Every year, THQ drops another edition of its long-running SmackDown! series. Every year, I get my hopes up in favor of seeing more and more names from wrestling's storied past show up to say hello. Every year, without fail, I get the same five legends, and every year, I cry myself to sleep until rumors for the next iteration's roster begin to swirl.
This year, it looks like I just might get my wish.
Not only did THQ change the title of this year's release to a much simpler WWE '12, but they also finally took it upon themselves to change up the legends roster. Glory, be thy name! Here is the current list of legends slated to be included in WWE '12, as noted in Giulio Romano's roster reveal last week:
Stone Cold Steve Austin
Ok, so The Rock, Steve Austin, Eddie Guererro and Edge are really no surprise...but every last one of the other names gets me all tingly inside.
You know what else gets me all tingly inside? The fact that there are still 14 spots on the roster, not counting future downloadable content, who have yet to be named.
I've been contemplating, just as I do every year, who I would want included in the final roster slots if I had my choice. The only difference being that this year, I'm a Bleacher Report columnist. That means I get to share my picks with you, the ever-so lucky reading audience! Huzzah!
What follows is my dream list of 10 legends who should be included in WWE '12. I'm going to forego listing 14 legends for two reasons: at least a few of the last minute announcements are bound to be current superstars and because a Top 10 list sounds much better than a Top 14 list. Sue me.
Some of the following names will make it and some will not. Whatever the case, it never hurts to dream. While we're waiting on the release of the game, why don't you guys hit up the comments section and let me know who you want in the final release as well?
Here goes nothing.
Before we kick things off, here is a list of the legends who didn't fit into the final cut:
- The Ultimate Warrior
- "Nature Boy" Ric Flair
- Ted DiBiase & IRS, Money Incorporated
- Michael "PS" Hayes & Terry Gordy, The Fabulous Freebirds
- "The Total Package" Lex Luger
- Earthquake & Typhoon, The Natural Disasters
- The Big Boss Man
- Rob Van Dam
- Kurt Angle
The guys who fall under this Honorable Mention category are guys who I'd want to be in the game, but they're either under contract with another company, or I simply didn't want them in as badly as I wanted the members in the top 10.
Regardless, it would be quite nice if any or all of these superstars were also in the final version of WWE '12.
Now, without further ado, let's get to the wish list, starting with Number 10.
Now, as most of you are aware, Hulk Hogan is still under contract to TNA. However, you are probably also aware that, since Hogan owns his name and likeness, it doesn't really make a difference who he is under contract to.
In fact, "The Immortal One" was one of the key factors in THQ's advertising campaign for WWE All Stars, which came out to mild success earlier this year. If he can be promoted as a main character in that game, then surely his inclusion on the WWE '12 roster is not out of the question.
Hulkamania has been running wild for over a quarter century now, and let's face it, Hogan's a far cry from the man he was in 1984. However, that's the beauty of being transformed into a video game character. If he's included, it will surely be as the 1980s era, training, prayers and vitamins Hulk Hogan.
Say what you will about the man he's become since those days, but you can't deny that pitting "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan against the stars of today is always a good time.
The number nine entry on my list just so happens to be the one which requires the least explanation. He's Shawn Michaels, for crying out loud! Why, THQ? Why has "The Heartbreak Kid" not already been confirmed for the final roster on WWE '12?
I am aware of the fact that he's been retired since his loss to The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI, so he obviously wouldn't be a current superstar. However, he would fit quite nicely into the legends section of the game's final lineup. Hopefully, he will be one of the final announced wrestlers, because it would be a travesty if that were not the case.
I could tell you why he needs to be in the game, but I imagine that would take all day. Just use your imaginations on this one, folks, and let's move along.
"The game we play is simple. Two men enter, one man survives...and I am that man! I am the master...and I am the ruler...of the world!"
I couldn't find a picture of "Psycho" Sid Vicious in video game form, but that's quite alright. See, Sid Vicious is a walking, talking, video game character. Just look at the guy. Those aren't realistic human dimensions. He looks like the world's scariest create-a-wrestler. Bane, from Batman: Arkham Asylum without his mask, perhaps.
Younger crowds may not be familiar with Sid Vicious, but as a fan of 80s and 90s wrestling, I can tell you that he was the absolute epitome of what it meant to be a professional wrestler in that era. Superhuman bodybuilder physique? Check. Screaming, semi-intelligible, wild man promos? Check. Lackluster in-ring skills tossed aside in favor of the previous two attributes? Check.
Unfortunately, while Sid still looks pretty much the same today as he did 15 years ago, he's unable to compete full-time due to a severe leg injury sustained at one of WCW's final pay-per-view events. He broke his leg around the calf area clean in two while trying to perform a flying boot from the second rope. Look it up on YouTube, it's the stuff of legend.
In any event, Sid in WWE '12 would be a welcome addition in my book. I'd love to put him up against someone like Evan Bourne, or Sin Cara, and have him absolutely man handle the teeny-weeny grapplers of today.
Chokeslam, powerbomb, over.
Sorry, guys. This awful screen capture from WWF Attitude was the only in-game picture of "The King of Harts" that I could find online. Please forgive me.
