This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

NES Wrestling Games (Reviewed)

NES Wrestling Games Randy Savage

Wrestling in the 80’s in 90’s was nothing short of magic. The golden era of wrestling was filled with some of the most iconic matches ever to grace the big stage, larger than life promos and merchandise that if you could squeeze the logo on it, it would sell!

This included Toys, T Shirts even ice creamania  bars were selling like hot cakes with your favorite WWF superheroes drawn on the bars.

Listen To This Article

Driven by the success of popular wrestling names, to many it would be our first experience with wrestling video games. Bringing life size wrestling warriors to the Nintendo Entertainment System should cash in on the wrestling craze, right?

In today’s review, we’ll be covering all of the wrestling games released on the NES. To be considered to be a good game, it will have to meet the following criteria:

-Fun Factor

NES Wrestling Games

We’ll be going in order of release year and let me tell you I’m going to have to take a step back and say that there won’t be any nostalgia glasses worn when covering these games. It’s not going to be good just because you had it as a kid.

9 - Pro Wrestling

Pro Wrestling NES

First up is Pro Wrestling by Nintendo

Pro Wrestling is a black box game released in 1986. You’ll start off by choosing one of 6 incredibly generic characters. Now of course being an unlicensed game you won’t be picking from Hulk Hogan or Rick Flair but the Amazon or Star Man. Some things that you’ll notice when looking at pro wrestling from a glance is the crowd in the background, The referee moving around, a camera man looking at getting a perfect angle of the action and a crowd that spans around the ring. Okay so the graphics department definitely gets a check here.

I had no issue with executing the punch or backwards jumping kick. Some of the extra moves like suplexes or running across the ropes without any difficulties. Nothing felt like I was mashing any of the buttons. Another check in the controls department.

Overall fire pro wresting is a fun experience that surpasses even some of the later wresting games on the NES.

8 - Tag Team Match M.U.S.C.L.E.

Tag Team Match M.U.S.C.L.E. NES
Next up is Tag Team Match M.U.S.C.L.E.

Muscle is actually based off an anime Kinnikuman and was published by Bandai in 1986. Let me tell you, Tag Team Match has no real flow to the gameplay. You run around either drop kicking or punching your opponent to death. The backgrounds are just blue, the crowd looks like they were copied and pasted in a row using MSpaint.

You then you get this powerup that’s apparently called meat and it’s pretty much over for the opponent. And who is this fish looking dude in the background? The only real positive here was in the controls department I guess. Yeah there are much better choices for a wresting game on the NES.

7 - Tag Team Wrestling

Tag Team Wrestling NES
Coming up next is Tag Team Wrestling!

Tag Team Wrestling comes your way in 1986 by data east. Now other than seemingly mashing buttons in order to take out your opponent with punches kicks or suplexes. Tag Team Wrestling introduces a mechanic where once you get into a grapple you have to press the B button a set amount of times to select a move to use. I guess that’s a bonus in the controls department.

The graphics are passable at best. Each of the characters were the exact same height and the crowd was downright confusing to tell apart from times. To top it off I was beating the crap out of the strong bads, they’re all turning red while all of a sudden one of them pins me and gets me out like The Montreal Screwjob. Tag Team Wrestling would immediately lose the WCW championship belt if it ever made it’s way out of the intercontinental series.

6 - WWF WrestleMania

WWF WrestleMania NES
The first WWF release in the mix is WWF WrestleMania released in 1989 by acclaim.

You’re immediately greeted with a downright scary 8 bit graphic of the Hulkster, the words Bigger Better Badder will be displayed in attract mode which was actually a promo for WWF WrestleMania 3.

I had this growing up and let me tell you, most people I know did. I mean this was a bargain bin special at your local used game store. They couldn't pay you enough to take this off their hands.

