Review – WWE 2K23

I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to combine two of my passions. Growing up, I was a wrestling dweeb, drenching myself with the melodrama of sports entertainment. It’s my Young and the Restless, a soap opera with a healthy dose of slams, punches, and throws that enamored me as a teenager. Through the years, I’ve gotten teased for my adoration of this media. Hell, I even had a girl leave me on read after I admitted my fandom. For some reason, there’s this weird stigma around it that, honestly, shouldn’t exist. Now, my personal experience with WWE games isn’t vast. It only begins at Shut Your Mouth and finishes at Smackdown VS Raw 2008. The gap is crystal clear, which means 2K23 is my first foray back in over a decade. A ton has changed since, from developer to mechanics, so does it still measure up?

WWE 2K23 - Yuri and Kathryn win the belts

I’d like to introduce Yuri Sakamoto and Kathryn Crimson, my “create-a-wrestlers”.


Now, coming in with expectations of a riveting story full of discovery is setting yourself up for disappointment. It isn’t going to astound or innovate, but what it does manage, and rather marvelously, is mimicking the WWE formula. From disputes over belts to recruiting partners to form a faction, it’s near-immediate immersion. Not in a way that has you sympathizing, but more that it feels like you’re sitting down to watch actual episodes. The cheesy angles are present and accounted for, and all the egos are inches from bursting through the seams. The significant difference between 2K23 and the games from the mid-noughts is in realism – there won’t be any supernatural shenanigans. Everything is grounded, probably thanks to several elements of MyRise – the campaign – being plucked from successful plotlines in WWE’s past. It’s not a masterclass of literature, but it is stupid fun. 

What surprises me is how a handful of decisions affect story progression, creating branches. It’s nothing extravagant, never deviating from the linear path. What’s meant to occur is set in stone, so to speak, with adjustments only going so far as to decide who plays a crucial role in the current narrative. There are also slight, and I do mean slight, variations to cutscenes. When it concerns anything drastic, like losing a championship, it’s subject to a mulligan – 2K23 doesn’t allow it to stand. The humor is, well, it’s an amalgamation of cringe and groan-inducing, with a slight peppering of eye-roll. Whether it warrants a chuckle or not is dependent on the player. If you’re not accustomed to the type of dumb comedy that WWE offers, it, without a doubt, will fall on deaf ears. For whatever it’s worth, I did smile once or twice.  

WWE 2K23 - Diego Duece checking his tweets.

Yo, yo, I’m a wrestling prodigy. I don’t like cottage cheese. Uh, bars, son?


For anyone that indulges in WWE, AEW, or NJPW, I have bad news. While there’s legitimate intrigue in what unfolds, it’s tough to ignore how predictable it is. I could see how specific literary threads were poised to unravel from a mile away. As someone who grew up dabbling in the earliest iterations like Here Comes the Pain, it’s evident why that is. You see, 2K23 doesn’t take any risks to tap into the inherent absurdity that this form of entertainment is known for. It doesn’t throw curveballs. Don’t get me wrong, 2K still puts together a good story. In the end, I left MyRise feeling satisfied. That reluctance to let loose and fully harness the crazy does hold it back, though. On the plus side, I reckon this sentiment only applies to enthusiasts since we’re familiar with how WWE handles things, while casual fans won’t be privy. 



Whenever I reminisce over the wrestling romps I enjoyed as a teen, two main memories come forth – the first is character customization. I spent hours meticulously piecing together my ideal Superstar. It’s an exercise of imaginative prowess, and I can happily report it shines in 2K23. Not only does it, but there are also options to make a custom entrance, victory pose, and much more. It’s a buffet that assuredly proves a massive time sink, but regardless of that fact, it leaves me with zero regrets. It’s pleasant and incredibly engaging, helped further by the available clothing I can outfit my creation in. Hell, I can even alter their facial structure to my whims or plaster my selfie over the 3D model, sculpting it so it appears like I’ve been dropped into this universe, standing alongside John Cena. It’s downright delightful, and that carries into tailoring movesets.

WWE 2K23 - Kathryn wins the MITB briefcase.

Only in wrestling do you climb ladders to grab a briefcase. And to only 3 stars! 

