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AEW Fight Forever (PS4) Review

July 25, 2023 | Posted by Jonathan Hunter
AEW: Fight Forever Image Credit: THQ Nordic
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AEW Fight Forever (PS4) Review  

Title: AEW Fight Forever
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Switch, Steam
Release Date: June 29 2023
Version Reviewed: PS4

It’s 1998. An assortment of motley teenagers come and go from my basement; the constant is a Nintendo 64 with four candy-colored controllers. On a 13″ CRT, we log hours of Goldeneye, Mario Kart, Star Fox… and WCW vs nWo World Tour. Those of us who are wrestling fans at the height of Attitude obviously love it. Wonderfully, the rest of the friends just like playing the video game. My best friend Dan constantly played as “Sumo Joe”; years later I would learn that was a renamed Genichiro Tenryu. Four-player battle royales full of chirping, cheap shots, running away, and (hopefully) bloody wrestlers all hours of the night…

AEW’s first video game, Fight Forever, is undeniably a love letter to the N64 wrestling games developed by AKI/Asmik Ace and THQ. Kenny Omega is one of the best wrestlers in the world. He is also a huge video game nerd; his passion for recreating the classic video game wrestling experience is clear. From the jump, to those who played World Tour, Revenge, Wrestlemania 2000, or arguably the GOAT of pro wrestling games, No Mercy, Fight Forever is visually reminiscent. It controls in much the same way with a deep striking and grappling system.

I’ve tried piles of wrestling video games since the N64 days and not one has ever scratched that itch the way the AKI/Ace games did. I recognize I’m in the minority here. It could be that I was stubborn, but the level of control afforded, especially by No Mercy, was never in other games. They felt too simple, too easy. To be perfectly honest, all I wanted from the game was a true update to No Mercy.

I certainly want to like it, but does Fight Forever have more going for it than pure nostalgia?

DISCLAIMER: The version of the game reviews is for the PS4. I am reviewing the game on release. Kenny Omega and the developers have promised more updates, additions, and features over time, including a 30 player online Stadium Stampede match “coming soon” and two roster DLC packs.


It can’t be denied that Fight Forever has a look that can be most charitably described as “last generation.” Its graphics wouldn’t be out of place on late PS3 or early PS4. The game may not have the “hyper detailed” visuals of most modern games but does have a clear art style. It’s an evolution of the N64 graphics that, cliche as it might sound, looks far better playing on your tv than online clips convey.

One of the aspects that doesn’t properly show up in screenshots is the terrific animation. The attention to detail in the hundreds of moves in the game is exceptional. There are multiple versions of many holds, from basic throws to finishers, and all look distinct from one another. Chris Jericho, for example, has three separate ways to deliver the Judas Effect and they all look unique. The animation is smooth in a way that motion captured graphics never quite seem to accept.

Image Credit: AEW Games

Menus take place in the AEW Locker Room. Most options and features are easy to navigate between. Often, people like William Regal, Taz, or Jim Ross will pop with voice-over clips to help teach you the game. There is a deep tutorial that I recommend you read throug; the training mode is helpful as well.

Match entrances are limited. Entrances occur on the stage only, fading out when the wrestler starts down the ramp. A lot of classic cues, taunts, and poses are incorporated, but it’s almost not worth it. It takes away from “big matches” when doing career mode. You’re fighting Jericho for the world title, only for “Judas” to fade out a single line into the first verse…

ProTip: The inclusion of licensed songs is a mixed bag. Included are “Cult of Personality”, “Tarzan Boy”, and “Judas”. Unfortunately, tracks such as “Jane” (Orange Cassidy) and “Ruby Soho” are not. Jon Moxley comes out to “Unscripted Violent” rather than “Wild Thing” by X.

One of the coolest parts of the game is the video packages that you will encounter. The game itself opens with what is almost a condensed history of All Elite Wrestling. When you begin Road to Elite (the career mode), a wonderful video featuring voice-over, photos of wrestlers EARLY in their career, video footage, sets the stage. During the mode, when you have certain matches, “History of AEW” video packages play. For example, you run into CM Punk and he challenges you for his debut on Rampage. After the match, an edited version of Punk’s monumental return to pro wrestling kicks in. There are other video packages that play during the mode; I won’t spoil them for you.

There are moments like the videos that really showcase the love of pro wrestling that infuses Fight Forever. It is a game full of deep cuts, in-jokes, amazing bullshit that only hardcore wrestling fans will get. The game is gonna pop you, and that’s a fucking joy. You can customize the in-game jukebox that plays during menus and matches to your heart’s desire.


