As crazy as it may sound, 2016 is a great time to be a wrestling fan. Thanks to a variety of streaming services from around the world, fans have access to everything, from US indie wrestling to lucha libre and Japanese #puroresu. It is an especially good time to be a #WWE fan. Not only has the company expanded #cruiserweight and women's wrestling, but thanks to the WWE Network, a large chunk of programming is now at our fingertips, with episodes of SmackDown and Raw, as well as pay-per-views available to stream. And for a more interactive experience, you can recreate some of your favorite matches via the WWE 2K video game series.
For the past few years, these WWE games have featured Showcase Mode, which lets players relive some of the best moments in WWE history. It covered everything, from the John #Cena vs CM Punk saga, to some of the biggest ever WrestleMania matches. Even though WWE 2K17 doesn't have Showcase Mode, you can still recreate those iconic fights thanks to the game's vast exhibition mode. Featuring more than 100 superstars (including 26 fighters making their first appearance) you can be anyone, from WWE champs, NXT wrestlers and even WWE Hall of Famers. With its extensive roster and numerous match types, here are 15 classic matches you can relive thanks to #WWE2K17.
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15. Brock Lesnar Vs. The Rock
Winner: Brock Lesnar
The big focus of the series this year is Brock Lesnar, and with good reason. This modern-day warrior is the only superstar to not only conquer the WWE, but also the world of #MMA. A former #UFC champion, one of the biggest moments of his career was when he took on the people's champ, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Using mostly power moves, Lesnar controlled most of the match. After taking two Rock Bottoms and still kicking out, Lesnar escaped a third attempt from The Rock, hitting him with an F-5 to win his first WWE title.
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14. Randy Orton Vs. Cactus Jack
Winner: Randy Orton
Making his WWE debut in 2002, #RandyOrton really made a name for himself as a member of Evolution. Dubbing himself "The Legend Killer," this cocky villain met his match in Mick Foley's alter ego Cactus Jack. Blood and tacks were spilled as Orton gave everything he had to take out the Hardcore Legend. Showing his mettle like never before, Orton won after delivering an RKO from out of nowhere onto a barbed-wire baseball bat.
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13. Shinsuke Nakamura Vs. Sami Zayn
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Few WWE debuts were as hyped as that of #ShinsukeNakamura. The former New Japan Pro-Wrestling champion had his first WWE match against #SamiZayn at NXT TakeOver: Dallas. Nakamura's unique offense seemed to confuse the former NXT champ, before Zayn reversed a Kinshasa into a Blue Thunder Bomb. Slowly staggering to his feet, the two traded hard elbows, culminating in Nakamura's nose busting open. Going for a desperate exploder suplex into the turnbuckle, Nakamura was able to reverse it and hit the Kinshasa for a hard-earned victory. In one of my favorite sights of the year, after Nakamura went backstage, an arena full of fans sang Zayn's theme as he exited the NXT ring for the final time.
12. Cactus Jack Vs. Triple H
Winner: Triple H
As good as the Cactus Jack vs. Randy Orton match was, it was nothing compared to Cactus's match against Triple H at the 2000 edition of the #RoyalRumble. The two engaged in a wild brawl, hitting each other with everything they could muster as they steamrolled into the crowd. Heading back to the ring, the two exchanged hard shots with a barbed-wire-covered two-by-four that split both superstars wide open. It took Triple H hitting the Hardcore Legend into thumbtacks to end this brutal, bloody battle.
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11. Bayley Vs. Sasha Banks
For the past few years, WWE has made a concerted effort to highlight women’s wrestling with the #DivasRevolution. The has seen particular focus on on the Four Horsewomen — Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte and Becky Lynch. Feuding with Banks for the past two years, Bayley finally got her shot at the NXT women's title at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn. It was a well-fought bout that featured the two kicking out of each other’s finishers multiple times. Only after a #Frankensteiner off the top rope and a second Bayley-to-Belly Suplex did Bayley win the NXT title. A match-of-the-year contender, this event did wonders for legitimizing women’s wrestling in WWE.
10. Chris Jericho Vs. Shawn Michaels
Winner: Shawn Michaels
Some of the best wrestlers have been inspired by their forefathers. One notable example is how Chris Jericho's career mirrored that of "The Heartbreak Kid," Shawn Michaels. Tired of living in the shadow of his idol, the two faced off at 2003's #WrestleMania XIX. It was a fast, technical match between #Y2J and Mr. WrestleMania. Seemingly on even keel, it was only when Michaels countered a #suplex into a roll-up that he got a fluke win. The two would go on to have plenty of great matches, but this WrestleMania classic may be their best.
9. Eddie Guerrero Vs. Brock Lesnar
Winner: Eddie Guerrero
Beloved by fans and wrestlers alike, #EddieGuerrero reached the pinnacle of the wrestling biz in 2004. Going up against #BrockLesnar, many saw this match as a classic case of David vs. Goliath, with underdog Eddie seemingly unable to slay the giant. Countering Lesnar's second F-5, Guerrero hit the frog splash off the top rope and took the title in front of an audience that included his family. In an industry that at times can get pretty dark, Guerrero's win remains an inspiration.
