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Discussion Starter #1
I am not usually a big fan of what if threads because they are all based on hyperthetical opinion but every now and again i don't mind and after spending the whole weekend watching WWE from in between 1996 and 1999 whilst the girlfriend was away there were a lot of questions that came from it all. The question i will ask for now though is how things would have been if as originally planned Triple H had won The King of the Ring tournament and Stone Cold Steve Austin had stayed as a mid carder as he was planned to be used long term.

Obviously everyone know's the story of how Triple H lost his spot as the winner of The King of the Ring tournament because of his involvement in "The Curtain Call" which was Shawn Michaels and Triple H celebrating in the ring with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall at Madison Square Garden on their last night before going to WCW. Because Shawn Michaels was WWF Champion and the undoubted star of the company he was as people have put it untouchable and Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were leaving so couldn't be punished which left Triple H to take all the blame and punishment.

This led to Vince McMahon needing to find a replacement for Triple H and after toying with the idea of having Vader win so he would have been built up for a WWF title challenge they decided to go with Stone Cold Steve Austin who Vince McMahon saw as no more than a mid carder who would work against the bigger names when they needed a win. What Vince McMahon wasn't expecting though was for Stone Cold Steve Austin to cut that legendary promo after winning the tournament and become so HUGELY over like he did or for Bret Hart to be watching at home and decide that was who he wanted to work with upon his return.

What i want to know though is how do you all think things would have turned out short term and long term had Triple H won because we have seen people on WWE's DVD's say that Triple H was about to get a major push in 1996 from winning the tournament. Would Triple H have been in the spot that Stone Cold Steve Austin got and would we have seen Bret Hart working with Triple H because Stone Cold Steve Austin would not have gotten anywhere near the tv time and promo time that he did if he didn't win and would have probably continued working with Savio Vega for the rest of the year and then people like Marc Mero afterwards.

Because of his close friendship with Shawn Michaels everyone knows that Triple H became quite close to Vince McMahon through association and that Shawn Michaels pushed backstage for a Triple H main event push at a time when Shawn Michaels got the majority of things he wanted back then. I am not asking if Triple H would have gone on to be as big as Stone Cold Steve Austin because that is a non starter and would never have happened but had Triple H won and gone on to bigger things as planned that year whilst Stone Cold Steve Austin would have stayed as a mid carder with hardly any promo time how would things have worked out.

I don't know if the character that Triple H was playing back then would have been successful in the main event scene and also didn't really work as a good heel until Chyna debuted which wasn't until In Your House: The Final Four PPV in February 1997 which would have been around seven months after he had won King of the Ring. I think that had Triple H had Chyna alongside him in 1996 then things would have been ok and maybe Triple H would have been a main event wrestler by 1997 rather than in mid 1999 as it turned out but i am thankful everything turned out the way it did with Stone Cold Steve Austin winning and going on to be the star he was.
 

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I don't think anything would have stopped either of them getting to where they both ended up. Vince wanted to push HHH therefore he was going to get pushed. When he did he would have made it work just like he made his real life push work. And Austin, well, there was no stopping what happened with him imo. It was as natural as they come. He would have been a badass, he would have got cheered and it would have clicked in Vince's head that he was on to something big. Yeah, there might have been delays in the time periods etc but I still say they would be the same people they are today.
 

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The end result likely would have been the same, but there is one significant difference for me: we very likely would have missed out on one of the greatest feuds and matches of all time...

Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart, hitting its apex at WrestleMania 13.