If you played the N64 games, you know how Fight Forever controls — grapples and strikes. Tap the button for a weak attack; hold it down for a strong one. An addition is there are two strike buttons — one for kicks, one for punches. In a grapple, the direction you hold the control stick changes the move your wrestler will do. Most wrestlers, then, have four moves in weak grapple, and another four in strong; that doesn’t include that you can do “strike” based moves from a grapple.

ProTip: In multi-man matches, press in the L stick in to change your focus.

Within that framework, you can do irish whips, running attacks, corner attacks. You can toss people out of the ring. Fight Forever incorporates the ability to do moves on the ring apron (DID YOU KNOW IT’S THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING?) and into the barricades — smashing them. Loads of moves in the corner or to a downed opponent. The sheer volume of moves is dizzying.

Image Credit: AEW Games

Much like its predecessors, the game uses a “spirit” meter rather than a health bar. You build momentum by being on offense, taunting with the right stick. When spirit gets high enough, you gain SIGNATURE. With the tap of a control pad in the right spot, wrestlers can perform signature moves. This is where Kenny Omega has the V-Trigger, or Jon Moxley has the Gotch Driver. They’re not quite finishers but they are powerful. In fact, they may too be powerful — it often seems to be more effective to spam Signatures rather than enter Special!

Taunting with the right stick will put you into Special, and then you can unleash what should be match enders. The nature of the momentum bar, however, means that an opponent is not necessarily done for. Signatures and Finishers are usually performed out of the grapple but can be done all over the ring. Adam Cole’s Panama Sunrise requires you to have an opponent in the corner. Some moves, like Cole’s BOOM knee smash, are difficult; getting the downed opponent into the prime seated position, then hitting the ropes, can be challenging (and not worth the effort).

ProTip: To throw your opponent out of the ring, press L2 when in a grapple.

One cool aspect of the game is the use of “stats.” To differentiate the wrestlers, various stats, both passive and active, are attached to different wrestlers. The stats can include finisher strength, grapple, speed, and so on. Some are more specific; For example, not every wrestler has the “kip up” stat. Paul Wight (OBVIOUSLY) doesn’t have the ability to do Springboards; he does have guard break, allowing his strikes to bust through block attempts (Big Show’s reach and power makes him a tough opponent!). A tag specialist like Dax Harwood gains a momentum buff when he makes a tag. Characters can even have desperation buffs, such as a low blow or inside cradle counter to a pinfall when in the danger state. The stats go a long way to making each wrestler unique to play as and against. For your Custom Wrestlers, the Road to Elite is how you can power-up your CAW with stat points.

ProTip: Give your CAW Unyielding Pose, Guard Break, and Roll Out asap. All three stats are currently OP!

There are issues. Running is virtually the same as the N64 games and that proves to be a detriment. It was clunky back then, and it doesn’t feel right in a 2023 video game. Tag team maneuvers are diabolical to properly pull off. It is absolutely to the games credit it includes a tremendous amount of tag team signatures and finishers, from the BTE Trigger, Meltzer Driver, Shatter Machine, and more; but pulling them off is not necessarily easy — or fun.

The single biggest issue with the gameplay, at the moment, is pinning and submitting. I’m glad Fight Forever doesn’t do “mini-games” for pinfalls and submissions, but kicking out or escaping is frustrating. Theoretically, mashing buttons should help you kick-out. In practice, it’s too easy to get pinned after one or two moves. I’ve had matches where I kicked the computer’s ass, hit three signatures, a finisher, and the opponent kicked out… only to hit me with a few moves and win. Submissions can be even worse. There’s no “trying to reach the ropes” or any real struggle. Mash buttons and hope. More often than not, tap out regardless of momentum. It’s a major piece of feedback on the Fight Forever discord and hopefully a future update rebalances things, or even adds a different level of interaction.


At launch, Fight Forever has a disappointingly bare bones assortment of modes. Match types include the obvious singles match, tag, triple threat, and four-way. Lights Out Match is hardcore. The three “gimmick” matches include Casino Battle Royale, Barbed Wire Deathmatch, and Ladder.

That’s it.

Image Credit: AEW Games

Barbed Wire Deathmatch is amazing to play. It has a countdown until the whole psychotic set-up explodes. As you fight it out, little explosions go off when wrestlers go into the barbed wire. Tables are set-up. And your characters BLEED. The game is not afraid to just gore the ring up. The explosions are huge. It’s a lot of fun.

Pro-Tip: There is a way to unlock what the game calls… “historical” mode for the explosions. Remember how Moxley vs Omega ended? So does the game!

