Everything an MMA Fan Needs to Know About WWE 2K20

By Tyler Treese Oct 15, 2019
While there aren’t any new mixed martial arts video games being released in 2019, combat sports fans can still get their fix thanks to WWE 2K20. Professional wrestling and MMA have a long-intertwined history, with both having roots in early 1900s catch wrestling and many stars competing in both endeavors. Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, WWE 2K20 is set to be the best pro wrestling game yet when it debuts on Oct. 22.

One of the key selling points this year is a larger focus on female competitors, as pro wrestling has had its own “women’s evolution,” similar to how women’s MMA grew in popularity a few years ago. This isn’t just a coincidence, as one woman is in the center of both disciplines: former Ultimate Fighting Championship and Strikeforce titleholder Ronda Rousey. After serving as a trailblazer within the MMA world and getting UFC President Dana White to finally allow women to compete inside the Octagon, Rousey took the sports entertainment world by storm. The evolution had already started thanks to the likes of WWE 2K20 cover star Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair, but it was Rousey’s star power that really drove it over the edge. The three stars became the first women to main event WrestleMania. This can all be relived in the 2K Showcase mode, as it recaps the several years of progress for the women’s division.

Rousey was feared within MMA due to her judo skills and application of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and she used many of those skills inside the squared circle, as well. Her signature armbar is her finishing maneuver, and she uses her judo throws to get other competitors down to the ground. Rousey is just one of many WWE stars that implement real martial arts into their sets, and fans of MMA can see a lot of great techniques in action in the game.

“Gentleman” Jack Gallagher is one of the stars who implements jiu-jitsu into his wrestling game, and it has helped him become one of 205 Live’s top stars. Meanwhile, former NXT champion Aleister Black has become one of SmackDown’s most feared competitors due to his wide array of Muay Thai kicks. Even some of the most legendary WWE stars, like The Undertaker, have picked up a trick or two from MMA, as “The Deadman” uses a variant of a gogoplata called “Hell’s Gate” to submit opponents. Famously, he managed to make Brock Lesnar pass out to the choke during SummerSlam 2015, which saw the two wrestlers rematch after The Undertaker’s iconic WrestleMania winning streak was broken by the former UFC heavyweight champion.

Beyond Rousey, there are several martial arts legends on WWE 2K20’s roster. The aforementioned Lesnar is one of them, as his impressive amateur wrestling background helped him dominate the UFC’s heavyweight division after he took up the sport. Thanks to his star power from pro wrestling, “The Beast Incarnate” quickly became the sport’s most successful pay-per-view draw at the time. Lesnar’s battles with diverticulitis managed to end his fighting career early, and he has since been one of WWE’s biggest stars. However, he still showed he has what it takes to compete with MMA’s best at UFC 200. Several Olympians are also part of WWE 2K20, as Rousey, Kurt Angle (who “won a gold medal with a broken freakin’ neck”), Chad Gable and Mark Henry all represented the United States on athletics’ grandest stage.

What’s great about WWE 2K20 is that it features new streamlined controls. This means you can start pulling off German suplexes with Lesnar and other advanced martial arts techniques without a ton of practice. Existing fans of the series will be glad to know that it still retains all of its nuance and depth, so players really get the best of both worlds thanks to the new control options.

As many mixed martial artists can attest, becoming a pro wrestler can be just as difficult as becoming a professional fighter. WWE stars like Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Lashley and Shayna Baszler have all been able to use their skills to excel in both forms of entertainment, and a key aspect of that success is their determination and discipline. WWE 2K20’s MyCAREER mode will demonstrate just how challenging it can be to reach the top of the WWE universe, as players will get to go on both a male and female wrestler’s journey. This transition isn’t always easy, and there are sure to be plenty of twists along the way -- just like last year’s much-improved story mode.

Included for the first time is the ability to play mixed tag matches, which sees men and women teaming up to face another intergender team. Another key feature is the returning 2K Towers mode, which has players testing their determination while having to beat several opponents one after another as they climb the ladder. One will be a story-based mode covering the career of Roman Reigns, who has embodied the true spirit of a fighter to overcome leukemia and return to the wrestling ring.

One other bonus in WWE 2K20’s favor is that it’s the only new release where you can see a lot of mixed martial arts veterans. Beyond the two most recognizable names in Rousey and Lesnar, players will also be able to compete as Baszler, Lashley, Sonya Deville, Batista, and Rezar. They have all managed to have their hands raised inside the cage, ranging from promising prospects who fought in the largest promotions to MMA trailblazers.

From amateur wrestling to kickboxing, nearly every martial art is represented in WWE 2K20. This form of sports entertainment is a wonderful mixture of all the disciplines to which people dedicate their lives and ties all the action together with rewarding storytelling. It’s why once-in-a-generation athletes like Lesnar and Angle have chosen to ply their trade within the WWE. Whether you’re an avid pro wrestling fan or not, there is a lot of technique and hard work to appreciate in WWE 2K20.
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