Much like wrestling itself, for fans of a certain age wrestling video games will never be better than they were in the ’90s. From 1997-2000, the Aki Corporation developed four pro wrestling games for the Nintendo 64 that are considered the pinnacle of the genre. The first two were licensed WCW games, but like Chris Jericho and the Big Show, it jumped to the WWE (then, the WWF) in 1999. The final game in the series, WWF No Mercy, has endured as the consensus pick for the greatest wrestling video game of all time.
It’s easy to see why. It has a deep roster of Attitude Era stars (from Stone Cold and the Rock to Kai En Tai), a fantastic create-a-wrestler feature, great multiplayer, and one of the best story modes to ever grace a wrestling game. While WCW/NWo Revenge lacks some of those highlights, it’s hard to beat for WCW purists. With a nearly complete roster outside of Ric Flair, who was kept out of the game due to a contract dispute between him and WCW, it’s a great representation of the company at its zenith. WCW’s divisions and factions are all represented, with four of them featured on the game’s cover.
Three of the cover stars make perfect sense for anyone who followed WCW at the time. Goldberg, who was still in the midst of his legendary undefeated streak, was WCW’s standard bearer at the time. Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash are also front and center, representing the two feuding nWo factions, Hollywood and the Wolfpac. It’s the fourth man on the cover who surprised fans at the time, and continues to do so today: Raven.
Raven (real name Scott Levy) was never as big a star as the men he shared the cover with, but he definitely carved out a niche for himself during the ’90s wrestling boom. After early 90’s stints in WCW and the WWF with wacky characters Scotty Flamingo and Johnny Polo, Levy reinvented himself in ECW as the misanthropic Raven. His ring gear came straight from a grunge rock music video (he called his finisher the Evenflow DDT) and he peppered his promos with literary allusions, (his catchphrase was “quoth the Raven, nevermore”), recruiting the misfits of ECW like a cult leader to be part of his Nest. Like New Jack, Raven made ECW unlike anything fans were used to, tapping into the zeitgeist of the ’90s in a way the WWF and WCW were incapable of.
After a run that featured two ECW Heavyweight Championship reigns and legendary feuds with the Sandman and Tommy Dreamer, Raven jumped back to WCW in 1997. His character remained the same as it was in ECW, including his recruiting a group of marginal wrestlers to join his Flock.
The group had some success, as Raven defeated Diamond Dallas Page for the United States Championship and his right hand man Saturn had a short run with the Television Championship. Despite that, they didn’t have the staying power of the nWo, the Four Horsemen or, oddly enough, even the Dungeon of Doom. They lasted roughly a year before being disbanded at Fall Brawl ’98, when Saturn turned face and defeated Raven to free the group from his control.
As memorable as Raven’s WCW run was, it’s always been strange that he rubbed shoulders with three of its biggest stars on the cover of its most beloved video game. Raven recently revealed on Twitter the answer to the decades-long question of how he wound up staring incredulously at Goldberg on the game’s cover — and the explanation is surprisingly simple. According to Raven, “the guy who created the game told me later, that I was his favorite wrestler so he put me on the cover.” He also made a (presumably sarcastic) reference to being recruited by the Illuminati, which won’t help calm the paranoia created by recent WCW/nWo nostalgia.
Even if WWE’s 2K series eventually returns from exile, it’s unlikely Raven will be part of it. He and WWE have exchanged lawsuits over labor issues that are likely to keep him off the official roster, even if an ECW themed Showcase Mode ever becomes part of the game’s comeback. Of course, players can always make or download a create-a-wrestler version of him in current WWE games. PS4 and PC users can also find recreations of Raven and (anyone else they can think of) in Fire Pro Wrestling World, a game that boasts a robust creative community.
Leaving the world of pixelated wrestling behind, Raven recently made a cameo on AEW Dynamite. He showed up in the crowd as a red herring for the Exalted One, who was ultimately revealed as Mr. Brodie Lee. He also made a recent appearance in Impact Wrestling, giving advice about tormenting a rival to its resident hive minded demon assassin, Rosemary.
Raven recently revealed how he wound up sharing the cover of WCW/NWO Revenge with three WCW icons.