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WWE is a constantly evolving entity, with popular wrestlers coming and going from the company on a regular basis. This always has a huge impact on the WWE video games, as complex contracts can prevent some stars from appearing in the game. In WWE 2K22, the game faced many wrestlers leaving the company, and fan favorites like Daniel Bryan, Adam Cole, and Bray Wyatt had to be cut.

WWE 2K23 has faced the opposite problem, as many stars who left the company in 2021 returned in 2022. This has left many question marks over the status of wrestlers like Bray Wyatt, Braun Storwman, and Johnny Gargano, with fans their favorites might miss out on this year’s game.

We spoke with creative directors Lynell Jinks and Bryan Williams about this issue, and how they adapt to these circumstances out of their control.

If you want to know who is already confirmed for the game, then check out our WWE 2K23 roster reveal for every announced star.

“It’s really challenging, but at the same time, I’d rather be on this side of it than on 2K22,” Jinks explains. “[We worked] with WWE to figure out, [if we] can retain the video game rights to superstars who are no longer with company. Luckily, they allowed us to keep a fair amount of superstars that had left by the time we shipped the game.”

WWE 2K22 saw many former wrestlers still on the roster such as Braun Strowman, Keith Lee, and Toni Storm, but a few big names missed the cut. There is always the worry that similar big names who returned won’t make it this time around.

WWE 2K23 Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair squaring off

“We’re seeing all these superstars come back, and I loved to see them come back.” Jinks says, “For us, if we had them in a previous game or they were scheduled to be in 2K22 but didn’t make the cut, it’s great to try and add them because we’ve done a lot of the work to try and get them in the game. So again, I prefer this part of it.”

Quite a few returning wrestlers did feature directly in WWE 2K22. Braun Strowman, Johnny Gargano, Candice LaRae, Dakota Kai, and Karrion Kross were all in last year’s game and they returned to WWE in late summer/early autumn, so hopes are high that they’ll be included.

Assets like entrance animations and tattoos were found in 2K22 for Bray Wyatt too, implying he was originally in the game before he left the company – this hopefully means that Wyatt will make the roster for 2K23. Similarly, there are a few leftover assets that suggest Hit Row was removed, such as a t-shirt in the crowd for faction-member B-Fab.

Due to timing though, it’s likely these wrestlers will be in the DLC packs if they are included.

This is purely speculation, however, and there are limitations.

“It definitely creates different problems and depending on the time of the year, we try to make the accommodations to please everyone, just know that due to timing and when we lock down our roster, our schedule, our mocap sessions, our audio recording, it becomes really challenging to please everyone,” Jinks says.

Based on previous games, it’s unlikely that wrestlers who returned in November or December of 2022 will make this year’s roster. Competitors like Bronson Reed, Mia Yim, and Emma will likely have to wait until next year to make their returns to the video game series.

We ask Jinks and Williams if they can give us any specific names that won’t be making the cut this year, but their lips are sealed. Still, if your favorite doesn’t make the cut, “there’s always next year.”