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What If… Part 2 by Tony Kegger

What If…..Part 2 Written (and linked) by Tony Kegger


Welcome to part two of my “What If” trilogy. If you are saying, “Part two? I don’t remember part one”, then click here to read the first part. I got a lot to cover so I’m going to dive right into the “What Ifs” and skip an introduction.

What if Shawn Michaels had a match for the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania 13?

On February 13, 1997, Shawn Michaels “lost his smile” and vacated the WWF Championship. Michaels said that doctors told him he had a knee injury and he was forced to retire. Michaels returned to the WWF just a few months later, but he missed Wrestlemania 13. At Wrestlemania 13, the WWF Championship was on the line in a match between Sycho Sid and the Undertaker. On that same night, Bret Hart defeated “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in a submission match. The match is considered to be one of the greatest matches in WWE history and the image of Austin not quitting despite bleeding profusely from his head while Bret had him in the Sharpshooter helped Austin become a legend. There are rumors on the internet that say that Michaels didn’t really injure his knee. The internet rumors say that the WWF wanted him to drop the title to Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13, but Michaels didn’t want to do the job so the WWF started a retirement angle for Michaels. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin won the 1996 Royal Rumble so if those rumors aren’t true, does that mean Michaels would have faced Austin at Wrestlemania? The winner of the Royal Rumble usually faces a WWE World Champion at Wrestlemania. However, there are other internet rumors that say Stone Cold was never booked to be in the main event despite being the official winner of the 1996 Royal Rumble. Those rumors could be true because Austin did not have a WWF Championship match at Wrestlemania, but would that have stayed the same if Michaels was the champion? I don’t know for sure that Michaels would have faced either Austin or Bret Hart if he had a WWF Championship match at Wrestlemania 13, but there might have been a completely different Wrestlemania 13 match card if Michaels was scheduled to defend his title that night. If Michaels defending his title at Wrestlemania 13 meant no Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold match, then I would say it is a very good thing that Shawn Michaels vacated his title. I’m not going to guess if he really was hurt or if he just didn’t want to lose to Bret Hart. Shawn Michaels was gone from the WWF for only a few months so maybe the rumors of him not wanting to lose to Bret are true, but that is not really important. What is important is that Austin’s submission match with Bret helped Austin get closer to becoming a WWE legend and I don’t want to know how Austin’s career would have turned out if he didn’t have that match.

What if The Rock never turned heel?

When The Rock first started in the WWF, he was a babyface known as Rocky Maivia. The problem was that he had a gimmick that the fans absolutely hated. I wasn’t watching the WWF when Rocky Maivia first debuted, but what I have read and heard is that Rocky smiled too much and had good guy catchphrases like, “I’m going to always give my best, make my family proud, and be respectful to my opponents.” This was during the start of the Attitude Era. The fans were into the anti-hero like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. They rooted for the guys who beat up their own boss, not the guy who would help an old lady cross the street. So, the fans weren’t happy when Rocky got an immediate push after debuting. After winning the 1996 Survivor Series in his WWF debut, Rocky won the Intercontinental Championship from Hunter Hearst Helmsley only three months later. What I have learned as a WWE fan is that pushing a Superstar right away is not the best way to get a positive reaction from the fans. You need to build his character first. You can’t just have him be the sole survivor at Survivor Series and give him the Intercontinental Championship and say, “Look at all the great things Rocky Maivia has accomplished! Isn’t he great?” No wonder fans were chanting “Die Rocky Die” and “Rocky Sucks”. I might have hated him too. The WWF must have had several Superstars who deserved a push and they gave a push to a guy whose gimmick was not popular with the fans yet. I can see why fans were upset that the WWF gave Rocky the Intercontinental Championship. The IC Title may not mean much now, but back in 1997 it had a lot of value. The fans HATED Rocky and he received heel heat at Wrestlemania 13. Luckily the WWF realized they couldn’t let Rocky be a face anymore so they turned him heel. Rocky turned heel on April 28, 1997 when he joined The Nation of Domination. Soon after that, he began calling himself “The Rock” and became one of the greatest heels of the Attitude Era. His heel character was so entertaining that the fans started liking him and he eventually went face again. After turning face, The Rock’s career became legendary as he arguably became the most entertaining Superstar in WWE history.

What if The Rock didn’t turn heel? What if the WWF said, “Screw what the fans think…we are keeping Rocky as a face”? If Rocky Maivia never became The Rock, then I don’t think he’d be a legend right now. Maybe Rocky would have tried to change his gimmick while still being a face, but in real life, Rocky’s name was Dwayne Johnson and Dwayne’s motivation at the time was money. I’m sure Dwayne would have done whatever the WWF wanted him to do just so he wouldn’t have to go back to making $175 a week playing football in Canada. If the WWF wanted him to continue to be a boring face that nobody liked, then that’s what Dwayne probably would have done. Rocky turning heel may have been the most important heel turn in WWE history because I think we would have never seen The Rock if Rocky never turned heel.