Any athlete worth their weight in gold has a smorgasbord of maneuvers, be it high flying or a straight-up brawler – whether they’re a savant of spine busters or a messiah of moonsaults is entirely up to me. I can do whatever I damn well please, a sentence helped by the metric ton of techniques to pick from. It’s frankly insane, but that opens itself up to spending hours upon hours fine-tuning to ensure each move fits my wrestler. There’s a commitment needed to build an immaculate Superstar, but once I did, I felt this powerful sense of accomplishment. Alas, despite that, there’s a semblance of tedium that periodically crops up. It did drag in a couple of instances, thanks to the plethora of options. Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that patience is the only method of mitigating the slog.

There’s a nifty quality-of-life facet that does a bit of heavy lifting, too. It may seem teensy, but having the ability to situate any offense that tickles my fancy to my favorites list does marginally cut down the time dedication. It offers much easier access to whatever I find gnarly for usage in the future. This aspect likely sounds fantastic, and it is, but sadly, I always found I’d revert to combing through the endless selection to locate a prime fit. If I’m blunt, I only utilized it if a Finisher or Signature was absent. It’s ridiculous to think about, but considering my stature, height, and, believe it or not, attire did determine a moveset since some, depending on the outlined factors, can look awkward in execution. I’m sure that’s garnered some exacerbated sighs, but this nitpick exhibits how titillating this mechanic is, but again, patience is critical.

WWE 2K23 - Kathryn and Yuri pointing at each other after winning the tag team belts.

Yo, Kathryn has a killer ab situation. Well, I feel self conscious, now. Cool. 


You know, never in a million years would I think I’d stumble across RPG elements in a title solely about suplexing both men and women, but here we are. In MyRise, despite whatever overall score I bless my custom Superstar with, they’ll start with a paltry skill level. My task is to earn points that are then used to boost my ability. These are awarded by completing several side-quests, which usually consist of matches or, well, no, they consistently do. While the objectives fit 2K23’s concept, there’s no hiding that repetitiveness does apply. It didn’t matter how quickly I could emerge victorious. The lack of variation is glaring and can get boring. Now, I could solve that by modifying my moves. By locking in those changes, I can give gameplay the illusion of feeling fresh. That, however, is a temporary solution and eventually, redundancy returns. 

I’m a massive dork, though, and as an avid watcher of professional wrestling, I was swallowed by glee. I went through the trouble of assigning new actions to my wrestler because I wanted to see the story to the finish. As idiotic as it is, the nostalgia it brings to the table is attractive. As a bonus incentive, unlockables are present and tied to half of the tasks I’m asked to polish off. Doing so triggers a slew of rewards, such as a variety of fashion choices or arenas. Sure, I can concede it may not entice everyone, but as a man that adores playing pretend, it was hook, line, and sinker. I was thrilled to silence Chad Gable or get the better of that slithering snake Randy Orton if it meant I’d have a new pair of tights to adorn. 2K23 targets a niche and successfully dunks it. 

WWE 2K23 - Doing a quest for a producer.

Like I said, every mini mission is just a match. Buckle up.


If, like me, you haven’t dove into the WWE franchise of licensed titles since Yukes was in charge, expect a huge difference. Unlike the Arcade goodness of Here Comes the Pain, 2K23 has a simulation approach. I’m not mashing buttons to escape a pinning predicament. Instead, that’s replaced by a mini-game where I must stop a marker within a green zone. It keeps me on my toes as it no longer relies solely on luck but also on concentration. Yes, RNG remains somewhat, but it’s now way more reactionary. Submissions also demand the player to press the correct input displayed on the screen to either break free or cause whoever I’m fighting to surrender. I do confess that, sure, that means rapidly hammering X, O, or whatever I’m prompted to, but the streamlining makes it welcoming. If I flub it, it’s on me, not invisible values.

While I prefer the arcade tinge of the mid-nought entries, I can’t argue the appeal of realism. It allows for the introduction of tension. If, for example, I’m devastated by one, two, or four subsequent finishers, I can still lift either my right or left shoulder off the mat at the last possible millisecond. Doing that emulates instances where the audience is convinced it’s done, but then, boom, a last-gasp effort to stay alive. I can accurately mimic those dramatic moments thanks to the Payback mechanic – a feature that bestows perks with game-changing implications. It weaves an interesting thread to the gameplay loop. I’ll be honest, before jumping in, I was wary of this aspect, unsure how it would function or if it wouldn’t bother me. Prepared for the worst, I booted 2K23 up, and you know what? 

