WWE 2K19: Tips and Tricks for dominating the squared circle

WWE 2K19 is out now. Been away from the ring for a while? It won't be easy to shake that ring rust off, especially as WWE games have changed quite a bit over the past several years.

But don't worry, we're here with a collection of tips and tricks that'll take you from hopeless jobber up to the WWE Hall of Fame. Let's not waste any time.

$60 at Amazon

Save your reversals for big moments

If you left the limited reversals options on, you'll notice a yellow bar at the bottom of your superstar's health meter. This bar shows you how many reversals you can pull off.

Mostly every superstar should have a minimum of 2-3 reversals, though there are several with 4-5. The number you have is determined by the reversal stat of the character you're using.

When you're in a match, try to manage these reversals effectively and save them only for the times you really need them. That is to say, you don't need to reverse every single ability. A strike or an Irish whip is not going to be more damaging than a grapple, and you definitely want to ensure you have a reversal stored if your opponent is closing in on a finishing move.

Treat your reversals like a valuable resource. They'll get you out of a bind in crucial moments, and you'll find that's often the biggest difference between winning and losing.

One last thing: your reversals do regenerate, but they can regenerate pretty slowly depending on your character, difficulty level, and overall gameplay sliders.

And when you execute a reversal, the progress on filling another reversal bar is completely reset. It may sometimes be appropriate to eat some big damage to ensure you get your next reversal meter filled, so don't be afraid to let your opponent wail on you a little bit. It'll hurt now, but your martyrdom should pay dividends throughout the match.

If all that fails, you could always turn the limited reversals option off. (But you'd be robbing yourself of truly great match flow if you do.)

Bait out opponent reversals before using specials and finishers

Staying on the topic of reversals, be sure to bait out your opponents' stock before trying to hit your most devastating moves. This isn't always necessary, but you'll find that your opponents are fairly consistent in their ability to reverse your finishers, specials, and big moves.

Go for a couple of regular moves to see if you can't get your opponent to waste reversal stock on them before going for the big finisher. You can see exactly how many reversals an opponent has and how close they are to getting their next one, so take that information and use it against them.

Save your Payback abilities until you're hurting

Along the same vein, try not to hit your payback moves and comeback abilities until you really need to. It can be tempting to kick up out of a powerful move and hit your most powerful attacks five minutes into the match, but most of these abilities are finite and you'll want to have them to keep the match from getting out of hand in the later stages. Try not to use this stuff until you're in real danger of losing.

Conserve your stamina

Keep an eye on your stamina gauge at all times. Stamina is another key resource that changes the way your character performs through at a match. The less you have, the slower you move. And we're not just talking about running — your strikes and grapples are slower too, giving your opponent a bigger window to reverse your moves or recover from attacks.

Things get really tough when your stamina is completely drained. You'll all due to exhaustion after big moves, and you won't even be able to pull off specials, finishers, top rope moves, and certain abilities without enough stamina.

In the late stages of a match, be sure you are spacing your attacks out so that your stamina never becomes 100% depleted. You do regenerate a bit over time, so stay topped up just in case you need to hit an RKO out of nowhere.

You have way more moves than you think

Take a look at the list of controls for this game, and you'll see just how deep it is. While WWE 2K19's wrestlers are plenty capable even in the newest of players' hands, they have many more moves that you may not know about.

Moves from the top rope, or ones performed on opponents who are hanging upside down on a turnbuckle, or those which you can do through tables, or ones where you're on top of a ladder, and when they're down, and I could go on. There are unique movies for almost every position and scenario, so it's worth learning them like the back of your hand.

Regular old grapple moves might be the most confusing, funnily enough. You have up to four weak grapples by locking horns with your opponent and pressing A plus any direction on the analog stick. Medium grapples can be performed by pressing A plus any direction on the left stick without locking up. Strong grapples — your strongest base attacks outside of finishers — can be performed by holding the A button while holding the analog stick in any direction.

An easy way to learn all this stuff is to go into your wrestler's moves editor and view them there. You'll see all the moves they're capable of using, as well as the button sequence and positioning scenario needed to do them. You can even practice them right in the editor if you want.

The most fun way you can learn, however, is to go in and just try everything. Press the X button or the square button during random times and in different situations to see what your superstar will do. And while you're in the match, you can pause the game to view your character's abilities, special moves, and finishers in case you're unfamiliar with their move set.

Capitalize on major reversals

There are two types of grapple reversals in WWE 2K19: normal and major. A normal reversal typically occurs at the grappling point of a move (or that moment just before your opponent reaches to grab you).

But some moves have two reversal opportunities. The major reversal opportunity — the indicator for which appears orange in color if you have reversal indicators on — gives you a later chance to reverse a move in progress.

