Very few pro wrestling fans end up becoming wrestlers themselves, but they can always live out their fantasies in video games. There are loads of wrestling games to choose from, from a myriad of WWE games to Fire Pro Wrestling to management simulators like Total Extreme Warfare, not to mention lots of random novelties. But what about the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling?
WCW’s history includes ten video games dating back to the year 1989, from the original Nintendo Entertainment System to PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Not all of these games have been great, but some of them are legitimate classics of the genre.
UPDATE: 2023/09/19 14:30 EST BY ETHAN SCHLABAUGH
World Championship Wrestling had many ups and downs when it came to their ventures into the video game realm. Titles such as WCW/nWo Revenge have been heralded for being some of the best titles in the professional wrestling genre while others such as WCW Backstage Assault were major reasons WCW didn’t get more titles before closing down as a promotion. Here is a definitive list of every WCW video game title and where they ranked compared to each other plus some knowledge about other wrestling titles going on at the time like WWE or the many Japanese promotions.
10 WCW Backstage Assault (PlayStation, Nintendo 64, 2000)
Appropriate to the last years of the once-great wrestling promotion, one of the last WCW games ever is one of the most hated. Released by Electronic Arts, Backstage Assault played off the growing popularity of wild backstage brawls by making them the whole point of the game, dispensing with the idea of a wrestling ring entirely.
Unfortunately, the novelty of not having a wrestling ring in a wrestling video game didn’t fair well for the title, and ended up seeing far below expected sales and was a major blow to WCW’s relationship with Electronic Arts.
November 8th, 2000 (PS1) December 12th, 2000 (Nintendo 64)
Nintendo 64, PS1
9 WCW: The Main Event (Game Boy, 1994)
A fairly weak game even considering the limitations of Game Boy iterations at the time, WCW: The Main Event offered a roster of nine players, including the first video game appearance of Steve Austin and the ability to play as both Steiner Brothers despite both stars leaving the promotion right before the game’s release and the lack of a tag team mode.
While largely forgotten by players, The Main Event offers some decent Game Boy graphics, and the matches themselves are filled with the same moves as every wrestler can only perform their finisher and the basics like a clothesline or suplex. Despite these flaws and the systems processing power, WCW: The Main Event’s matches play relatively quick compared to other games.
8 WCW Nitro (PlayStation, Nintendo 64, PC, 1998)
One of the worst non-Backstage Assault efforts of the 3D WCW games was the first 1997 WCW Nitro, which had impressive use of actual video but little else. The game was criticized by fans for its poor graphics and the fact that, except for signature moves, every wrestler had the same moveset. Notably, instead of grappling, players had to hit button combinations to execute moves.
For many fans, the value of WCW Nitro comes exclusively from the specially recorded video promos each wrestler delivers when you highlight them on the player selection screen — but not on the N64 version.
January 15th, 1998 (PS1) November 30th, 1998 (PC) February 9th, 1999 (Nintendo 64)
PS1, PC, Nintendo 64
7 WCW/nWo Thunder (PlayStation, 1999)
A direct sequel to WCW Nitro, WCW/nWo Thunder is largely the same game, but far more polished than its predecessor, which adds a lot to the proceedings to make the game feel like the WCW television presentation. With so many similarities to the previous title, many fans did not pick this game up leading to developer Inland Productions to cease making any further WCW titles.
WCW Nitro actually received updates for the Nintendo 64 and Windows computers that gave that title the roster of WCW Thunder, making this game even less relevant of a purchase. Unfortunately, the gameplay, while improved from Nitro, still didn’t quite elevate Thunder to greatness. The video mini-promos from Nitro return, however, giving future fans a fun novelty in seeing Kevin Nash discourage gamers from playing as him.
January 15th, 1999
6 WCW Mayhem (PlayStation, Nintendo 64, 1999)
When THQ ditched WCW to work with WWE instead, Electronic Arts picked up the WCW license, and the underrated WCW Mayhem was born. EA’s first effort with WCW was surprisingly strong, offering good play mechanics, a huge roster of over 50 playable wrestlers, and a create-a-character mode.
Mayhem was also the first wrestling game to feature the ability to brawl backstage, which would ultimately lead to the aforementioned Backstage Assault, which made a unique feature into an entire game.
September 23rd, 1999 (PS1, Nintendo 64) May 5th, 2000 (Game Boy Color
PS1, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color
5 WCW: World Championship Wrestling (NES, 1990)
A localization of the Japanese game Super Star Pro Wrestling, WCW: World Championship Wrestling has the unique distinction of being the only pro wrestling game affiliated with the National Wrestling Alliance until 2020’s RetroMania.
Boasting a roster of 12 playable wrestlers and some solid gameplay by 8-bit wrestling standards, World Championship Wrestling also gave players the ability to edit wrestlers’ moveset, establishing a major step in customizability that modern fans consider a requirement of their wrestling games.
Nintendo Entertainment System
4 WCW SuperBrawl Wrestling (SNES, 1994)
The only WCW game to appear on the Super Nintendo, WCW SuperBrawl Wrestling offered a surprising number of modes — singles, tag, gauntlet, and even a tournament — as well as the ability to win title belts. Gameplay aside, Beam Software did a decent job of making the game colorful enough for the era and wrestlers are easily identifiable even with the odd camera angle and distant point of view.
The in-ring action is reminiscent of the beloved and influential Fire Pro Wrestling, but poor controls and stiff animation make this one of the worst SNES wrestling games, considering fans had options like the lively and fondly remembered WWF Royal Rumble.
3 WCW Vs. The World (PlayStation, 1997)
Developed by AKI Corp. back when they had the interesting name, The Man Breeze, comes easily the best WCW game fans can play on the original Sony PlayStation, WCW vs. The World. The game is another localization of a Japanese wrestling game from AKI Corporation, the original Virtual Pro Wrestling.
WCW vs. The World only features 13 WCW stars, with the rest of its 50+ roster being re-skins and renames of Japanese wrestlers that were in the original Virtual Pro Wrestling. This title really started paving the road for the future titles that came out later in the following years and included a much more focused WCW roster compared to Vs. The World.
March 28th, 1997
2 WCW Vs. NWO: World Tour (Nintendo 64, 1997)
A localization of Japan’s Virtual Pro Wrestling 64, the influence of WCW vs. nWo: World Tour can’t be understated. Developed by AKI Corporation — the Japanese developer responsible for many beloved pro wrestling games of the late 1990s and early 2000s — World Tour introduced the intuitive grappling mechanics that would define wrestling games.
WCW vs. nWo World Tour was released at the tail end of 1997 shortly before WCW’s Starrcade event that year which was headlined by Sting and Hollywood Hogan. Despite the release window, many names like Bret Hart and others that filled the Starrcade card were not included in the title and instead debuted with the following entry in 1998.
December 8th, 1997
1 WCW/nWo Revenge (Nintendo 64, 1998)
As far as pro wrestling video games are concerned, WCW/nWo Revenge was a turning point for the genre. Expanding and improving on many of the innovations developer AKI Corporation implemented in their previous games, Revenge boasted a huge roster of nearly every WCW star a player would want to control, accurate signature moves, and an intuitive grappling system.
The success of Revenge saw AKI Corporation move onto greener pastures as WWE was looking to make better wrestling titles. WCW had to find a new developer as AKI made their next title, WrestleMania 2000, and later on No Mercy both on the Nintendo 64.
October 26th, 1998