The WWE 2K series of professional wrestling video games began in 2000 with the release of WWF SmackDown! for the PlayStation console. The series can be categorized into four separate sub-series/eras:
The SmackDown! series (2000-2003); a PlayStation-exclusive series produced by THQ and Yuke's with fast arcade-like gameplay.
The SmackDown vs. Raw series (2004-2010); continuation of the THQ/Yuke's partnership. Originally cashing in on the brand warfare theme, it later became known for its Genre Shift from arcade-like gameplay to simulation, becoming a yearly institution in the vein of the Madden NFL games. The series went multi-platform, appearing on the Xbox 360, with the release of SmackDown vs. Raw 2007. SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 added the Wii to the list of platforms. The era was also known for suffering with Capcom Sequel Stagnation.
The WWE series (2011-2012); the final era from THQ. A major retool of the series gameplay-wise for next generation consoles exclusively, a brand new engine and quite a number of changes made in the latter parts of the SmackDown vs. Raw era reverted.
The WWE 2K series (2013-); the result of THQ's bankruptcy and the pre-meditated selling of their WWE licence to Take-Two Interactive. Published under the 2K Sports label, Yuke's will remain to develop the games with the additional help from Visual Concepts.
Tropes associated with this series include:
Adaptation Decay: The real Championship Scramble's main draw is that the title can potentially change hands multiple times before the end of the match. In the game, the AI will just break up every pinfall when after the third superstar/diva enters the ring, meaning that unless there was a pinfall early on, the title probably won't change hands.
'12 introduced the longly-awaited Create-An-Arena mode, while '13 allowed players to edit the stage for the first time.
Announcer Chatter: And it tends to vary on how good or bad it can be, with the worst cases getting match type wrong and addressing wrestlers who are not even in the game. WWE 12 has improved on it greatly making it the best in quite some time.
"And this should be an amazing contest between these two men." Unless they're from The Crying Game it's odd hearing this in a divas match.
Artifact Title: In WWE '12, "Road to WrestleMania" is no longer a three month path to the WWE's Pay Per View spectacle, & instead has the player play through three consecutive storylines occuring concurrently, the time period covering no less than threeWrestleMania shows. The final nail comes when you realise the final match doesn't even occur at the event, instead coming at a revived WCW's "Starrcade" Pay Per View instead.
Artificial Stupidity: The AI, due to bad programming, will end up in a 1-vs-1 match with two AI's. Another person runs down while one has the other in a pin to distract the referee. Due to the way the game works, the one guy that's pinning won't stop the pin, the one guy that's getting pinned won't kick out, and the guy that runs out (occasionally) won't stop distracting the referee, leaving you caught in an INFINITE FUCKING LOOP. The only way to stop this infinite loop is to stop the match in some way.
Artistic License - Geography: The Road to WrestleMania mode in '12 features an Evil BritPower Stable called the "United Kingdom" consisting of two Englishmen in Wade Barrett and William Regal, a Scotsman in Drew McIntyre and an Irishman in Sheamus. Nobody told the storyline writers that Sheamus is from the Republic of Ireland, which is separate from the UK.
Somewhat related, but apparently the UK is only made of England, Scotland and Ireland. This is despite the fact that the roster includes Welshman Mason Ryan.
The first three or four games took place during the era, with Shut Your Mouth current to mid 2002 after the draft and brand expansion. Since then classic wrestlers and storylines would be offered up. The Legends Tour in 2006 for example was a New Generation\Attitude storyline, specifically the Montreal Screwjob, Hulk Hogan and The Rock teaming up and the legendary Hell in a Cell with The Undertaker and Mankind.
For several years challenges would be offered that included matches from Rock 'n Wrestling to the PG era, which included the Rock 'n Sock Connection, the Bret Hart\"Stone Cold" Steve Austin match at WrestleMania XIII, the Brothers of Destruction and the Rock\Austin match at WrestleMania X-Seven.
WWE 13 replaces "Road to WrestleMania" mode with "Attitude Era" mode, which allows the player to relive the highlights of the period.
