No one remembers the Invasion angle with any fond memories. Aside from gaining Rob Van Dam and Booker T, 2001’s inVasion between ECW, WCW, and WWE was more meh than revolutionary.
The huge endeavor imploded, burying WCW into a black hole and later creating a mediocre ECW. Everyone remembers the Attitude Era as the golden age of wrestling, but once the Invasion angle peaked its ugly head there were a lot of regrets. But…even if WWE had a hard time with it, the invasion angle came up with three very interesting wrestling video games.
And just like the Invasion of 2001, these games are easy to forget.
Today, we will be looking at the wrestling video games WrestleMania x8 for the Gamecube, Raw for the Xbox, and Smackdown Shut Your Mouth for the PS2.
Raw for the Xbox
The console wars were at the height of their battle in 2002 and one of the battlegrounds was having your own WWE wrestling game. The Xbox was the newcomer to the console market so it did not want to miss out. Thus, Xbox released Raw developed by Anchor Inc.
This game had an impressive roster of Invasion wrestlers, including Rob Van Dam, Lance Storm, Raven, and Rhyno. It did not include Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Diamond Dallas Page, Booker T, and Kevin Nash, which is strange because most of those names were the major players of the Invasion angle.
Raw received reception ranging from meh to horrible. The game had a soulless gauntlet mode as their career campaign and nixed cage and ladder matches. The interesting thing is that any wrestler could earn any title.
Stephanie McMahon winning the hardcore title from Rikishi? Yup. Kurt Angle taking the women’s title from Ivory? Sure. Fred Durst, the lead singer of Limp Bizkit, winning the world championship from HHH? Yes, because he is a secret unlockable character. I guess Kid Rock turned them down.
WrestleMania X8 for the Gamecube
The Nintendo 64 was fresh off the success of No Mercy and it seemed like the next WWE game would be just as iconic. WrestleMania X8 came out in 2002 developed by Yuke’s. Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall had just invaded the WWE and declared a rebirth to the nWo. It was going to be exciting to see nWo wrestlers in a WWE game.
Unfortunately, the inclusion of the nWo and Ric Flair was not enough to make this game as memorable as No Mercy. Critics complained that the Create-A-Superstar mode was lame and the grapple system could not hold up to No Mercy. At least this game included cage and ladder matches. The sequel to this game would get similar review scores.
SmackDown: Shut Your Mouth for the Playstation 2
The SmackDown series had a one-year head start on the Invasion angle with 2001’s Just Bring It. The 2001 game was a very poor reflection of the Invasion only offering Raven, Tajiri, and Spike Dudley. When Shut Your Mouth came out, they jumped headfirst into the fray. The PS2 version, developed by Yuke’s, made sure to include Rhyno, Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, Billy Kidman, Rob Van Dam, Ric Flair, Shawn Stasiak, and Hurricane Helms.
Shut Your Mouth was one of the highest-rated wrestling games of the early 2000s. The career mode had a unique first-person camera where you could talk to wrestlers while walking around the arena. Out of all three of these games, this version had the most modes, the most wrestlers, and was the most fun to play.
I am bummed that the Invasion never took off where there would be a WCW vs. WWE vs. ECW wrestling video game. These three offerings were the only reflections of WWE’s risky gamble.