Wrestling Wonderings, Part 2: Audience Favorites
Earlier this week I wrote a slideshow about some of the best "what if" questions in pro wrestling and what history might have been if some things had happened differently.
Well to say the slideshow was a success for me is an understatement, as it became my most read and commented on article that I've written for this site.
When reading through the comments and going back and forth with the people that read it I realized that I had missed some important "what ifs."
So as a thanks of sorts to those who helped make my work a success, I wrote a part two of "what if" questions for the questions that people most talked about in the comment section. Hopefully you all enjoy this list as much as you did the last.
Before you start reading this list, please realize that I am writing names of people and organizations in the current state, i.e. the WWE instead of the WWF and so on.
Again I say thank you to all who read my work and commented.
For those who haven't read part one here is the link:
What If... Eric Bischoff Never Worked for WCW?
We all know the history behind Bischoff working for WCW. He can arguably be named the man responsible for turning WCW into a profitable company and the No. 1 promotion in the US for almost two straight years during the Monday Night Wars.
We also know that it was his inability to change that led to the downfall of WCW as only a handful of new stars were born during the NWO era.
But what if Eric had never worked for WCW? What if he did get hired by the WWE when he first applied there? There would almost certainly be no Monday Night Wars, as it was Eric's idea to put a WCW on Monday nights to compete with Monday Night Raw.
Imagine the NWO in the WWE, feuding with the Hart Foundation, the Nation of Domination, and eventually maybe DX, the feuds would be incredible.
WCW would eventually have to counter program, but it wouldn't have the same effect as WCW had to go through a lot of red tape to get anything on TV, so an Attitude Era in WCW seems highly unlikely.
What If... Brock Lesnar Stayed in the WWE?
When Brock Lesnar debuted in the WWE fans saw a beast of a man run into the ring during a hardcore match and lay waste to every man there. With Paul Heyman as his manager Brock didn't need to talk, he just had to destroy every opponent placed in front of him.
After winning the King of the Ring tournament, Brock earned a title shot against the Rock and he would go on to win the match and become the youngest WWE champion up to that point. Lesnar would go on to be a three time WWE champion as well as a Royal Rumble winner.
Lesnar would end his WWE career with a lame-duck feud against Goldberg who was also leaving the WWE. Both men's final match would be against each other at Wrestlemania XX with Stone Cold as guest referee where both Lesnar and Goldberg were almost booed out of the building by irate fans upset that they were leaving.
Lesnar would then try playing pro football for the Minnesota Vikings, but would get cut before the start of the season. Lesnar would then go into the sport of mixed martial arts, signing with the UFC after winning his first fight.
Lesnar would then become Heavyweight Champion in his third fight by defeating Randy Couture by TKO in the second round of their fight. He would defend the belt twice before losing by TKO to Cain Velasquez in the first round and is set to make his return to the octagon after recovering from a second bout of diverticulitis.
But what if Brock never left the WWE? If he stayed past Wrestlemania XX, a feud with Stone Cold would seem obvious after he received a Stone Cold Stunner after his match with Goldberg.
Lesnar would most likely still be in the main event scene fighting for the Heavyweight title of whichever brand he was a part of, and probably would have been part of a feud with the Undertaker culminating with both men facing off at Wrestlemania.
Not only would the WWE be affected but the UFC would be greatly affected as their biggest draw in company history wouldn't be there. The UFC probably wouldn't have the as much of the mainstream appeal that it would have if Brock hadn't signed and brought the name recognition that he has.
Without the amount of appeal the UFC would still be with Spike TV rather than it's new multi-million, maybe eventually billion dollar partnership with Fox TV.
What If... the Rockers Had Stayed Together?
Mario and Luigi, the Fonz and Chachi, Mork and Mindy, all of these teams have one thing in common, one member went on to be a star while the other fizzled out into the background.
The same thing happened with the Rockers, a team of young fighters who break up spectacularly leaving one member to become one of the all time greats, while the other faded into obscurity only to be seen for squash matches.
Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels would have a successful tag career with feuds against the Hart Foundation, Brain Busters, and Demolition most notably.
The team would never officially hold the tag titles due to a error in ring set up and the WWE deciding to keep the belts on the Hart Foundation, which Michaels believes was due to politics on the part of the Hart Foundation.
The team would then famously break up during an episode of Brutus Beefcake's Barber Shop. Intended to be an interview about the team's recent disputes, it ended when Michaels would use the Sweet Chin Music to KO his partner and then sent Jannetty through the window of the set. They would feud after that, with Michaels trouncing Jannetty and shooting up to the main event scene.