Maybe, Sheamus counts in WWE '12 but Triple H's story started with HHH beating up Sheamus.
Beat Them at Their Own Game: Many installments allow wrestlers to add insult to injury by giving them the ability to use their opponent's finishing maneuvers against them.
Berserk Button: The game treats gaining a signature or finishing move, or gaining the comeback mechanic, as this. It will do whatever it has to do, no matter how much it has to cheat, to prevent you from using it.
Betting Mini-Game: The PSP version of 2006 featured a number of console-exclusive minigames, including a Poker game.
The "Villain Story" in WWE '12, starring Sheamus. He manages to win every title in WWE by beating your former peers in the United Kingdom, only for Triple H to beat Sheamus up and win the WWE Title off of him. Interestingly, this is the transition point into the "Outsider Story" portion of RtWM.
In the earlier SmackDown games losing during storylines had some actual effect on the storyline being told creating different scenarios, now in the newer games version of Season Mode losing forces you to either rematch or quit the mode.
After your final match in the Season Mode of Shut Your Mouth (at WrestleMania 2004), Mr. McMahon comes out and disrespects your performance. You are given three options to choose from: "Shut Your Mouth!!", "Shut Your Mouth!!", and "Shut Your Mouth!!"... all of which result in a vicious beatdown on Vinnie Mac from you and your WM opponent.
Call Back: In John Cena's Road to WrestleMania in '11, he and MVP are forced to fight in a tag match under Better-Than-Utopian rules Now known as "Age of Orton" rules, a ruleset MVP had created to use against Cena back in the '09 edition of SvR.
Shawn Michaels' Road to WrestleMania in 2010 had JBL play a farewell tribute video for HBK, that included clips from Know Your Role, Shut Your Mouth, SvR 2007 and SvR 2009.
Cannon Fodder: The battle royals in 2009 and 2011 in which the player has to eliminate an army of masked men and "lost soul" druids respectively.
Character Customization: With truly a ludicrous amount of detail available the series is the standard bearer for wrestling games, perhaps in all video games. It has a budding community that produces thousands of works that you could download to the game in recent years.
Jeff Jarrett & Goldust were originally going to be included in the first game, but their departures to WCW saw them removed before release. Their bodies were later included in the Create-A-Wrestler mode in 'SmackDown 2: Know Your Role'', including their heads. However, the WWE was seemingly upset enough for the former's name to be censored out of footage for the Survivor Series Deadly Game tournament in '13.
Ken Shamrock & The Big Show in SmackDown 2: Know Your Role. However, this doesn't stop them from occasionally turning up in the Royal Rumble, complete with their entrance themes.
Hulk Hogan & Ultimate Warrior in SmackDown: Here Comes The Pain. Hogan was removed due to his own WWE departure under bad terms earlier in the year.
Sergeant Slaughter, Eddie Guerrero and Jim Neidhart were originally intended to be in the PlayStation 2 & PSP versions of SmackDown Vs. Raw 2008, but the decision was made to make them exclusive to PSP & their models were removed from the PS2 release; their unique entrances & moves are available in all versions of the game.
Chris Benoit, for obvious reasons, was completely removed from the game with only his entrance left in the game. By using a cheat device, one can find an empty character slot with his attributes & complete move list, along with Benoit's signature moves which otherwise remain inaccessible in the game.
Early-Installment Weirdness: In the earlier games, there was no referee, you had to cross your fingers if you were caught in a submission hold hoping you wouldn't submit. The entrance videos only appear with the superstar walking in the middle. There were certain moves that could automatically throw you out of the ring. Divas were included in royal rumble matches. In the first game you either had to pick your opponent up or have the Turn face front as move in order to hit standing finishers.
Easily-Distracted Referee: May be prevalent in all games, but in '13, if a challenge is to pin someone in 10 seconds and that person has a manager at ringside, be ready for much rage, as that manager will make the referee stop counting for some reason, get up and have the referee try to keep that person out.
