Game Opinion: WWE 2K17 Roster Breakdown

Image Source: Deviant Art

Written By: Mark Armstrong

The full roster for WWE 2K17 has now been revealed, along with the available downloadable characters. As I will mention later, a number of alternate characters (think, a retro Kane for example) are still to be confirmed, but those aside, we now have the final line-up for 2K17.

This year, the roster is the largest yet; over 175 characters make up the crew. There are plenty of new faces who have debuted on Raw/SmackDown and NXT in the last 12 months who are here, as well as the return of some familiar faces who made a WWE comeback in 2015/6. In addition, the DLC treats us to some first-time legends and further series debutants who arrived in WWE earlier this year. So, it’s a stacked line-up; but is it the best roster to date in a WWE game?

Let’s handle the bad news first: those who have been dropped from 2K16. Since 2K16 retained most of the 2K15 legends, it was assumed that the same would apply to 2K17. But it isn’t entirely the case, as certain former stars are absent: Batista isn’t present, perhaps due to his criticism of WWE suspending Titus O’Neil earlier this year (if you think WWE wouldn’t be that petty, you don’t know WWE). Ken Shamrock, X-Pac and the Nation Of Domination members are Attitude names who won’t return this year, whilst Savio Vega, Haku and Mikey Whipwreck are further stars who have not been re-used. Some 2K15 faces like Finlay, Colonel Mustafa and General Adnan aren’t brought back here, and William Regal doesn’t have a current or retro character either. Most bafflingly, however, Rowdy Roddy Piper – who only returned in 2K16 after a long absence as a playable character in the flagship WWE series, and shortly after his sad 2015 passing – is nowhere to be found in 2K17. Why the Hot Rod has been dropped, I do not know, and represents the most glaring absentee amongst those who were in the last game.

Most of those who have left WWE in recent times (Bad News Barrett, Ryback, Damien Sandow, Cameron) are unsurprisingly not in the game, either, which is understandable; it’s one thing to reuse legends, but those who have actually left the company long before the release of the game are rarely included (Stardust still makes it in, though). Overall, then, there’s a fairly big number of wrestlers who aren’t back in the game this year; and it should be no surprise either that Hulk Hogan is also yet to be brought back into the series after his abrupt firing last year under a black cloud (although I do envision a Hogan return around WrestleMania 33 time, which could see him featured in 2K18 next autumn). That all being said, there are also a lot of new characters in this year’s game, and most of the inclusions are welcome.

All of the big names on television who we had in 2K16, including John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, The Undertaker, Triple H, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens and dozens more, are here; there are no eyebrow-raising omissions in that regard. And almost all of the stars who have debuted on WWE television in recent times are included for the first time in 2K17; the stand-out name is undoubtedly AJ Styles, who as an avid videogamer himself will be delighted at both his first year in WWE and his first-time appearance here. AJ will likely be one of the first characters that fans select when they begin to play 2K17.

In addition to AJ, we have Shinsuke Nakamura, Apollo Crews and Nia Jax as downloadable characters, along with further DLC in the form of Austin Aries, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows (in his first WWE game appearance since SmackDown vs. Raw 2011), Tye Dillinger and Mojo Rawley. Aside from DLC, other new characters include Braun Strowman, American Alpha, Dash and Dawson, Asuka, Alexa Bliss and Carmella. Oh, and the Four Horsewomen who were inexplicably left out of 2K16 are all here: Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley finally debut in 2K17.

As for legends: on the initial line-up, there are no new retro stars whatsoever (some legends return to the game, but none who have never been featured before), unless you count the fact that there are two Goldberg characters. In the DLC, though, the Legends pack sees series debuts for Greg Valentine, Psycho Sid and Tatanka, and the 2016 Hall Of Fame Showcase provides us with series debuts for Papa Shango, Kerry and Kevin Von Erich and three of the Fabulous Freebirds. Yes, three of them: Michael P.S. Hayes, Jimmy Garvin and Buddy Roberts are in, but strangely Terry Gordy (the other Freebird, and arguably the most famous Freebird) is excluded. And 2016 HOF inductee Stan Hansen is absent too. Who knows why this is the case; if you’re doing a group based on a Hall Of Fame class, why leave out two of the inductees?

Nevertheless, there are still plenty of first-time characters, with Styles, Nakamura and the Horsewomen being the most appealing current stars, and Sid and the Freebirds being stand-out legends making their series debut. Admittedly, there aren’t many more potential legends to include who haven’t been in a game before, so the number of potentially fresh options is slim; however, the number and diversity of new characters in 2K17 are satisfying on the whole.

