AEW Dynamite has recently been highlighting several surprise appearances and debuts. First, they shocked the wrestling world with their Don Callis and Kenny Omega storyline. And now with the arrival of KENTA they have started officially doing storylines with New Japan Pro Wrestling. They have also worked closely with AAA and the National Wrestling Alliance. It is so tempting to dream that their upcoming console video game, designed by Yukes, can be nicknamed, “Virtual Pro Wrestling 3.”
It is a rough time for wrestling video game fans. The WWE 2K series has always had plenty of issues. But with the release of WWE 2K20, wrestling video games hit an all time low. And while there are games like Fire Pro Wrestling World and TEW 2020 available, neither game offers what many fans are looking for.
The Nintendo 64 generation of wrestling games is still considered the height of the genre. This is recently highlighted by Sami Callihan using a barb wire wrapped N64 controller in his match with Eddie Edwards during Impact Wrestling’s January 2021 pay-per-view, Hard to Kill. And at the same pay-per-view, Kenny Omega made wrestling history by appearing in the main event in a six-man tag match.
Kenny Omega loves pro wrestling. Kenny Omega also loves video games. Kenny Omega also believes that Virtual Pro Wrestling 2, a Japan only N64 release, is the greatest wrestling game ever made. Many fans agree with this statement. And if they disagree, they likely do believe that either WCW/NWO Revenge or WWF No Mercy is the rightful G.O.A.T..
Regardless of one’s stance on Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 v. WWF No Mercy, each game was directed by Hideyuki Iwashita. Iwashita is currently helping to design the new AEW console game. This almost guarantees All Elite Wrestling’s first major video game release will be a quality title.
But what makes games like Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 so appealing? Naturally people often cite the fluid gameplay and easy accessibility. However, the thing I like most about Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 is that it brings multiple promotions together in one video game. Members of New Japan, All Japan, FMW, Michinoku Pro, Osaka Pro, Toryumon, RINGS, Pride FC, Pancrase and Battlarts are all represented in the game.
And with KENTA’s arrival on the first Dynamite in February 2021, this gives further hope that the AEW console game can become a kind of, “Virtual Pro Wrestling 3.” At the time of writing, AEW appears to have a working relationship with AAA, New Japan, Impact and the National Wrestling Alliance.
Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 also featured an MMA-style mode. Today’s MMA video game scene is also somewhat barren. EA has been releasing UFC licensed games for the better part of a decade. The games are fun, but they have severely limited rosters that treat UFC as the only MMA promotion in the world. Many gamers end up turning to Fire Pro Wrestling World to get their MMA fix as it has three MMA and shoot fighting modes.
Yukes is also the company behind Fire Pro Wrestling World. It may be too much to ask, but now is the time to hope for the contemporary, “Bridge of Dreams,” style wrestling video game. AEW has also featured personalities from the MMA promotion, Bellator, in the past. If any new wrestling game is going to give players a chance to flesh out their Royce Gracie v. Samoa Joe at the Tokyo Dome fantasies, it is likely this upcoming AEW title.
It also wasn’t just KENTA’s arrival on February 3rd that shows potential for the AEW game. The brackets for the AEW Women’s Number 1 Contender Tournament were also announced. The tournament will feature two brackets, one from America and one from Japan. And besides regular AEW talent like Emi Sakura, this tournament will also feature independent wrestlers such as Aja Kong. So it is likely such wrestlers will also be included in the game’s roster.
AEW has shown willingness to work with and highlight wrestling promotions and talent from all over the world. We know that Kenny Omega loves wrestling and video games. And we know that his gold standard for wrestling games is Virtual Pro Wrestling 2. And with the director of said game helping to design AEW’s current first major release, expectations are already high. All the major names working on this project seem to have the same goal in mind; making the best wrestling video game possible. And given the direction AEW’s actual wrestling product continues to travel in, gaming fans have a lot to be excited about.