The business of professional wrestling really has it all. Do you like sports? Well, there's the athleticism and competition factor in wrestlng. Do you like theater? Wrestling's built on that. Do you like fan-star interaction? No business does that like wrestling. Are you a political junkie? Well, surprisingly wrestling provides that too. Much of what goes on in front of audiences is dictated by who can play the game the best behind closed doors. Throughout the history of the business, events have been influenced by certain individuals pulling the strings backstage. We're not just talking about the head honchos either. Wrestlers themselves can often influence events, as some have more backstage pull than others. Anything from matches, to pushes, to creative direction can be changed if a certain wrestler doesn't like the idea.
Politics have often had negative consequences in wrestling, as some wrestlers' careers could be derailed because of it. Fans can miss out on certain events because too many egos get in the way. Sometimes though, politics seem to have a way of working things out for the best.
Whether good or bad, here are 15 things that would have happened if politics hadn't gotten in the way. It's important to note, some of these entries are based on rumors and cannot necessarily be taken as fact. As we know, the internet and wrestling put together has a way of putting theories out there. Without any further ado, here they are.
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15 Shane McMahon Actually Running WCW & ECW
Shane McMahon has proven through his outside projects from WWE that he is in fact a very smart businessman and with his lifetime of knowledge from being in WWE, one would think he'd be able to run his own promotion. Well, if Shane had gotten his wish, it would have happened.
When WWE purchased the struggling WCW and ECW promotions back in the early 2000s, Shane wanted to run the companies as separate entities from WWE. First in 2000, he suggested Vince buy ECW and let Shane run it. Vince chose to let it die and then buy its name and video library.
When WCW folded a year later, Vince bought it for an insanely low price. Again, Shane was intent on running the company, with WCW having its own weekly show and remaining in business as a legitimate alternative to the WWE product. Instead, WWE ran the lame Invasion angle and effectively killed WCW off. This was either Vince's ego getting in the way and wanting to kill WCW for good, or he probably didn't like the idea of a family member running a separate promotion. Was he afraid Shane could do it better?
14 Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels Rematch At WrestleMania 13
From the moment Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XII, it seemed it was destined for these two to have several more matches, exchanging victories. According to Bret Hart and several other sources, the plan was for Hart to take a break following his title loss, then come back to set up a rematch with HBK at WrestleMania 13. Hart would reclaim the belt there, then eventually put Shawn over again once and for all to end their feud.
When the time came for Shawn to drop the belt to Bret, he suffered a very questionable 'injury'. Michaels has insisted the injury was in fact real, and it led to his infamous 'lost my smile' promo in which he vacated the belt.
Several wrestlers, including The Undertaker, didn't believe Shawn, as he had built a reputation for being a jerk backstage who would play politics whenever he could. As a result, WrestleMania 13 was changed to 'Taker vs Sycho Sid for the belt, with Bret Hart and Stone Cold battling each other in their submission match. Things kind of worked out well, didn't they?
13 Ted DiBiase As WWE Champion
Surprisingly, what caused this change didn't directly involve DiBiase, but a series of events ultimately did affect it. The original plan going into WrestleMania IV was that DiBiase was eventually going to win the WWE Championship while Hulk Hogan left to film No Holds Barred. When Hogan returned, he would then feud with DiBiase and eventually dethrone him. What caused these plans to change?
Well, originally Randy Savage was going to defeat The Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Championship. However, Honky Tonk refused to job, which left Savage without a title. McMahon eventually called the audible to have the babyface Savage walk out of WrestleMania IV with the title, and hold the fort while Hogan was gone.
Had Honky Tonk Man dropped the title to Savage, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that The Million Dollar Man would have enjoyed a lengthy run with the title in Hogan's absence.
12 RVD Becoming A Main Eventer
Rob Van Dam was insanely over from the moment he arrived in WWE. While he didn't cut any memorable promos, fans just gravitated to him from the moment he arrived as part of the Invasion angle in 2001. After the storyline ended, Van Dam was kept as a face and it seemed like only a matter of time before he would get a world title reign, or at least enter a main event feud.
Fans were itching for him to be pushed, but instead, Triple H was just handed a vacant World Heavyweight Championship on RAW and from there, a push for RVD seemed non-existent. RVD would remain in the midcard for several years and by the time he got his break in '06, a lot of his momentum had disappeared. Several theories have emerged as t why RVD didn't get a title run much sooner, but one theory is that The Game put a stop to it.
