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Everyone loves a "What if?" right? Add your own but try and comment on other(s) before you do otherwise it'll be all questions and no answers.

1) What if Steve Austin didn't need neck surgery in 1999? I find this one fascinating from HHH's POV. Listening to the recent SCG timelines from late '99, it seems there was a plan in the works for Austin to turn heel. Presumably that would have set up heel Austin vs. face Rock for Mania and beyond. And furthermore, the star-making HHH/Cactus matches would never have taken place. The landscape of 2000, which was an incredible year until Austin came back would change too. Would HHH still get there eventually? To the point where he could lay some claim to be on that level with Austin, Rock and Taker. And was Austin going down at some point inevitible?

2) What if Paul Heyman had taken the book with TNA before Hogan and Bischoff came along? They still had good TV and a stacked roster at the time. And they hadn't filled it full of Hogan's mates ala WCW '94. Could Heyman have rekindled some of the magic from mid-90s ECW or early 2000s Smackdown? I'm not sure but I think he would have booked a decent product involving a reasonable crew of wrestlers that could have taken TNA to the next level. Not WWE level but certainly a step forward rather than the shooting themselves in the foot they did under Hogan, Bischoff and Russo.

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Sorry to bump this thread but I was skimming through KOTR 98 for some reason earlier and naturally got to thinking about the Undertaker vs Mankind series. I guess my thought is ‘what if’ Foley ne

Using nothing but pure sense and logic, I conclude the following.  - Austin remains in the Triple Threat match at Survivor Series and wins the title.  - He goes on to play a role of antagoni

Age is secondary to perception. Boss Man was a relic of a bygone age when he turned up in 98 yet was 35 while Austin was 34 at the time.

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1 minute ago, tiger_rick said:

1) What if Steve Austin didn't need neck surgery in 1999? I find this one fascinating from HHH's POV. Listening to the recent SCG timelines from late '99, it seems there was a plan in the works for Austin to turn heel. Presumably that would have set up heel Austin vs. face Rock for Mania and beyond. And furthermore, the star-making HHH/Cactus matches would never have taken place. The landscape of 2000, which was an incredible year until Austin came back would change too. Would HHH still get there eventually? To the point where he could lay some claim to be on that level with Austin, Rock and Taker. And was Austin going down at some point inevitible?

This is an interesting one...I do think that Triple H would have ended up around the main event scene eventually regardless, though it may have taken him another year or so to get there. If not Austin's absence, Foley's impending retirement in 2000, Undertaker's 99-2000 leave of absence, and The Rock's first foray into Hollywood in 2001 would have necessitated Triple H getting bumped up the card, and it's not like he wasn't troubling the main event picture beforehand anyway. He might not have had the 2000 mega-push, but he'd have got there.

A potential Austin heel turn is an interesting one - given how quickly things tended to change in that era, in terms of storylines and face/heel alignments, but not necessarily in terms of who was in the main event picture, a heel Austin vs. babyface Rock seems like it would be almost inevitable. Would we have seen a McMahon/Austin alliance early in 2000, perhaps taking the place of the McMahon-Helmsley regime? A babyface Vince up against an authoritarian heel Steve Austin and Stephanie McMahon is certainly an interesting dynamic, and in theory would have a lot more weight behind it than Triple H being in that role, though I question whether the fans would have bought it, or wanted to boo Austin at all - particularly against Vince. 

I think we'd have ended up at "A McMahon In Every Corner" one way or another, but where Austin fits into that is interesting.

The other question is around Austin's longevity. Without neck surgery in 1999, without potential cumulative neck problems, would he have retired when he did? Or would he still be sticking around well into the mid-2000s, or later? 

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2) What if Paul Heyman had taken the book with TNA before Hogan and Bischoff came along? They still had good TV and a stacked roster at the time. And they hadn't filled it full of Hogan's mates ala WCW '94. Could Heyman have rekindled some of the magic from mid-90s ECW or early 2000s Smackdown? I'm not sure but I think he would have booked a decent product involving a reasonable crew of wrestlers that could have taken TNA to the next level. Not WWE level but certainly a step forward rather than the shooting themselves in the foot they did under Hogan, Bischoff and Russo.

The big point Heyman made was that he wanted to sack off anyone over the age of 40, which would have left him without much in the way of star power, but a talented roster to play around with. That does away with one of the more intriguing questions around Heyman booking TNA - how would Paul Heyman book the likes of Sting, Scott Steiner, potentially even Hogan eventually?

Heyman with Sting is one I find fascinating - I always hoped, before Sting's retirement, that we'd get a Sting/Lesnar programme in WWE. Not just because Sting is a perfect babyface to go up against a wrecking machine heel like Brock, but because I liked the idea of Heyman tapping into his own history, referencing the Dangerous Alliance, and saying how through Brock Lesnar Heyman has achieved every goal - he's managed the undisputed WWE Champion, ended The Undertaker's streak, dominated pro-wrestling, but Heyman is still kept awake at night by the failure of the Dangerous Alliance to put Sting down, and now Brock Lesnar is the man to do it. In TNA, swap Lesnar out for, say, Samoa Joe, and maybe you're on to to something.

