A way-too-long look at AEW Fight Forever on Nintendo Switch


Let’s get this out of the way right up front:

I’ve owned a TON of wrestling games in the 30+ years that I’ve been a pro wrestling fan. Off the top of my head, here is the list of wrestling games I have owned at some point in my life:

Pro Wrestling and WWF Wrestlemania Challenge on NES. WWF Royal Rumble and WWF Raw is War on Super NES. WWF War Zone on Playstation. WWF Royal Rumble on Sega Dreamcast. WCW/nWo Revenge, WWF Wrestlemania 2000 and WWF No Mercy on Nintendo 64. Fire Pro Wrestling on Game Boy Advance. Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth, Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain, Smackdown vs. Raw, Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 and Fire Pro Wrestling Returns on PS2. Smackdown vs. Raw 2009, WWE ’12 and WWE ’13, and WWE 2K14 on XBox 360. Fire Pro World, and WWE 2K15 on Steam. And I’ve played tons more. Of all those, Fire Pro Wrestling on Game Boy Advance and WWE 2K15 are the only one I actively regret purchasing. And FPW on GBA was a good game, but the original GBA had hardware issues that I couldn’t get over at the time, mostly its too-dark screen. WWE 2K15 was just… not what I wanted, personally.

Over the last few years, I’ve really just been focused on building the library of games for my Nintendo Switch. I have re-bought so many of my favorite games, just to be able to have them all on one console. But in that library, there’s always been one glaring omission: A pro wrestling video game.

Sure, there’s RetroFest, and a handful of other indie titles. And I’m sure some of those games are fine. But I wanted something with some more depth, y’know? WWE 2K18 came out in 2017, and was so bad that there was a 32GB patch…which is like the size of the entire game. And apparently it’s still buggy after that. Take-Two Interactive never bothered to put another one of their WWE2K games on the Switch after that.

So when All Elite Wrestling announced that they’d be releasing AEW: Fight Forever on not just the PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, but ALSO the Nintendo Switch, I had to pay attention. AEW is a wrestling company that started in 2019 by gathering up all the biggest pro wrestlers not signed to WWE that they could, and getting weekly television programs on TNT and TBS. While WWE has turned pro wrestling into “sports entertainment” by focusing on character-driven soap opera-style storylines, AEW focuses on the in-ring action of pro wrestling. Sure, there are personalities and stories in AEW, too, but the focus is always on the matches.

AEW’s focus is not on being a direct competitor to WWE, but an alternative experience.

And that’s the best analogy for AEW: Fight Forever: It’s NOT a WWE2K game. Take-Two Interactive have had the WWE License for a decade, taking it over after THQ went out of business in 2013. And until 2022, all the WWE2K games were built on the framework that had been in place since the original WWF Smackdown, released in 1999 on the original Playstation. WWE2K is the establishment. That’s what wrestling fans have been playing for literal DECADES, with a new entry every single year for the last 24 years. While a handful of attempts at creating alternative wrestling game experiences have been made in the last 24 years, nothing has been able to compete with what publisher THQ and developer Yuke’s had started at the turn of the century. And shortly after taking over the WWE license, Take-Two Interactive dropped Yuke’s as a developer.

So maybe it’s fitting that Yuke’s is the company that developed AEW: Fight Forever. And it’s being published by Nordic Games, now doing business as THQ Nordic, after acquiring the “THQ” branding when that company went out of business.

The other bit of backstory is that there is a very large, very vocal group of wrestling fans who absolutely LOVE the wrestling games developed by AKI Corporation. Specifically, the last game the produced for a major American wrestling promotion WWF No Mercy released for the Nintendo 64 in late 2000.

AEW: Fight Forever was developed by Yuke’s, with the director of WWF No Mercy overseeing the project. And acting as a liaison between Yuke’s and AEW was professional wrestler Kenny Omega, who grew up playing wrestling video games. The goal was to create a new game with the feel of WWF No Mercy, but updated for the 2020s.