11 Bret Hart Thriving In WCW
This one is a little more general and is certainly up for debate among fans. Would Bret Hart really have been able to help WCW defeat WWE in the Monday Night War? Well, at the very least he could have enjoyed a run as one of the hottest stars in the business. After coming over to WCW following the Montreal Screwjob, Bret Hart was the hottest commodity in the business. You'd have thought an immediate feud for him should have been against the nWo and particularly a very long top feud with Hulk Hogan.
Instead Bret debuted as a special referee in an Eric Bischoff/Larry Zbyszko match and took part in a botched finish to the Sting/Hogan showdown at Starrcade '97. From there, his character lacked any sort of direction in WCW, switching from face to heel several times and soon finding himself bumped down to the midcard. He didn't get one World title match in his first couple of years with the company.
Being WCW, it was obvious several egos got in the way and prevented Hart from cashing in on his momentum. Hart has long blamed the likes of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff for his lackluster WCW run.
10 Kofi Kingston Main Event Push
While Kofi Kingston is now doing well as a member of The New Day, there were several years where he was stuck in limbo on the midcard. Even though he has been one of WWE's best in-ring performers over the last eight years, he has never been able to get past a certain glass ceiling. Once upon a time, it seemed he was going to break through, but politics got in the way.
Kingston entered a feud with Randy Orton late in 2009 and Kofi had a lot more edge to his character. He destroyed Randy Orton's car in a segment and began showing a much more serious dimension to his character, rather than just being the happy, go-lucky Jamaican. Even though, he lost to Orton, a plan was put in place for Kingston to win Money in the Bank at WrestleMania XXVI. Unfortunately, in a match against Orton, Kingston botched a spot, and Orton was visibly upset with him in the ring. Orton complained to backstage officials and from there, Kofi's push basically disappeared and he was back down to the lower midcard.
9 The Nexus Beating Team WWE
When The Nexus debuted in the summer of 2010, it seemed they were going to be the next big thing in WWE. They had the chance to be the hottest stable in years, but their momentum was inexplicably squashed at SummerSlam 2010. A massive 14-man tag match was set at the event with Team Nexus taking on Team WWE, comprised of John Cena, Edge, Chris Jericho, R-Truth, John Morrison, Daniel Bryan and Bret Hart.
The match came down to Cena against Barrett and Justin Gabriel. After getting DDT'd on the concrete floor, Cena made a miraculous Cena comeback, pinning Gabriel and forcing Barrett to submit to the STF.
Behind closed doors, Edge and Chris Jericho had lobbied for Barrett to go over in the match, but Cena vetoed it and decided to go over. Following the match, Cena conceded to Y2J and Edge that he was wrong and should have listened to them.
8 Vader Becoming WWE Champion
Vader has confirmed in shoot interviews that he was twice promised a WWE Championship run when he was signed with the company. He was set to win the title at SummerSlam '96, but fearing he wouldn't get it back, Shawn Michaels wouldn't play ball and instead we got a badly booked finish that knocked Vader down a few pegs. In addition to that, Michaels complained to backstage officials that Vader was too stiff in the ring, which further hurt his standing with the company.
By the time Survivor Series '96 rolled around, and Vader was set to dethrone HBK. Being the prima donna he was at the time, Michaels again got the title change nixed, instead dropping it to Sid with the idea he would win it back at the Royal Rumble in his hometown of San Antonio. After this run in '96, Vader was knocked down the card, spending the rest of his time in WWE toiling away in the midcard before eventually getting released in 1998.
7 Shawn Michaels vs. The Rock?
Hard feelings were initially stirred when Michaels wrestled at Polynesian Pacific Pro Wrestling and was blatantly disrespectful to The Rock's grandmother.
From the moment The Rock arrived in WWE he was touted as the future of the business and it was clear the WWE had big plans for him. Being that he had so much potential, Michaels and Triple H felt threatened by him and tried to get in Vince McMahon's ear, doing everything they could to put the rookie down and squash his momentum before it began.
Among the underhanded tactics The Kliq pulled was lobbying for Bret Hart to defeat Rocky Maivia for the Intercontinental Championship, which would knock Hart down the midcard and kill Rock's momentum altogether.
The Rock and HBK found themselves on the active roster in 2002 and 2003, but The Rock never had any interest in working with Shawn due to these past incidents. In a 2005 interview with WWE.com, The Rock stated: "I was never ever interested in working with him, to be honest with you."
6 CM Punk Staying In WWE
CM Punk has completely renounced any connection he once had to the world of professional wrestling and a lot of it has to do with the backstage politics he endured. Punk was constantly told he wasn't WWE's type of guy, despite being the best at promos and regularly putting on the best matches in WWE.
