During the PlayStation 1 era, the infamous Monday Night Wars between the WWE and WCW was still at its peak. This meant that wrestling fans not only had two major wrestling promotions to watch or choose from but they also had two brands of wrestling games to play with too. There was the AKI developed wrestling games that covered both WCW and WWE games and then there was the rise of the Smackdown! series on the PlayStation to take up the mantle for the WWE wrestling franchise going forward.
Unfortunately, with the collapse of the WCW, the WWE had no competition with wrestling on television and this was then reflected in the video games too meaning there wasn't much to play without the WWE label on it. However, even though there wasn’t much choice on the PS2 outside of the WWE wrestling games, the console was still home to some of the best wrestling games ever made. Here are 10 of them.
10 WWE All Stars
WWE All Stars was released by THQ on the PlayStation 2, PSP, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and the Nintendo Wii in 2011. Despite being a scaled-down port of the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, the PS2 version of All Stars faired very well in the visuals department and was nearly comparable to the Wii version.
It lacked the online element of the more powerful consoles and players weren’t able to download any of the future DLC. However, for gamers looking for an entertaining beat-em-up with characters that resembled WWE action figures from the 1990s need to look no further than WWE All Stars.
9 WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2007
WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2007 was developed by Yuke’s under the THQ label in 2006 on the PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, and PSP. Despite not having the power of its more powerful counterparts the PS2 version the presentation remained intact and was one of the better-looking games on the older machine.
Smackdown vs. Raw 2007 introduced a new control method that implemented the analog stick for grappling instead of the face buttons. It was a tricky system to learn for long-time players of the franchise but the game had a more natural flow to it than previous games.
8 Def Jam: Vendetta
Def Jam: Vendetta was published by EA in 2003 for the PlayStation 2 and the GameCube. However, it was developed by the same team behind the popular Nintendo 64 wrestling games from WCW vs. nWo to WWF No Mercy.
Instead of wrestlers Def Jam: Vendetta featured famous hip hop artists under the Def Jam label like DMX, Method Man, Ludacris, and more. Despite the slightly ridiculous notion of street fighting rap stars, the excellent wrestling, and the grappling system was very similar to AKI’s licensed wrestling game with some added brutality.
7 WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 was developed by Yukes and released by THQ in 2009 for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PSP, and the Nintendo DS. Smackdown Vs. Raw 2010 was one of the first signs the series was really beginning to outgrow the aging PS2 system.
The PS2 version lacked several features found in the more powerful consoles like Create a Finisher and Superstar Threads. However, the Story Designer remained intact and offered players an incredible amount of depth to create their own WWE storylines and feuds.
6 WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 was released in 2010 on the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PSP, and the Nintendo Wii. It marked the very last time the Smackdown! series would appear on the PS2.
Thankfully, Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 was a good send-off for the machine and really pushed the aging console to its limits. The game came packed with tons of options for wrestling fans and even included the new Universe Mode alongside series staples like the Story Designer and the Road to Wrestlemania.
5 Def Jam: Fight For NY
Def Jam: Fight For NY was released for the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and the Xbox in 2004. The game was once again developed by wrestling game veterans AKI. The game featured more rap stars than its predecessor and included the likes of Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Sean Paul, and Ice-T.
The game retains its AKI momentum-based wrestling gameplay but added in more fighting styles like wrestling, street fighting, martial arts, kickboxing, and submissions. In addition, the game had a solid story mode which was unheard of for a fighting game series long before Mortal Kombat and Injustice.
4 WWE Smackdown! Vs Raw 2008
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw was released in 2007 on the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PSP, and the Nintendo Wii. Unfortunately just like the PSP and Wii versions of the game the PS2 release felt very stripped down in comparison to the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions.
The game featured improved controls from SvR 2007 and the grapple system’s Ultimate Control moves were more simple to pull off. Additionally, the chain wrestling mechanic that’s still being used to this day was executed brilliantly in the game. However, the game’s biggest draw was the use of the General Manager mode which was included as part of the new 24/7 Mode.
3 WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2006
Released in 2005 on the PlayStation 2 and PSP, WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 remains a favorite amongst wrestling fans. The game wasn’t a downgraded port of the more advanced console version released later it was designed from the ground up to make use of every resource the PS2 had available.
However, the game’s biggest feature is the General Manager mode. For the first time, the series player could now take on the role of an authority figure in the WWE and compete against the opposing brand whether that is Raw or Smackdown. It was very deep and as a management sim felt like another game that was entirely separate from everything else in the series. To this day, the GM mode is still the most requested feature that fans want to see make a return in the WWE 2K series.
2 Fire Pro Wrestling: Returns
Fire Pro Wrestling: Returns was released in the United States in 2007 and was developed Spike Chunsoft for the PlayStation 2. Instead of the 3D graphics that were synonymous with Fire Pro Wrestling used 2D visuals that are still used to this day in series most recent entry Fire Pro Wrestling World.
Unlike the most recent title which is affiliated with the Japanese wrestling promotions like NJPW and Stardom, Fire Pro was an unlicensed wrestling title. It did, however, feature over 320 recreations of real-life wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant albeit with different names to avoid a lawsuit.
Furthermore, the game was a true wrestling simulation that required timing and skill and the matches were more about building drama than the fast-paced arcade action seen in the WWE games. Adding to the simulation feel was the requirement of booking the most exciting matches in advance to achieve the best possible grading based on audience excitement.
1 WWE Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain
WWE Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain was released on the PlayStation 2 in 2003. It is still highly regarded as one of the greatest American wrestling games ever developed next to WWF No Mercy. Visually, the game still looks very impressive to almost 17 years later and the game still has gameplay features that are absent from the recent WWE 2K20.
Here Comes The Pain felt like a perfect balance of fast-paced action and wrestling sim. The game introduced realistically targeted submissions and a huge range of moves and an improved story mode. Additionally, the game featured outdoor brawls outside Times Square where wrestlers could leap from helicopters and 30-foot buildings for fans of the series the game was a pure joy to play.