Casino Battle Royale is moreso a typical royal rumble match. There are four wrestlers at a time, so characters can’t actually come out in groups of five per “suit.” Still, it’s a fun way to play. Ladder match is fine, if unexceptional. Tag team matches are mediocre. When a tag is made, BOTH team partners run in. It’s frustrating. I make a tag hoping to do some double-teams, but the illegal COM opponent immediately targets until the game forces illegal partners to roll out back to their corners. It’s not really possible to “cut off the ring.” This could be solved if there was a Tornado Tag option, but…

I’m not entirely fussed at the lack of a cage match. The bigger concern, for me, is the inability to edit rules to your liking. If you want a hardcore match, you must play Lights Out. You can’t start a singles match and toggle rules on and off. It’s a strange shortcoming. There also is not an elimination mode. Triple-threats and four-ways are first fall to a finish. One of the best parts about the old games is that, in a four-way match, the eliminated wrestlers were still outside the ring and playable. You could play a complete shit disturber by picking ankles of your buddies, dragging them out, and blasting them with a steel chair for awhile.

It’s just one of many strange omissions; particularly when a variety of these other match types show up in Road To Elite. You will play Gauntlet matches, handicap matches, and others. So why aren’t those match types immediately available to choose in exhibition? As it stands, a 2023 video game has fewer options than a Nintendo 64 game from 2000.


I’m going to say this straight-up: I’ve seen various reviewers or comments say “the career mode takes two hours and that’s it.” Bullshit. It’s bullshit because the career mode has different stories and branches and will take you multiple playthroughs to see them all.

Road to Elite takes your wrestler, AEW roster member or CAW, through a career mode. It always starts with a call from Tony Khan that sets up the Casino Battle Royale. RTE has four “blocks” each go through. Each block has three potential chapters. Some stories are only available if you play as a woman.

ProTip: To unlock the “Who’s Ribbing Me?” story block to unlock Paul Wight, lose every match! Some players have reported choosing Malakai Black seems to have the highest success rate for this path.

Image Credit: AEW Games

RTE uses a lot of fun, silly cutscenes with the in-game models. Before your match on Dynamite, you can workout, eat, sightsee, do press, or play a minigame. You will also be able to wrestle matches on DARK or Rampage. Each one of the different activities will recharge your energy, build your motivation, or grant you in-game currency, or stat points that can be distributed (to CAW only). It’s goofy fun. Often, when you sightsee or eat out, you will encounter other AEW wrestlers and have interactions, or take snapshots.

It’s cheesy. It really is. It’s also fun. There are a lot of great, deep cut wrestling references throughout.

ProTip: If you see an Exclamation Point beside an event, it’s a sign that an wrestler interaction will take place if you select it.

The mini-games are interesting. They act as kind of a faux Mario Party style side-bar. The Young Bucks host them. Depending on your wrestler, they are either happy to have you join or are hyper-irritated (kudos to the Bucks for letting the game write them as complete jerks!). They’re… actually fun. My favorite is the absurd casino chip one, where casino chips fall from the sky. Your job is to catch the most — but avoid the bombs. Sure, why not. Mini-games give a lot of in-came cash and stat points.

While Road to Elite is longer and more robust than some early nay-sayers have claimed, it does remain to be said that it only goes so far. Your choices, or wins or losses, don’t ultimately have a major effect on how the story progresses — a far cry from the wildly branching career mode of No Mercy or the deep career modes of recent wrestling games. I presume that, after four or five goes, I will have seen all it has to offer. The primary reason to continue doing Road to Elite will be to boost the stats of your Custom Wrestlers.


Several years ago, I realized that while I was holding onto some of my vintage video game systems and games, I never played them. I sold my Super Nintendo, N64, and all their games. Except one. WWF No Mercy… and the memory pak fully loaded with custom wrestlers I had spent countless hours and hours tweaking and perfecting. I think most wrestling game fans know how lost a person can get in a deep create a wrestler…

The single biggest area Fight Forever comes up short is in the Create-A-Wrestler.

At launch, the options for your character’s appearance are shockingly slight. For example, facial hair. There is a grand total of… 7 different options. For some reason, you cannot have your wrestler wear a shirt. There literally is not an option for a “top”; oddly, the “top” option IS available for your characters entrance gear or street clothing. A good chunk of knee pads won’t go over the various tights and pants. It is still more than possible to create a unique wrestler but the slightness of the appearance customization is a significant failing. I had more than intended to do a deep dive, but I simply can’t come close to creating a lot of wrestlers that are not in the game. One would think the assets for most of the in-game characters would be available in CAW. They simply aren’t.

Image Credit: AEW Games

It is worth noting that the game clearly knows its audience. Some of the hairstyles, attire, and accessories available clearly are there because the developers know AEW fans will no doubt want to create NJPW wrestlers like Kota Ibushi or Okada. Likewise, a very Kevin Steen/Owens-esque goatee and hairstyle are available.