Even when Punk finally got some of his wishes following his pipebomb promo in 2011, it seemed he was always pushed down a few pegs when he was set to be the company's top star. It's like the WWE didn't want him getting more popular than Cena. Among Punk's frustrations included constantly being passed over for the WrestleMania main event and not closing out PPVs despite holding the title for 434 days.
While Punk's body was beaten up when he walked out on WWE in 2014, Punk definitely would have stuck it out longer in WWE had he been treated properly.
5 Stone Cold vs. Brock Lesnar
This was a case where you could understand where Stone Cold was coming from, but the manner in which he went about his business was a horrible approach, as he's since admitted. Back in 2002, Austin had made it clear that he was very frustrated with his creative direction in the company and felt he was getting pushed aside.
The straw that broke the camel's back came when he was told he was going to lose to rookie Brock Lesnar in a King of the Ring qualifying match on RAW. Despite being the biggest star in the company, he was going to lose to a rookie with no buildup whatsoever and no PPV payoff. When Austin found out about these plans, he flat out told McMahon he wasn't showing up to RAW, effectively walking out on the company.
While we would have hated to have seen a throwaway match between Lesnar and Austin, had Austin gone about it in a more professional approach, perhaps he would have gotten his wish and perhaps Brock vs. Austin would have happened on a PPV at a later date.
4 Sting Coming To WWE Much Sooner
Sting took a very long time to come to WWE and as we saw, it was too long. When WCW folded in 2001, many WCW stars chose to sit at home and collect the money still owed to them by Time Warner. Eventually though, Vince McMahon reached out to WCW stars and seemingly had Sting ready to sign with them. However, something changed Sting's mind.
While sitting at home watching the horrible Invasion storyline, he was countless WCW wrestlers get buried by WWE guys and WCW was turned into a joke, rather than a serious threat to WWE. When Sting saw this, he elected no to sign with them, fearing he would be buried on screen as well.
So instead, Sting spent the next 12 years competing in TNA and by the time he came to WWE, he was a shell of his former self. Oh and WWE did in fact find a way to screw up his run.
3 Hulk Hogan vs. Bret Hart - SummerSlam '93
Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart were the faces of their generations and as the WWE was clearly transitioning to a new era in the early 90s, a passing of the torch between Hogan and Hart definitely would have made sense. The time came in 1993, when plans were set to have Hogan and Hart face off at SummerSlam '93 for the title, with WWE even having photoshoots done with the two to hype up the event.
As you'll see is a recurring theme on this list, Hogan's ego got in the way. Hogan reportedly told McMahon that he felt Hart wasn't in his league and instead of dropping the title and passing the torch to The Hitman, Hogan had a lame match with Yokozuna before leaving the company.
This incident has since left Hart bitter at Hogan to this day, among other things. The big loser here was the fans though, as a Hogan/Hitman match at this time would have been one of the most historically significant matches in wrestling history.
2 Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair - WrestleMania VIII
When Ric Flair signed with WWE in 1991, it was a no-brainer that Hogan and Flair would eventually have the showdown wrestling fans had been dreaming of for years. WWE's top star against the NWA/WCW's top star on wrestling's biggest stage. When Flair won the WWE Championship at the 1992 Royal Rumble, it really seemed that a Hogan vs. Flair match was going to main event WrestleMania VIII.
Various theories have emerged as to why the match didn't happen. One theory is that the WWE tried Hogan/Flair matches at house shows and they didn't draw well. The more popular theory is that neither man wanted to lose a match of this much significance, so Vince McMahon called an audible and put on a "double main event" pitting Flair vs. Savage for the title in one match, while Hogan took on Sid in the final match.
1 Hulk Hogan vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin - WrestleMania X8
This is still the biggest dream match that never happened in all of wrestling history. It was supposed to happen at WrestleMania X8 but various factors prevented this match from happening. Again, a popular theory is that neither man wanted to do the job in what would have been a match pitting the face of the Golden Generation against the face of the Attitude Era.
Another theory was that Austin simply felt a match with Hulk Hogan wouldn't have been all that good, despite it being a huge money draw. In an episode of the Ross Report podcast earlier this year, Austin said he has no regrets as to not wrestling Hogan.
“No I don’t have any regrets," he told JR. "Obviously on paper it’s ‘Stone Cold’ vs. Hulk Hogan, so that would draw money. But as far as the execution of the match, I just don’t think it would have been what I would have wanted it to be, or what people would have wanted it to be. So I don’t have any regrets about it whatsoever.”
Finally there's also a theory that Austin flat out didn't trust Hulk and felt Hogan had used backstage pull in WCW to knock Austin down a few pegs.
We'll never know for sure as to why this didn't happen. At least Hogan vs. The Rock was a hell of a consolation prize.
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