WWE 2K22 officially hit shelves on Tuesday, 8 March for early access editions, marking the first WWE video game produced since the ill-fated WWE 2K20 was released in 2019. Although September 2020’s WWE 2K Battlegrounds received somewhat positive reviews, it isn’t counted within the traditional WWE video games lineage.
Thus far, feedback for the game has been largely complementary, with vastly improved graphics, desired roster members, and an impeccable MyRISE mode being the biggest contributors towards this. While WWE 2K22 has already shown one or two minor niggles with its gameplay, there’s been nothing drastically wrong with it akin to 2K20.
This year’s game also features quite an in-depth roster, with a combined two hundred-plus roster members. Despite this, there are plenty of current WWE Superstars who sadly didn’t make the cut for WWE 2K22’s roster. In some cases, the omissions are particularly surprising, such as former Divas Champions, Paige and Alicia Fox. In other cases, though, not so much; there’s hardly going to be a huge demand for Shanky to be available as a DLC character.
So, who are the other missing WWE Superstars from WWE 2K22?
Note, legends will only be noted if they featured in WWE 2K20, regardless of if they had a strong presence in WWE games in prior years that may have ended with WWE 2K19, such as Mr. Perfect. There will also be no focus NXT and NXT UK, given the overall lack of representation in the game as it is.
Despite being included in eight WWE video game releases over the years, beginning in October 2010’s SmackDown vs. Raw 2011 and appearing in every release since WWE 2K16, the lack of Alicia Fox in WWE 2K22 isn’t exactly going to turn many heads. The former Divas Champion hasn’t been a full-time WWE performer since May 2019.
She’s remained on good terms with WWE since, though, now being recognised as a legend, and having entered both the 2021 and 2022 women’s Royal Rumble matches. She lasted one minute, forty-eight seconds, and six minutes, thirty seconds, respectively, capturing the 24/7 Championship in the former contest.
Aliyah is one of the few current main roster WWE Superstars surprisingly missing from the roster. She’s been under WWE contract since March 2015, with her official main roster call up coming as part of last October’s Draft. Why, exactly, she’s missing from the on-disc roster is a mystery.
The Toronto native was expected to be a DLC character in one of the five upcoming downloadable packs. Given that Twitter user @FlexChupacabra accidentally came across the renders of women’s Superstars’ DLC characters in-game, such as Doudrop and Xia Li, it was expected that Aliyah would follow suit, but sadly, she’s nowhere to be seen.
The Bella Twins
With the reveal of WWE 2K22’s five DLC packs including the likes of Cactus Jack, MSK, and even Logan Paul, there is little reason to justify the absence of both Brie and Nikki Bella in WWE 2K22. The Bella Twins have been pivotal faces of the Women’s Evolution, making their disappearance from WWE games all the more peculiar.
Inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the 2020 class, the pair of former Divas Champions had previously appeared in every WWE game released since SmackDown vs. Raw 2009, as well as three WWE mobile games. Why 2K felt now was the time to remove them from the roster is anyone’s guess.
A considerably less surprising omission is that of WWE Hall of Famer, Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake. Despite his Hall of Fame induction in 2019, the former Tag Team Champion is never featured on WWE programming, presumably stemming from his legal issues.
Nonetheless, Beefcake had previously been a somewhat tenured member of WWE games’ rosters, being a mainstay from WWE 2K17 onwards. It’s unlikely he’ll return to any future WWE video game instalments, let alone WWE programming. His comeback in WWE 2K17 saw him introduced in a DLC legends pack, alongside Eddie Guerrero, Greg Valentine, Sycho Sid, and Tatanka.
Another curious oversight from the legends’ side of things is Dusty Rhodes. ‘The American Dream’ is one of the biggest characters in WWE history to have never reached the top of the card, and perhaps more noteworthy, had been a mainstay in WWE video games since WWE 2K16. Why he’s now been removed is strange.
Unlike Brutus Beefcake, Rhodes remains a favourable figure within WWE, with the company continuing to produce two Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournaments in his honour each year. That Rhodes was omitted from the DLC packs is therefore confusing; as long as the tournaments continue, expect to see Dusty back in WWE games down the line.
Perhaps the biggest shock from WWE 2K22’s roster omissions is that of Kurt Angle. Despite being one of the many victims of WWE budget cut releases over the past two years, the WWE Hall of Famer was presumed a definite inclusion, not only for his regular appearance in the games since WWE 2K18, but more so his key matches with Rey Mysterio.
Mysterio, the cover star of WWE 2K22, is also the focus of this year’s Showcase Mode, but for whatever reason, two incredible matches involving the Olympic gold medalist – a singles bout from SummerSlam 2002 and a three-way from WrestleMania 22 also including Randy Orton – didn’t make the cut. Despite the lack of Kurt Angle in WWE 2K22, it’s incredibly likely he’ll return to WWE games in the future.
Even without her brief return to competition in 2022, Lita’s disappearance from WWE 2K22 is strange. The former Women’s Champion has been featured in a number of WWE video games throughout her career, beginning with November 2000’s No Mercy and, most recently, in WWE 2K20. She was a constant legendary figure in WWE games since WWE 2K16.
The former Team Xtreme member returned to the ring in the 2022 women’s Royal Rumble match, before going on to challenge Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship at the Elimination Chamber event in Saudi Arabia. This only makes Lita’s exclusion all the more bizarre.
