Anyone who has grown up reading comic books typically finds themselves wondering about other dimension, parallel universes, and crazy whacked out theories, which is explains why so many of us watch Professional Wrestling. Today, filling in for my colleague CJ Blaze, I get to try my hand at playing the role of Uatu as I ponder the alternate universes that could have become if things had happened differently in the world of professional wrestling. I’ve always been interested in questioning what would have happened had things gone just a bit differently than how they actually went down, it’s a somewhat normal human reaction, which is why the thought of time travel is so special to the human race. Who hasn’t thought once or twice about how things would have changed if they could go back to a point in time and make one change to their life? I mean, maybe the person had the opportunity to attend a high school program that would foster their creativity while also allowing them to play football for one of the most powerful teams in their home state, but passed it up because they had no idea the two were so closely linked. The question of “what if” will run through that persons mind for almost all eternity, while it may not have really changed a thing, but you can’t help wondering, you know? When CJ thought this up I pitched an idea to him, he liked it, and asked if I could fill in for a week so I decided to jump at the opportunity. So, without further ado, I present to you my parallel universe, how would wrestling have been different if Roddy Piper had won the WWE Championship.
We’ve all talked about how certain workers were deserving of a championship run, one of the greatest talents of the eighties was Roddy Piper, yet he never held the top title during his career. As gifted as Piper is he had the slight misfortune of coming into prominence in the business during the era of Hogan. Hulk was the biggest deal back in the day, and regardless of his in ring ability in comparison to that of Piper, Flair, Savage, or Steamboat, he deserved that spot. If Piper had been given at least one solid run with the WWE Championship it could have sent shock waves through the entire industry. You have to remember, in the eighties it was “bigger is better” so the sideshow attractions, the massively built people who were pushed to the moon while smaller workers were given mid card runs at best, in other words it was Kevin Nash’s dream era. Hogan and Piper did some great things with one another over the years, it would have been awesome to see Piper dethrone Hogan, taking the title from him and running with it for a year. This one move could have caused a monumental shift in the world of pro wrestling, possibly moving things forward by years in the process. With the crowning of Piper it could have ushered names like Hogan, Warrior, and the other supersized stars toward the “attraction” status, less championship reigns for them while still using them as the draw to bring in fans. Just imagine the world title matches we could have seen if Piper won the title, Piper versus Roberts, DiBiase, it would have been quite the amazing sight to behold.
In a world where Roddy Piper, a man who many see as one of the greatest wrestlers to never carry the WWE Championship, gets to become the face of the WWE we could have seen so many things change. Vince could have allowed Hogan to leave or WCW earlier where he would have been essentially their version of Andre from McMahonland. Meanwhile WWE would be building around Piper, Savage, Hennig, DiBiase, Roberts, and a young Bret Hart would have been elevated sooner. Some people may be worried about what this would mean for the big men, especially The Undertaker, but I feel he would have had a place still in this era. First off, Undertaker’s legacy could have been cemented early on with what was originally his first championship win over Hogan instead being Hogan’s last match for McMahon, making Undertaker the man who “ended Hulkamania.” Crazy, right? In this world one of the greatest matches in WWE history, SummerSlam of ’91 between Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect, could have been fought over the WWE Championship instead of the Intercontinental Championship. The other concern might be people questioning how this would effect someone like Stone Cold and his historic run, it actually wouldn’t change a thing on his side except for possibly not having the neck breaking match with Owen Hart. Austin is actually a pretty average sized man in the world of wrestling, and if you remember the night he launched into the stratosphere it was when he beat Jake Roberts to become King of the Ring, and if this shift had occurred the only thing different about that tournament would have been that Roberts would have entered as a multiple time World Champion, which would have made Austin’s win an even bigger deal that it was already.
Now we’re getting into the crazy part of the pro wrestling shift thanks to Piper’s first world championship reign, remember me mentioning that Austin would have never broken his neck? Yeah, that’s because Owen Hart would be a main event worker at that point while Austin was chasing the Intercontinental Championship still, meaning this match wouldn’t have happened and Austin may have had an even longer career as a result. Owen’s crowning as a world champion would have occurred at SummerSlam of 1994, remember that Bret versus Owen cage match? Instead of Bret winning, Owen would have finally been given a chance and run with it, the best part about this? Owen wouldn’t have been in that harness at Over the Edge in 1999, and he would still be with us to this day, erasing one of the darkest moments in the history of the business. One little change in the eighties could have altered the course of all wrestling history, the one big thing that might have changed outside of WWE is that there’s a chance that WCW wouldn’t have mismanaged a talent like Chris Jericho and he could have become a main eventer in their promotion, although it was still WCW so I highly doubt that one. Could you picture men like Dean Malenko, William Regal, and Fit Finlay finally running WCW as the top workers, with Jericho, Benoit, Raven, and yes even Sting, the title match options are stellar, it would have been such an amazing era to be a wrestling fan. The one downside is the business may have been a bit smaller than it was in the Monday Night War era because we may not have seen the birth of the nWo because men like Hall, Nash, and Hogan would have just been seen as attractions, then again maybe in this era Sting would have actually taken the role as the “third man” in the nWo instead of Hogan. The one big question is what would our landscape look like now, with guys like Punk, Bryan, Styles, and Ziggler would have been a hit much sooner as actual in ring ability would have been seen as a premium.
You see, with the butterfly effect running rampant in the world of pro wrestling that one title win by Roddy Piper would have had a sweeping effect across the entire industry. It’s always fun to wonder what if, but then there’s the one major downside to the speculation, that being the moment when you have to come back to reality. Unfortunately Piper never got to be “the man” in the industry, as a result Jake Roberts never quite made it to the very top, neither did DiBiase or Hennig, and as a result we’ve lost the likes of Owen Hart and to a lesser extent Chris Benoit at far too young an age. While there’s something to be said about the muscle bound attractions in the business, you lose out on seeing some of the greatest workers in the ring attain the upper echelon because they’re just “too small” to be believed as a threat. We’re finally in an era where the in ring work of competitors is getting noticed and it’s finally starting to become a focal point, but at the same time you have to wonder if it’s a little too late. I’m a fan of the business and I will always be one, I just can’t help wondering just how much different things would have been if just one little thing had happened. Sometimes you ponder these things and as a result you wind up going down different paths, in pro wrestling there are literally millions of instances where you could ask “what if” and each one would have a different long term effect on the business. Steve Austin alone has at least two major what if scenarios in his career, one being how things would have changed if Austin had hit a Stunner on McMahon at WM17 after the handshake, the other being the question of how big Brock Lesnar would have been if Austin hadn’t walked out on their one potential match. You could have fun with this, as I have, I would like to thank CJ for offering me the chance to wander through my mind on his article concept. I hope I didn’t ramble too much, and look forward to entertaining you again down the road.