At the time of writing, I have just finished playing my first week of Tekken 7. Being a huge fan since picking up the third instalment on the PS1, each release has been a huge deal for me for a series which seemed to culminate with Tekken Tag Tournament 2 back in 2012.
Yet ,here we are with the seemingly final episode in the Mishima saga, effectively spelling the end for the franchise as we know it. Of course that doesn’t mean to say that this will be the final edition of Tekken, being one of the two most popular fighting game franchises – it’s likely we’ll see another tag tie-in or perhaps a rebooted Tekken 8 later down the line.
Nevertheless, you’d think that Tekken 7 would take everything that has made people fall in love with the series over the years and go all out with a bang. There seems to be one thing holding them back from doing so, and that’s the roster. The arcade build revealed a broad roster, with a nice mix of old and new faces, yet after finally getting my hands on the game, I can’t help but feel a little unfulfilled. Tekken Tag 2 was essentially used as a cast reunion, bringing in almost everyone from Tekken past and present to create one of the largest rosters since Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Coming into 7 and finding only 36 characters compared to 60 was certainly a halt in the game’s hype.
We’re living in the age of downloadable content, which means the roster will definitely expand as time goes on, but for now there’s an empty spot in my soul which needs to be filled by some familiar faces. Ideally, the newfound relationship between Tekken and New Japan Pro Wrestling will make for some hotly fantasised and anticipated debuts for some of the far east’s biggest wrestling stars.
New Japan Pro Wrestling is pretty much Tekken, minus the fighting Pandas and robot ninja warriors. When a partnership between the two was first announced prior to the release of the arcade build, fans felt that it was a match made in heaven, and they’re not wrong. Here I’m going to list my ideal top 5 guys that could cross over to the video game world. Obviously this is purely speculation, so don’t go taking any of this as confirmed spots on the roster.
1. Kenny Omega
There’s a heavy Bullet Club presence already, so what harm would it do to have a special guest character in the form of Kenny Omega.
Omega has been making waves across the globe since his 6 star match against current NJPW champ Okada, what better way to not only do him justice as one of the biggest gaijin stars on the roster, but also to satisfy his nerdiness for fighting games.
Omega is proudly a huge fighters fan, often appearing alongside fellow wrestler-gamer Xavier Woods at tournaments and stars of the FGC. His charisma and hard-hitting move-set would perfectly lend itself to the Tekken series, and I would main the hell out of him in the process.
2. Kazuchika Okada
It’s hard to find a wrestling fan who isn’t familiar with Okada right now – he’s having one of the most consistently spectacular years in all of the wrestling industry. Being the current New Japan World Champion, it would be difficult to justify him not making it into Tekken 7 as part of their guest character DLC.
Already having a similar treatment as the Bullet Club, traces of Okada can be found in King’s customisation. Being able to equip his signature lavish coat, a world title belt and the use of the Rainmaker finisher, the groundwork has already been laid for him to establish his dominance in a virtual world.
3. Tetsuya Naito
The front-man of the Los Ingobernables de Japon faction and current IWGP Intercontinental Champion, Naito simply oozes charisma and has a presence like no other in the wrestling world. Thinking more from an aesthetic standpoint, Naito would fit perfectly in amongst the debonair of Kayuza Mishima and Lee Choalan, with a striking appearance and eccentric mannerisms.
Naito (along with several other New Japan stars) has already shown up in the most recent instalment of the Yakuza series, proving that he has what it takes to be a worthy inclusion for any fighting-based game.
4. Antonio Inoki
The founder of New Japan Pro Wrestling, the inaugural IWGP Heavyweight Champion and a certified hall of famer across the globe, Inoki’s legend spans across many promotions, but has yet to be featured in a video game. The current Tekken 7 roster is extremely lacking in the ‘senile yet totally badass’ department, what with Wang and Doctor Bosconovitch seemingly AWOL, Inoki could certainly be a welcome addition to the roster.
Having already competed in dream matches against the likes of Ric Flair, Andre The Giant and even Muhammad Ali, there’s still room for fantasy match-ups against Heihachi Mishima and Akuma.
5. Shinsuke Nakamura
I know. I know. The least likely out of all possible NJPW DLC. The King of Strong Style is no longer property of the New Japan brand, what with his long-awaited move to the WWE and subsequent success. However, he remains one of the most prolific and iconic stars from this generation of Japanese superstars.
For those unfamiliar with Nakamura, imagine Freddy Mercury and Michael Jackson fused together to create a being which just oozed charisma without even making much verbal sense. Shinsuke is an absolute perfect fit for any fighting game, with a move-set inspired by the likes of Eddy Gordo (ugh) and Bruce Irvin, it could translate really well!
Should NJPW maintain their relatively good relationship with WWE, I can’t see why licenses can’t be agreed upon. Perhaps even figure out a deal for WWE superstars to start making their way in as guest characters? But that, that’s a whole different discussion and fanboy’s dream.