Madcap Moss perhaps would’ve just made the cut for WWE 2K22 had the game released, like normal, last October. The former 24/7 Champion switched from Riddick to Madcap Moss as Happy Corbin’s associate at the end of September, thus making him a definite DLC inclusion at the very least had the game come out last year.
Moss was one of a few main roster Superstars who missed the cut, both as an on-disc character and in the DLC packs. Considering the way he’s being booked just now, though, in a somewhat prolific arc vs. a former two-time WWE Champion, then class Madcap Moss as a bonafide WWE 2K23 addition.
Currently working as a producer with WWE, the lack of Molly Holly isn’t exactly ending a tenured run for the WWE Hall of Famer in WWE games. She returned to the series in WWE 2K20, having last appeared in the November 2004-released SmackDown vs. Raw, making her 2K20 inclusion surprising in itself. She’s wrestled a handful of Royal Rumbles and Battle Royals since 2018, however.
The confirmation of a Stand Pack DLC pack being released hinted that Holly may have reprised her Mighty Molly character, with Hurricane Helms confirmed to be returning to the series. Instead, though, Helms will be joined in the DLC lineup by Stacy Kiebler, though it’s not been confirmed if WWE’s 2004 Babe of the Year will be playable as Super Stacy or just her normal self.
Excluded from the roster for reasons that are yet to be revealed, Paige has since taken to Twitter to voice her displeasure with WWE and 2K for failing to include her. ‘The Anti-Diva’ also tweeted uproar that the likes of The Bella Twins, Doudrop, and Queen Zelina weren’t included either.
A former Divas Champion, Paige had previously been featured in every WWE game released since WWE 2K15 was published in November 2014. Fast forward eight years, and the now-retired Paige is deemed a WWE games alum. Having gone unnamed in the DLC reveals, the Norwich native’s Twitter comments will remain her only tie-in to WWE 2K22, ending a six-game streak.
The case of Queen Zelina is especially surprising, given that she was included in WWE 2K20 and is now one-half of the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions alongside Carmella. It’s possible that Zelina’s eight-month departure from the company is the reason behind her absence in WWE 2K22, with Zelina being gone from WWE between 13 November 2020 and 2 July 2021.
Having served as a Women’s Tag Team Champion since 22 November, Zelina was heavily expected to be a DLC character (either as Queen Zelina or as plain old Zelina Vega), but alas, she remains an odd absentee, particularly when numerous NXT 2.0 female Superstars – Indi Hartwell, Kacy Catanzaro, Sarray, et al – are included.
Had it not been for the 24/7 Championship, it’s difficult to see how, exactly, Reggie would remain a full-time WWE employee. He adds very little to WWE programming outside of this division, and had mainly been used in meaningless romantic angles with the likes of Nia Jax.
Reggie was hardly the cause for attention in WWE, but despite all his failures, he’d have been a joy to play as in WWE 2K22. Luckily for him, he’ll have a constant presence on WWE’s weekly shows as long as the 24/7 Championship is in existence.
The last surprising Hall of Fame-related omission from WWE 2K22 is Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat. The former Intercontinental Champion had previously appeared in every video game from WWE 2K16 onwards, while also making appearances in a variety of other games before this.
Why, exactly, Steamboat is now missing from the roster is a bizarre mystery. He’d previously been a constant fixture on WWE programming when they hosted gatherings of former WWE Superstars, while also currently serving as an ambassador for the promotion. His lack of appearance in WWE 2K22 will likely never be revealed, but expect to see Steamboat back in WWE games in future releases.
Called up to the main roster as part of the 2021 Draft, Ridge Holland’s exclusion from WWE 2K22 is similar to that of Aliyah. Holland will likely have to wait for WWE’s next video game outing for his WWE games debut, as his main roster alliance with Sheamus hasn’t done enough to warrant his inclusion in this year’s game.
A bruising powerhouse of a wrestler, the 33-year-old ex-professional rugby player had previously been touted by WWE as “the next big thing”. Whether or not they still do after seeing how injury-prone Holland can be is unknown, though the early pairing with Sheamus – a former multi-time World Champion – indicates a positive future for Holland in WWE.
The absence of Shanky from WWE 2K22 has likely gone over the heads of, well, everyone. Signing with the company in January 2020, Shanky debuted a year later at WWE’s Superstar Spectacle event under the alias of Dilsher Shanky, but aside from an alliance with Jinder Mahal and Veer, the seven-footer has been an afterthought in WWE ever since signing.
It’s impossible to guess what will happen with Shanky moving forward. He remains as the partner for ‘The Modern Day Maharaja’, but the trajectory for Shanky in WWE doesn’t look good. If WWE continues on the same path, then expect Shanky to no longer be under company contract by the time of WWE’s next video game release.
Veer Mahaan has been coming to Raw since 25 October, having recently broken Tenille Dashwood’s record for the most Raw episodes between vignettes beginning for a new and/or repackaged Superstar and the day they actually appeared. When he actually arrives on Raw is a mystery, therefore justifying his omission from WWE 2K22.
The ex-Indus Sher member has been a frequent grappler on Main Event while making the long, tedious journey to Raw, having defeated the likes of Apollo Crews, T-BAR, and members of The Hurt Business, Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander. In reality, WWE’s next video game instalment may arrive earlier than Veer does.
WWE 2K22 is available now on both eighth and ninth-generation consoles!