Fanservice: 2006 introduced the Fulfill Your Fantasy Mode essentially a cosplay version of the Bra & Panties mode with some slight tweaks.
The previous game had various divas dancing during the menu screens.
Shut Your Mouth had an unlockable video: footage from the divas' swimsuit photoshoot.
Failure Is the Only Option: In 2010 and 2011 some of the RtWM storylines dictate that your character get beaten up resulting in a loss or something close to it.
Fleeting Demographic Rule: Mickie James's RtWM in 2010. Her RtWM involves Natalya as her crazy stalker, a part Mickie herself played against Trish Stratus when she arrived at WWE.
2007 has a storyline with Stephanie McMahon that is very close to the "Higher Power" angle, with Roddy Piper taking the place of The Undertaker. Both involve Vince McMahon aligning with someone he was feuding with to rescue his kidnapped daughter, and Vince is the mastermind of both kidnappings.
Fun with Acronyms: If you choose a created superstar for the Road to WrestleMania mode in '12, his name will be Jacob Cass, i.e. Create A Super Star.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Multiple cases, but here's one of the more egregious ones. When playing through Sheamus' "Road To WrestleMania" in WWE 12, you find yourself in a tag team match against John Cena and Rey Mysterio. You can beat the hell out of Cena to the point where you're just seconds away from hitting him with your finisher...and then before the match ends it goes to a cutscene where you're getting ready to hit Rey with a finisher and Cena (who seems to be in no pain at all) stops you before you can.
Gang Up on the Human: Triple threat or fatal 4 way matches usually end up just a glorified handicap match, to the point where in a triple threat match if you are pinned the third CPU opponent will happily stand by and lose, [[We Win Because You Didn't just so long as you do as well.
Head Swap: Both played with straight and inverted in the first two SmackDown games with the Create-A-Superstar mode. You can use existing heads, torsos or legs from existing characters.
Hostile Show Takeover: WWE '12 rehashes the 2001 WCW invasion storyline. Strangely enough, the storyline features WCW acting nWo-like such as spraypainting WWE title belts, which is ironic considering the nWo did the exact same thing to WCW in the 1990s.
Glass Jaw Referee: Somewhat averted in recent games whereby you can still knock down the referee but now he can't be targeted and he no longer stays down for very long.
Groin Attack: Be honest, the first thing you did with the Create-A-Finisher mode was make a move that consisted of 10 consecutive low blows...
Guest Fighter: The series has seen quite a number of guest fighters, notably the inclusions of legends since HCTP. Although the series has seen a few other non-legendary guests:
Interface Spoiler: The Hero story in WWE '12 - Kevin Nash & Rey Mysterio have defeated Jacob Cass & Triple H at WrestleMania, bringing back WCW... And then the credits roll. The astute player will notice that the achievement/trophy unlock hasn't pinged to let you know you've unlocked the "Complete Hero Story" achievement/trophy, and then the credits are interrupted by Kevin Nash in the Nitro ring.
Jerkass: In RtW in 2011, everyone you talk to backstage (storylines aside) treats you like crap.
Karma Houdini: In RtW Edge and Randy Orton in 2010. Subverted with Chris Jericho in 2011.
Pushed to even further levels in 2011 with Edge and Christian:
Edge: "Dude, we totally fooled the player into thinking we weren't going to reunite."
Christian: "I know, we totally ... wait a minute? Player? What player?"
Edge: "You see that weirdo staring at us through the TV?"
[Edge & Christian both look directly into the screen, with Edge waving at the player]
Christian: "No, but I'll take your word for it."
There's also a scene where The Miz and John Morrison insult Triple H, saying how only losers play games.
For that matter, there's a scene in WWE'12 where The Miz insults Triple H. The Game speaks for us all.
Man I wish we weren't in the PG era right now.
WWE 12 answers the fan reaction of how much Michael Cole is pushed by making him a full on God-Mode Sue, wrestling for the World Title every night.
Loads and Loads of Characters: For most fighting games, having fifty characters is an incredible feat. Using the latest WWE 13 as an example, that's how many custom characters you can have, and with all the superstars and divas that you can buy, download and unlock the roster is nearly double that.