And, for the most part, I think they succeeded.


As stated above, I’ve played a LOT of wrestling video games. Not all of them, and I’m not the best at them all. But I’ve definitely sunk more hours into wrestling games than the average person. And the thought of an updated No Mercy was a pipe dream for over 20 years.

After the misadventures of actually obtaining the game, I popped the cartridge into my Nintendo Switch, watched the introductory video, and turned on my first match. No Mercy had a fairly simple setup: On the Nintendo 64 controller, the D-Pad moved, the analog stick taunted or did your wrestler’s finishing move with a full “Attitude” meter, R executed reversals to all attacks, A did striking attacks, B grappled, and one of the C buttons was for running and climbing the turnbuckles and from a grapple could also throw the opponent towards the ropes. The other buttons all did stuff, too, but those were the most important actions. AEW FF mostly follows that. On the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, the left analog stick moves, the right stick taunts and executes finishers, B does grapples, Y does punching attacks, X does kicking attacks, and A does the run/throw/climb features. L reverses grapples and R reverses punches and kicks. Again, the other buttons have functions too, but those are the ones you’ll be using the most playing this game.

Use combinations of striking and grappling attacks to wear down your opponent while building up your “momentum” meter (the “attitude” meter in No Mercy and Wrestlemania 2000, or the “spirit” meter of the WCW games)

Anyone who sunk countless hours into WCW/nWo Revenge, Wrestlemania 2000, and/or No Mercy will be able to pick up and play Fight Forever without too much issue. But it’s not just a complete re-hash: The gameplay is significantly sped up, and the separation of punch and kick buttons means that wrestlers now have 30% more moves available to them at any given time. And splitting up reversals to striking and grappling attacks now means that there’s more of a guessing game between which type of move your opponent will execute — Being great at timing the reversals for one type of attack no longer means you have a stone wall of defense, you also need to be a little bit psychic.

If you haven’t played those games…I honestly can’t tell you how you’re going to feel. I think the game is fairly intuitive. I feel like once you’ve played through a few matches, you’ll start to get the hang of how the game is supposed to work. But I cannot be completely subjective here, simply because I DID own all three of the AKI N64 games, so I can’t know what it’s like coming into this new game totally blind.

But at the end of the day, I think the matches are fun, fast-paced, and allow you to do some really cool moves without too much difficulty.

The gameplay is the star of AEW Fight Forever. And at the end of the day, gameplay is the most important part of a video game.


Fight Forever features a lot of modes that wrestling fans would expect: One-on-one matches, No Disqualification matches (called “Lights Out Matches”), tag team matches, triple-threat matches, fatal four-way matches, ladder matches, and the Casino Battle Royal, which is AEW’s variation on the WWF’s classic Royal Rumble.

The highlight for the match types, though, is definitely the Exploding Ring Barbed Wire Death Match. The ring ropes go from being an asset to an enemy as they get wrapped in barbed wire, and after 120 seconds, the ring literally explodes, injuring whoever was closest to said ropes when it goes off.

In the Lights Out matches, Fight Forever boasts an impressive 40 different weapons: Steel chairs, sledgehammers, fire extinguishers, baseball bats, crowbars, a broom wrapped in barbed wire, a baseball bad with nails through it, a pizza box you can smash over your opponent’s head, trash cans, tables, ladders, an electrified barbed wire baseball bat, a skateboard that you can ride, bags of thumbtacks, and more. Between all the barbed wire, nails, and thumbtacks, this is easily the bloodiest wrestling game I’ve ever played.