WWF WrestleMania NES 1

The Cast is okay you have the usual suspects, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, The Million Dollar Man, Bam Bam Bigelow, Honkey Tonk Man, Macho Man Randy Savage. I'm more of a Macho Man guy myself, his promos are downright hillarious.

There are two game modes to chose from. One is an exhibition match and the other is a round robin tournament which was a great idea back when you had your friends over for a pizza party.

WWF WrestleMania NES 2

The controls are questionable at best. You run around the ring chasing your opponent kicking or chopping down at your opponent. It feels almost like a fighting game more than a wresting game.

Each of the wrestlers has their own power up that can be picked up to regain their energy.

Although it was cool to see my favorite wrestlers on the NES, this is a disappointment and there are much better WWF games on this list.

5 - Tecmo World Wrestling

Tecmo World Wrestling NES
An oddball in the mix is Tecmo World Wrestling.

It was released in 1989 by Tecmo of all companies. So yeah Obviously you're not going to get the Hulkster or randy savage in a Techmo release. The character list is adequate you got Akira Dragon, El Tigre, Pat Gordon, Rex Beat, Boris Chekov, Mark Rose, Julio Falcon, Randy Gomez, Dr Guildo, and uh Jackie Lee and in case you haven’t noticed most of these characters are actually rip-offs of wrestlers. Each of the characters have their own set of moves and that was a great addition.

Tecmo World Wrestling NES 2

The graphics are great for an NES wrestling game. The sprites looked proportionate, the background crowd resembled an actual crowd. There is a clear distinction between the ring and the outside areas. There's even a play by play announcer that is telling you every move. I could barely keep up with reading the text with so much going on.

Controls were great, flipping guys out of the ring, getting them into suplexes putting them into a Sharp shooter. The super moves turned out to be a cutscene flashing across the screen. Being Able to backwards suplex into a pin for the 3 count was so rewarding during a match.

Tecmo World Wrestling NES 3

I also liked Being able to rebuild your health bar occasionally throughout the match. This is a great way to come back during a match and make it even vs an opponent.

In between matches You get to train your character by either Squats, Sit-ups or pushups
Squats looked normal while performing, you know, in a gym no big deal.
Sit-ups were okay too, you’re hanging from bar while working out in the gym.
But what’s going on here when doing pushups. Why is this Fatty sitting on throughout the whole time?

Tecmo World Wrestling NES 4

The Only real flaw is the music being replayed gets a little annoying. Tecmo World Wrestling has so much going for it, definitely give this one a try.

4 - WCW World Championship Wrestling

WCW World Championship Wrestling NES

The first NES game by the competition is WCW World Championship Wrestling. WCW was published in 1989 by FCI. The title screen has a digitized voice shouting at you as you turn on the game. There's a singles and tag mode for one of two players.

You get to choose from your choice of some great wrestlers Rick Flair, Lex luger, Mike Rotunda, Kevin Sullivan, Sting, Rick Steiner, Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, both Road Warriors, Dr. Death Steve Williams, Eddie Gilbert and Michael Hayes.

WCW World Championship Wrestling NES 2

You get to pick between one of four grappling moves that you can use in the match.
You run around the ring punching or kicking your opponent. You can also use one of the four moves picked before the match and using the moves in the ring were fluid and looked great.
There’s even small details like sound effects when your move is executed or the screen shaking during a sequence or the animated crowd in the background.
Finishing your opponent with a finisher that your WCW superstars can perform in the match like the sting scorpion deadlock looked great.
A ton of fun can be had with WCW World Championship Wrestling. It only took WCW one try to make a good wrestling game.

3 - WWF WrestleMania Challenge

WWF WrestleMania Challenge NES

The next WWF release WWF WrestleMania Challenge was released in 1990 by LJN and starts you off with an animated ultimate warrior flexing his muscles like a manioc.

The cast features some new additions. You still have macho man, Andre the Giant and hogan but then you have Rick Rude, Brutus Beefcake, Big Boss Man, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and of course the Ultimate warrior.