One of the few complaints of 2006, made worse if playing with created wrestlers.
SmackDown 2: Know Your Role was this series' first offender of this trope. Compared to the original SmackDown, not only it took its' time to load the arena during the Anywhere Fall matches, it has also reloaded the backstage scenery and the wrestlers despite all that data has already been seen in a cutscene right before that. As if that wasn't enough, in a Royal Rumble, each wrestler had to load after the countdown. This has to be done in its predecessor, but the loading times were even shorter. In fact, they took a couple of seconds. SmackDown 2's loading took roughly 7 seconds each.
Madden Curse: A variation: everyone that feuds with the Undertaker has had something bad happen. At the extreme end is the aforementioned Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit tragedies; in more recent editions the Phenom seems content with getting people injured, suspended or fired.
Played straight from 2006 to 2008, 2010, 2012 with someone on the cover of the game getting injured for a period of time in the year following the release. Notably, 2008 had Bobby Lashley, John Cena & the Undertaker on the cover & all three of them suffered notable injuries in the following year.
An interesting variant occurred with the first SvR, which featured not a wrestler but an authority figure on its cover, in this case Mr. McMahon. A few months after the game's release, McMahon slid into the ring and tore one quad and tore the other quad shortly thereafter at the 2005 Royal Rumble.
Montreal Screwjob: How do you win the final challenge in the first SmackDown vs. Raw? By having Shawn Michaels make Bret Hart tap out to the Sharpshooter. Several future installments would play with the incident, from referencing the screwjob to reenacting it being an achievement. WWE 13, concentrating on the Attitude Era, covers a little of the controversy (a cut scene has Triple H threatening that if Bret won't do business, they'll make him, hinting at the Real Life part he and Shawn played.) You can also play as a special referee and have the option of screwing a wrestler when they're in a submission.
Munchkin: The first thread on a new game is usually, "When are the CA Ws for John Cena from WWE 13 going to be up? And the ones from WWE 12, 2011, 2o1o, 2oo9, the one from WrestleMania, the one where he rapped against The Rock..." However the second thread is usually, "yo what R all teh unblockable glitched cheat moves? I go tke my 100 perfect CAW online to pwn U noobs lolz."
Mundane Made Awesome: Give your created wrestler a really lame finish and SVR (starting from 06) will "sell" the move like it's the awesome most thing ever. Watch as the game goes into slow motion with dramatic "whoosh" sound effect when your created wrestler does his finisher... an eye poke.
Obvious Beta: The last few games suffered from this. No patch was ever released to fix the bugs.
The glitches and restrictions of the SmackDown games. For example, in SvR 2010, you can download wrestlers, but not edit their moves or entrances. Have fun with that Hulk Hogan that has an improper move set and entrance. Somewhat justifiable as the downloaded CAW comes with whatever custom finisher given to them. The same, however, cannot be said about the custom tracks used as a CAW's entrance theme, leaving him/her without any music once uploaded.
No Rumble matches or any match with six competitors for Divas. My head hurts.
It's been stated that, while there are still no Superstar vs. Divas matches, Divas could now participate in any match type in 2011 (save for six-person matches due to graphical issues).
Any match with a ladder. You can place a ladder at the entrance in a match that doesn't need it and the AI will limp from the ringside announce tables to get it. No. Matter. WHAT.
Becomes a Game Breaking Glitch in Money In The Bank Ladder matches - You can take one ladder, and leave it on the stage and every single one of the AI opponents will run after it, and start fighting over it, whilst you get the other ladder & start unhooking the briefcase.
Hurricane being in as an NPC in 2011 for whatever reason and not a full fledged playable character.
Interference is a pain in the ass in SvR 2011. When someone interferes on your opponent's behalf, the ref will totally ignore your pinning attempts entirely and actively seek out the interfering party. To spell it out, in a Falls Count Anywhere match, you can be wrestling someone in the entrance and someone runs out to interfere. Never mind the fact that they'll run past you and head for the ring, but if you pin your opponent, the ref will run to the ring and be "distracted".