Owen Hart, who was competing under his "Blue Blazer" moniker, was killed in a tragic in-ring accident at WWF Over The Edge in the summer of 1999. Hurt feelings, bad words and lawsuits galore followed in its wake. Every year, when THQ announces that its newest WWE title will feature several new legends on the roster, it seems like the entire wrestling world is up in arms to include Owen Hart in the game. Every year, we are disappointed.
"The Rocket" has not been seen in any wrestling video game since the abysmal Showdown: Legends of Wrestling back in 2004 and has been withheld from all official WWE releases since Attitude hit store shelves before the turn of the millennium. It's understandable that Owen's widow, Martha, does not want her late husband to be involved with the company she feels is responsible for his untimely death. Realistically, however, she is only hurting the fans.
It's not as if Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment are going to make a killing off the use of Owen Hart's likeness and it's not as if Martha herself won't make a penny from said usage. In my opinion, she should let it go, move on and let Owen's fans continue to remember him fondly. Being able to play as him in future video game releases would only assist that notion, not deter it.
While it's true that "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith has been included in multiple THQ releases over the past several years, it's a bit more difficult to find "The British Bulldogs" Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid together as a team on any video game. Much like with Owen Hart, in order to find the team of Davey and Dynamite, you'd have to go all the way back to Showdown: Legends of Wrestling on the original Xbox or Playstation 2.
Don't bother. The roster for Showdown was, without a doubt, the greatest ever assembled on any console. However, it also featured some of the absolute worst game play imaginable. You could play as Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Sting, The Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Sid Vicious and pretty much any other wrestling legend that you could hope to remember, but you'll never be able to have fun while doing it. I don't think I've ever been as disappointed with a game as I was with Showdown. Talk about missed potential. Sheesh.
In any event, THQ needs to get on the ball with this. Do some digging, guys, and find out exactly where it is that Dynamite Kid has buried himself. Figuratively speaking, of course, since he's actually still alive out there somewhere. Find his whereabouts, offer him some drug money and have him sign over the rights to his likeness in return.
The new generation of WWE fans deserves to know that the tag team division wasn't always as dreadful as it currently is. With Demolition, the Road Warriors and the British Bulldogs on board for the game, there would actually be a reason to covet the game's tag team championships.
With Mick Foley supposedly on his way back to World Wrestling Entertainment in the near future, this selection should be a lock. While it is pretty safe to assume that "Mrs. Foley's Baby Boy" will be included in WWE '12, there is also a definite chance that THQ will screw up his inclusion.
If he is, in fact, slated to be a member of the playable roster, for the love of God and all that is holy, please don't make it be as plain old Mick Foley. Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to play as the flannel shirt and sweatpants wearing, awful haircut having, out of shape, semi-retired, extra regular Mick Foley. Aside from a few quirky moments as the on-air commissioner, and even fewer passable matches he took part in, the WWE Universe has very few fond memories of Mick competing under his real name.
Give us Mankind, the sadistic yet strangely lovable psycho which Foley portrayed upon first entering the World Wrestling Federation.
Give us Cactus Jack, the king of hardcore wrestling, who was responsible for putting Mick Foley on the map in the first place.
Hell, I'll even take Dude Love if I must. The least successful of the "Three Faces of Foley," even Dude Love would be more interesting to play as than the non-character of Mick himself.
However, if THQ is really smart, they will give us the option to play as all three. Not, mind you, wasting valuable roster space by including three separate characters for Foley, instead giving us all three as alternate attires for one selectable wrestler. They've done it before in past SmackDown! entries and hopefully they will do it again in WWE '12.
Some fans might better remember "The Bad Guy" Razor Ramon as Scott Hall.
Working under his real name in WCW, Scott Hall was one of the founding fathers of the super-hot New World Order angle in 1996. In fact, Hall was the first member of the group to appear on a WCW telecast. On that historic episode of Monday Nitro, Scott Hall burst through the crowd, hit the ring and declared to WCW, "You want a war? You got one!"
Under the guise of being a WWF contracted wrestler, Hall would go on to team up with Kevin "Diesel" Nash and "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan to form the original nWo. The rest, as they say, is history. The nWo was the hottest angle at the time, perhaps in the history of wrestling, and would put WCW on the map as the No. 1 wrestling show in the world for a lengthy period of time. Some would argue that the nWo angle eventually killed WCW, which went under in 2001, but no one can deny the impact it had on the business when it was fresh.
Most everyone knows the story of the New World Order, but some younger fans may not remember that Hall originally made his name in the World Wrestling Federation, under the name Razor Ramon. "The Bad Guy" won a then-record four Intercontinental Championships with the WWF, while feuding with some of the biggest names in wrestling history: Shawn Michaels, Diesel and Bret "The Hitman" Hart.
With Nash already confirmed for WWE '12, it would only be fitting that his long time friend and tag team partner, Razor Ramon, also be on board.
So, THQ, make it happen.
Speaking of hot WCW angles, here we have Bill Goldberg, the man who some would argue was the only true, homegrown talent that World Championship Wrestling was ever responsible for.