The rest is history as Michaels would be a multiple time world champion and Hall of Fame inductee among other accomplishments. Jannetty would eventually reform the Rockers by partnering with Leif Cassidy (Al Snow), but would never have the same success as the original team.
Jannetty would come back to the WWE from time to time in order to be used in squash matches when other wrestlers were feuding with Michaels.
A current version of this people are saying is the team of Miz and Morrison as the Miz had become WWE champ and is still in the upper main card while Morrison is floundering in the midcard.
But what if the team stayed together? The team would have eventually won the tag titles but that's not the only thing that would change. If Michaels never became a singles fighter, there wouldn't have been the feud with Brett Hart and no Montreal Screwjob as Hart would have been willing to drop the title before leaving the WWE for WCW.
There may not have been the classic ladder matches against Razor Ramon at Summerslam and Wrestlemania, nor would the formation of DX or even the NWO have been possible as Michaels would not have had the clout backstage to form the Kliq, thus changing the landscape of wrestling where WCW might still be in business.
Hard to imagine so much could change because one kick might not have happened, isn't it?
Go to about the 5:20 mark to see the kick heard 'round the world.
What If... Muhammad Hassan Were Still Working in the WWE?
In late 2004, Mark Copani began wrestling in the WWE under the name Muhammad Hassan, a Middle-Eastern American who hoped to dispel the stereotypes set upon Middle-Easterners after 9/11.
His promos would include controversial things like raising his hands in praise to Allah and having his manager Daivari translate the speech in what was supposed to be Arabic.
He would go on to gain a strong win streak with wins over wrestlers like Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho, at the same time gaining strong heat from the crowd leading to a funny moment at the Royal Rumble where once he entered, every wrestler, both face and heel, joined up in order to eliminate him.
Yet it was during the start of a feud with the Undertaker that got Hassan the most amount of heat, press, and trouble that he would ever see in his career. As Daivari was getting beaten by the Undertaker, Hassan “prayed” for help and out came five masked men who proceeded to beat the Undertaker with clubs and strangle him with piano wire.
Now this angle could have been slightly controversial as it happened during the current war over in the Middle East, but due to the show being taped and aired later in the week, it aired the same day as the London bombings. UPN, the network that Smackdown was airing on, didn't have enough time to edit the footage and it showed on national TV.
After strong backlash from multiple major news outlets, UPN would put the screws to the WWE, not wanting Hassan to be shown on the network again. Hassan would have his match against the Undertaker at The Great American Bash, which he lost, and then was released from the WWE.
Copani would then leave wrestling completely until 2010 where he would wrestle with Daivari at Wrestlefest VI.
But what if the angle had been edited out in time, or the WWE stuck to their guns and kept Hassan? It is known amongst most of the IWC that Hassan was scheduled to win the Heavyweight title from Batista at an upcoming show in Washington D.C.
And with the type of heat that Hassan was receiving, it would have been perfect to do so in the nation's capital, bringing back memories of the Iron Shiek or Sgt. Slaughter the Iraqi sympathizer. Hassan was good on the mic and decent in the ring and seemed to be improving at a excellent pace.
The feuds that he could have had with fellow up and comers like John Cena and Edge among other would have been great as they would have been made into super babyfaces in comparison to Hassan the natural heel.
I could also see a tag title reign with Daivari in order to build him up as well in order to put him in the US title picture which I'm sure would have been renamed the Arabian title or something of the sort.
What If...Owen Hart Were Still Alive?
A night that will live in infamy for wrestling fans. At Over the Edge in Kansas City,Owen was scheduled to face the Godfather wrestling under his superhero gimmick, the Blue Blazer.
In an attempt to redo a stunt he performed on Sunday Night Heat where he would fall to the ring from a predetermined height.
Yet what happened next has been scrutinized over for years, as Owen fell from his harness over a distance of 70 feet and hit his chest on one of the turnbuckles. He was pronounced dead on live PPV a hour later, to fans who were amazed that the show had continued.
But what if he hadn't died that night? What if he walked to the ring and performed a John Ritter-esque pratfall walking to the ring, or what if he survived the fall? If he just walked to the ring and had the match, Owen would still be alive and most likely still be working in the WWE.
The Hart Dynasty would have been reformed most likely as the British Bulldog made his return around the same time. Owen may have eventually received a world title shot.
The other possibility is if Owen had managed to survive the accident. Imagine the huge babyface return that he would make. Think the Buff Bagwell incident when Rick Steiner botched a bulldog, but instead of turning heel upon his return and joining the now, he would have remained a face and forgiven Steiner.
