Hulk Hogan launches clown from cage in mad bone-crunching Hulkamania nostalgia

Hulk Hogan launches clown from cage in mad bone-crunching Hulkamania nostalgia

Having Hulkamania run wild in a Hell in a Cell match that sees Mr. America himself, Hulk Hogan, hurl a man dressed as a clown from the top of a cage is quite the treat.

WWE 2K23 makes that possible, the latest feature in the long-running wrestling franchise gives 2K Games a shot at a top sporting title.

Hulk Hogan may be the focus for those nostalgic players traipsing down memory lane on the new 2K Games engine, but John Cena takes the cover and much of the Showcase mode within.

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Charting the consistency of Big Match John over the course of 15 "Showcase" matches sees the 13-time WWE Champion spend more time on the canvas than celebrating his success.

From the time he was beaten up by a man cosplaying as a leather-wearing dead man, to a debut that saw him fall to an Olympic athlete, the Showcase mode is quite the treat.

Unlockable items are hidden away in there, but how many gamers are going to sit through hundreds of objectives just so they have the chance to play as another variation of John Cena?

It still marks a decent solo experience, one that the WWE video game series has not featured for some time.

Where the real appeal lies is in the battering of other performers, creating a wrestler that looks a bit like yourself and kitting them out with finishing moves that would split even the toughest of watermelons in half.

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Gone are the days of whipping an opponent over the ropes, dropping a few blows to their head and waiting for the count-out victory.

Slick improvements to the AI and their countering moves give the game an exciting new challenge, but they are still no match for chair shots to the head and repetitive kicks to the arm.

Gameplay will always be an unchanged core of the WWE series, but the bits and pieces that are reworked here are the real winner for 2K here.

New pinfall breaks, a sharper design for the camera and a close-up feel puts players right in the ring, a genuine triumph that looks as good as it plays on PC.

Getting up close and personal to a seven-foot-three Frenchman or a wrestler whose entire gimmick was a love of worms in the mouth, is not advisable.

But 2K Games throw players right into the ring, not literally as that would be a slate of health and safety woes, but through the power of great graphics and heart-pounding gameplay.

A scattershot of legends, active stars and AEW alumni formerly associated with the titan-like wrestling brand make for a nice variety of stars for players to mow down in the ring.

That has always been the fun of wrestling games, seeing whether Jake "The Snake" Roberts would manage to topple the likes of Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns is the appeal.

If Roberts' superstar rating is anything to go by, the answer is a flat and constant "no".

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Yet decades on from Hulkamania running wild on the competition, it is amazing to see that it still can as the legends find themselves at odds with the stars of the modern era.

Powerful leg drops to put down the most active and celebrated of champions are frequent, while fellow WWF legends Stone Cold Steve Austin and Ultimate Warrior make classic match-ups possible.

Thanks to the WWE Universe mode, it is entirely plausible and even encouraged to have British Bulldog fight Logan Paul for a retired belt on the grandest stage of them all at Wrestlemania.

WWE 2K23 is a celebration of making the implausible possible, which is why rapper Bad Bunny and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson were undefeated tag-team champions for two years running.

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