With this week’s release of AEW Fight Forever, WWE 2K23 has a competitor for the crown of this year’s best wrestling title. And sure, you could look at the OpenCritic scores and see that AEW Fight Forever has a 65% and that WWE 2K23 has an 81%, but reviews don’t always give the full picture – especially in the world of wrestling, where simply embracing the ferocity, charm, and wackiness of each promotion can be just as significant as the gameplay.

We’ve put together a list of what we believe are the most important aspects of a wrestling game and compared both titles to see which one comes out on top. Take a look down below and see if you agree with what we have to say.


Winner: WWE 2K23

This is one area in which WWE 2K23 absolutely dominates AEW Fight Forever. Whilst AEW Fight Forever features 48 playable characters at launch, WWE 2K23 has over two hundred – granted, some of those are different iterations of the same character, but the difference in number is absolutely startling. It’s an incredibly impressive roster that will almost certainly feature your favourite WWE superstar.

It’s not just the sheer number of characters that sees WWE 2K23 come out on top though, with it also featuring a roster that feels more up to date (whilst also including a ton of fan-favourite legends). Don’t get me wrong, every wrestling game will have omissions or feature characters who have a different persona by the time the game releases, but that’s just something you expect.

AEW Fight Forever feels like it has a lot of glaring omissions though, with wrestlers such as The Acclaimed, Claudio Castagnoli, Private Party, Samoa Joe, Toni Storm, and Wheeler Yuta missing, just to name a few. Other notable omissions such as FTR, Danhausen, and Hook will be rectified with upcoming DLC, but again, the fact that they’re not available at launch is peculiar (especially since Hook is a champion and FTR are so beloved by the AEW fanbase). It feels more outdated than a lot of other wrestling titles that have released over the years, which will be disappointing for players looking to have matches with the top crop of current superstars.

Game Modes

Winner: WWE 2K23

I’m a big fan of AEW Fight Forever’s ‘Road to Elite’ story mode, with it offering some great storytelling that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are multiple routes to take in the story too, whilst the way it ties into establishing yourself as a future AEW star is rewarding. The game has a ton of fun little mini games to play too, with each tying into the quirky nature of the company perfectly.

Despite that strong effort, there’s simply no denying that WWE 2K23’s sheer variety of modes helps it come out on top. Not only are there two different stories to follow in MyRISE as you build up your own male or female WWE superstar’s career, but there’s also MyGM that lets you run your own wrestling show where you have to carefully manage the roster, matches, and budget, Showcase that sees you playing through John Cena’s career and re-creating his most iconic defeats, MyFACTION that focuses on collecting cards in order to build up a formidable deck of superstars to face off against other stables, and Universe that sees you helping shape the storylines across each of the WWE shows. There is SO much to dive into that it’s almost impossible for AEW Fight Forever to compete – add to that the fact that each mode feels completely different to the rest and it’s easy to see how WWE 2K23 stands tall.

The same goes for the individual match types. Whilst AEW Fight Forever offers some unique ideas such as the Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match and the Casino Battle Royale, WWE 2K23 has the likes of Backstage Brawl, Hell in a Cell, Steel Cage, War Games, Royal Rumble and so forth. Oddly, AEW Fight Forever doesn’t support six-man matches, which is especially peculiar given that it actually has a Trios title – meanwhile, WWE 2K23 support matches for up to eight superstars at a time, with a variety of match stipulations to put in place.

Again, AEW Fight Forever has fun modes to play, but WWE 2K23 has way more depth and variety.

Old-School Appeal

Winner: Both

This is a bit of an interesting one, because the old-school appeal comes in two different ways.

For WWE 2K23, you’re getting a ton of legendary wrestlers, old-school arenas, and titles that players wouldn’t have seen in years. There are also multiple iterations of characters, meaning you can play as them across the different personas of their career, with some going as far back as the early 90s. Add to that the Showcase mode which shows clips from some of John Cena’s earliest matches as well as letting you fight in them, and you’ll easily see that there’s a lot of old-school appeal.