What if Owen Hart didn’t break Stone Cold’s neck?

On August 3, 1997, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin faced Owen Hart for the Intercontinental Championship at Summerslam in East Rutherford, New Jersey. During the match, Owen hit Austin with a piledriver, but Owen landed on his rear end instead of landing on his knees. Because of this, Austin was dropped on his head and he broke his neck as a result. Austin was even paralyzed for a moment, but was able to crawl over to Owen and pin him for the win using a roll-up pin. Austin was forced to vacate the title, but was able to return to the WWF right before Survivor Series that year. However, the injury caused him to have problems with his neck for the rest of his career. Doctors later told Austin that he could end up paralyzed if he continued to wrestle so in 2003, Austin had his final match at the age of 38. What if Austin didn’t break his neck at Summerslam? Is it possible Stone Cold would be still wrestling in the WWE, even if it was just part-time like the Undertaker? Or maybe he would be having a couple matches a year like Mick Foley did during his last stint with the WWE from 2004 to 2006. What great match-ups did we miss because of the neck injury? We could have seen Stone Cold vs. John Cena. We could have seen Stone Cold vs. Undertaker at Wrestlemania. We could have seen Stone Cold vs. Randy Orton or maybe even Stone Cold vs. Hulk Hogan. One thing I do know is that the WWE would definitely be more entertaining right now if Stone Cold was making more than one or two appearances each year.

What if Owen Hart ended Stone Cold’s career?

Instead of thinking about what great Stone Cold moments we might have missed, maybe we should be thankful for the great Stone Cold moments that we were able to see. Stone Cold’s career could have ended that night in New Jersey at Summerslam. Austin said that he thought he was the next Christopher Reeves. Christopher Reeves was an actor (best known for playing “Superman”) who became a quadriplegic after he was thrown off of a horse. In his “The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin” DVD, Austin talked about his immediate reaction after the botched piledriver and he said, “I didn’t think I was ever going to move again in my life.” Wrestlers have been paralyzed in the ring before. Former WWF Superstar Droz is still a quadriplegic after he was paralyzed during a match with D-Lo Brown in 1999. The match took place at a WWF Smackdown! taping, but since the taping wasn’t live, the match was edited out of the Smackdown episode that aired two days later. Droz never wrestled again. Stone Cold’s last match was almost six years after the accident. The Summerslam accident happened after Austin’s Wrestlemania 13 match with Bret Hart, but before his first title reign, his rivalry with Mr. McMahon, and his rivalry with The Rock. Austin career might have ended a little early, but his career was long enough for him to have several classic moments.

What if Bret Hart never left the WWF?

In late 1997, Bret Hart decided to leave the WWF to join WCW. The exact reason why he left does not seem to be clear, but from what I read, it seems like Vince McMahon had no big future plans for Bret Hart at the time and both McMahon and Bret felt it would be best if Bret signed with WCW. I also read that Bret did not want to be in the WWF during the Attitude Era and liked the family friendly version of the WWF better. Some internet articles say that McMahon wanted to terminate Bret’s contract and asked Bret to leave because of financial problems. However, I also read that McMahon would have honored Bret’s contract or renegotiate the contract if Bret wanted to stay so it seems like Bret had a decision to make and he chose to go to WCW. At the time, it seemed like the right decision. WCW was going to pay Bret more money and Bret did not like how he was being used in the WWF. However, it was a hard decision for Bret because he wanted to stay with the WWF and he later said that he regretted leaving. After the decision to leave the WWF was made, McMahon and Bret had to decide what to do with Bret’s WWF Championship. Bret had to drop the title at some point before he joined WCW. Again, the plan of what to do with the WWF Championship does not seem to be clear. I read that Bret was willing to drop the championship, but he refused to lose at the 1997 Survivor Series Pay-Per-View in Canada to Shawn Michaels. I also read that Bret refused to give up the title at all. For what it is worth, Bret said on his DVD that he never said he was unwilling to drop the title in Canada and pointed out that he has lost in Canada many times. Bret also said he would not have taken the title with him to WCW. McMahon was really worried that Bret would show up on WCW Nitro wearing the WWF Championship or maybe he was mad at Bret’s refusal to lose to Michaels so he booked Michaels as the winner of the Survivor Series WWF Championship Match without Bret knowing. What happened was that Michaels put Bret in the Sharpshooter, the ref immediately rang the bell, and Bret was screwed out of the WWF Championship in his final WWF match before the WWF became the WWE. This match is now known as The Montreal Screwjob. After that, everything went wrong for Bret. He was poorly used in WCW, his brother Owen tragically died in 1999 after falling from the arena rafters at a WWF PPV event when he was released from his harness too early, and on December 19, 1999, Goldberg gave Bret a concussion during their match that eventually forced Bret to retire from pro wrestling.

