This should derive a lot of conversation. Coming hot off of the heels of last week’s list, the interaction is slowly growing and I want to thank you for that, but if this one doesn’t get your wrestling brain turning I don’t know what will. This week we will be mulling over the 10 times that wrestling companies missed the chance to make a new champion. This one was inspired after watching the crowd at All Out lose their minds for The Acclaimed, and how big it would’ve been had they won the titles. Let’s just dive in.
10. Earthquake never gets to Rumble
Earthquake burst onto the scene as few had before. As Dino Bravo and the Ultimate Warrior were having a strength contest, a fan was brought from the audience for added weight during the push-ups portion. This seemingly ordinary looking made his way from the crowd, came into the ring, and sat on the Ultimate Warrior’s back. As the Warrior started to do his push-ups, the man jumped and down crushing the Warrior, and The Canadian Earthquake was born. With Jimmy Hart by his side, ‘Quake was a main event mainstay for a run of about 3-4 years before scuttling off to WCW with Hogan and the gang in 1995 and being in the worse stable ever, The Dungeon of Doom. The specific time Earthquake was his absolute hottest was in between WrestleMania V and WrestleMania VI. The company was desperate for a new monster heel, something they had not had for quite a while outside of Big Boss Man during his debut run. Without this heel and Randy Savage having moved on to another feud, the stage was set for Hogan v Warrior out of necessity. As the year progressed, the two Mega Heroes were dispatching of heels throughout 1989, specifically Earthquake, Dino Bravo, The Genius, and Mr. Perfect. WrestleMania VI turned out much better then anyone could’ve expected, but I think if Warrior had accidentally caused Hogan to lose the title against Earthquake, eventually turning heel, Mania VI probably would’ve broken records that would probably still exist today. Then Warrior beats the angry and bitter fallen hero in Hogan, and Earthquake is the first viable candidate for Warrior to chase down for the title.
9. Scott Hall was ready to declare war in 1998
Scott Hall kind of surprised the wrestling world by winning WCW World War 3 in 1997. This isn’t to say that Hall wasn’t a worthy competitor, he certainly was, but in the time of Hogan going Hollywood, Sting is about to return, Bret Hart debuted in the company, Luger is catching fire, and Hall had one of the bigger let downs of a battle royal victory in recent memory. As we said earlier, Hogan, Sting, and Bret Hart are headed for Starrcade 1997 in a giant flop of a main event, but Scott Hall was penciled in to face the winner of the match after winning the 60 Man Battle Royal at World War 3 by last eliminating The Giant. After Sting wins the title (sort of) at Starrcade, we should be headed for Sting v Hall, which could’ve been excellent. However, after the Starrcade match, Hogan says Hall has to wait his turn as Hogan wants his rematch. This didn’t seem to sit very well with The Bad Guy and the crowd was ready to see one of the original three nWo members turn as we’re 18 months after the New World Order officially formed. Although WCW had tried and failed to bring the group down, what better way to end the group then have a defection from within. Scott Hall was the perfect choice for this, but it never happened. Hogan got his rematch (and lost), Hall had his shot at Uncensored 1997, and then slid back out of the title picture. This was probably the hottest Hall would get in his career. Watch some of the Nitro’s where Hogan is putting Hall down and listen to the crowd reaction.
8. Cody could’ve made his Legacy in 2013
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one wrestler make so many different gimmicks work like Cody Rhodes. Between Legacy, The Uncommon Son of the Common Man (underrated theme song called “Out to Kill”), being Dashing, the facemask gimmick, Rhodes Scholars, everything he did was gold. He had been in the company for quite some time by 2013 after his debut in 2007, and Cody had earned the fans’ respect. After being entangled in a storyline involving Dusty Rhodes, Cody had to put his career on the line against WWE Champion Randy Orton and the Authority on September 2, 2013. Randy was putting in his best work of his career but Cody had been anointed by the fans. The crowd was relatively subdued when the match started but the work of both Randy and Cody changed that. Cody won them over and this one match is what made Cody Rhodes. To Orton’s credit, he went out of his way to make Rhodes that night. Cody was “fired” which brought Goldust back and instead of capitalizing on the ground swell of the support for the Rhodes brothers, Cody went to Stardust and was gone by 2016. We all know what Cody has done since then, wrestled on the Indies for a bit, won the NWA World Title, was a founding father of AEW, and is now back in WWE and although it seemed his first WWE World Title is in his grasps, it hasn’t happened just yet.
