Power Move Pro Wrestling entered the U.S. wrestling game scene as a re-skinned version of Japanese wrestling title New Japan Pro Wrestling Toukon Retsuden. Every member of the roster in Power Move Pro Wrestling is based on their Japanese couterpart in the original game (i.e. The Commandant is based on Keiji Mutoh; Agent Orange is based on Hiroyoshi Tenzan).
Instead of relying on arcade-style gameplay, like many other wrestling titles at the time, Power Move Pro Wrestling features a more strategic pace of play. The slower, grapple-based matches operate under a rock/paper/scissors balance of gameplay: strength grapples override submissions, submissions override strikes, and strikes override strength grapples. This system of balance encourages a more deliberate approach to gameplay, discouraging "button-mashing" and encouraging mastery of each wrestler's moveset. The execution of signature moves does not require any specific condition to be fulfilled, but are more difficult to implement earlier in matches due to the balance of the combat system.
Power Move Pro Wrestling was one of the first 3-D wrestling games to incorporate an explicit body parts-based hit points system. As matches progress, submission holds and various manuevers cause damage to body parts. As damage builds, the wrestler's ability to move is affected, leading to reactions such as limping. Continued focus on specific body parts enables the attacker to achieve victory via submission.
The game features seven game modes, all based around one-on-one singles matches:
1 Player (Single player exhibition match)
2 Player (Multiplayer exhibition match)
12-Man Gauntlet (Series of consecutive matches against every wrestler on the roster)
Championship (Match against current PPW champion)
PPW League (Round-robin style league with all wrestlers competing against each other for total points score, with wins=2, draws=1, and losses=0)
PPW Tournament (Single-elimination tournament mode)
Demo Match (Spectator mode, allowing two AI-controlled wrestlers to face off)
Power Move Pro Wrestling features a roster of wrestlers based on the New Japan wrestlers in Toukon Retsuden, renamed for the American version. Each wrestler features 2-4 signature moves, based on their real-world counterparts. Three additional wrestlers (Sparrow, Gorgon, and Sallie) can be accessed via codes entered at the title screen.