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2K and WWE announced last night on Monday Night RAW that former two-time United States, WCW Tag Team, WCW World Heavyweight, and WWE World Heavyweight champion Bill Goldberg will be this year’s pre-order bonus for WWE 2K17.

A product of the WCW Power Plant, Goldberg ran roughshod through WCW in the late 90s, feuding with the likes of the nWo, Diamond Dallas Page, and Sid Vicious, and putting together a (heavily inflated) undefeated streak of 173-0.

“My son was a big part of this coming together, and I can’t wait for him to see his dad kicking ass in a WWE ring through the magic of video games,” said Goldberg in a statement. “I encountered the likes of The Rock, Triple H, Brock Lesnar and Ric Flair during my WWE career, and now through WWE 2K17, I’ll be taking on the biggest and baddest Superstars of today—showing them once and for all that I am still ‘Da Man!’”

Goldberg joins the ranks of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sting, and the Ultimate Warrior as pre-order bonuses for the WWE 2K series. There will be two versions of Goldberg as part of this pre-order: one from his WCW days, and one from his time at WWE. The pre-order also includes two exclusive playable arenas in the forms of WCW Monday Nitro and Halloween Havoc. You can check out the reveal trailer below.

WWE 2K17 will be available in October for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, and PS3.

A not-so-Royal Rumble

It’s been a difficult transition from current-gen hardware to next-gen for a lot of the yearly sports franchises, but these titles seem to fall into one of two categories. Some series are taking the challenge head-on, while others are trying desperately not to rock the boat, with hopes of riding out whatever wave of momentum they’ve built up over the last seven years to survive their final current-gen entry.

WWE 2K14 falls in the latter category. Even taking events like a huge publisher change into consideration, it feels like the franchise is just ready for current-gen to be over and done with and is biding its time.

It’s not that WWE 2K14 is a bad experience. I still had a lot of fun with this year’s version of WWE’s annual gaming series, but a lot of its features and ideas seem stale, with little innovation in any of its modes. The same glitches and AI shortcomings that seem to pester the game year in and year out persist—Extreme Rules matches remaining counterfests where wrestlers just keep ripping whatever weapon they have out of each other’s hands and doing no real damage, players seeming to meld through the ropes instead of climbing over them, or character models looking like they’re floating off the mat when you go for the pin.

A perfect example of the lackadaisical approach taken to this year’s game is the WWE Universe mode. This option is so outdated that it still lists the Wednesday-night show as WWE Superstars, even though it’s now WWE Main Event and Superstars has been relegated to an Internet-only show on Friday nights. The only real addition to the mode this year is the Rivalry feature, where you can change storylines to force wrestlers to face each other—with varying stipulations—week in and week out. It’s really just a small customization feature that doesn’t do much for the experience as a whole–and serves to add more clutter to a user interface that’s already in desperate need of an overhaul.

Sure, it’s still interesting to create a character—or take control of one of your favorites—and put them through the paces of a year in the WWE and see if you can become top dog. But how about we expand this into NXT, the WWE’s developmental promotion? You could start as a rookie and really work your way up or learn new moves through a mentor, just like on the show. This could give us a chance to tell a much longer, more detailed story than we could before. And can we at least get the schedule of shows right? Yes, we can create our own, but let’s at least start from an accurate default.

While on the subject of creating things, I do have to say that while nothing’s really changed with the character, entrance, moveset, or arena-creator modes, nothing really had to, either. I can’t imagine these being any better than they already are, besides perhaps offering more options with greater detail. Hopefully, that will come with some of the added horsepower next year. The WWE series is known for having one of the best creator suites in the industry—and that, at the very least, remains in pristine condition.

Something that has seen some changes, however, is the story mode. Last year told the tale of the Attitude Era, while this year brings us 30 Years of WrestleMania. The major focus of this mode revolves around reliving 46 epic matches from three decades of the most dominant brand in wrestling, trying to pull off the same iconic moments that made these matches classics to begin with: Hogan bodyslamming Andre at Wrestlemania III, Stone Cold Steve Austin refusing to tap to Bret Hart in WrestleMania 13 (one of my personal favorites), all the way up to John Cena versus The Rock from just last year.

Hardcore wrestling fans will be able to recognize this is just an extension of last year’s mode, but instead of focusing on one specific time period (which also happens to be the shortest chapter here to prevent too much crossover), it draws from the WWE’s long history. It also conjures up a lot of memories of 2009’s WWE’s Legends of WrestleMania game—mostly early on—in regards to the matches chosen and the objectives given. It was like déjà vu; I had this constant feeling I’d already played half the mode before I even started it. However, it’s still tremendously fun to relive so many vintage moments, and it serves as a great learning tool for younger wrestling fans—or a trip down memory lane for older ones.

But there’s a lot more to 30 Years of Wrestlemania than just reliving the best matches of yesteryear. Another option in the mode is challenging “The Streak.” Here, you’re presented with two choices: Defeat the legendary Undertaker at WrestleMania, where his AI’s been amped up to near-impossible levels to offer you the truest test of your wrestling skills, or play as the Undertaker in the ultimate Gauntlet match against the entire WWE roster.

The Gauntlet match choice sounds much tougher than it is, though. Most combatants don’t really start to put up a fight until you’ve eliminated at least 25 guys, and the Undertaker recovers his health after every five. A score is assigned in either option, giving the entire mode a very arcade-like feel; it’s a nice change of pace from the rest of the simulation-heavy game. But unless you become obsessed with bettering your score, this mode sorely lacks any replay value. Even a difficult Undertaker can be countered after you learn his timing, and the Gauntlet match can take close to an hour for each runthrough of the roster, which is far too long for anything to be deemed truly “arcadey.”

