On today's installment of NAIpod, Jason and Liam discuss the unique situation regarding John Cena, and how he's NEVER GOING TO EVER GO AWAY!
Excuse me. . . Got a bit emotional. . .
In doing so, they discussed Hulk Hogan's departure from the company in mid-1993, and wondered what may have happened if the Real American never left WWF?
Sounds like the perfect "What If Wednesday" to me. . .
To set the scene for those too young to remember, Hulk had spent most of the early 90's answering the siren call of Hollywood, and Vince McMahon had used this opportunity to get a little younger, wrestling wise. Bret Hart became the flagbearer of WWF, winning the World Title from Ric Flair in 1992 and carrying it into Wrestlemania IX against Yokozuna.
Perhaps because Vince didn't have faith in Bret as company lead or perhaps just to mollify Hogan and get him out, the booking wound up with Hogan beating Yokozuna for the title at 'Mania, carrying it until King of the Ring. After losing (thanks to the mystery bearded flash-bomb photographer) to Yoko, Hogan disappeared.
So, let's start our hypothetical in the beginning of that decade. Let's presume that Hogan and Vince sign a long-term extension somewhere around Wrestlemania VII, right after Hogan beats Sgt. Slaughter. Let's see what could have happened. . .
We'll let him keep Suburban Commando, but Mr. Nanny is right out.
With Hogan staying at the top, which is frankly the only way he remains in WWE, Bret Hart has no chance of main event success. He becomes a multi-time IC title winner, but most likely just becomes Hulk Hogan's lackey. Like Randy Savage of the Mega-Powers.
Now, he could turn heel and challenge Hogan that way, but we've all seen Bret Hart as a heel, and it doesn't really work.
More than likely. . .
Without the possibility of signing the Hulkster, Bischoff and WCW wind up picking up Bret Hart, who likely wins the World Heavyweight Championship from Ric Flair (possibly even around the same time of late 1992, but likely not is Saskatoon, Canada.)
Bret Hart going to WCW and finding success likely sets a light bulb off in Bischoff's head, so. . .
Curt Hennig is likely a top target, as could be re-signing former WCW talent Mark Callaway (aka, The Undertaker.) Vince would of course hold on to some of these talents (for some reason, I don't see Shawn Michaels in WCW), but a lot of these guys head South with the promise of being given opportunities for career growth in WCW.
Embracing a youth movement means holding onto some of their young studs. . .
With guys like Bret and Mr. Perfect around, you need "Stunning" Steve to have good matches with them, so he stays. In fact, after Ric Flair "passes the torch", you might not even need him anymore.
If WCW is going young, WWF might try to capitalize on the nostalgia market, plus be able to book Hogan vs Flair, the feud between the 2 top wrestlers of their generation. Adding in Savage, Piper, Bossman and the like, WWF has a top card in the mid 90's that looks remarkably like WCW's did.
As you can see, Hulk Hogan staying in WWF likely turns the entire wrestling world upside down, with WCW and WWF essentially switching places, roster wise.
A couple other things that could happen.
Assuming little brother follows big brother to Atlanta, there's no need for Owen to become the Blue Blazer, which means he's not up in the rafters on that fateful day in 1999.
While Ted Turner would undoubtedly want to compete head-to-head with Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff might have other ideas. A younger, "trendier" roster might mean he wants to have a 'trendier' time slot, so he might go for a "Must See TV" spot. Thursday Night Nitro, perhaps?
Not quite free agents, but guys like Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Mick Foley and, a few years down the road, Triple H and The Rock have quite the conundrum. WWF is still the biggest name in wrestling (or is it?) and has the star power of Hogan, Flair and the like. . . But WCW is where the young talents are making a name for themselves.
I imagine Hall, Foley and Triple H stay / go to WCW, where they become part of an incredibly deep roster. Kevin Nash goes to WWF to be a Hogan-battling heel, and The Rock eventually becomes Hogan's successor in WWF, as by the late 90's, even Vince sees that its time for Hogan to ride off into the sunset.
While he would still be the lovable irritant that he is today, Paul Heyman would likely have found a role in WCW. While he and Bischoff may never have been able to work together particularly well, they both would do well with the young evolution of the roster.
If Heyman stays in WCW, then there is no ECW. The "Extreme" mindset remains in WCW, who continues to innovate and elevate the sport of wrestling.
With the aged roster in WWF, they can't keep up.
You see where I'm going with this. . .
A roster of young. hungry, talented guys with opportunities for career growth and the ability to get "extreme" trumps a group of older wrestlers still clinging to PG conventions and battling under a single top guy who doesn't know when to get out of the way.
Sound familiar, ROH and NXT fans?