4) WWF War Zone (1998)
A clunky classic, War Zone hit N64 and PlayStation consoles in 1998, introducing a package of features that took wrestling from 16-bit arcades to proper 3D titles.
With Vince McMahon and good ol’ JR on commentary, War Zone served up an extensive create-a-wrestler option which benefitted from graphics that, at the time, were better than any game that had come before.
Admittedly, the unique grappling system was frustrating, there were bugs galore - with terrible collision detection - and game modes were hardly plentiful. All the same, War Zone was ahead of its time and brought about the 3D era.
3) WWF WrestleMania 2000 (1999)
If WWF War Zone brought wrestling games into the 3D era, WrestleMania 2000 was a fitting title to bring them into the new millennium. Released for Nintendo 64 in 1999, this was a title with a truly vast roster, with more than 50 playable wrestlers.
Similarly, the create-a-wrestler mode was extensive, while players could create their own PPV events and title belts, too - something innovative for the time. As for gameplay, WrestleMania 2000 introduced several unique features, including signature taunts, which saw the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin flipping the bird to fellow superstars.
It might not sound revolutionary nowadays, but this was a game that set the tone for future titles in its balance of comprehensive features and sheer playability.
2) WWF No Mercy (2000)
The last title made by AKI before Yuke’s took up the reigns as developer of WWF/WWE games, No Mercy remains revered by fans of the genre to this day.
While it lost some background elements seen in WrestleMania 2000 - entrances were cut short, for example - general gameplay saw a marked improvement, with a structured grappling system based around move lengths and impact, a finely tuned countering mechanic and a huge number of moves to suit every style.
Customisation was made deeper, still, with a large library of visual options and attributes for crafting an in-ring version of yourself, while No Mercy was perhaps the first wrestling game to nail storytelling in the same way as WWE does on TV, with cut-scenes made integral, rather than afterthoughts.
Honourable mention: WWE Crush Hour (2003)
Wrestlers in cars firing rockets. That was the premise of Crush Hour and, well, it was about as ridiculous as you’d expect. Not pure enough for WWE fans and not nearly well executed enough for car-racing enthusiasts, Crush Hour suffered from clunky controls, few moves and generally uninspiring environments.
All the same, with each superstar driving a car styled and exaggerated to match their persona - with bull horns on The Rock’s wagon - and enough terrible voiceovers to make it laughable, Crush Hour was a game that, with a few spare hours and not much discernment, could be thoroughly entertaining.
Reimagined today, it would surely be an online classic: think Rocket League with title belts.
1) WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain (2003)
For anyone who played Here Comes the Pain, this should be no surprise. Everything from the gameplay to the story-telling to the sheer breadth of realism offered made the final standalone Smackdown! title a hands-down winner.
Here Comes the Pain threw everything at the mat. More than 50 superstars made it onto the roster, while several match types were seen for the first time - including the Elimination Chamber.
More than this, though, it was a game with real depth: besides excellent graphics, gameplay mechanics were reimagined (with new body damage and submission meters) while storylines, written by the same people who wrote the TV scripts, were thoroughly thought-out and engaging.
What’s the bottom line? This is the best WWE wrestling game ever made.