One of professional wrestling’s most popular and convoluted stipulations is finally making its way into the WWE 2K franchise. “The Match Beyond” A.K.A. WarGames sees two teams of 4-5 wrestlers compete in two rings surrounded by a large steel cage. Sounds simple, right? Well, only one person from each team starts the match. Another member from one team enters after a certain amount of time has passed, and that continues until everyone from both teams has entered. Once that happens, the teams can actually win the match.
WarGames is the creation of legendary wrestler Dusty Rhodes; and remained a staple of JCP and WCW until the WWF (now WWE) buyout in 2001. The match was revived in 2017 as a part of WWE’s developmental brand NXT with NXT TakeOver WarGames. However, there were some slight changes. The cage no longer had a roof, and pinfalls were now a viable way to win. Before, teams could only win by submission / forfeit.
NXT TakeOver WarGames remained an NXT staple until 2022, when The Match Beyond graduated to the big leagues. On September 19th, 2022, new creative head Triple H (who was the creative head of NXT from 2010-2021) announced that Survivor Series would see the main roster debut of the stipulation, with that year’s show officially being called Survivor Series WarGames.
Official WWE games developer 2K capitalized on this by adding the special match to the upcoming WWE 2K23 game, set to release in March. The addition is the main focus of most of the marketing, and it’s got a lot of people excited. Is the future as bright as 2K makes it out to be? The answer may not be as cut and dry as you think.
Innovation That Excites
Long story short: It’s the first new match type in a very long time.
2K’s brand of simulated sports-entertainment features its fair share of match variety, though there are notable exceptions. Beloved stipulations like Special Guest Referee and Inferno saw their removal throughout the years, and the 5-on-5 Survivor Series match isn’t possible to do, as the games can only support up to teams of 4. So, a new match type like WarGames is nice to see, even if it’s already been around for five years.
The addition of WarGames also potentially means more unique stipulations in the future. 2K insinuated in their first Ringside Report for 2K23 that many changes were made to the core engine, allowing for the match to be fully implemented properly. This could mean the return of Special Guest Referee matches, or the debut of new stipulations like the Iron Survivor Challenge introduced at NXT Deadline in 2022.
2K is not afraid to take risks with the WWE 2K series, for better or worse.
Almost every new release in the franchise comes with one big innovation that the marketing focuses on. From an overhaul in graphics, to an apology tour for the disastrous WWE 2K20. WWE 2K22 was a risk, but also played things safe. All the company needed to begin to redeem themselves was a competent game, and that’s exactly what we got. The game’s stability improved, along with drastic changes to the core gameplay and MyCareer mode, renamed MyRise. However, a lot of things felt bare bones.
The return of beloved game mode GM Mode under the name MyRise felt like a stripped down version of what used to be, the sandbox mode Universe felt neglected yet again, and the virtual card collecting mode MyFaction felt unnecessary. The addition of WarGames shows that 2K is back to taking risks with the series, implementing things that may or may not be improvements. While the quality and difference from 2K22 waits to be seen, players can take solace in the fact that it won’t be a straight up roster update.
Days of Future Past
One of the longest running issues with the WWE 2K games is how outdated they are.
The WWE moves at a rapid pace, with an ever-shifting roster of characters, gimmicks, and presentations. A lot can change in one month in the WWE. So, you can imagine how outdated a game released in March 2022 is that stopped updating the roster after August 2021. Even then, certain character models and arenas are from 2020 and late-2019. So, 2K adding an arena from November 2022 into the game springs hope that things might not be incredibly outdated before launch day.
Statute of Limitations
There’s plenty of 2K23 footage out there, and I have some concerns.
My first concern is mainly for myself and anyone else who spends most of their time in Universe Mode. As insinuated in the Ringside Report, it seems that WarGames will only be playable in three specific arenas: NXT WarGames 2021, Survivor Series WarGames, and an unseen MyRise arena. So, that potentially means players can’t book a WarGames match for WrestleMania, SummerSlam, or any other Premium Live Event. And, NXT WarGames 2021 was under NXT 2.0, which ended in September 2022. Also it seems that, regardless of arena, the countdown graphic to the next entrant is always from NXT WarGames 2021.
Staying on the subject of NXT WarGames 2021, it’s the only arena where the cage setup looks good. It’s the only time in WWE history that the cages housing the team members before they enter is in the crowd instead of the stage. So, obviously, they decided to take the setup used once instead of the one used five times. Paying close attention to the cage setup in the Survivor Series WarGames arena shows the setup clipping through the arena as if it was just slapped on.
Smoke & Mirrors
Dashing your dreams into dust.
It’s entirely possible that 2K thought WarGames was a big enough addition to satisfy players for another year. Even with fans begging for updates and improvements to other game modes, they might go unheard. They promise that MyGM and MyRise have received significant changes, that has yet to be seen. Along with the fact that those changes might not even be for the better. If 2K is banking a year’s worth of gameplay on one match type, it may just blow up in their face.
Not to mention that it’s entirely possible content was removed to make space for WarGames, which also remains to be seen. Other yearly sports releases like Madden, while not 2K, use that excuse to justify cut content. As they make enough money with their MUT mode to not need to actually try and improve their game. With WWE 2K22 introducing MyFaction and 2K23 bringing online play to it, it’s entirely possible they’re headed in that direction.
It remains to be seen whether WarGames will be a welcome addition to WWE 2K23, or another breadcrumb on the trail of the mythical perfect wrestling game. Releasing in March ahead of The Grandaddy of Them All, WrestleMania, it’s only a matter of time before the answer is found.