7. Damian Sandow can’t cash in
I still remember Sandow failing to cash in like it was yesterday. Much like the crowd had tried to leave Hogan behind in 1992, they were doing the same thing for John Cena in 2013 and Sandow was one of the guys that was emerging as a new star. Sandow was the winner of the 2013 Money in the Bank after turning on his tag team partner, Cody Rhodes. Sandow never had any steam put behind him as he lost repeatedly after winning the briefcase, had his contract thrown into the Gulf of Mexico, and lost to Cody Rhodes at SummerSlam. He then confronted Cena on Monday Night Raw after Cena had been injured by Alberto Del Rio the night prior, thus making a match for Cena v Sandow for the WWE Title. A one armed Cena beat Sandow as he became the second man to fail to cash in (Cena was the first). Sandow fell like a rock out of the World Title picture but never went away having a career resurgence as the stunt double for The Miz.
6. The Snake slithers in…and out of WCW
This pick is going to be different than the rest as Jake’s tenure in WCW lasted two months (officially). Halloween Havoc 1992 was his only PPV match and it was in A Coal Miner’s Glove on a Pole Match against “The Man Called Sting”. Roberts was a huge get for WCW after Kip Frye signed Jake months after his red hot WWF run. During Roberts waiting out his 90 Day No Compete Clause, Frye was replaced by Bill Watts. Watts slashed Roberts’ salary in an effort to chase out The Snake. Well, I guess it worked. Roberts could’ve refreshed a lackluster heel group of main event talent in WCW with Flair gone to the WWF and the rest of the roster was filled with either guys we’ve seen against Sting, or people who just weren’t up to par to what the main event required (the next PPV after Havoc 92, was headlined by Sting and The Barbarian). Halloween Havoc 1992 was essentially a one shot appearance for Jake as he vanished shortly there after and, sadly, this is when his personal demons really started to grab ahold of The Snake. He bounced around for a bit and returned to the WWF in 1996 and although he ultimately spoiled that chance as well, he did make some kid named Steve Austin before he left.
5. DDP’s main event rise cause Havoc in the title scene
I’ve discussed the ascent of DDP over his career in WCW and how it led to his world title match with Goldberg at Halloween Havoc 1998 in last weeks article. With the nWo split into two factions, Goldberg and DDP were the two made “WCW guys” outside of the Four Horsemen. Literally anyone with any name value was in the nWo with the exception of a handful of people and DDP was a nice injection of new talent. The every man attitude and the Diamond Cutter had made DDP a household name and one could make the argument that although Goldberg was still very over here, the streak was starting to wear on people. We hadn’t seen Goldberg struggle very much heading up to Havoc but that would change with DDP. In some respects, it’s a happy coincidence that DDP actually did not win the World Title on what is now widely known as one of the worse PPVs in wrestling history. The sad part is that if you remove one match entirely from the show, this Halloween Havoc show would’ve gone from abysmal to below average. This debacle is of course Warrior v Hogan and after these two successfully made an arena full of wrestling fans, hate wrestling, the unfortunate side effect of this match was that the DDP v Goldberg match didn’t air on PPV as the show ran over. Instead, they aired the match for free on Nitro the next night in what became one of the building blocks that led the massive momentum swing for the WWF heading into 1999. DDP would eventually win the title in 1999, but it felt like Halloween Havoc 1998 was his moment, and no one saw it.
4. Owen Hart should’ve ruled the fall, not Bob Backlund
The end of the Hart rivalry was so bizarre. After having instant classics at WrestleMania X and SummerSlam 1994, the feud seemed to be its hottest with each brother having one major win over the other, while adding in the fact that Bret was WWF Champion and Owen was the reigning King of the Ring. Off in the ancillary, Bob Backlund was losing his mind. He was attacking announcers (leading to the first time Vince McMahon got physical in the ring), he ruined Barry Horowitz’s IC title chance, he was calling us names we didn’t understand, he was doing arguably the best work of his career. One thing about this transformation that people (including myself) forgot is that it was started by Bret Hart. Over the summer Bob and Bret had a “New Generation v Old Generation” match on the July 30, 1994 edition of Superstars which Bret won after Bob though he won. Backlund saw this as disprespect and snapped. Heading into Survivor Series, Owen had sought out the help of Mr. Backlund and set up a World Title match between Bob and Bret. The 45 year old Backlund shocked the world when Owen convinced his mother to throw in the towel while Backlund had Bret trapped in the Crossface Chickenwing, making Backlund the champion. Three days later, Backlund dropped the title to Diesel in eight seconds. Now it’s quite clear why that decision was made, but if you didn’t want to beat Bret, Owen should’ve won here and ran with it until the Royal Rumble just to see if you had a World Title level heel. Diesel could’ve had Owen and HBK, but instead he got… Mabel.