WWE 2K14 is a decent entry into the series, but it lacks any changes that could help the franchise stay completely fresh and fun; this feels like a mailed-in effort before the advent of next-gen. The customization options we’ve come to know and love are still here to complement the most robust roster of old-school and current wrestlers yet. It just feels like the overall presentation and WWE Universe mode need to see the same spit-and-polish effort that goes into story mode every year.

Developer: Yuke’s/Visual Concepts • Publisher: 2K Sports • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 10.29.13
30 Years of WrestleMania will be a fun stroll down memory lane for older, more diehard WWE fans. Otherwise, WWE 2K14 feels like a mailed-in effort before next-gen hits, especially as the WWE Universe mode starts to show its age.
The Good 30 Years of WrestleMania is a great follow up to last year’s Attitude Era mode.
The Bad WWE Universe mode is starting to show its age; same glitches we see every year.
The Ugly Mae Young. Just because.
WWE 2K14 is available on Xbox 360 and PS3. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.

It was RAW’s 1000th episode, and unfortunately the WWE still can’t find a way to work some solid wrestling into the show even at three hours long now. Although I understand that it was a bit of a celebration, and hopefully things will pick up a bit next week, I can’t forgive the blatant extra advertising and time wasted pandering to the WWE Universe. As a whole, those of us who grew up in the ‘Attitude Era’ had a few extra laughs and it was nice to see legends like Bret Hart again. All in all though, this was a monumental waste of time and I fear for the future of Monday Night RAW’s ability to entertain us.

Main Plot Overview: The big shake-up in the main plot of the show was The Rock re-inserting himself into the WWE Championship picture, proclaiming he has been promised a title match at The Royal Rumble in January. Of course, with that still being six months away, the title can change hands several times potentially, with the first time being that night with John Cena cashing in his MITB contract.

Not surprisingly though, the match was interfered with by The Big Show and Cena became the first man to ever win his MITB contract title match, but not the title as a title cannot change hands via outside interference. The most infuriating thing about this match though was the sad attempt by WWE to possibly turn CM Punk heel, as he did what everyone else in the world would do and tried to capitalize on the opportunity afforded him by The Big Show. It’s not good for a face to win like a heel though, so this move likely means Punk is turning his back again on the people, especially after he clotheslined The Rock during his People’s Elbow on The Big Show.

Match of the Night: In three hours of programming, the WWE put on two good matches. The first was a 6-man tag match between Sheamus/Sin Cara/Rey Mysterio and Jericho/Dolph Ziggler/Alberto Del Rio. The match of the night though was the other good match in Christian vs The Miz for the IC belt.

Marking the 66th time the title was defended on MNR (average one defense every 15 weeks on the show), Christian came out with a flurry against the Miz, quickly taking to the air and hitting moves like missile dropkicks and crossbodies. But Miz would counter often and Christian would be unable to hit The Kill Switch. Instead, the Miz would finally get his chance and would take advantage, hitting the Skull-Crushing Finale and capturing the IC belt.

This was significant not only due to a major belt changing hands, but because this completes the career Triple Crown for the Miz who was a former WWE and US Champion. It also shows WWE’s commitment to insert the Miz right back into some decent storylines after some time away by giving him this storied mid-tier belt.

Promo of the Night: After the failed wedding of Daniel Bryan and AJ (more on that shortly), Daniel Bryan threw a tantrum of epic proportions. And CM Punk came down to the ring to gloat. Daniel Bryan didn’t take too kindly to this and proceeded to proclaim himself the greatest of all-time.

The Rock then had issue with this and came down to the ring to not only tell the people about The Royal Rumble, but to put Daniel Bryan in his place. After putting together a rhyme about how Daniel Bryan looks like something out of Lord of the Rings and is nothing but a glorified Oompa Loompa, the Rock gave Daniel Bryan a present. A Rock Bottom. Seeing the Rock rattle off an old-school promo like that was very enjoyable and so it is no surprise to see The Rock take home something he would have often back in his heyday, and that is The Promo of the Night. 

Shocker of the Night: Shortly before Daniel Bryan’s tantrum, he was the happiest guy in the world, as he was about to marry AJ (a lucky guy indeed). But like most weddings staged in a WWE ring, all was not well. And so the shocker came when we found out when AJ was saying ‘yes’ to someone else. Specifically, Mr. McMahon. But as Mr. McMahon explained to Daniel Bryan, it was a business proposition she was agreeing to. AJ was to be the new GM of MNR, to which I broke out with a ‘yes’ chant of my own! Our lovely geek goddess then proceeded to skip around the ring in her usual care-free demeanor as Daniel Bryan, with special guest reverend Slick, were left standing in shock in the middle of the ring. This is one of the few reasons I can’t wait for RAW episode 1001 now. 

Cheap Pop of the Night: The night started off with a bang as promised, as DX came out to the ring to kick things off. I was a bit disappointed though because it was only HHH and HBK and I remember when DX was actually a much larger stable than these two WWE mainstays. But I should learn not to doubt DX as they always have something up their degenerate sleeves and after some humorous banter between HBK and HHH, almost all the rest of the crew came out. X-Pac, Road Dogg, and Billy Gunn, in a military jeep, came rolling out to ringside and the gang was back together and for the first time in a while, I legitimately cheered at the TV while watching MNR. And it only got better as they hit all their catch phrases and even embarrassed Damien Sandow, who is definitely turning heads as a heel and passed his initiation as one after he was promptly disposed of by DX.

Originally Published: November 11, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

I reviewed WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 for the Xbox 360 from THQ as a part of CGR Undertow.