In the late 1990s, Goldberg burst onto the scene in WCW, amassing an undefeated streak the likes of which had never been seen in the company. I can still distinctly remember seeing his first match on Monday Nitro against Hugh Morrus (Tough Enough's Bill Demott). During the match, I recall thinking that, while this new guy looked awesome, he was certainly about to take the fall for Hugh Morrus and probably never be heard from again.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
Goldberg would soundly defeat not only Hugh Morrus, but his next 172 opponents as well. At least, that's what WCW would have had you think. The streak would start at one number on Monday, then magically have jumped up 15 more victories by the time Thunder aired on Thursday. Whatever the case, Goldberg was claimed to have had a streak of 173-0 by the time he finally lost to Kevin Nash at WCW Starrcade 1998.
After the streak, and especially after WWF purchased WCW, Goldberg was never the same. While he was on fire, however, there was no one who could touch him. He hasn't been in a video game since WWE SmackDown!: Here Comes The Pain (pictured) several years ago, but he's become widely-regarded as one of the most fun superstars to play as in the history of the franchise.
If at all possible, THQ needs to sign Goldberg up, before people forget about him altogether.
Earlier this year, the wrestling world suffered one of it's most tragic losses to date, when "The Macho Man" Randy Savage was involved in a fatal car accident just outside Tampa, Florida.
Savage, who had been out of the wrestling business for the better part of the last decade, was still one of the most revered superstars of all time. His legendary promos, his in-ring capabilities and his seemingly never-ending charity efforts outside of the ring made him one of the most polarizing figures in the history of not only professional wrestling, but also the entire sports world.
Just before his untimely death, "The Macho Man" finally came back to terms with World Wrestling Entertainment. Savage left the then-WWF back in 1994 and would never appear on camera for the company again. He did, however, sign over the rights to use his likeness in THQ's WWE All Stars, which came out just a few months before he passed away. Fans clamored to get the chance to play as Randy Savage, to execute his legendary flying elbow drop and to see his signature entrance, complete with the iconic "Pomp & Circumstance" theme song.
Randy Savage in WWE '12 is a no-brainer. The only hold up would be the fact that he may have only signed a one-off deal to appear in All Stars. If that is the case, THQ may have a little trouble signing him on for WWE '12, which would be most unfortunate.
I, for one, hope he appears in the game. I'd love the chance to play as him, even if it is just one last time. "The Macho Man" deserves a fitting send off and with WWE '12 being their flagship video game series, WWE has the chance to give that send off to both the man and his legions of fans.
"The Next Big Thing"
Currently under contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Brock Lesnar famously got his start in World Wrestling Entertainment back in 2002.
Lesnar exploded onto the scene, Goldberg-style, running through any and every member of the WWE roster who decided to step into his path. Kurt Angle, The Undertaker, "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan and even The Rock were all demolished at the hands of Lesnar, en route to capturing the first of three WWE Undisputed championships.
Then, just as quickly as he rocketed to the top of the wrestling world, he vanished without a trace after losing his final match at WrestleMania XX, ironically enough, to Bill Goldberg himself.
Since leaving WWE, Lesnar has amazingly become even more of a star in the world of professional sports. After his failed pursuit of a career with the National Football League, Lesnar would go head first into the realm of mixed martial arts, where he quickly rose to the top of the UFC's heavyweight division.
In only his fourth professional fight, Lesnar soundly defeated Randy "The Natural" Couture to become the UFC heavyweight champion. After defending the title twice, besting Frank Mir and Shane Carwin in two of the highest grossing UFC pay-per-views of all time, Lesnar lost his title to Cain Velasquez. His latest opponent, a fierce intestinal disease known as diverticulitis, looks to be the one thing Lesnar may not be able to overpower. It is unfortunate, but unavoidable.
One light at the end of Lesnar's tunnel, however, is that he has been openly contacted by World Wrestling Entertainment as of late. While it is too early to know exactly what the nature of these discussions have been, many people are speculating that it has something to do with his inclusion in WWE '12, among other licensing-related negotiations.
Lesnar's last appearance in a WWE video game was, oddly enough, SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, which was named after his catchphrase. He was one of the highest rated characters on the game and one who fans of the series have claimed to be one of the most fun to control as well.
If licensing was indeed the issue at hand for Lesnar's meeting with WWE, then THQ might have come across one of their biggest coups to date. Brock Lesnar's inclusion into WWE '12 is something that has absolutely no downside, while simultaneously having the ability to bring a lot of money to the table for both sides of the equation.
Here's hoping that Lesnar is, in fact, a member of the playable roster. More so than any of the previously mentioned wrestlers, Lesnar's inclusion might just be the "Next Big Thing" for fans of THQ's long-running WWE series.
Only time will tell.
I hope you've enjoyed my list of dream additions to the WWE '12 roster, and I hope that at least a few of these wishes will come to fruition once the game drops in November.
In the meantime, please don't hesitate to make your own list of additions to the game in the comments section. I'd love to know which of my selections you agree or disagree with and please do point out anyone I may have left off.
Thanks for reading!