3. The time was right for Roddy Piper
It’s always my goal to be unbiased when I write my articles, so before I go any further I have some admissions to make. I’m a giant Mick Foley fan, and I’m a giant Roddy Piper fan. We just had a nice sharing moment. With all of that now out in the open, I truly believe that Roddy’s WCW debut was wasted. After Halloween Havoc 1996, the nWo was still running strong as World Heavyweight Champion “Hollywood” Hogan had defended his title against “Macho Man” Randy Savage…again. The face off that Piper and Hogan had on Nitro ultimately led to the reveal that Eric Bischoff was the puppet master of the nWo and we were setting up for Piper v Hogan to see who the real icon was. I always love these matches, because, weren’t they both already icons? Piper had defeated Hogan at Starrcade 1996 with the Sleeper Hold but of course, it was a non-title match. This led us to SuperBrawl VII which showed us that Piper had been living and training at Alcatrazz. Once again, as was the common theme in WCW from 1996-2000, the fans were ready for a new face in the World Title picture. Even though Piper was 41 years old here, the crowd latched onto Hot Rod since he had never won the World Title. It seemed that SuperBrawl would be the time to strike, but Hogan once again won, and within a few months Piper was in a tag team with Ric Flair, and here is the biggest reason why Piper should’ve won the title here, do you remember who Hogan moved on to after this? (The world title would not be defended on PPV for seven months which was at Road Wild)
2. Any WWF main event heel from 1987-1991
There seems to be at least one of these “lump categories” on every list, but no matter the list, there’s always a giant group of people that apply and all deserve to be on the list, but we’d have to take off something else deserving. So, this of course encompasses the Hogan world title run, which was really the last multiple year world title runs ever. After dispatching of Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III and then Savage at WrestleMania V, Hogan needed some new people. Until Sgt. Slaughter in 1991, no heels seemed to be able to get the upper hand on the babyface tandem of Hogan and Warrior. Earthquake, Dino Bravo, The Genius, Mr. Perfect, Big Boss Man, and even Akeem had been run through this babyface duo, which wasn’t really the best environment to foster new heels into stars. Thus why we had a babyface main event at WrestleMania VI and they had to turn Sgt. Slaughter against America for a viable new heel because the rest of the heel roster had already been beaten like blankets. Now, 1991 saw Slaughter, Flair, and the rise of The Undertaker, but things looked bleak for heels in 1991. Now as you read this section and you’re screaming at your phone: “YOU FORGOT A MAJOR HEEL IN THE 1980S!!!” Well…
1. Ted DiBiase’s money can’t buy a title
Before we start, I think the welfare scandals the Ted has found himself in, multiple times now in Mississippi, is unfortunate and grotesque, just so everyone is aware. Now, with Savage rising to prominence in 1988, DiBiase wasn’t far behind. Since The Million Dollar Man debuted in the company, he was making money by beating everyone in his path, earning his way into the World Title tournament at WrestleMania IV. But, we’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss how this tournament came to be. After WrestleMania III, the feud between Hogan and Andre wasn’t over which led to Hogan losing his World Title to Andre in the dual Hebner angle on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Andre immediately gave the title to DiBiase who had “purchased” it. The WWF eventually stripped DiBiase of the title putting it up for grabs in a tournament at WrestleMania IV. Legend has it that DiBiase was defending the title at house shows for a bit before they took it away. I can’t think of a better heel creating angle than the dual Hebner angle, then DiBiase buying the title, but I would’ve gone further with it. I would’ve had “a contract” made up that says that DiBiase could purchase the rights to the title if Andre was the winner, then have the new mega over babyface Randy Savage take him down at WrestleMania IV. Instead, DiBiase never got the world title, and was really out of the main event scene by 1990.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s article and let’s hear about your missed chances by Tweeting me @TStephens91 and @PWMania and let’s talk it out. If you want revisit these moments and the news, sports, music, and pop culture of the times, listen to myself, Timmy C, and Dolla’ Bill Dave every week on the Filter Free Podcast @ffpopcast. Until next week, be safe out there and let’s take care of each other.