Bret has said that he wished he hadn’t joined WCW, so what if he stayed with the WWF? I think that decision would have changed a lot of events. First of all, the Montreal Screwjob never happens. Bret Hart fans would probably say it would be a good thing if the Montreal Screwjob never happened, but it is a very memorable moment in WWE history and one of the moments WWE fans mention when they argue why the WWE should keep Survivor Series. I guess that means the Bret Hart vs. Mr. McMahon Wrestlemania 26 match never happens, but I think fans were more excited about Bret being back in the WWE than the actual match. Another thing that does not happen is Bret’s career-ending concussion. Another thing Bret has said was that he regretted not being with the WWF when Owen died and maybe Owen wouldn’t have died if Bret was around. I heard that Owen was afraid of heights, but Owen agreed to be lowered into the ring from the arena rafters anyway because that is what McMahon wanted him to do. If Bret was around, maybe Bret could have talked to Vince so Owen wouldn’t have to be lowered from the rafters. Or maybe Owen would have died even with Bret still in the WWF. If that happened, the WWF probably would have given Bret a push as part of an Owen tribute storyline. It sounds awful, but the WWE has used the deaths of Eddie Guerrero and Jerry Lawler’s mother in storylines before and I wouldn’t be surprised if they created a storyline for Bret that ended with Bret winning the WWF Championship because of Owen’s death. Even if they didn’t exploit Owen’s death, I think Bret would have won back the WWF Championship eventually. It may have been McMahon’s plans to use Bret less in the future, but I think the fans might have forced McMahon to give Bret a push. Bret Hart had a Hall of Fame career in the WWF, but he might have added a few more accomplishments if he never left to join WCW.


This is the end of part two. I had six “What Ifs” planned for this article, but I had to cut one because this article was getting too long. As a result, I am planning on doing a part three AND four in the near future. Thanks for reading.

  1. June 2, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Good shit. You covered my all time favorite timeframe in WWF history. This comment may be long so bare with me.

    According to people in the know (and most importantly Bret Hart) Shawn Michaels was supposed to drop the championship to Bret at Wrestlemania 13. The only reason Bret agreed to drop the championship at Wrestlemania 12 was so HBK and the Hitman could go on to have an epic Wrestlemania trilogy. Personal vendettas got in the way of the wrestling and that never quite manifested the way it was planned. Shawn always wanted to be the top dog in the WWF. While he was coming up he never understood why Vince McMahon would let guys like Bret Hart take center stage when he felt he was a better wrestler and should have been the face of the company. While Bret was winning WWF Championships, Shawn was a midcarder. He started to develop a hatred towards Bret. He wanted his spot even if it meant sabotaging Bret’s career. That’s one of the reasons that when Bret defended his title, Shawn would find a way to steal the show and take away Bret’s shine. While Bret wrestled twice at Wrestlemania 10 and won the title, all people talked about was Shawn’s ladder match. When Bret defended his championship against The Patriot, all people talked about was Shawn’s Hell In A Cell match. So on and so forth. Shawn’s hatred towards Bret kept getting worse after a backstage altercation. He thought he was way better than Bret and shouldn’t have to drop the title to him under any circumstances and thats why he pulled his little knee injury. He lost his smile alright, but im sure that if he looked up his own ass he would have found it. Here is a cover for a WWF magazine with the original planned Wrestlemania 13 main events:

    So the original plan was either Undertaker vs Sid then Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels, or a fatal fourway type match for the WWF championship with Bret Hart coming out victorious. Shawn wasnt having that though thus he refused to be on the card altogether. Forfeiting the championship was an extra slap in Bret’s face considering that he lived for that championship so in essence Shawn was like “This fucking belt doesn’t mean shit to me and I rather not have it than to lost it to you, suck it Hitman”. I was disappointed when that went down because both Shawn and Bret were in their WWF prime. Steve Austin lucked out though because if none of that happened then there would have been no double turn. At least not at Mania. And definatly not at the hands of Bret Hart since he was only a heel because Shawn was manipulating Vince McMahon into making all of Bret’s loyal fans turn their back on him. Backstage politics was a dirty backstabbing game that Shawn not only perfected, but elevated to the next level.