8. Shawn Michaels Vs. The Undertaker
Winner: The Undertaker
At WrestleMania XXVI, Shawn Michaels did the impossible: He retired on top. Putting his career on the line against The #Undertaker's WrestleMania hot streak, the two veterans hit each other with everything they had in their respective arsenals. Kicking out of a choke slam and a Last Ride powerbomb, Michaels took to the top rope and hit a #moonsault that put the Dead Man through the announcers' table. Surviving a second superkick, it takes The Undertaker two Tombstone piledrivers before he could pin Mr. WrestleMania to continue his winning streak.
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7. John Cena Vs. Daniel Bryan
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Very rarely does an outsider make it to the upper echelon of WWE, but when they do it can make for an inspiring, emotion-filled match. There's no better example of this than seeing former Ring of Honor champion Daniel Bryan take on John Cena at #SummerSlam 2013. While a motivated Cena held his own, with hard-hitting moves like a corner #hurricanrana, it was Bryan who stole the show. Blessed with a "never give up" attitude usually associated with the likes of Cena, Bryan was able to hit a running knee to Cena's face for the clean win. While the celebration was short-lived, seeing someone work as hard as #DanielBryan was a classic SummerSlam moment.
6. 'Macho Man' Randy Savage Vs. The Ultimate Warrior
Winner: The Ultimate Warrior
Two legends. One match. Careers on the line. You can't get much bigger than that. Despite The #UltimateWarrior having an early advantage, Savage was able to dominate most of the match. Regardless, no matter how many flying elbow drops Savage delivered (five in total), he couldn't put away the man from Parts Unknown. Rising after the fifth elbow drop, Warrior hit several shoulder blocks before getting the pinfall.
5. John Cena Vs Brock Lesnar
Winner: John Cena
One of the biggest returns in WWE in the past few years was Lesnar's. Fresh off his first UFC stint, he took on Cena, WWE's biggest star. Without hesitation Lesnar took down Cena and cut him with elbows from inside the guard. Continuing his MMA-inspired attacks, he brutalized Cena with clotheslines, punches and knees. After nearly 20 minutes Cena was able to eke out a win by hitting the former UFC champ with a chain and delivering an #AttitudeAdjustment.
4. 'Macho Man' Randy Savage Vs. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat
Winner: Ricky Steamboat
One of the most acclaimed matches in WrestleMania history, #RandySavage vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat is a perfect one to relive. Despite the Dragon's superior athleticism, Macho Man used as many dirty tactics as he could to maintain the upper hand. But with the fans and George "The Animal" Steele behind him, the Dragon was able to stay fired up. Going for the ring bell to injure Steamboat's larynx, Savage was thwarted by Steele, allowing Steamboat to get a quick roll-up for the pin.
3. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart Vs. The British Bulldog
Winner: The British Bulldog
In front of a rowdy English crowd, the British Bulldog and #BretHart tore the house down at SummerSlam 1992. In classic underdog fashion, The Hitman relied on his technical ability, while Bulldog used his strength advantage. It was a back-and-forth that saw Hart relying on a plancha and sleeper holds, while Bulldog, a.k.a Davey Boy Smith, used slams and suplexes. Throwing Hart into the ropes after escaping the sharpshooter, Bulldog was able to reverse a sunset flip into a pin. In his book, Hart claims this was his best match, and it's difficult to argue that point.
2. Shawn Michaels Vs. Razor Ramon
Winner: Razor Ramon
Rarely is a match considered truly revolutionary, but that is the perfect description for this battle between #ShawnMichaels and #RazorRamon. One of WWE's first ladder matches, the two took crazy risks that at the time had never been seen before. Even without the ladder, moments like Michaels slamming Razor onto concrete after escaping a Razor’s Edge are just as impressive now as they were back when the match first aired. The belt within reach, Ramon was able to push Michaels off the ropes and take the title. With so much innovation and high-flying action, it's easy to see why this match influenced a generation of wrestlers.
1. Bret Hart Vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Winner: Bret Hart
Stone Cold #SteveAustin has had a Showcase Mode before, but this match is too great to ignore. With Ken Shamrock as guest referee, Austin and The Hitman brawled all around the ring. Focusing on Austin's leg, "The Excellence of Execution" busted Austin open on the timekeeper's table. Put in the sharpshooter submission, Stone Cold refused to quit. Shouting in pain, he eventually passed out due to exhaustion and blood loss.
The Time Is Now
Even though the WWE 2K games have had some hiccups, they've continued to improve over the years. With its biggest roster of fighting heroes yet in WWE 2K17, we're close to having the ultimate professional wrestling gaming experience. Do we finally have a worthy challenger to go up against WWF No Mercy?
Did you see your favorite match on this list? Who would you like to see appear in a future WWE 2K game? Hit up the comments section and let me know.