At ProRasslin.club, we’ve asked the question ‘What If‘ 18 times. Sometimes we’ve re-written wrestling history, other times we’ve made predictions for the future and sometimes we do a hybrid of both. Today’s edition is interesting because of every What If we’ve ever pondered, this one is imminent. TNA will be sold this week. It seemed like the Orlando based company would change hands last week as rumors of bankruptcy flooded the internet, but a mystery investor infused enough cash to make Bound for Glory happen. Because this is wrestling, the list of mystery investors (and potential buyers) is limited only by your imagination.
Anyone with money and/or an interest in pro wrestling has been discussed among fans. Was it Hulk Hogan with all that sweet Gawker cash? Did Broken Matt Hardy take out a second mortgage on his sprawling North Carolina compound? Is WWE Hall of Famer Donald Trump going to Make TNA Great Again? With no real details surfacing regarding the mystery third party, you can’t rule anyone out just yet. So when TNA is finally sold, who is most likely to end up owning it? The safe bet remains Billy Corgan but it’s been reported by Forbes that the WWE remains a very real possibility in some capacity. So this week we ask, What if WWE buys TNA? Continue reading
When we think of superstars whose careers ended too early, two names immediately spring to mind: Edge and Daniel Bryan. After more than 10 years in the ring, numberous world championships and multiple high profile Wrestlemania matches, long term injuries caught up to both men. Their retirements were shocking and emotional for everyone, especially in an industry where guys like Flair, Sting and Hogan wrestled well into their 50s. Edge and Bryan still had star power, but they did what was best (and right) for their futures. Edge was inducted into the Hall of Fame less than a year after his shocking retirement. Daniel Bryan will join him whenever Daniel Bryan chooses to. Neither end was ideal, but we can take comfort in knowing that both men lived their dream, their future is much brighter having retiring and we got the chance to take the wild ride with them.
In a way, those were the best possible worst scenarios. Some guys don’t know when to call it quits. Some guys don’t have what it takes to make it that far. Or in the case of Corey Graves, some guys get so close, then have it all ripped away. That brings us to this week’s What If…
What If Corey Graves didn’t have to retire? Continue reading
Following WWE’s acquisition of WCW in 2001, there was an overabundance of performers under contract. The influx of talent and titles coming in from WCW were utilized in the Invasion storyline which pitted Shane, Vince and eventually Stephanie against one another as the respective owners of WCW, WWF and ECW. The Invasion provided some memorable, I-can’t-believe-my-eyes moments like Kane & Taker winning the WCW Tag Titles and The Rock beating Booker T for the WCW World Title. Still, the WWE felt no need to carry that many championships. All of the WCW titles were unified with their respective WWE counterparts by the end of 2001.
This clarity of champions lasted only a few months. As a way to create competition for itself in the absence of Monday Night Nitro, WWE announced the first ever brand extension in early 2002. Raw was Raw. Smackdown was Smackdown. No crossover. The recently retired Big Gold Belt was resurrected as Raw’s World Championship with the WWE Title becoming exclusive to Smackdown. Other titles were added over time to balance the brands but none stayed around too long.
By the time the brand extension officially ended in 2011, the only remaining titles were the WWE, World, US, IC, Divas and Tag team championships. The World title was merged with the WWE title in 2013. The champion would walk around with both belts until August 2013 when Brock Lesnar was presented with a single title featuring the new WWE Logo. Big gold was no more and the WWE was back to 5 championship belts for the first time in over a decade…until this summer.
With the WWE brands now home to 9 combined titles, we ask ourselves…What if the brand split ends again?
CM Punk did it. He made it to the Octagon. He was then promptly dismissed by 24 year old Mickey Gall. Without an intricate knowledge of MMA, it’s hard to say if this was just a bump in the road for the 37 year old UFC rookie or if it was confirmation that Punk was and always has been in over his head. In his post match interview with Joe Rogan, Punk spouted a series of uncharacteristically optimistic cliches, “You go big or you go home.” “Life’s about falling down and getting back up.” “Believe in yourself.” “The true failure in life is not trying at all.”
Rogan praised Punk’s effort and commitment to his training, but what now? Punk promises to continue on with his new career. The truth of the matter is though, a second fight is an even greater risk for the straight edge superstar. One fight, regardless of the outcome, is a noble effort. If he fights again and loses just as bad, his stock plummets to near, career-ending lows. He’s no longer WWE superstar turned UFC fighter or the cult of personality celebrity. He’d be a nearly 40 year old man who was good at fake fighting a little while ago and really awful at real fighting recently.
Punk will do what he wants. However, that won’t stop wrestling fans from asking themselves: What if CM Punk comes back to pro wrestling? That brings us to this week’s What If… Continue reading
February 24th 2014, the wrestling world changed forever: the WWE Network launched. This was the biggest paradigm shift in wrestling distribution since the change from Closed Circuit to Pay Per View several decades earlier. Now with $9.99 a month, you had access to almost every major wrestling event of all time. That would have been a decent deal by itself. But WWE went so far as to include their monthly pay per views and a slew of original, though mostly mediocre, original content. The best original network show since it’s inception has been without a doubt NXT.
NXT had the honor of running the first live event on the Network, NXT Arrival, just three days after the network launched. The show opened with Triple H asking the crowd (and WWE Universe), “Are you ready?” and telling us, NXT had arrived. The card kicked off with the relatively unknown Sami Zayn vs WWE main roster superstar Cesaro. The two former Indy standouts tore the house down and suddenly, the winds of the mainstream wrestling world began to blow in a new direction. Over two years later, the transformation continues and the industry is better because of it. It makes us wonder…
After WWE’s trip to Brooklyn last week, the future of the industry feels bright. International Superstars and ultra-talents like Nakamura and Asuka reign supreme in NXT. The post-brand extension WWE is highlighting unique superstars like never before. Finn Balor, Sasha Banks, Enzo & Cass, American Alpha and so many more. The common thread between those performers and other rising stars? They’ve all come through a system created by Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Triple H has become synonymous with the future of the industry. Every time a top talent reaches the main roster, wins a major title or simply steals the show, they typically post a photo with HHH, thanking him for the opportunity.
While Stephanie’s wicked on-screen persona paints her in a more negative light than Hunter, make no mistake: the ultimate WWE power couple is forging the future of pro wrestling together. Still, one can’t help but wonder…what if Triple H and Stephanie never got married?
Hot off his epic run in NJPW, AJ Styles made his long overdue WWE debut, entering the 2016 Royal Rumble at #3. Styles showed off his trademark maneuvers against the likes of Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens for the first time in a WWE ring in what felt like a dream sequence. After the Rumble, Styles’ rise to the top of the card was inevitable. He squared off against friend turned foe, Chris Jericho, in a losing effort at Wrestlemania 32. Despite the loss, he went on to become #1 contender to Roman Reigns’ World Heavyweight Championship. Styles made the often-decried Reigns look like a tried and true superstar. Following his feud with Reigns, Styles clashed with the face that runs the place, John Cena. After some shenanigans involving the Club, the brand split forced Styles to handle Cena on his own. Handled Cena he did, beating him decisively in their rubber match at SummerSlam 2016. Even at 39 years old, the future seems bright for AJ Styles in WWE. Still, one can’t help but wonder…