On the positive end, the game offers a deep list of pre-recorded names to attach to your wrestler. PILES of real wrestler names are in there (separated by first/last). The list of hometowns is fun, too. I’m pleased to see a decent number of Canadian cities (strangely, no Edmonton…?). Where the CAW truly shines is the vast, vast move customization available. The list of available moves in virtually every conceivable position is awesome. Loads of moves from wrestlers not in the game are included. Some moves are named exactly for what they are (Tour of the Islands), while others are renamed but clearly the moves of WWE superstars.

Pro-Tip: A reference to Kevin Owens’ time in PWG, the F5 is named… Diverticulitis.

The game clearly knows people will want to make dozens of competitors who will likely never be in the game. While the movesets are there, the appearance mods are not. Kenny Omega and various devs active on social media and the Fight Forever Discord have essentially promised future updates will include, along with other game options, more CAW pieces. Those updates can’t come soon enough.


When Chris Jericho applies the Liontamer or Walls, he yells “ASK HIM”. Scorpio Sky audibly gloats “S C U.” MJF begs off cowardly; Orange Cassidy has lazy in-ring banter. When performing Jaded with Jade Cargill, the game prompts you to hit L1 to pin immediately after, just as she does in her matches. A click of the R stick sees Orange Cassidy put his hands in his pockets, allowing you to do lazy kicks. One of the evade moves is called the “Cody Dodge,” tailored to Rhodes’ movement. Jon Moxley’s entrance is custom and has him enter through the crowd.

The attention to detail in the game can only come from being developed by people who truly love wrestling. It’s clear that, however much he was actually involved, Kenny Omega’s voice carried a lot of weight in the game. The writer of the various RTE scenarios has, on Twitter, talked about how much he loved doing it. This is a game made by FANS of pro wrestling, and it shows in every way that they try to get the wrestlers to behave as they do in the ring.

On the other hand, the lengthy development cycle of the game also means that some parts of it feel dated at launch. The Inner Circle is part of a Road To Elite storyline. Wrestlers who are rarely on AEW like Abadon, Lance Archer, and Yuka Sakazaki have roster spots, while The Acclaimed, Jamie Hayter, and Claudio Castignoli do not. The Blackpool Combat Club has an entrance graphic, but neither John Moxley or Bryan Danielson incorporate BCC imagery. Ideally, this is something that updates will address…


I have zero regrets about pre-ordering the game with the “Elite” bonuses and battle pass. The first DLC wrestler pack of FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler), were in my game on install. I’ve spent easily 40-50 hours with the game already. It is, simply, incredibly fun to play. I’ve unlocked Mr. Brodie Lee from RTE and still have to unlock both Paul Wight and Owen Hart. I’m taking my first woman CAW through RTE and engaging some of those storylines. I haven’t had this much fun with a wrestling game in two decades. I recognize your mileage may vary. The depth of control, deep move list, frequent nods to pro wrestling history, playing as some of my favorite wrestlers for the first time ever? It’s a blast.

The question I asked at the top of this review was: does Fight Forever have more going for it than nostalgia? I want to answer “yes,” but with heavy caveats.

If you’re on the fence, my recommendation is to wait. Wait and see what Kenny Omega and Yukes end up delivering in terms of updates, new content, and DLC. The game needs to double its appearance options in CAW mode. It needs to add more match types. Some Quality of Life improvements, such as move categories, and full match customization, would be ideal. Additions to Road to Elite or other story modes. Little things like balance changes and tweaks to things like counts, pinfalls, submissions.

A good chunk of this needs to be free updates to the game, NOT DLC. I don’t mind paying for new wrestlers to add to the game; however, given the absence of key AEW names, it would be a show of good faith from THQ to add at least a few for free. Right now, AEW Fight Forever is a terrific foundation to build upon. But they must. This is a game that, in six months time, needs to be significantly improved. It can’t wait for a sequel in two to three years.

To its credit, AEW Games has already announced a soon to debut online battle royale mode… Stadium Stampede.

Hopefully a sign of amazing things to come.

The final score: review Good
The 411
AEW: Fight Forever is an incredibly fun wrestling game to play. It is clearly a labour of love that will, in many ways, please hardcore wrestling fans. It is unfortunate that, at launch, the game is so bare bones. The Create-A-Wrestler mode, despite having a wealth of moves, is lacking in appearance options. Road To Elite is excellent, but limited. The excellent gameplay and attention to detail makes Fight Forever a solid foundation for AEW Games and Yukes to build on. What the game looks like in six months with updates and DLC (such as Stadium Stampede) will ultimately make or break the project. Recommended, with caveats.