And then there’s those making a return to the series. Alberto Del Rio is back (typically, just after he has left WWE for the second time), and the Dudley Boyz are included for the first time since SmackDown vs. Raw, released way back in late 2004. The same goes for Brutus Beefcake, who hasn’t been in any WWE games whatsoever since the 2009 title Legends Of WrestleMania, and Attitude Era names like The Godfather and Road Dogg are back too. Diesel and Razor Ramon join the aforementioned Goldberg by making their first appearance since 2K14. Eddie Guerrero is back in the game as well, with his Lie, Cheat and Steal character that made Latino Heat a much-loved name during his time in WWE. And Shane McMahon’s character model is updated, given his WWE return in February of this year. So, between the new faces and the returning names, there are plenty of characters who weren’t available in 2K16, which more than off-sets those who have been removed from the game since last year.

So, the roster for WWE 2K17 is a pretty eclectic group. Is it the best roster in a WWE game to date? It very well could be: with the exception of Hogan, Piper, Bruno Sammartino, Ted DiBiase and the Legion Of Doom, almost every classic name of value is on the roster in some form, and the current roster is updated with plenty of popular debutants for the series, primarily AJ, Shinsuke and the Horsewomen. It’s a shame that Bobby Roode isn’t included, but since he technically only made his NXT debut in August, the Glorious one probably arrived too late to make it into 2K17.

Despite those who have been removed and those who simply didn’t make it in, the roster for WWE 2K17 is as star-studded as any line-up in a WWE game to date, and with a final total that could be very close to 200 with the alternate character models to reflect different eras, it is by far the largest WWE videogame roster ever. With a few weeks to go until WWE 2K17 is officially released, we’ll have to wait a bit to see whether the game itself will be a classic, but if the roster is a major reason to justify you purchasing a videogame, then you will be shelling out for WWE 2K17; the roster is as good and certainly bigger than any line-up that you will find elsewhere.

The full roster is listed below (note: some additional alternate character models are still to be confirmed):

Aiden English
AJ Styles
Albert (DLC)
Alberto Del Rio
Alexa Bliss
Alicia Fox
Alundra Blayze
Andre The Giant
Apollo Crews (Pre-Order DLC)
Arn Anderson
Austin Aries (DLC)
Bam Bam Bigelow
Baron Corbin
Becky Lynch
Big Boss Man
Big Boss Man 1999 (DLC)
Big E
Big Show
Big Show 1999 (DLC)
Billy Gunn
Bo Dallas
Booker T
Bray Wyatt
Braun Strowman
Bret Hart
Bret Hart 1998 (DLC)
Brian Pillman
Brie Bella
British Bulldog
Brock Lesnar
Brutus Beefcake (DLC)
Bubba Ray Dudley
Buddy Roberts (DLC)
Cactus Jack
Cactus Jack 1992 (DLC)
Chad Gable
Chris Jericho
Colin Cassady
Curtis Axel
Dana Brooke
Daniel Bryan
Darren Young
Dash Wilder
Dean Ambrose
Diamond Dallas Page
Diamond Dallas Page 1992 (DLC)
Dolph Ziggler
Dude Love
Dusty Rhodes
D-Von Dudley
Eddie Guerrero (DLC)
Enzo Amore
Erick Rowan
Eva Marie
Finn Balor
The Godfather (DLC)
Goldberg (Pre-Order DLC)
Goldberg 2003 (Pre-Order DLC)
Greg Valentine (DLC)
Heath Slater
Hideo Itami
Ivory (DLC)
Jack Swagger
Jacqueline (DLC)
Jake Roberts
Jason Jordan
Jey Uso
Jim Neidhart
Jimmy Garvin (DLC)
Jimmy Uso
John Bradshaw Layfield
John Cena
Karl Anderson (DLC)
Kerry Von Erich (DLC)
Kevin Owens
Kevin Von Erich (DLC)
Kofi Kingston
Larry Zbyszko
Lex Luger
Luke Gallows (DLC)
Luke Harper
Mark Henry
Michael P.S. Hayes (DLC)
The Miz
Mojo Rawley (DLC)
Mr. Perfect
Nia Jax (Pre-Order DLC)
Nikki Bella
Papa Shango (DLC)
Psycho Sid (DLC)
Randy Orton
Randy Savage
Razor Ramon
Ric Flair
Ric Flair 1988 (DLC)
Rick Rude
Ricky Steamboat
Road Dogg
The Rock
Roman Reigns
Sami Zayn
Samoa Joe
Sasha Banks
Scott Dawson
Seth Rollins
Shane McMahon
Shawn Michaels
Shinsuke Nakamura (Pre-Order DLC)
Simon Gotch
Sin Cara
Stephanie McMahon
Steve Austin
Sting 1988 (DLC)
Sting Wolfpac (DLC)
Summer Rae
Tatanka (DLC)
Tatsumi Fujinami
Titus O’Neil
Triple H
Trish Stratus
Tye Dillinger (DLC)
Tyler Breeze
Tyson Kidd
Ultimate Warrior
The Undertaker
Vince McMahon
Xavier Woods
Zack Ryder