With AEW Fight Forever, it’s all about the gameplay. Whilst it doesn’t directly copy it, the arcade-like nature of the gameplay is VERY similar to WWF No Mercy, which is one of the most beloved wrestling titles ever released. There’s no doubting that the game is a lot of fun to play, but it’s this nostalgic approach that will make it stand out to those who were hooked to their Nintendo 64 back in the day.

It depends what kind of old-school appeal you’re hoping for. You want the classic wrestlers and locales? WWE 2K23 wins with ease. You want the old-school style of gameplay? Go for AEW Fight Forever. Both games come out on top here.


Winner: AEW Fight Forever

Whilst WWE 2K23brings with it hardcore game modes as well as a ton of weapons to use, AEW Fight Forever manages to trump it thanks to the amount of blood that’s spilt by wrestlers, the sheer number of weapons you can use (over forty), and the fact that there’s a mode called Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match. I mean… that last one alone is enough to win it for the game, right?

There is blood in WWE 2K23and there’s no doubting that some of the weapon shots look like they hurt a LOT (being able to brawl backstage is a treat too), but AEW Fight Forever feels like it takes it to the next level. Things like the barbed wire bat, crowbar, propane tank (which explodes), and, of course, the bottle of bubbly, are all great additions, whilst you can even ride around on a skateboard and hit opponents with it. What more could you want on the hardcore front?! The ring can look like a crime scene by the time you’re done with it, which makes AEW Fight Forever win the point on this one.

Creating your own Wrestlers

Winner: WWE 2K23

AEW Fight Forever does let players create their own superstars and there’s an impressive repertoire of moves to give to your creations, but much like other aspects of both games, it’s the depth of WWE 2K23 that really makes it shine. AEW Fight Forever is much more limited in its design options, with no means to import graphics in to add authenticity to your creations. Every time I tried to create a real-life superstar, the result never felt like the real deal… it just felt like I’d hired some shoddy lookalike with the same moves. I’m sure more imaginative creators will whip up something better, but it was hard not to be a little underwhelmed.

Not only do you have a ton of options when creating your own superstars in WWE 2K23, but you can also import graphics – whether that’s a photo of a face or a simple image to place onto your wrestler’s attire. It allows you to go all out in not only adding new wrestlers to your roster, but also updating existing ones who might have had a change of persona. The best part of all? You can share your creations online, meaning there are already THOUSANDS of created wrestlers to download that look and play like their real-life counterpart.

I feel like I could make the majority of the AEW roster in WWE 2K23 (in fact, there are plenty of examples already available to download), but AEW Fight Forever doesn’t really come close to matching the authenticity. Sure, you could make them look similar and have some of the signature moves, but they wouldn’t bring with them the depth and accuracy seen in WWE 2K23’s created superstars.

Cody Rhodes

Winner: Both

Come on… who doesn’t love Cody Rhodes?! It’s great to see him in WWE 2K23 with his full hair-raising intro, but given his prominence in the inception of AEW and his impact on the company, it’s equally cool to see he made the cut for AEW Fight Forever’s roster too.

Breaking it down into individual aspects, it’s easy to see that WWE 2K23comes out on top. Across its roster, match types, game modes, and customisation options, it manages to massively trump everything AEW Fight Forever has to offer – that’s without diving into the gameplay mechanics and visuals, which is another area in which the game has the upper hand.

That’s not to say that AEW Fight Forever doesn’t hold its own in places. There’s no doubting that the over-the-top nature of gameplay sees it win when it comes to the hardcore side of things, whilst the similarities it shares with WWF No Mercy on the Nintendo 64 will certainly appeal to those who want an old-school experience. It also has some unique ideas of its own with its mini-games and Road to Elite game mode, whilst it’s a nice touch to see Cody Rhodes make an appearance.

Everywhere else? WWE 2K23 simply offers more. There’s a larger and more robust roster made up of current superstars and all-time greats, a richer variety of match types to fight across, more fleshed out game modes that let you experience the WWE Universe in a host of creative ways, and customisation options that are so robust that you can fine-tune almost any aspect of a created superstar. The differences between both releases are stark, and whilst AEW Fight Forever is trying to offer something a bit simpler with its arcade-style approach, there’s simply no denying that WWE 2K23 outshines its competitor in almost every way.