Ranked: The 9 best WWE wrestling games of all time

Grab your tights - it's time to find a king of the console grapplers

It’s WrestleMania, baby! Or, rather, it is in one week's time - on April 2.

What better way to celebrate the 33rd running of wrestling’s biggest event, then, than by rummaging through your old games collection and having a good bash at a battle royale.

From building custom superstars stranger than anything WWE management could come up with to dodgy commentary that repeated itself with alarming regularity, wrestling games were always a ludicrous amount of fun.

In fact, having a crack at the championship was arguably more fun than watching the real (fake) thing, because you could do whatever the heck you liked - and to hell with the storyline consequences.

Which, though, were the best? Which button-bashing grappler delivered the bodyslam to top all bodyslams? We donned our lycra, hit the canvas and had it out to decide which of history’s wrestling games ranked highest.

9) WWF Wrestlefest (1991)

If gaming for you meant going down to the arcade in the early 90s, you’re probably familiar with Wrestlefest. A distinctly cartoonish interpretation of the macho men of the WWF, this 1991 title supported up to four players at once - which meant double-team moves galore.

There was a Royal Rumble mode, too, in which you could steer the likes of Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and Sgt. Slaughter through an onslaught of superstars in a quest to be the best.

Yes, movesets were limited and it was all a bit clunky, but for many this was the closest thing to wrestling besides a wayward tackle on the playground - and it remains one of wrestling’s best arcade interpretations.

8) WWF Raw (1994)

Released on SNES and the Sega Mega Drive, among other consoles, WWF Raw was a 16-bit grapple-fest that introduced a whole host of previously unseen moves into the wrestling genre.

Based around a button-bashing tug of war, various superstars were equipped with unique finishers, as well as a host of attributes - including speed, strength and stamina - that added new dimensions to what was, at its heart, still an arcade title.

It might look dated today, but the core concept was one that still runs through the latest wrestling games - and those Mega Moves were mighty fun.

7) WWE All Stars (2011)

Thoroughly over the top and all the better for it, WWE All Stars was the first wrestling title in years to capture the excitement and fun that makes sports entertainment so, well, entertaining.

With a host of characters, including both present-day superstars and legendary names, All Stars was all about exaggerated combat and seismic bouts that would never happen in real life.

Stylised designs and simpler play meant it was a clear arcade title, but the variety of match types, breadth of talent and altogether enjoyable gameplay made WWE All Stars a very replayable title - far more so than many that came both before and after.

6) WWE 2K16 (2015)

While more recent wrestling titles have seen major graphical improvements - albeit with some quirky bugs that have found fame in many a YouTube video - they’ve also been criticised for the complexity of their controls, and their odd balance between arcade and simulation.

WWE 2K16, for better or worse, aimed squarely at simulation, delivering a title with a vast roster of more than 120 superstars and a reworked reversal system that had players thinking strategically about when best to use their limited resources.

Paired with a new mid-match holds mechanic that allowed you to regain stamina, 2K16 still fell short in many areas, but delivered perhaps the most comprehensive combination of performance and combat of any recent wrestling game.

5) WWE Smackdown! vs Raw 2006 (2005)

Not the first of its kind, Smackdown vs Raw 2006 was significant in delivering a huge leap forward in terms of simulation and realism, moving away from the purely arcade-style games of the early noughties.

By introducing stamina and momentum systems, developers THQ and Yuke’s drove players to go about their in-ring activity in a more structured way - without sacrificing on the drama and fast-pace of earlier games, such as the Smackdown! series.

In fact, by piling in a vast array of match types - from Buried Alive to Hell in a Cell - and game modes, including a General Manager mode, SvR 2006 was perhaps the perfect blend of accessible fun and huge variety. Few games to date have delivered such replayability.