With the recent announcement that Brock Lesnar would be gracing the cover of the upcoming WWE 2K17 video game, fans have been quick to share their opinion on the company's choice of cover star.
As usual, some are pleased and some not much, but I thought now would be an appropriate time to take a trip down video game memory lane and look back at some of the superstars who have graced previous WWE video game covers.
Check out the Brock Lesnar cover reveal for WWE 2K17:
WWF Arcade Games
Back in the colorful days of the WWF, the console games were published by Acclaim Sports. The games themselves were very fantastical, much like games you would play in an arcade. As you can see above, the cover of WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game featured Razor Ramon, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels (some versions also featured the Undertaker).
WWF: In Your House was renowned for its settings based around the characters like the Undertaker's crypt and Shawn Michaels' Heartbreak Hotel. The cover featured Michaels and Hart as well as Vader.
WWF War Zone And WWF Attitude
As WWF programming became more cutting edge, so did their games. The next two outings from Acclaim Sports would be edgier and far more adult, reflecting WWF's shifting tone. The covers followed suit, with War Zone featuring the company's biggest star at the time: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. The sequel WWF Attitude also featured Austin, along with the company's other biggest stars of the day like Undertaker, the Rock, Mankind and Triple H.
WWF WrestleMania 2000 And WWF No Mercy
After the success THQ gaming had with rival company WCW, WWF parted ways with Acclaim and began working with them. Little did they know how successful this relationship would become.
Before they began their critically acclaimed SmackDown! series, THQ published WWF WrestleMania 2000 for the Nintendo 64. The game was a resounding success and received positive reviews. Its cover featured the biggest stars in the company at the time, including: The Rock, Big Show, Mankind, Triple H and the Undertaker.
They released a follow-up the next year titled WWF No Mercy. The cover would again feature The Rock and Triple H as well as Edge. Unfortunately it would be the last WWF game released for the Nintendo 64. It would have been cool if THQ continued publishing Nintendo WWE games as they were both received incredibly well by critics and fans. However, their biggest success was yet to come.
The SmackDown! Era
When THQ took over as the publishers of WWE video games and began producing them for the Playstation, a revolution was started — one that is still going strong to this day. The SmackDown! franchise was so successful it ended up spawning 12 titles under the name.
Based upon the Rock's catchphrase "Layeth the SmackDown!" which led to the TV show's creation, it's no surprise that the Rock himself was featured on the covers of the first four SmackDown! games. He was accompanied by Chyna and Mankind on the first and Triple H and Chyna again on the follow-up, Know Your Role.
Remember back in the day, playing with the incredible "Attitude Era" roster on SmackDown! or SmackDown 2? Both remain two of my favorite games of all time. Man, those were the days.
As gaming continued to modernize, the later games would actually include entrances into the arena, recorded commentary and a wider variety of matches. Aside from the Rock, other stars were featured, including Kurt Angle, Hulk Hogan and Brock Lesnar — who got the cover of SmackDown: Here Comes the Pain all to himself. A sign of things to come.
SmackDown! vs. RAW
As the brand split between RAW and SmackDown! came to the forefront of many storylines, WWE would incorporate this into their games. Not forgetting that RAW was considered the premier brand by many (debatable), they added the show's title to their games, and thus SmackDown! vs Raw was born.
And who better to cover the first cover of the spin-off game series than the genius behind WWE: Vince McMahon. The sequel, SmackDown! vs RAW 2006, would include the new faces of each respective brand in Batista and John Cena. And the 2007 edition would be fronted by WWE staple Triple H along with Cena, Batista, Torrie Wilson and Rey Mysterio.
As WWE rolled into 2008, they relied on their Phenom, the Undertaker to lead the troops on the cover of SmackDown! vs RAW 2008 as he represented the blue brand. John Cena and Bobby Lashley would accompany him in the background, representing RAW and their newly revived ECW brand respectively.
Legendary tag team D-Generation X (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) would cover the following edition in 2009, while SmackDown! vs RAW 2010 would feature a plethora of superstars including Edge, The Undertaker, John Cena, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio.
SmackDown! vs. RAW 2011 would again prominently feature the Undertaker along with mainstay Randy Orton and newcomer Sheamus (there is also an alternate cover featuring the Big Show, John Cena and the Miz). As the brand extension faded out of existence on WWE's programming, this would ultimately be the last game released under the SmackDown! branding.
However, the games would see somewhat of a change the following year and would be re-titled with the release of WWE '12 which only featured Randy Orton on the cover. THQ's final outing as publisher came in the form of WWE '13, featuring the white hot CM Punk on the cover. This game included the "Attitude Era" mode, which featured many of the legendary superstars, arenas and commentators from WWE's most successful period to date. As THQ's final WWE game, this was a really nice touch — it was a real throwback and basically an updated version of the original WWF SmackDown! video game.
The 2K Era
As Take-Two Interactive's 2K Sports took over as publisher, the WWE SmackDown! video game franchise essentially lived on in a new form. And what better superstar to signify that the game series was alive and well than the one who was associated with it in the first place? The Rock would usher in the new era, appearing on the cover of WWE 2K14 (there was also an alternate cover supplied featuring fan-favorite Daniel Bryan as well as a special "Phenom Edition" which came with a mini Undertaker casket).
The sequel WWE 2K15 featured the current face of the company John Cena, while WWE 2K16 would feature the former face of the company in Stone Cold Steve Austin in a cover that was a real throwback to Acclaim's WWF War Zone.
The latest addition to the iconic gaming saga will indeed feature the Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar who makes his first appearance on a WWE video game cover since 2003's SmackDown!: Here Comes The Pain. I must admit, it's an incredibly impressive cover and perhaps even hints at some of the ferocity we might see in the upcoming video game.
WWE video games have featured some incredible cover stars over the years, with the most consistent being The Rock, The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H, Randy Orton and John Cena. Now, that we know Brock Lesnar will be on the latest installment, the main question is: Who's next?
You'll also be able to play as Goldberg in WWE 2K17:
Which was your favorite WWE video game? Let us know in the comments!