This is part two of a countdown exploring superstars who deserve to make an appearance in the upcoming WWE 2K20. Criteria for this list included their previous appearances in WWE games, their fit in the current product or modes, and their influence on the world of wrestling.
20. Steiner Brothers
What’s that scoff? Scott Steiner hates WWE? Rick Steiner is a real estate agent? I’ve learned not to doubt the powers of 2K to perform the impossible.
Legit collegiate stars from the University of Michigan, the Steiners broke onto the scene as an immensely popular combination throughout several promotions. With Scott’s incredible physique (even before he decided his muscles needed muscles) and the tenacity of Rick, they were one of the most entertaining tag teams of all time.
After traveling the world for several years, the duo settled in at WCW for a notable run and were pivotal members of Team WCW during the wars with the Outsiders of the nWo. Inevitably, the storyline that eventually visits most tag teams arrived with the brothers beginning a feud with one another. Scott’s ever-changing appearance saw him trade his mullet and letter jacket for a blonde buzz cut and a new attitude.
This new and temperamental version of Scott Steiner is the one most fans will remember, and so that version would also be a welcome addition to the 2K roster. However, it’s the brothers as a unit that garners the most nostalgia for fans. Whether visually represented by their early days or the twilight of WCW, Big Poppa Pump and the Dogface Gremlin will light a Universe Mode’s tag team division on fire.
Stand back. Becoming one of the breakout stars of the early 2000s, the superhero gimmick of the Hurricane stands out in the memories of fans of a certain era. A comedic wrestler with some big moments, his character was pure fun and excitement.
Gregory Shane Helms first got real exposure during the latter years of WCW. He was that promotion’s final holder of its illustrious Cruiserweight Championship and was one of the contracts the then-WWF decided to activate after the company was purchased. Quickly finding his footing as Hurricane, he began a fantastic program with The Rock, even managing to pin him after a distraction. Their backstage segments remain some of the best comedy WWE has ever produced.
Hurricane would later take on sidekicks such as Rosey, Super Stacy (Stacy Keibler) and Mighty Molly (Molly Holly). While each of these heroes had their moments, there was something to the emerald original. His current role as a backstage producer has provided more recent, albeit out of shape appearances (what’s up with that?), but in the world of WWE 2K he can be whipped back into heroic form.
18. Michelle McCool
More recent fans may be a bit too young to know who that tall woman was who had a dominant performance in the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match in 2018 and made an appearance in the WWE Evolution battle royale. That would be Michelle McCool, one of the top female superstars of the late 2000s.
Largely known for her run in the duo LayCool (along with Layla), the pair tore a Mean Girls’ path through the WWE at a time when women’s wrestling was starting to plant the seeds of something more serious. Fading out were the Divas Searches and in were more talented performers in a division that Michelle would remain at the forefront of for some time.
Michelle’s striking look would make for an excellent roster addition to WWE 2K20. A woman who bridged two eras, participating in a bra and panties match at the beginning of her run, and towards the end participating in the first women’s tag team tables match, McCool’s potential matchups would be plentiful. Whether it’s the group of women she just missed out on, or the “evolution” of today, Michelle McCool deserves to be among their ranks.
17. Jeff Jarrett
I sat and shook my head slowly, in disbelief. There on my television were Road Dogg reprising his role as the Roadie, and Double J himself, Jeff Jarrett, weaving through a Hall of Fame crowd singing With My Baby Tonight like it’s a 1995 pay-per-view. Well, anything can happen in the WWE (like them both forgetting the words to the song).
And so it did, with the return of the guitar-toting Jeff Jarrett after a long exile from Vince McMahon’s general field of vision following a contract dispute in 1999. Afterwards he would find himself with a championship run in the flailing WCW, before turning his attention to the development of TNA as a new promotion.
After stints with Mexico’s AAA organization and even New Japan’s Bullet Club, Jeff Jarrett would be invited to be inducted into WWE’s 2018 Hall of Fame class. And that’s where I come in, with a perpetual state of head shaking as I witness Vince McMahon and Jeff Jarrett embrace. It continued on the following Raw as the Jarrett-inspired Elias stood toe to toe with Double J. Life is weird sometimes, and we should take advantage. Let’s bring Jeff Jarrett, that magnificent song and the ability to have a guitar-off with Elias to WWE 2K20.
16. Road Warriors
The world of professional wrestling has a lot of insider terms, all of which sound like things only a close-knit family can come up with. Every so often you get something like “Dusty finish’” oftentimes used with fondness over the association with a well-respected personality in that world.
And when you blow the roof off of an arena with the crowd’s reaction just because your music hits? Well, that’s called a “Road Warrior pop” and it is named after arguably the most legendary tag team of all time.
Road Warriors Hawk and Animal were synonymous with success wherever in the world they were due to their imposing features, face paint, spiked shoulder pads and attitudes in tow. Their finishing maneuver, the Doomsday Device, remains one of the most devastating finishers in tag team wrestling. They’re the team you think of every time you’re looking for tag teams to select in-game, and consistently the most popular tag team created in the community downloads.
At WrestleMania XIV, Hawk and Animal returned after an absence from WWE. Now managed by Sunny, they received, what else? A Road Warrior pop. Just like then, I want my speakers to explode from the crowd reaction and I want to annihilate the competition. What a rush, indeed.
