WWE Video Game Finishers Used To Look Better

WWE Video Game Finishers Used To Look Better

I used to think that it was just nostalgia, screwing with my memory. But when I did a side-by-side comparison, there’s was no competition at all.

I’ve been playing WWE games for close to 15 years now, and although the graphics have gotten crisper and more realistic (they actually do motion capture on the wrestlers now, to ensure complete authenticity), the games have lost some of their soul and overall excitement. Let’s take a look at four different iterations of Shawn Michaels’ Sweet Chin Music, starting with the real one:

Hot damn! No matter how many times you watch it, it doesn’t get old. Half the excitement of a WWE finisher is the buildup before the payoff, and Mr. Wrestlemania does this masterfully, with multiple stomps that “tune up the band.” Also notice how the WWE camera crew frames the shot, to make it most impactful. They start with the camera in Shawn’s corner, to show him zeroing in. Then they switch to the opposite camera behind JBL, so that he falls towards the player. And of course, JBL sells the bump like a champ — the kick just snatches the life out of him.

Now here’s the one from WWE 2K15:

It’s got the look, and the body movements, and the great sell by the victim, but there’s little excitement in this delivery. The camera stays at a single, static position. The audience has a non-existent build of noise and activity. A couple of flashbulbs go off when the kick hits, but not as many as what goes off in a live show. There’s no editing, no dramatic cuts to make this exciting and theatrical.

Now here’s one from Smackdown versus Raw 2008:

That’s a little more like it! The camera circles around to multiple angles. The audience has a noticeable uptick in energy. And the kick itself is replayed and slowed down in multiple cuts from multiple angles. Maybe a bit over the top, but it gets the job done.

And finally, here’s one from WWE Smackdown – Here Comes The Pain:

Now that’s a proper Sweet Chin Music! Feel that electricity? The crowd roars, and a sea of flashbulbs fire off spontaneously. It’s also got the shot/reverse shot angle, and Shawn mugging for the camera at the very end.

When 2K got the WWE franchise, there was a sigh of relief in some circles — that finally WWE would be treated like a ‘real sport.’

But there’s also a certain degree of carny theatricality to wrestling, and it would be nice if 2K Games remembered that more. I don’t want them to pull a a WWE All-Stars, which went way over the top:

But they should put a little more fun in it, and stop taking it so damn seriously. Oversell the moves a bit, and make these guys a bit larger than life. After all, none of it is ‘real,’ right?

Kevin is an AP English Language teacher and freelance writer from Queens, NY. His focus is on video games, American pop culture, and Asian American issues. Kevin has also been published in VIBE, Complex, Joystiq, Salon, PopMatters, WhatCulture, and Racialicious. You can email him at kevinjameswong@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @kevinjameswong.


  • Who the hell is this Kevin guy, and how has a member of the US writing team turned in multiple articles that contain multiple paragraphs in a single day?

    Also WWE Brawl totally would have fulfilled your fun requirement, and could have been awesome. RIP Bluetongue.

  • Meh, it’s all fakery. These guys are just glorified stuntmen.

    Cue the hate in 3… 2… 1…

    Just kidding. 😉

    • I’m completely disinterested in watching WWE in real life, but that doesn’t make the games any less fun.

  • Bring back THQ!!

    Actually I stopped watching wrestling and playing the games not long after that game, I don’t know if they ever improved on them.
    Wrestlemania 2000 on the N64 was fun though

  • WWE All Stars was actually pretty fun because it was so over the top. The old school roster had some great members too.

    Also some of video montages they did for a rivalry between an old school v new school wrestler (which obviously never happened) were really well done.

  • I still believe that Here Comes the Pain was the most fun.

    The newer games just get less and less fun to play.

  • Who is this guy? Like a new Jason only he meets the word count? The old finishers were garbage, consider the fact that a wrestling game has multiple players/participants (consider it this time?) – what happens in a fighting game with 4-6 players at once and your finisher move is a 30-second animation? Game screws up, you can’t attack or cancel the move, you are stuck in an animation to deliver moderate damage for half a minute whilst that guy next to you takes a single second to complete his move and subsequently win the match. I’d take a game that functions on a basic level over an animation that prevents you from participating for a good portion of the match.

    They altered the finishers to be a little simpler so you could hit them from multiple positions, reverse them at certain moments (counter at the moment of impact, instead of the beginning of the animation) and also have them interrupted by other players. To me, this varies the gameplay and eliminates several scenarios where the game became absolutely no fun with more than two players because you were stuck watching yourself flailing your arms around instead of playing. Whenever we used to hit one of those stupid finishers, everyone playing would let out a *groan* and just drop the controller to the floor, propping ourselves up by our chin whilst continually slumping into the ground like treacle as we awaited the magical flailing that no one could do anything about. For ages, we banned Shawn Michaels and The Rock or immediately changed their moves once we realised they were terrible.

  • Day of Reckoning 2. The last time I can remember finishers actually feeling impactful and exciting in a game. Plus it had the momentum shift moves, which worked well too. Taking the sports game approach is not the best way to make a wrestling game feel like wrestling imo. Wrestling’s more like an IRL comic book than a sport.

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