The last time I remember Heyman seriously talking about booking, he talked a lot about how much wrestling needs to learn from MMA - I wonder if he could have made something of TNA's relationship with Bellator, above and beyond what TNA ever imagined.

Mostly, though, I don't really think Heyman could have offered much of anything. TNA seems destined to plod along, continuing to exist against all the odds, and no one person seemingly has the ability to lift them up to the next level. I think one of the smartest things Heyman has done in his career is not go back to booking - better to let everyone think him a booking genius than have the opportunity to prove them wrong. 

 

 

Two "What Ifs?" from me...

1) In 1997/8, Vince McMahon reportedly offered the Ultimate Warrior a big money, ten year contract to return to the WWF. There's been a fair bit of discussion around what the Attitude Era would have looked like with Warrior in it, whether his character would have been fine-tuned to fit the new dynamic a la The Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness run, and I'd welcome that discussion here, but what I'm maybe more interested in is that a ten year contract would have seen Warrior stay with the company until 2007. That would mean Warrior is there through the debut of Kurt Angle, the Invasion, the "Ruthless Aggression" era, the debut of Brock Lesnar, the rise of John Cena, of Evolution, and so on. It's a big question, but how does Warrior fit in anywhere amongst all that?

2) In the mid-90s, WCW got a lot of critical acclaim for their Cruiserweight division. It was innovative, and brought together some of the most talented wrestlers from Japan and Mexico, working styles almost never seen before on US TV, and gave WCW an extra selling point that the WWF simply didn't have. In 1995, the WWF - in partnership with AJW - brought some of the biggest names in Joshi into their women's division; Bull Nakano, Aja Kong, Lioness Asuka, Kyoko Inoue, and so on. This was at a time when Joshi shows in Japan were still drawing crowds of 30,000-40,000 for big events. 
What if the WWF saw in these Joshi stars their answer to WCW's Cruiserweight division? A never-before-seen style of wrestling that stood out as something unique, separate from the competition, that brought together international talent under one roof. As the WWF moved towards "Attitude", they would have a women's division defined by intense, high impact wrestling, rather than titilation. A "Women's Evolution" twenty years before anyone thought of that term.

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28 minutes ago, tiger_rick said:

2) What if Paul Heyman had taken the book with TNA before Hogan and Bischoff came along? They still had good TV and a stacked roster at the time. And they hadn't filled it full of Hogan's mates ala WCW '94. Could Heyman have rekindled some of the magic from mid-90s ECW or early 2000s Smackdown? I'm not sure but I think he would have booked a decent product involving a reasonable crew of wrestlers that could have taken TNA to the next level. Not WWE level but certainly a step forward rather than the shooting themselves in the foot they did under Hogan, Bischoff and Russo.

An interesting scenario but I can't imagine TNA ever finding enough stability for this to happen, especially with Dixie there.

I reckon Paul E goes in and books around the talent that weren't around in the 80's and 90's. TNA invests in loads of independent wrestlers before they ever get on WWE's radar. Product is good and business slowly picks up as the develop the roster. They have a potentially great roster but they lack polish and are a few years away from reaching their potential.

Dixie still gets starstruck by Hogan/Bischoff/Russo/Nash etc and brings one or all of them in over Heyman as she is convinced that they need 'big names'. They clear out Punk, Danielson, Steen, Black, Moxley, Castagnoli etc and bring back the ex-WWE/WCW wrestlers. WWE gets even more deterred from signing independent wrestlers and we never get CM Punk, Daniel Bryan or The Shield. NXT never becomes a big deal. ROH gets hurt by the talent raid and doesn't find its way back to its feet. WWE developmental brings through another 200 Ken Kennedy's. 

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What if Triple H didn't get injured prior to The Invasion and how would he have fit in? It's one thing they couldn't get all the big WCW names seeing how they were contracted to Time Warner and they opted to sit their contracts out, but of all the guys in WWE at the time, he was the biggest guy who wasn't around.

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I'm pretty sure Heyman said he wanted a stock option in the company before he took the book. That would have slightly changed the power dynamic. Dixie also shit herself when he said who he would get rid of. Its a shame as it would have been very interesting to see how he would have done. TNA was in a healthy position TV wise. I'm sure Heyman would have brought in a helluva lot of talent that is now in WWE.

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3 hours ago, tiger_rick said:

1) What if Steve Austin didn't need neck surgery in 1999?

Using nothing but pure sense and logic, I conclude the following.

 - Austin remains in the Triple Threat match at Survivor Series and wins the title.