You get an option of singles, tag team or survivor series match.

The graphics are a step ahead compared to WWF WrestleMania. You now have a legitimate ring with a crowd in the background. The wrestlers themselves resembled their larger then life  personas during the match.

WWF WrestleMania Challenge NES 2

Coming into the gameplay, I found the Isometric view extremely confusing. Pressing right would send you in a downright direction. You have to press the diagnals to move around the screen as if you wanted to move around in a single direction. So yeah, This was an absolute mess and could have been easily fixed.

Body slams were very easy to execute by pressing the B button. Each wrestler also has there own power move that you can

There are also the unique finishing moves present in the game like Rick Rude’s neck breaker!

WrestleMania Challenge is better than the first WWF wrestling game in the series but the lack of fluid controls doesn’t put this ahead of the wolfpack.

2 - WrestleMania Steel Cage Challenge

WrestleMania Steel Cage Challenge

The third WWF release, WrestleMania Steel Cage Challenge blasts you with an 8 bit rendition of the Hulkster. You then have mean jean doing an intro of a match between Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart.

You can choose from a couple of modes, singles tag team or Championship modes where you have to battle all of the wrestlers in a round robin. The roster is an improvement and features Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, The Mountie, Irwin Schyster, Roddy Piper, Sid Justice, Bret Hart, Randy Savage, Ted Debiase and Jake the Snake Roberts.

The movement and animations are pretty smooth. It looks like the later Super Nintendo releases around the same time.

I don’t know what happened to the graphics. All of the wrestlers are the same height and stature. Hulk Hogan is listed at 6 foot 6. There’s no way he’s the same height as Ted Debiase.
The crowd is present but what’s going on, could they not fill the seats at a main event on the NES?

WrestleMania Steel Cage Challenge2

There were some really cool 8-bit versions of the wrestlers intro music during the opening promo but during the gameplay all you hear is staticky crowd noise and the thumps of the wrestlers hitting the mat. Why couldn’t they just put the intro music as part of the match?

You no longer have any of the signature finishing moves and each of the wrestlers move sets are exactly the same. Some of the moves are just downright hilarious like when running against the ropes, you don’t have an actual clothesline but a stopping punch which is like impossible to time correctly.

I was falling asleep playing WrestleMania Steel Cage Challenge.

1 - WWF King of the Ring

WWF King of the Ring NES

The last chance to make things right for the WWF was with WWF King of the Ring

You can play a Single, Tag team match, A single tournament mode and the King of the Ring tournament. The cast is my favorite of the WWF wrestling games and has Bret Hart, Lex Luger, HBK Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect, Razor Ramon, Macho Man, Yokozuna, Hulk Hogan, The undertaker, Bam Bam Bigelow and you? You were featured in the other NES games like WrestleMania challenge. At least you can change your own stats if you play as yourself and all of the other wrestlers have specific stats similar to their wresting style. This is a significant upgrade over Steel Cage Challenge.

The ring is displayed properly with an actual crowd cheering in the background. The sprites look like their WWF counterparts. Although what’s going on with their muscles, each of the wrestlers are incredibly HUGE.

The move sets didn’t vary between any of the wrestlers. All you really had to do was stomp the opponent in order to cheese the match. This felt unfinished to me as at least they could have put the finishers in the game to give each wrestler a unique feeling. I would have loved to see the razor’s edge or sweet chin music in 8 bit. Despite it’s flaws, WWF King of the Ring is by far the best version of a WWF wresting game on the NES.

WWF King of the Ring NES 2

Now if I had to pick my top three best wresting games on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). I would go with:

3 - WCW World Championship Wrestling
2 - Pro Wrestling
1 - Tecmo World Wrestling.



Passionate gamer and nostalgia enthusiast. Journeying through the pixelated realms of retro video games, unearthing forgotten gems and sharing the joy. Join me on a nostalgic adventure! 🎮✨