A selection of Mario Party-style mini games are included. Only three are available when you start the game up: Chip Gather, where players run around the ring collecting the most giant poker chips in the allotted time; Penta Says, a “Simon Says”-style repeat-the-pattern game featuring wrestling skeleton Penta El Cero M; and AEW Pop Quiz, a multiple-choice trivia game testing your knowledge of AEW history. As you play through the story mode Road to Elite, you can play more games. And, staring with your second playthrough of RTE, each time you complete it, another mini game unlocks in the shop, so it can be played at any time. Some of the other games include one where you and a partner bring eggs back to your corner of the screen, memorization games, a spot-the-difference in two photos game, and a home run derby-style game. My favorite one is “Where’s Orange,” a “Where’s Waldo”-style game where players need to locate wrestler Orange Cassidy in a photo. Sometimes he’s right up front, but sometimes he’s in the audience. Good times.

Road to Elite is the season mode. It’s not incredibly long, and different paths branch out depending upon if you win or lose any of your matches. My first two playthroughs have been with Create-A-Wrestlers, so I started out pretty weak and was unable to win the first match, which is a Casino Battle Royal at the AEW Pay-Per-View Double Or Nothing. Each week, you can go to the gym, go sightseeing, eat a meal at a local restaurant, play a mini-game, or compete on AEW’s B-shows, Dark and Rampage, to try and increase your wrestler’s stats before competing on AEW’s flagship show, Dynamite. After each third Dynamite is one of the other AEW PPVs: All Out (Summer), Full Gear (Fall), Revolution (Winter), and then the season ends with the following year’s Double or Nothing (Spring).

Finally, there’s a shop with some characters (Cody Rhodes and referee Audrey Edwards) and costumes (alternate attire for both of the Young Bucks, Nick and Matt Jackson, as well as Britt Baker), and more elements for your Create-A-Wrestler, including taunts, entrance animations, and outfit pieces. And as you unlock some other wrestlers (Paul Wight, Brodie Lee, Owen Hart, etc.), they will also become available in the shop


Create a Wrestler is limited. And awkward to navigate. This is probably the most disappointing thing to me. I love making infinity fake wrestlers, and the Hawk & Croc characters, and whichever of my favorites that aren’t already in the game. And in the case of AEW: Fight Forever, that’s going to be MOST of my favorites, since they’re all mostly retired at this point. But the number of pieces is… not enough.

Say, for example, you wanted to create the Undertaker’s “Deadman Inc” look, with the leather pants and black singlet top. Should be simple enough, right? Well there’s leather pants. And a bandana. But, um. There’s not a tight tank top. And also, for some reason, a wrestler can’t be taller than 6’7”? Undertaker is famously 6’10”. And you can’t add a shirt in the ring attire section. You’ve gotta go into entrance attire, and after you select it, THEN you can set it to also be ring attire. It’s so unintuitive.

But I made a pretty cool Stone Cold Steve Austin, so it’s not totally useless.

Custom Arena is probably cool? But I need to spend more time with it. There aren’t a ton of choices that *I* would use, and you can’t add your own logos to these, either.

Custom Team is… there. If you want to make your tag teams have specific team entrances and special moves. But I’m not huge on tag teams unless I’m specifically playing with friends, and the friend I play tag mode with the most no longer lives in the same state as me. I’m sure some players will LOVE this mode, but it’s not for me.


I fully expect that, in this era of games being rushed to market and then fixed with online patches over the next several months, all but one of these features will eventually be worked out. But for right now, here’s the negatives I have to say:

  • That create-a-wrestler mode is, quite frankly, inexcusably limited. There had better be a bunch of free updates to this mode, because holy fuck, Samoa Joe is a wrestler who is currently in AEW, joining after the game was already in production so he’s not in the game, and you can’t make his half-and-half shorts.
  • Every Create-A-Wrestler “needs” to play through Road To Elite mode to level up, unless you just want a bunch of weak CAWs. (see Plusses for more about this)
  • Online matches just DO NOT work, currently. This seems to be a problem with basically EVERY game that uses online matchmaking during the first couple weeks after release, though, so I’m willing to give Yuke’s and THQ Nordic the benefit of the doubt on this one for a while.
  • Limited match types: There’s no steel cage match. It’s seemingly not possible to make tag team matches no disqualification. Ladder matches are one-on-one only, which is especially bizarre since on of AEW’s feature matches has been the six-way “Face of the Revolution” ladder match, where six wrestlers compete for a literal brass ring.
  • Sometimes, specifically on Nintendo Switch, the screen freezes for a moment. I don’t know if this is the game pushing the limits of the Switch hardware, or something that can be overcome, but it’s a glaring bug.
  • Not really a complaint, just an oddity: The roster is… outdated already? With 40 wrestlers available right away, it’s weird to complain about this, but it looks like the roster from the end of 2021, and the game came out halfway through 2023. I mean, we get Cody Rhodes and Brodie Lee as a result, so that’s cool. But it’s weird that a lot of people featured weekly on TV now just aren’t in the game. But all the big names are available — Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega, Jon Moxley, Hangman Page, Adam Cole (Bay Bay), Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, the Young Bucks, Britt Baker, Nyla Rose, Riho, etc., etc. And there’s kind of a Create-a-Wrestler mode, I guess.
  • The graphics are…questionable? Look, I’m not the person who needs a game to be beautiful in order to enjoy it. 80% of what I play came out before the year 2000, and the rest of it is first-party Nintendo stuff like Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros Ultimate. But when I’m playing Road to Elite and visiting Philadelphia, and the sight seeing spot there is the Liberty Bell, and it’s a low-resolution, pixelated image? That’s some PS1 shit. Especially when there’s a five-minute, hi-res video of CM Punk’s debut in the company that just didn’t need to exist.
    • This isn’t a deal breaker for me, but if you’re expecting next-gen character models…. you’re going to be disappointed. I think this is because of how many consoles the game is available for: The PS4 and XBox One don’t have the processing power of the PS5 and XBox Series X/S. And the Switch doesn’t even have the power of the PS4. So, yeah, while the wrestlers are recognizable as themselves, they aren’t the lifelike depictions that we’ve gotten used to in the last few years of gaming.
    • EVERYONE has “Yuke’s Face.” If you played any of the Smackdown vs. Raw games, think about how weird everybody’s mouth and teeth were, like, all the time. This game is also plagued with that.


  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: The gameplay is fast, snappy, and FUN.
  • It’s possible to duplicate a CAW that’s played through RTE mode
  • It is confirmed that AEW will NOT be making annual releases, so Fight Forever 2 is not coming in 2024. Instead, updates and DLC will be made available for (at least?) two years, meaning we probably won’t see a new AEW game until probably 2026. Which is great! I’d rather pay smaller amounts for new content than have to buy a new game that is largely the same. And when (if, depending on sales?) a new game DOES come out, it should be considerably different.
  • Along those lines, the STADIUM STAMPEDE match is already confirmed to be coming soon. Wrestling on a football field sounds insane.
  • Easily the wrestling game on Nintendo Switch. If, like me, you only have the one console, this is your only real option for any sort of functional, modern wrestling game. And it’s fun!


AEW Fight Forever comes from a huge legacy of wrestling video games. And it almost lives up to that legacy. While there are some bugs and missing features with outdated graphics, the core of the gameplay is unquestionably fun.

I’ve seen a lot of people on Reddit and Youtube say that they’re interested in the game, but want to wait a bit for some bugs to be worked out, some features added, and a price drop. I think that’s 100% reasonable, especially for Playstation and XBox owners who have access to other wrestling games.

At the end of the day, AEW Fight Forever is a lot like AEW itself: It isn’t as slick or as polished as WWE, and is a little rough around the edges. But it’s not trying to be the WWE product. The appeal of AEW is that it’s NOT WWE, it’s something different. And since its debut in 2019, AEW has improved their production and presentation drastically.

The base of AEW Fight Forever is really solid. Hopefully, as time goes on, enough more will get added that it becomes as legendary as its legacy.

Final score: B-, but hopefully this will be fixed with future updates

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