15. Masked Legends
This list started with roughly 300 names, and in working it down I found time and time again that the wrestlers I couldn’t remove were those who had dawned a mask. But who to include? The fiery Juventud Guerrera? The chairman La Parka? The legendary Ultimo Dragon? The fearless Psicosis? The pioneering Mil Mascaras? The timeless El Santo?
Why not all of the above? With the resurgence of cruiserweight wrestling in the WWE after the Cruiserweight Classic and the steadily improving 205 Live, it’s hard not to wonder about some of the possibilities here.
Guerrera was an immense young competitor who helped anchor WCW’s cruiserweight division. Although he was eventually unmasked, his battles with Rey Mysterio under the mask were a spectacle. La Parka was an incredibly entertaining dancing man in a skeleton suit who always brought a chair to the ring, no matter the occasion.
Google Ultimo Dragon and you’ll find a man draped in gold from every corner of the world. Dragon is an immense talent who would excel against the innovative artists today. Psicosis provided a consistent backbone throughout his career, and always seemed to want to go one step further.
Mil Mascaras is the first man to wear a mask in Madison Square Garden, and paved the way for other Mexican and Japanese masked stars to come to America and connect with an audience without them knowing a face. And El Santo, a modern-day folk hero in Mexico, was a beloved figure all his own. Buried in his trademark silver mask, he transcended the ring and became a pop culture phenomenon.
Finally, if Rey Mysterio is the greatest masked wrestler of all time, then he barely edged out one last performer to get there.
Jushin Thunder Liger is one of the most respected professional wrestlers of all time, and the longest tenured in New Japan having performed there since 1984. He has made appearances in WCW and WWE, most recently at the first NXT Takeover: Brooklyn where he defeated Tyler Breeze as a special guest. Liger’s inclusion would be the feather in the cap of this exciting group.
14. Gail Kim
As with Scott Steiner, never say never. Gail Kim was an underappreciated talent long before her time in WWE. Although she attained instant success in winning the Women’s Championship, she would find herself unhappy in a world where athleticism took a backseat to eye candy.
Still, her ability shone through in spite of the circumstances, and she is another who would blend right in with the current division. Though now retired and inducted into TNA’s Hall of Fame, she very obviously would not be the first to have a disgruntled relationship with the WWE and return from like the likes of TNA.
A fire-cracker performer with a unique style, Kim deserves more respect than she ever got. Let’s right that wrong and include her in WWE 2K20.
13. Four Horsemen
The Four Horsemen have seen many iterations over the years, notably transforming several times in the mid-90s WCW. However, it’s the most famous incarnation that ran roughshod over the NWA, and the group that was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2012, that warrants inclusion.
One member is already perennially present, that being the incomparable Ric Flair. The others, Barry Windham, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and their manager J.J. Dillon, have seen sporadic appearances in video games, but have never been fully featured in the sort of broadcast package that a modern WWE game can offer.
The Four Horsemen would fit nicely with the stable creation tool in Universe Mode, providing a plethora of possibilities for them to dominate together or eventually splinter, only to rise again. This is a group auspiciously missing from WWE games, and Ric Flair deserves his earliest of running buddies.
12. Bob Backlund
One of the most enduring personalities to work under the McMahon banner, Bob Backlund is an athlete who commanded the wrestling world’s attention at one time. The WWE Champion from 1977 to 1983, he would bridge the gap from the era of Pedro and Bruno to the era of Hulkamania.
Backlund, well known for his outstanding physical conditioning, ran the show at Madison Square Garden as Vince Jr. took the reins from Vince Sr. and began a new vision for the company. The vision would require Backlund, who had grown a bit stale as an All-American and pure type of grappler, to transition the championship to the Iron Sheik. This would pave the way for Hulk Hogan’s meteoric rise and the rocket launch of wrestling in the 1980s.
But it’s important to remember that Backlund carried the company to that point, and that was not without reason. Appearing occasionally in WWE storylines such as his 1994 feud with Bret Hart and his more recent run to “Make Darren Young Great Again,” Backlund still commands awe from fans of a certain generation.
His lack of gaming appearances is due to the era in which he wrestled, but his warm relationship with the McMahon family should provide the opportunity for him to turn back the clock in WWE 2K20.
11. Gorgeous George
Before Hogan’s electric entrances, before Flair’s stylin’ and profilin’, Before Superstar Billy Graham taunted crowds and even before Bruno owned the Garden, there was Gorgeous George.
At only 5-foot-9, George made one of the biggest impacts in professional wrestling as we know and see it today. He helped to define what we know as a ‘heel’, the dastardly character who could incite riots within any arena he stepped. Often screaming at referees to not to touch him with their filthy hands, George’s antics and flamboyance shocked audiences of the time.
As television became more popular during his rise, the hate for him spread like wildfire. Strutting to the ring with a large bottle of perfume and magnificent robes, it’s easy to trace his influence to characters such as Rick Martel, Ric Flair, Rick Rude (all the Ricks), Bobby Roode and more.
His use of entrance music was innovative, with Pomp and Circumstance accompanying his air of arrogance to the ring, a number Randy Savage would later employ. Gorgeous George’s rippling effect is almost unmatched in the industry, and his inclusion in WWE 2K20 would be long, long overdue.
What do you think of the list so far? Who would you like to see make the Top 10? Who would top your list?
(All photos courtesy of WWE.com)