I judged it way too harshly. 

WWE 2K23 - About to defend the Intercontinental belt in MyRise.

Meet Diego Duece. I gave him a hairy chest. His nipples are oddly place, too.

What proves to be bothersome is the reversals. It’s not due to poor coding, however. Nothing is inherently wrong; I just couldn’t fully wrap my head around the system. It isn’t a facet you can instantly pick up on, needing the practice to get accustomed, unlike with past titles. See, in those, it was a simple case of slamming the shoulder button repeatedly, and that’s it, but 2K23 strives to be relatively involved. Basically, I’ve got two choices; Square or Triangle. The dilemma is I couldn’t ever discern when an individual occasion called for one of the two. It typically resulted in me cutting the difference and just hovering my thumb over both of the buttons before then tapping them simultaneously. It’s grossly minor when you boil it down. Not to mention I liked it precisely because I can’t reverse everything, further expanding my tension. 



It’s without hyperbole when I say among the multiple modes; I became hopelessly obsessed with MyGM. What it allows you to do is essentially draft a roster and be an authority figure for any show under the WWE umbrella. I can assign champions and attempt to book a fantastic card, bringing unadulterated bliss to a fictional audience. Then, by the end of each night, I’m given a rating out of five stars – Dave Meltzer is apparently watching. I can guarantee high scores by building rivalries, utilizing popular Superstars, and having specialty matches like Last Man Standing or Hell in a Cell. It’s quite addictive, and I won’t lie; the bulk of my session was dedicated to it. Menus kept my attention over substance because the urge to be the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be is hard to ignore.

WWE 2K23 - Getting my ratings after a night in MyGM.

I spent hours and hours on screens like this one. MyGM is dope. Send help.

The thing is, despite it being leagues better than last year’s iteration, with it further fleshed out and there being a Tag Team and mid-card belt to toy with; for some inexplicable reason, they can’t be defended in a Triple Threat or Fatal-4-Way. What’s odd is it occurs in MyRise during the narrative, meaning there’s code for it there. I know it’s a frivolous complaint, but God damn, it makes zero sense not to be included. It vastly limits the variety you can have, meaning I had to rely on repetitive outings over and over just to advance the fictitious storylines I concocted in my noggin. Having a rotating cycle of cutscenes would also help spice up proceedings and add another dimension to this mode. I want other stuff to partake in and not just stare at the static images of wrestlers with the option to jump in a match.  

Speaking of spicing things up – there are other reasons to indulge in successive seasons of MyGM. See, there are Hall of Fame trophies to be earned. Certain goals need to be met, and meeting them propels you to the top of the competition – whether it be against the CPU or humans. Then there are power cards which act as advantages. By activating one, you can then assign a handicap to an opponent, such as making every kind of match cost double to do or vetoing a wrestler from competing that week. They have sweet perks, too, like bolstering the ranking for, say, a Steel Cage or Falls Count Anywhere. It adds the tiniest morsel of strategy, preventing it from becoming a brainless affair. There are two methods to acquire one; I can buy or earn them by completing the tasks given by Triple H.

WWE 2K23 - Upgrading Diego’s overall.

Hey, it’s Diego! Can you tell I got hopelessly addicted to creating stars?


Because contracts expire and wrestlers leave, sometimes for a competing company, the roster is constantly shifting, and omissions happen. Despite being a diehard AEW stan, I stay up-to-date with WWE and what’s transpiring. To learn that a person I adore is no longer a part of that promotion bums me out. Well, something I wish I had known when beginning 2K23 is how the community refuses to miss out. They’re actively restoring talent that has been removed but stays in the code – like the recent release of Mandy Rose. They’re working tirelessly – almost daily – to create anyone outside the WWE for unofficial use. Hell, I can even draft AEW mainstays like Hook and Jamie Hayter or former Superstars of the WWE, like Malaki Black or Chris Jericho. Yeah, their appearances may not be to the tee, but they’re adequate – not to mention how it beefs up MyGM.