 - He goes on to play a role of antagonist against Triple H and DX, becoming a de facto ally of Mr. McMahon

 - This leads to a 'McMahon in every corner' type match at WrestleMania 2000, but it's Austin with Vince against Triple H with Stephanie.

 - The Rock therefore loses out on his big feud with Triple H and doesn't go stratospheric in the way he does in our reality.

 - Mick Foley, meanwhile, never gets his feud with Triple H either. Rather than going out in a blaze of glory with the Cactus Jack turn, he meanders in the lower midcard before quietly being released in the early 2000s along with the likes of Blackman, Chaz and D'Lo.

 - This means Commissioner Foley never happens, depriving us of his skits with Edge & Christian.

 - Without these skits, they never truly get over to the same extent and their tag rivalry with the Hardys and Dudleys never hits the same heights.

 - A positive of this is that Edge's neck never gets quite as fucked. He doesn't have to take a year off in 2003, and is able to wrestle well into the 2010s.

 - BUT, the changed circumstances mean he never gets together with Lita, and the Rated-R Superstar never happens, depriving John Cena of one of his most famous rivals.

 - A second side-effect of Mick Foley's non-retirement is that he doesn't have a comeback in 2004.

 - This means the Randy Orton match never happens.

 - Without this, the Legend Killer angle doesn't really go anywhere, Orton never gains the same momentum and doesn't win the title at Summerslam.

 - This means the Evolution turn doesn't happen in the same way, nor does the subsequent teasing and turn of Batista.

 - Neither man quite goes to the very top either, depriving John Cena of two more of his most famous rivals.

 - Cena is still at the top, but he's not the Big Match John we know and love. 

 

TL;DR, if Austin didn't need neck surgery in 1999, John Cena's run as the face of the company is negatively impacted.

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I think Heyman wanted to keep Sting around in TNA playing a similar role to Funk during the early ECW days, and he would have figured out how to better present the  roster to try and hide their weaknesses. Hopefully he and Dixie wouldn't have butted heads much. Joe, Styles etc would possibly have ended up in WWE earlier than they did if Heyman had been booking coherent angles for them.

Didn't he say he wanted a shedload of money and total control of the hirings and firings and some other stuff he knew Dixie wouldn't go for because he didn't want the job, but didn't want to turn her down?

How would the Monday Night Wars gone if Sting had been the third man, as was being bandied around at the time before they went with Hogan?

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38 minutes ago, jazzygeofferz said:

How would the Monday Night Wars gone if Sting had been the third man, as was being bandied around at the time before they went with Hogan?

That is an interesting one. It would likely have meant no Crow Sting, he may still have changed up his look but cannot imagine him donning the paint. 

Of course that could potentially mean that Hogan was the one battling to save WCW in which case there could have been a knock on effect for Goldberg. And if Hogan was the saviour of WCW then the NWO would likely have been squashed and finished within a few months in a Wargames match where Hogan and his old mates sort them all out. 

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39 minutes ago, jazzygeofferz said:

How would the Monday Night Wars gone if Sting had been the third man, as was being bandied around at the time before they went with Hogan?

Good one.  Not well, would be the answer I think.  The Hogan heel turn was the biggest thing in professional wrestling since... what, him v André at WM3.  It got a LOT of interest from outside the wrestling bubble in the way that only really Hogan (and maybe the Rock and Lesnar) can.  

Turns out, Hogan was good at playing an obnoxious, chickenshit heel as well.  I'm not sure Sting ever really had that in him.

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3 minutes ago, Joe Blog said:

That is an interesting one. It would likely have meant no Crow Sting, he may still have changed up his look but cannot imagine him donning the paint. 

Of course that could potentially mean that Hogan was the one battling to save WCW in which case there could have been a knock on effect for Goldberg. And if Hogan was the saviour of WCW then the NWO would likely have been squashed and finished within a few months in a Wargames match where Hogan and his old mates sort them all out. 

Hogan, Piper, Beefcake & Savage Vs Hall, Nash, Sting & Lex?

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5 hours ago, Factotum said:

I'm pretty sure Heyman said he wanted a stock option in the company before he took the book. That would have slightly changed the power dynamic. Dixie also shit herself when he said who he would get rid of. Its a shame as it would have been very interesting to see how he would have done. TNA was in a healthy position TV wise. I'm sure Heyman would have brought in a helluva lot of talent that is now in WWE.

I've heard he asked for that knowing 100% they wouldn't accept, it was Pauls way of saying no without saying no.

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1 hour ago, Joe Blog said:

Ony for Lex to turn on Sting and help save WCW

Lex would have turned on Hogan and Savage during a match against Hall, Nash and Sting first. Or Sting would have talked him around and Luger would have willingly joined. Also for some reason Luger turning on Sting to save WCW inexplicably ends up with Sting and the other nWo members as faces. 

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