We ask ourselves this question multiple times on a daily basis. What if I didn’t take an extra long shower and be late for work? What if I had returned that phone call rather than ignore it for a week? What if I had said a smooth line to the pretty girl instead of stumbling over my words like a goon? What if I had cared about high school grades and not just slacked off? What if I pulled a move from Office Space and just stopped caring about everything? What if, what if, what if?
The same applies to the wacky world of professional wrestling. Thanks to a lovely tweet, we have our next column…
Thanks to Daniel for the awesome idea. Like I say every time folks, just throw a message my way. I will follow up, don’t worry.
Let’s break this down into each separate category.
Why can nobody top Double A in the spinebuster category? I have no idea. My assumption is I have never given anybody a spinebuster. At least not while I was sober. In my mind, I have always loved two guys who did that maneuver just as much as the famous version you mentioned. First is The Rock. Nothing beats the spine on the pine and then gearing up for the People’s Elbow. Instant crowd reaction and depending on the opponent, there is usually an extra little ‘spice’ added to the finished product. Second is Bobby Roode. People talk about Cesaro being underutilized (which is true). My go to in that discussion is Roode. At least for Cesaro, WWE has always been consistent. They see him as a valuable mid-card/tag team competitor to slot into the middle of the show and deliver a solid outing. With Roode, he was made the top main event champion in NXT and got the glitz and glamour right off the bat…and then nothing. I’m assuming this health crap is preventing him from doing much nowadays but even before, he was doing jack. His spine buster is glorious.
Now to the “What if?” questions:
What if Sting jumped to the WWE during the invasion?
Ouch. Um, it probably would not go well. Vince McMahon, officials, agents, whoever were still not fully ready to embrace wrestling’s past as they did years later. There was no WWE Network library. There were no part-time schedules. There were no legends featured on a regular basis. There was not a whole heck of a lot of RESPECT thrown around unless you were WWE through and through. Only months/years later did we get a Scott Steiner main event run, an nWo arrival, a Ric Flair return, a Bill Goldberg domination, etc. Sting going into the WWE during the summer of 2001 would have been a disaster. Just as Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, or the host of others.
When Sting finally did arrive, it was because he knew it was the end of his career. A true now or never moment in his life. If he wasn’t going to sign in late 2014, it was never going to happen. Like the topic of this column, The Stinger didn’t want the “What if?” cloud to be hanging over his head forever. Therefore, he made the jump. He got a classic moment/match with Triple H at WrestleMania 31, a memorable debut months prior at Survivor Series and even got to go after the WWE World Championship in the main event of a pay-per-view. For a guy who was in his 50’s and clearly past his prime, that is a GREAT run. For fans that were expecting him to have multiple big time bouts and win the top prize, well, um, no. By 2015 though, WWE was ready to embrace their history and the following year, guess who was the headline act for the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony? Sting.
In fairness, you could not do a proper WCW/WWE feud in summer 2001. That is what a lot of folks don’t understand. They like to look back and bash Vince McMahon for how he handled things. There is some truth in that, especially with the HUGE monster story line only lasting a few months. Here are some other truths though: Sting wasn’t coming. Hulk Hogan wasn’t coming. Scott Hall wasn’t coming. Kevin Nash wasn’t coming. Ric Flair wasn’t coming. Bill Goldberg wasn’t coming. Lex Luger wasn’t coming. Rey Mysterio wasn’t coming. Most of what made WCW “WCW” was either taking large payouts to sit at home or exposed to be big fishes in small ponds fairly quickly (sorry Buff Bagwell). Thus, we were left with Booker T and DDP taking big pay cuts just to sign, Lance Storm to handle the mid-card stuff (got an IC Title reign), and a bunch of lower card guys thrown into the deal that stood no chance against the REAL WWE Superstars. That was the hand Vince McMahon was dealt. He did his best. No pocket aces dealt ladies and gentlemen, more like a 7-2 off suit.
As for Seth Rollins injuring Finn Balor? Well, I would disagree with that wording. Balor has even said he was the one who panicked mid-air and put his arm back to brace the fall. A big no no. Eric Bischoff said he did something similar with the Kane chokeslam off the stage in summer 2003. Broke his hand in the process. You have read about guys freaking out about the Styles Clash and quickly moving or tucking their heads. Wrong move. it can lead to dangerous results (and it has). Thus, I do not believe it was Rollins’ fault. Just a freak accident.
With that out of the way, the rumor mill is that the end result was not going to change much. Brock Lesnar was going to become Universal Champion at WrestleMania 33 in April 2017 regardless. Remember he spent Summerslam 2016 (when Finn was injured) absolutely destroying Randy Orton in the main event and slowly inching his way back towards a title again. WWE was in the midst of negotiating with Bill Goldberg for a return (video game was first and a match was second), so it’s not too hard to connect the dots. Finn Balor was likely going to get a pretty decent run on Raw throughout Fall and Winter 2016 but then come crashing back down to Earth when 2017 started. Ditto for Seth Rollins; he was on a collison course with HHH one way or another. No real change with him (as he never got the belt anyways). Instead Kevin Owens had that run and suffered the same fate as anybody would have. Incidentally, I was live at Fastlane 2017 In Milwaukee when Goldberg won the Universal Championship AND a month later in Orlando for my first WM event. Good stuff.
Ultimately, I’m not sure the “What if?” topics can ever be fairly critiqued. What if Shawn Michaels never returned for four years doing the Attitude Era? What if Vince McMahon never signed Hulk Hogan? What if Eric Bischoff never fired Stone Cold Steve Austin? What if John Cena did get fired in 2002 and not ‘caught’ rapping backstage? What if WWE did sign The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega two years ago as they thought it was a done deal? What if? We will never know, and that is why it eats us up every day.
All of us, especially wrestling fans.
Thank you for reading.
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