    Moving on, I too hated Rocky Maivia and would chant “Rocky Sucks”. He just looked stupid and was too damn happy go lucky for his own good. This was a time where guys like Steve Austin, Brian Pillman, a demonic Undertaker and a very rude and lewd Shawn Michaels were infiltrating WWF with pure unadulterated attitude the likes the WWF has never seen. A few years earlier Rocky would have been a hit, but at the time he just reminded me of a bigger, buffer Aldo Montoya and Aldo sure did suck aids infested donkey dicks. I also had no idea who his father or grandfather were so I didnt give a fuck about his background. Shit Rocky was so bland that I would have prefered watching Marc Mero.

    The Rock turning heel was the best shit that ever happened to the WWE other that Steve Austin. He was so bad ass that the fans couldnt deny him any longer. A weaker superstar would have crumbled under the pressure, but that pressure turned a lump of coal like Rocky into a flawless diamond named The Rock. Good thing too because Rocky would have ended up becoming a jobber or worse yet, ended up in WCW where he would have continued to suck, but imagine if he did go to WCW and created The Rock there. WWF would have been in serious troble if that was the case.

    I vividly remember spending the night at my cousins house because he had an illegal blackbox and I wanted to watch SummerSlam. When Owen hit the piledriver on Austin everything just stopped. Owen was stalling for time before Austin mustered the will power to roll him up. The whole time my uncle kept pointed out that Austins neck was broken and that wrestling was fake because there was no way Austin should have gone to win that match. While Austin couldnt get physical for a few months he became more popular that ever before due to his epic promos. No wrestling meant more time on the mic and Austin took that ball and slam dunked it into superstardom. I would hate to think where the WWE would be today if that would have been his last match. WCW would have put WWF out of business for sure and I would be reviewing Nitro instead of RAW. Austin and The Rock saved WWF (with some help from DX and Mick Foley of course).

    As for Bret Hart. Its a damn shame he ended up being a casualty of the Monday Night War. He should have been a WWE lifer. After Wrestlemania 12 Bret left for about 6 months to go film “Lonesome Dove” a crappy western show. During his time away he was taking offers from other promotions, but ended up turning down a guaranteed 3 year WCW contract which would have generated him $9 million. He chose to stay with WWF and proved his loyalty by signing a 20 year contract. 20 years, yea he wasnt planning on going anywhere. Not only that but that contract was for far less money. He was loyal to WWF. The first four years of that contract would have paid him $2 million a year and the remaining 16 years he would have made $1.5 million with an option to negotiate. The plan was for him to wrestle then retire to a office position. Of course Shawn didn’t want him around so he manipulated Vince as best he could. What ended up happening was Vince told Bret that the WWF was in a financial rut since they were losing the ratings war to WCW week after week and couldn’t afford Bret’s long term contract. Bret didnt want to leave at all but Vince kept convincing him that maybe it was a better idea for Bret to take WCW’s offer since it would benefit him in the long run and after the 3 years were done the doors would have been open for a Bret Hart return.

    Now as for the Montreal Screwjob. Bret never forgot the stupid stunt Shawn had pulled before Wrestlemania 13 and in return he refused to drop the championship to Shawn. I dont think he cared if he lost in Canada, but he wasnt going to lose to the guy who had been making his professional life a living hell. Bret’s plan was to win at Survivor Series, go to RAW the next night and forfeit the belt to Vince. He wanted to say goodbye to the fans and apologize for his heel turn. He wanted to go out in a classy ways, but Shawn and Vince feared he would either expose all the backstage shenanigans going on with Shawn trying to bury him or he would just say fuck that and leave with the title and Alundra Blaze the belt in oblivion. Thus the screwjob was born. The mastermind behind the screwjob was….. Triple H. He says so himself on the HBK “Heartbreak and Triumph” DVD. As for Owen, I think there would have never been a deadly Blue Blazer angle had Bret been there. Bret was one of the main ones that wanted to move away from cartoonish angles and be more realistic based. Also, without the screwjob there would have never been a Mr. McMahon character for Austin to feud with. The one to gain the most out of the Bret/Shawn rivalry was Austin. Right place, right time I guess.

    • meekrz
      June 2, 2011 at 11:20 am

      omg could you have written a longer comment that’s half a blog rite their

      • June 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm

        Haha I agree with meekrz, although it was nice to read 2 articles instead of one, lol. Another great article Tony, I’m glad you decided to extend this series.