The ability to download and upload creations is great, there's just one problem: IT. DOES. NOT. WORK. THE. GAME. WILL. NOT. GO. ONLINE.
Don't even think about messing around with the save game, it will corrupt and you'll lose all your data.
Recycled Soundtrack: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 initially had a couple of songs in its' really large arsenal, When Worlds Collide and Bring the Noise, which then were reused in the first SmackDown vs. Raw game. Of course, the songs are served exactly the same way here as they were served in the actual Tony Hawk series...
Then the entire SvR soundtrack was (re-)recycled for the first Day of Reckoning.
Relationship Values: A plus and minus personality system was used for created wrestlers in the earlier SmackDown games that would determine match interference. The system was revived and revamped for 2010, now involving every wrestler in the game. It would also play a major part in 2011's WWE Universe mode.
After a few wins in WWE 12 the computer will see fit to give your opponent a finisher whenever it is losing, and take away the kickout meter virtually guaranteeing a loss.
Shown Their Work: The 2006 game especially had lots of little nods and touches to make the game just like a live broadcast. Everything from a jab at Mohammed Hassan to someone in the crowd laughing at Mick Foley just like at a real event to references to the Montreal Screwjob.
Some of the items you can give a created wrestler fall under this category. For instance, you can give your character a hood that's not unlike Cobra Commander's.
On that note THQ's wrestling games made it pretty easy to create characters from other games. They clearly realized this as one of the default custom wrestlers in the original SmackDown vs. Raw was an Expy of Chun Li from Street Fighter.
Sound Effect Bleep: Of sorts. In WWE '13's Attitude Era mode, possibly stemming from using archive audio, whenever the original WWF initals or the full name of the company are spoken, the "F"/"Federation" part will be muted out.
Spiteful A.I.: The game mechanics are thus: do well enough to build momentum most of the way and you get a signature move, hit it and you get a much more powerful finisher. In recent years the computer hates this and will go all out to stop you hitting the signature move.
If you are trying to beat the clock, especially to fulfill an objective, the game will use the longest, most time wasting moves in their arsenal.
Stock Subtitle: From SmackDown 2 to SmackDown vs. Raw. It was joked at the time of the rebranding that they were running out of catchphrases to use, and they couldn't exactly call the game WWE SmackDown: You Can't See Me.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After almost a ten year tenure, Green and Red were Put on a Bus for WWE '12 and replaced in the create modes with two generic wrestlers with black and red trunks. Guess which of the two is getting beat up in the Create-A-Moveset mode? Yeah, it's the red one.
Take That: Against your character in Road to Wrestlemania, who has to do everything from fight in handicap matches in a stupid outfit chosen by Vince McMahon to being forced to wear a chicken suit. Santino against the player, heck, even the game itself regards you as a loser.
While your work attire might be a paper hat and smock, Vince McMahon wears luxurious suits.
The actual in-game text describing Mr. McMahon's business suit attire.
At Unforgiven during Attitude mode in WWE '13, Good Ol' JR will soundly tear apart Eric Bishoff over his real life statement that "Stone Cold" Steve Austin would never make it in the wrestling business. Later, when Mick Foley wins his first championship, the game brings up the Take That from WCW that spectacularly failed and essentially killed the company.
Take That, Critics!: After Just Bring It was heavily criticised by fans & critics alike over the heavily outdated rosternote None of the WCW/ECW superstars introduced during the InVasion storyline ongoing that same summer were included in the game & several technical flawsnote A story mode that lasted 3 matches at it's longest, graphics that simply looked like a cleaner version of the prior year's SmackDown 2 on the original PlayStation & requiring a save file that took over half of the space on the Memory Cards, the severely improved follow-up released the next year was appropriately entitled Shut Your Mouth.
Taunt Button: Which has the purpose of filling a superstar's "Adrenaline" a bit, in order to reach a point where they can use a signature manuever on an opponent.