The result is a more powerful reversal move and a debuff that makes it so your opponent can't reverse moves for a short period of time. Take advantage of these moments whenever you can. Go for your biggest moves here, because your opponent is completely helpless in this state.

Limit your pin attempts

Nothing heightens the drama in a good wrestling match like repeated pin attempts and kick outs. You'll even get rewarded with a positive rating for doing so in your matches.

You don't want to make a habit of repeatedly pinning your opponent too early, though. Kickouts — especially those epic last-minute kick outs you tend to see in big-time pay-per-view matches after a finisher — generate a TON of momentum for your opponent. That means they'll get their special and finisher moves faster, and you want to delay that as much as possible.

Take a breather

Many times, escaping the ring on your own accord is seen as a cowardly act. To hell with that, I say. Run away as long as you need to.

Whether you want to limit your opponent's ability to pin you, need to recover some stamina, waiting on your reversals to regenerate, or just need some time to think about your strategy, get out of the ring for a second and gather yourself. And when your opponent comes running after you...

Save the environment

Just kidding. DESTROY IT. Weapons are illegal in a typical wrestling match, but the referee won't say anything if you slam your opponent's head into a barricade, ring post, or announcement table.

Moves hurt a bit more outside of the ring, so use it to inflict some major punishment on an opponent who dares to come after you. If you find that your opponent is the one dishing out the hurt, well, at least they can't pin you. (That's unless it's a falls count anywhere match, of course!)

Grab an equalizer

Alongside the environment, there are weapons available that can get you disqualified for using them. Look under the ring and you'll find steel chairs, bats, kendo sticks, sledgehammers, tables, ladders, and did we say chairs? Oh my!

In matches where these weapons are allowed to be used, you'll want to let your inner demon out. Go to town on your opponent, especially if they're bigger than you. Some superstars can't outright lift opponents who are much bigger than them, so these weapons can be used to help inflict damage in place of your wrestling moves.

While these actions can get you disqualified in normal matches, there may still be opportunities to use a weapon, such as if an outside wrestler is distracting the referee. Or, you know, if you just straight up knock the zebra out.

Use your taunts

Taunting is a big part of the wrestling world. Babyfaces use taunts to draw support from the crowd, while villainous heels will use them to draw heat. It helps engage the crowd and makes for more exciting matches.

In WWE 2K19, taunts are used for more than just showboating. A crowd taunt, accessible by pressing left on the directional pad, will let you gain momentum a bit faster. A taunt directed at your opponent, done by pressing right on the d-pad, will make your moves hit a bit harder.

There's also the wake-up taunt, which can be performed by pressing up on the d-pad. These taunts force your opponent to stand up groggy from a downed state, perfect for lining up your finishers or moves from the top rope. Play to the crowd a bit and give yourself an advantage!

Target the limbs

If you're more of a technical style of wrestler and prefer to use submissions to make your opponent tap out, you'll want to know about limb targeting. Every single move in WWE 2K19 targets one or more limbs. A DDT will hurt your head, while an armbar predictably hurts arms.

In addition to pulling off your normal moves, using the limb targeting system is a great way to focus in on a body part. Hold RB and press Y, X, B, or A to target the head, left arm, right arm, or legs respectively. You'll execute a move specifically meant to hurt that body part. The more damage you do, the more likely your opponent is to tap out.

This goes for pin attempts, as well. Your opponents will kick out less often if they have a red body part and you've performed a finisher or some other powerful move, so be sure to hone in on your opponent's weak points to keep the upper hand.

Meet your opponent halfway

No, we're not asking you to be cordial in a potential bloodbath. Sometimes, you just need an unfair advantage to have a fighting chance. If you don't want to risk getting disqualified for using weapons in the match, try to attack your opponent before they even get to the ring!

Using the breakout feature, you can interrupt your opponent's entrance to attack them on their way to the ring. Doing so will allow you to fight on the outside before the match officially begins, as the referee won't commence with the contest unless both superstars are in the ring. This means you can use weapons without fear of being disqualified. Enjoy your nice head start once the bell finally tolls.

Fight your way to the top

With these tips, you should have a better idea of what you need to do to start winning more matches. You'll notice a consistent theme here: patience and restraint.

You don't need to go for the gusto in every match. Let off the gas pedal and go for the more methodical approach. Not only will you win more, but matches will be far more entertaining as you put real thought into your approach instead of mindlessly punching away at whoever happens to be trapped within the squared circle with you.

Above everything else we discussed today, just keep playing and keep practicing. You'll get better with time, and it won't be long before you're searching for someone in the world who can really take you to your limit. WWE 2K19 is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

$60 at Amazon

Quentyn Kennemer