        • June 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm

          My bad, but this column touched on an era in wrestling which I am super passionate about. The Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels rivalry was the best kayfabe AND real life drama in the history of wrestling. Real life spills into the wrestling creating memorable moments that will never be forgotten. Me and my friends at school couldn’t shut the fuck up about Hart/Michaels, it was just that epic. Most started following the feud from Wrestlemania 12, but I have followed it since Hart Foundation vs The Rockers. This shit goes deeper than any of us can imagine and only Bret and Shawn know exactly what caused their animosity that us fans aren’t privy to. All the information from this feud I have soaked up like a sponge. It does not get any better. If I liked wrestling before, this rivalry made me fall in love with our chosen genre of entertainment. Even when they made up in 2010, when HBK hugged Bret, Bret had a look on his face like it wasn’t sincere and he just sold his soul to the devil.

  2. June 2, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Excelent article. I always liked Owen so it was cool to see you’re ideas.

    • June 3, 2011 at 10:40 am

      Owen would have made a fine WWE Champion. His death sucked big time. Thanks Russo, fucking asshole.

  3. Capt. Smooth
    June 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Here’s a question: What type of shit would have had Hornswoggle do in the Attitude Era? I think he might’ve played the Henry/Young baby.

    • June 3, 2011 at 10:42 am

      Hornswoggle would have been down with the mini wrestlers. I remember Max Mini, Mini Vader, Minituare and others. It was a fun filler and more enjoyable than the current squash matches no one gives a fuck about.

      • June 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm

        I have that match on DVD…it was the match refereed by Sunny at the 1998 Royal Rumble. I picked up volume 3 of the royal rumble anthology for like $30 and it was a great buy. It has 5 royal rumbles:

        – 1998 (featuring the infamous HBK casket match, a really good Rock vs. Shamrock match, and Stone Cold winning the rumble. Also a good tag-team match-up: LOD vs. the New Age Outlaws)

        – 1999 (Rock-Mankind I Quit match and also Austin and McMahon being 1 and 2 to start the rumble)

        – 2000 (Foley-HHH street fight and a great tables match Dudley Boyz and Hardys and also The Rock winning the rumble)

        – 2001 (Awesome Y2J-Benoit ladder match and the Drew Carey RR match)

        – 2002 (Jericho vs. Rock and McMahon vs. Flair)

  4. June 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    i’m in DC right now to make sure I’m the first one to enter the Verizon Center for Capitol Punishment…lol. The highlight of the vacation so far is seeing Ric Flair’s “cape” at the Smithsonian.

  5. June 2, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Jcity, i love your 1st comment. i would love it if you would be willing to co-write the other “what if” parts with me to make them as good as possible. i’ll email you the details this weekend when i get back from DC if you are interested.

    • Max
      June 3, 2011 at 4:09 am

      I think that might be a good idea. I loved reading both commentaries and think that super long comment would have worked great if fused into the actual article. I must say that I feel like I learned something from it.

      • June 3, 2011 at 10:54 am

        That’s an interesting idea. The only people I have co-starred with was Mr. Redlight and my wife, but I wouldn’t just stick my ideas in someone else’s post without consent. That comment just came out long cuz i was super into the Hart/Michaels rivalry. If not the What Ifs then we could definatly come up with something epic in the future. Bring back some honor to the non existent Tag Team division…oh wait this isn’t the WWE, whoops, lol.

  6. June 2, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    oh and it was ric flair’s wm 24 “cape” (they called it a cape….we know its really a robe).

    • Capt. Smooth
      June 2, 2011 at 6:27 pm

      Maybe Flair is really The Hurricane?

  7. June 2, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    that “cape” looked so awesome in person. i wonder if the WWE will show it during the PPV but i think they won’t. by the way i’m not really going to CP but i will be at the July MitB PPV!

  8. June 2, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    one last comment, the smithsonian also called Flair a “wrestler”. Vince McMahon was definitely not consulted when they prepared the description for Flair’s “cape” (i’m still shaking my head about that….really? really? The Nature Boy wore a cape? Batman had a “cape”. Flair wore a robe. I should have found the guy in charge at the Smithsonian and put him in the figure four leg lock! Rant over).

    • June 3, 2011 at 10:56 am

      I think they were still considered wrestlers back when Flair was there. The entertainers/soap opera initiative is fairly recent.

  9. June 3, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Oh yea before I forget, It looks like Michael Hayes is back to whipping on his favorite house nigga:


  10. June 3, 2011 at 11:25 am

    i think mvp said that he was told not to say “wrestler” and mvp has been gone for awhile so its not that recent. it is just more banned now.

  1. June 8, 2011 at 7:00 pm
  2. June 22, 2011 at 9:18 pm
  3. November 23, 2011 at 5:26 pm

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