Most wrestling fans look forward to each new release of WWE 2K for two main reasons. One, they want to take control of the big-name superstars: current ones like John Cena, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins; Attitude Era icons like the Rock and WWE 2K16 cover boy “Stone Cold” Steve Austin; and classic grapplers from the ’80s, including Andre the Giant, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and the Ultimate Warrior.
All those names are present and accounted for in WWE 2K16, now available on Xbox One and Xbox 360. But each new edition also brings the promise of fresh new faces to the squared circle, whether it’s a veteran superstar changing things up with a new look or an up-and-coming athlete making the leap from WWE’s developmental branch, NXT. When it comes to exciting new superstars, however, WWE 2K16 might be the best series entry in years – and here are five you need to check out in the latest edition of 2K’s wrestling sim.
Let’s start with the big boy, Kevin Owens – the one who’s already held his own in a feud with none other than John Cena himself. Owens seems primed to enter the main-event scene whenever he ultimately demands it, but for now, he seems perfectly happy laying the smack down for sport. This burly native of Quebec is a monster of the mat, who thinks the WWE overlooked him in favor of guys like Cena and Reigns – and now he’s taking it out on every single person on the roster until he gets his hands on the ultimate prize. Owens’ devastating pop-up powerbomb is capable of taking out any WWE superstar at a moment’s notice, which makes it an instant game-changer.
But it’s not just the impressive physical tools that make Owens a force – he’s already showing himself to be one of the best when it comes to mind games. If you’re interested in taking a WWE 2K16 debutant on the road to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Kevin Owens seems like an obvious first choice.
If you’ve never seen Neville do his thing in the ring, he’s known as “The Man that Gravity Forgot” – and with very good reason. The polar opposite of Owens, Neville delivers spectacular in-ring aerial assaults on a weekly basis. This isn’t quite a debut for the high-flying gent from Newcastle, England, though – he appeared in WWE 2K15, but as his less-flamboyant NXT incarnation, not as the cape-wearing dynamo that WWE fans have come to know and love since his March debut on “Monday Night RAW.”
Like Owens, Neville is an awesome choice to ride to the WWE title in 2K16. He’s gone toe-to-toe with some of the biggest names in the business over the past few months, including champ Seth Rollins himself. Every generation needs its high flyers, and Neville looks like he’s locked up that spot for years to come. His eye-popping finisher, the Red Arrow, is a twisting ballet of destruction off the top rope – and easily among the coolest finishers in WWE 2K16.
Another international star who paid his dues all over the world, this native of Bray County, Ireland made himself a promise several years ago when he was wrestling in Japan: He climbed to the top of Mt. Fuji and vowed that he’d become champion one day. He’s held several titles since then, and he might just add the WWE championship to the list.
Unlike former NXT stars Owens and Neville, though, Bálor hasn’t transitioned to WWE and weekly appearances on “Monday Night RAW” just yet. He’s the reigning NXT Champion, though… so you can bet he’ll make a huge splash whenever he does make the leap. And in WWE 2K16, you can get a preview of what Bálor will likely do when he finally makes an appearance on RAW: challenge three-time champion Sheamus for supremacy as the top Irish superstar in WWE.
The coolest part of Bálor, however, might be his face-and-body-painted “demon” persona – an intimidating look he dons at every big match. He almost comes off like a Final Fantasy villain making his grand appearance, and in WWE 2K16, you’ll be able to experience this ring entrance in all its glory, since Bálor participated in motion-capture sessions at 2K to ensure it was authentic down to the last detail.
Cody Rhodes has made many appearances in WWE games over the years. But the son of the late, great “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes has never appeared in a game as the cosmic enigma that is Stardust. How much over-the-top insanity does Cody Rhodes’ intergalactic alter ego deliver? Well, his own brother, Goldust, was known as the “Bizarre One” over his two-decade-plus WWE career – and Stardust has even got him beat when it comes to wackiness.
Since his out-of-this-world persona made its debut last year, Stardust has found himself in some of the more memorable out-of-the-ring moments on “Monday Night RAW.” But with his impressive in-ring pedigree, he’s also an easy choice if you want to make a run at WWE hardware. Just remember: Never, ever call him “Cody.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger… as the T-800
All right, Arnold Schwarzenegger is far from a young, up-and-coming WWE superstar. But he is new for WWE 2K16, where you can play as the Austrian strongman’s most iconic role: the T-800 (well, assuming you pre-ordered the game, anyway!).
Lest you think this is some publicity stunt to promote “Terminator: Genisys,” however, keep in mind that Schwarzenegger is no fly-by-night celebrity who just hooked up with WWE. He’s long been a familiar ringside face, even famously delivering his fist directly into Triple H’s face back on a 1999 episode of SmackDown. “The Game” even paid homage to Schwarzenegger earlier this year at WrestleMania, dressing up in Terminator regalia during his spectacular entrance before his match with Sting.
Check out all of these challengers – and more – in WWE 2K16 now, on Xbox One and Xbox 360!