The Computer Shall Taunt You: During Chris Jericho's RtWM in the 2011 game, you have to wrestle a match with Triple H sitting in on commentary and continually talking about what a joke you are, providing incentive to go after him later on.
If the commentators are actively involved in the match, they will comment on this fact.
The expansions made in the WWE'12 commentary are interesting, to say the least:
If you pit Daniel Bryan against CM Punk, the commentary will make note of both as being former indy stars, and that this match will be one that internet fans will love. Also, pitting Daniel Bryan against William Regal will also yield dialogue about both mens history as student and teacher.
Michael Cole is seen as The Scrappy and Creator's Pet. If you download him in WWE 12 every single show in Universe will place him in a main or high ranking title match. Change the match so he does not take part and nine times out of ten the next card will be changed to feature him.
On an episode of NXT Trish Stratus criticized the practice of adjusting tights during a match. In the game when there's a break in the action she might very well adjust her tights.
Unexpected Character: Due to the possibility of the roster being out of date resulting from earlier cutoff dates, there are some characters that appear despite no longer being in the WWE. There are also straighter examples within each installment (i.e. Vance Archer in 2011)
Rob Van Dam in 2011 may be the most triumphant example, let alone as one of the Legends, due to his debuting in TNA earlier in the year. This was largely down to the decision to include RVD & signing the deal to get him in the game happened before his TNA debut.
Brock Lesnar in WWE '12, especially since Brock hadn't been seen in a WWE ring again for nearly 8 years.
WWE '13 has Mike Tyson reprising his role as the enforcer of the WrestleMania XIV main event; and Gangrel, since no-one expected THQ & WWE to license the character's name from White Wolf for the sole purpose of including him as DLC.
WWE 2K14 has Ultimate Warrior & Hulk Hogan; with the former's notable bad blood with the WWE & the later being a part of TNA for a few years prior to the game's release - however, with the game celebrating 30 years of WrestleMania, it wouldn't feel like a real celebration of the event's history without the two.
Goldberg is another example, as his sole WrestleMania match was the infamous match with Brock Lesnar, where the crowd had turned on both competitors due to their leaving the WWE after the show.
Vagueness Is Coming: After a main event in 13's universe mode one possible scene is the message The End is Coming as the competitors look freaked out. Get ready for someone on the roster to get a big push.
Viral Marketing: WWE '13 did this with "A Revolution Is Coming" viral videos popping up on WWE.com, with many people thinking it was going to be a new wrestler or event. As it turned out, it was the announcement of WWE '13 with the revolution part tying in with CM Punk as the game's cover star.
Versus Title: SmackDown Vs Raw 2005-2011 (2004 was the first game and didn't have the year on it)
Video Game Caring Potential: Yes. In earlier games with GM mode where wrestlers were more vocal about being mistreated, or Universe mode you can to some degree control how they are utilized. Naturally you'd want your favorites to gain momentum but you might want to give someone who is crapped on for real a push, or help build the tag team and Diva divisions. And some of the earlier scenes where you are fighting to save a Diva, or get in a relationship with one, or you go to them (or better yet, they come to you on Valentine's Day, especially if you made a CAW you dearly love,) DAWWWWWW.
What the Hell, Hero?: SvR 2011, Rey Mysterio throughout his RtW get these from Superstars and Divas, stating that he's Not Himself. Justified as he's been in a car accident and has since been hanging with Jack Swagger, the person behind the accident in the first place.
Not unless you download him from Xbox Live / the Playstation Network.
Would Hit a Girl: For most of the series, you could put divas in the ring against the men. Many pre-Sv R games could even extend the female characters' rights by making them either male or genderless. WWF SmackDown: Shut Your Mouth, in turn, had no other option of putting a female CAW into the Career Mode rather than choosing the second option. As of 2010, there is no more intergender competition other than Mixed Tag Team matches - someone in THQ management thought that the possibility of the girls beating the guys devalued the guys.
This changed also came about as WWE banned man-on-woman violence post-2008 as part of the process of cleaning up the company's image.