Upon his return from a near life ending accident, Owen would have most likely shot to the top of the main event scene, winning at least one world title, if not more. It may have even been enough to convince Bret to come back to the WWE in order to reunite with his brother or reignite their feud. Unfortunately, we will never know.
Sorry for the crappy video quality.
What If... Chris Benoit Were Still Alive?
One of the most technically gifted wrestlers of all time, Chris Benoit's story is that of both triumph and tragedy. Wrestling in major promotions around the world including Stampede Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, WCW, ECW, and of course WWE, Benoit would go on to win over 30 titles throughout his career.
After leaving the WCW on bad terms, dropping his newly won World Title, Benoit joined the WWE as part of the Radicalz along with Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn. It wasn't until he won the 2004 Royal Rumble that Chris was able to reach his goal and live his dream when he beat Triple H and Shawn Michaels in a triple threat match at Wrestlemania XX.
After losing the title five months later to Randy Orton, Benoit worked in the upper mid card. After losing the tag titles with Edge, Benoit was drafted to Smackdown where his feuds involved winning the US title. He would win the belt a couple more times before being drafted to ECW two years later.
Then what will be forever burned in the minds of wrestling fans around the world, Benoit missed his appearance at the Vengeance citing a family emergency.
The emergency was revealed to be that Benoit had murdered his wife and son before hanging himself, an act that brought all kinds of the wrong attention to the WWE and pro wrestling as a whole.
But what if Chris Benoit hadn't killed his family and then himself? The first most important thing that would have been different was the scrutiny that was brought onto the WWE after it happened.
The understanding and study of concussions would also not be where it is today if Benoit was still alive, WWE wouldn't have banned unprotected chair shots to the head which could have altered a lot of wrestler's health and well being.
As far as storyline goes, if Benoit was still alive, he would have become ECW champion that weekend instead of John Morrison, thus really affecting Morrison's career as that was when he really began to develop himself as a heel and eventually becoming tag champ with the Miz.
Benoit would have feuded with CM Punk in what could have been a very exciting technical feud featuring two top submission wrestlers.
What If...Eddie Guerrero Were Still Alive?
Easily one of the most beloved superstars of all time, Eddie Guerrero was the definition of a “people's champ.” After bouncing around the midcard for the entirety of his career in WCW, including US title reigns and leading the LWO, Eddie faced a huge challenge in his life after being involved in a car accident.
What many fans don't know about WCW though was a clause that was in nearly every wrestler's contract that if a wrestler was out injured for a certain period of time, their pay was cut in half, if they were out longer, they could be fired.
This happened a couple notable times with Bret Hart and the British Bulldog, both whom were kept on the roster after WCW received flak for this kind of management.
The problem here is wrestlers will rush back to active duty when they may have only been 50% healed or worse, this would then lead to painkiller addiction as a way to cope with nagging injuries. This became Eddie's vice along with alcohol abuse.
Eddie would eventually join the WWE as part of the Radicalz along with Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, and Chris Benoit. The group would make a huge impact and show WCW brass that they were more than “vanilla midgets”. Eddie would then begin a gimmick as Latino Heat, begin a relationship with Chyna, and eventually become Intercontinental champion.
Unfortunately, Eddie's personal demons would get the best of him as he would get arrested for drunk driving and get released by the WWE days later. After getting clean, Eddie returned to the WWE, becoming IC champ again, US champ, tag champ, and eventually WWE champion.
Eddie would eventually be found unconscious by his nephew Chavo and was pronounced dead by paramedics who arrived on the scene. The cause of death was cited as heart failure due to cardiovascular disease. Eddie would be inducted into the Hall of Fame the following year and his close friend Rey Mysterio would win the world title in honor of Eddie.
But what if Eddie was still alive? He was scheduled to win the World Heavyweight title from Batista around the time of his death. But what about Rey? Without Eddie's death, Rey Mysterio would not have been given the World title at Wrestlemania, nor would their be his feud with Chavo.
Chavo and Vickie would not have been involved with the La Familia stable which would push Edge to super heel status. If Eddie were still alive, Vickie would not have gotten involved with Edge, thus lowering the number of times the “Ultimate Opportunist” became a world champion.
Also, Eddie's death was one of the impetuses for the Wellness Program which affected the careers of many superstars including Jeff Hardy, Umaga, and Jimmy Yang among others. If Eddie hadn't died, the problem with substance abuse could still be out of control in the WWE.