WWE 2K22 is likely just a handful of months away, and the anticipation is at an all-time high as many wonder which WWE superstar will be chosen as this year's cover star.
While the official reveal could still be several weeks away, we're taking a closer look at some of the top names who could be the WWE 2K22 cover star.
WWE 2K22 Cover Star could go old school
Before getting to the main contenders as WWE 2K22 cover star, there's an important factor to remember in that WWE video games haven't always followed the lone cover star formula that is a staple of so many sports gaming franchises.
Madden 22 made history this year with only their second two-athlete cover, and both Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes were also the first to ever repeat after being on a previous cover.
The lineage of WWE video game covers isn't quite so pristine, and the reality is that the singular cover star didn't really begin until the release of WWE '12 with Randy Orton taking center stage.
Earlier versions of the game always had a group of wrestlers chosen, starting with WWF SmackDown! on PlayStation having Chyna, The Rock, Billy Gunn, and Mankind all on the cover.
That trend continued for over a decade, but the release of WWE '12, which quickly became the WWE 2K series we know today, started the trend of choosing just one superstar as the face of the game.
Since simplifying things, the following cover stars have been chosen:
- WWE '12: Randy Orton
- WWE '13: CM Punk
- WWE 2K14: The Rock
- WWE 2K15: John Cena
- WWE 2K16: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
- WWE 2K17: Brock Lesnar
- WWE 2K18: Seth Rollins
- WWE 2K19: AJ Styles
- WWE 2K20: Becky Lynch & Roman Reigns
It may be the best option for WWE 2K22 to return to their roots the same year as they're recommitting to core gameplay and making this the best the series has seen in years.
If they want the WWE 2K22 cover to "hit different" as all of the hype videos for the title purport the game will, choosing a group of talents, with one or two from each brand, may be the best way to go.
However, the most likely outcome is that Visual Concepts and WWE Games decide to stick to the standard set over the last decade, going with either a single cover athlete or two at most.
With all of that in mind, here are some of the top names we expect to be contenders as the WWE 2K22 cover star.
When it comes to legends in the industry, the most obvious choice would be Rey Mysterio, and that comes down to how much he was a focus of the first WWE 2K22 reveal trailer.
Mysterio would always be a valid pick, but he's on a roll right now as SmackDown Tag Team Champions with his son Dominik, and Mysterio is an international icon who would immediately be recognizable on the cover.
While we saw Becky Lynch break things up by sharing the WWE 2K20 cover with Roman Reigns, and we've seen women like Chyna and Torrie Wilson as part of ensemble covers before.
However, the biggest name in women's wrestling today and the most likely to take the cover all for herself would be Sasha Banks, who remains a mainstay of WWE while making mainstream impact with her role in The Mandalorian and already won a fan vote as a potential pick.
While he's been with WWE for the better part of the last two and a half decades, Edge's forced retirement coming before the single cover star trend means he's only shared that spot with others.
With past WWE 2K covers often featuring legends of the past and present, it would be no surprise to see "The Rated R Superstar" finally take his own cover when we see the release of WWE 2K22.
One of the big points of debate with cover star selections comes down to whether it's more worthwhile to choose the established longtime name or the rising star, and this is no different for WWE 2K22 than it is for NBA 2K22 or Madden 22.
WWE has had special editions or secondary cover art with younger talents before, but really Brock Lesnar on the cover of WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain is the only time they've had a single rising star.
Following her massive victory at WWE WrestleMania 37, Bianca Belair has made an instant impact and already feels like a star for years to come, which would make choosing her as the face of WWE 2K22 all the more powerful.
If there's anyone that will proclaim their worthiness of being the WWE 2K22 cover star in character, it might just be Roman Reigns who could demand the game itself acknowledge him as "The Tribal Chief" of all WWE 2K.
Reigns has been hotter than ever as of late, and it would come as a shock to literally no one if he ended up being the WWE 2K22 cover star.
While Banks and Belair have held down the fort on SmackDown, Rhea Ripley is also making her rise as the Raw Women's Champion since capturing the title at WWE WrestleMania 37 from Asuka.
While Ripley might be a bit of a long shot for a lone cover at this point, she'd definitely be in the conversation if WWE 2K22 chooses an ensemble cover featuring stars from each brand.
The New Day
While this may seem like it goes out of the lone cover star realm, The New Day has proven for years now that, no matter what happens, they're one cohesive unit.
It's this bond that helped Kofi Kingston rise to the top. It's this bond that is seeing Big E find singles success as a representative of The New Day even without being on the same brand as Kingston and Woods.
On top of that, Xavier Woods (aka Austin Creed) is one of the biggest names in gaming, is already part of the G4TV revival, and will be at EA Play Live.
It's almost mind-boggling that they haven't yet been on the cover of a WWE 2K game, and WWE 2K22 playing host to all three members might be the perfect way to help revitalize interest and carry the series into a new era.