No one will soon forget the absolute stain left behind by 2K20. It was an utter mess of glitches – ropes were freaking out, flinging into the air, and the 3D models were seemingly melting. Not only was it unplayable, but it was the catalyst of the cancellation of 2K21 – things were looking grim for the series. Thankfully, 2K23 refuses to die, rectifying 95% of the bugs plaguing it before, although not entirely. See, characters still have this nasty habit of becoming unresponsive if I go for a submission hold. I initially thought that was perhaps an isolated incident due to PS5 overheating, but nope, I could always replicate it to varying degrees of severity. It sucks ass, but hey, on the bright side, a grapple from the CPU knocks me loose. MyGM has a couple of missteps, too, like not recognizing title swaps. Fortunately, it’s a minor stumble. 

WWE 2K23 - Yuri has Bayley on the ropes.

Yuri is out here fulfilling fantasies and stepping on people.


Man, I’ll never stop being blown away by the graphics the PS5 can output. It’s immensely incredible, and I’m impressed at how closely the digital wrestlers mirror their real-life counterparts. Sure, there are misses, like the eyes being bigger or the nose slightly being out of position, but it’s never significant. Animations have that peanut butter smoothness that so many strive to achieve, and in the numerous hours I’ve devoted to WWE 2K23, I didn’t see a single crash. My favorite visual detail, by far, is the sweat appearing slowly as the match progresses. It helps solidify the immersion by showing how intense it gets. After hearing more praise than not for 2K22, it’s evident the redemption arc pushes forward. If this ball keeps rolling into next year, that excellence can only improve. The passion feels like it has been reignited, and I’m stoked for 2K24.


When discussing voice acting, I can honestly say it’s middling. The talents are the ones giving life to their polygonal counterparts. Some interactions, such as Xavier Woods, are superb, and his personality shines as clearly as day. Then there are others that are, well, their delivery lacks a certain oomph. It feels like all they’re doing is reading directly from the script without putting forth theatrics. I didn’t think they acted abysmally, and frankly, I think they’re serviceable. I’m just a selfish bloke that wants more – the lines were droning and just too monotone for my liking. My penultimate pet peeve, however, is the theme songs meant to be original. It’s intended for your brainchild, which is cool, but they’re also the very definition of generic. The soundtrack is decent, though, with Bullet for My Valentine being a damn highlight.

WWE 2K23 - Helping Cody win a cup.

Adrenaline, in my soul, winning cups with Cody Rhodes!


After years of not touching a video game from WWE, I can confidently say my return was triumphant. It’s a nostalgia bomb that had me giddy. The amount of content in this package seems like a statement – 2K may have slipped, but they’re not going anywhere. For instance, the MyRise mode is given another story to enjoy – a first for the series. John Cena is also the focal point of this year’s showcase. It’s a rundown of every historical event of his career, from debuting on Smackdown to finally winning the big one. Hell, it even references a classic meme that’s sure to appease folks everywhere. Yeah, there are little hiccups, but they’re minuscule and fixable with a quick patch. The WWE franchise has entered a hot streak, with 2K23 being a considerable step forward to recapturing the glory the series once held.

Graphics: 9.0

When I can mould a wrestler with killer abs, that’s when you know a lot of attention was placed in the visuals. There’s attention to details and The faces are usually uncanny.

Gameplay: 9.0

My preference may be the old school games of Here Comes the Pain, but I grew to love the more realistic approach. MyRise are stellar and MyUniverse, a mode I never talked about, is…decent. The fun is in MyGM and making Superstars!

Sound: 7.5

It’s okay. The voices are nothing to write home about. It could have been higher if those original themes weren’t so gosh darn generic. They’re so bad. 

Fun Factor: 9.0

Being able to jump into MyGM again after years of not playing any WWE titles was so nostalgic. I loved it, though I wonder why the heck it doesn’t allow belt defences in Triple Threat. It’s a silly oversight.

Final Verdict: 8.5

WWE 2K23 is available now on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

Reviewed on PlayStation 5.

A copy of WWE 2K23 was provided by the publisher.