quite some time.
The truth is, while many other companies may have floundered, All Elite Wrestling is steadily rising. They have their wrestling action figures and countless merchandising options. But the one thing All Elite Wrestling is missing that could set the company apart from the competition is a video game. The roster is there and the match types are ever-evolving. Now we are just waiting for the wrestling video game of our dreams. Will AEW’s No Mercy simulation game deliver?