If Austin had still been a midcarder in mid-1996, he probably wouldn't have been the one to taunt Bret Hart out of retirement. He wouldn't have been on that level. That role probably would have gone to Triple H, which means we would have gotten HHH/Hart at Survivor Series 1996 instead of Austin/Hart. It's hard to believe the fans would have slowly began supporting Triple H, which means we would have missed out on the incredible double-turn at WrestleMania and probably have been stuck with Triple H v. Bret Hart at WrestleMania. Not a bad match on paper, but there's no way it would have come close to what we actually experienced. It's possible that Austin would have followed the same trajectory and feuded with Austin in the summer of '97, but it wouldn't have been the same.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I don't think anything would have stopped either of them getting to where they both ended up. Vince wanted to push HHH therefore he was going to get pushed. When he did he would have made it work just like he made his real life push work. And Austin, well, there was no stopping what happened with him imo. It was as natural as they come. He would have been a badass, he would have got cheered and it would have clicked in Vince's head that he was on to something big. Yeah, there might have been delays in the time periods etc but I still say they would be the same people they are today.
I agree completely that Triple H would have gone on to be what he is today no matter what but do you think that he would have been as good as he was in mid 1999 when he finally got to the main event scene in 1996 when he would have had his original push. I didn't really take Triple H that seriously until Chyna came along at the start of 1997 as Chyna made him a believable top heel and in 1996 he was still using valet's which had nowhere near the same impact.

I think we may have seen Shawn Michaels feuding with Triple H at some point in 1996 instead of WWF going with a lot of tag team matches and six man matches on their PPV's as the main event's as Triple H would have got a big rub from his best friend and it would also have given Shawn Michaels someone to work with as WWF champion. Shawn Michaels vs Triple H on one or two of the In Your House PPV's would have been good back then and would have seen WWE create a new main event heel in the process.

As for Stone Cold Steve Austin i want to believe that he would have still gone on to achieve all he did and be the HUGE star that he was and is but Stone Cold Steve Austin himself has said that Vince McMahon was only ever going to use him as a mid carder who would only wrestle the top guy's when they needed a win and his gimmick was to be silent and cold so promo time would have been short at best.

It was the promo at King of the Ring that got him over and then his promo's in the feud with Bret Hart that set him truly on the path to superstardom but he was never meant to be a talker and that was his best asset back then it the fan's beginning to love him. Had he not won King of the Ring he may have stayed working with people like Savio Vega and Marc Mero with a silent assassin gimmick which wouldn't have allowed the fan's to really buy in to his character or become emotionally attached to him either.

The end result likely would have been the same, but there is one significant difference for me: we very likely would have missed out on one of the greatest feuds and matches of all time...

Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart, hitting its apex at WrestleMania 13.

If Austin had still been a midcarder in mid-1996, he probably wouldn't have been the one to taunt Bret Hart out of retirement. He wouldn't have been on that level. That role probably would have gone to Triple H, which means we would have gotten HHH/Hart at Survivor Series 1996 instead of Austin/Hart. It's hard to believe the fans would have slowly began supporting Triple H, which means we would have missed out on the incredible double-turn at WrestleMania and probably have been stuck with Triple H v. Bret Hart at WrestleMania. Not a bad match on paper, but there's no way it would have come close to what we actually experienced. It's possible that Austin would have followed the same trajectory and feuded with Austin in the summer of '97, but it wouldn't have been the same.
That's exactly my point because back then Triple H was meant to get the push and Shawn Michaels was also pushing backstage to Vince McMahon for Triple H to move into the main event scene as well. It was only because Bret Hart had been watching Raw that he saw the difference between what Stone Cold Steve Austin was before and after King of the Ring in his character and promo ability that Bret Hart told Vince McMahon that was who he wanted to work with upon his return.

Had Stone Cold Steve Austin not won King of the Ring he wouldn't have been given so much tv time or promo time which would have meant Bret Hart would not have noticed the development in the character Steve Austin was playing and Bret Hart would have had to work with someone else like Mick Foley or Vader. There almost certainly would have been no Austin/Hart at WrestleMania 13 which would have meant no double turn and that would have meant that throughout 1997 Stone Cold Steve Austin would have still been a mid card wrestler at best whilst being behind Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, The Undertaker, Triple H, Mick Foley, Owen Hart, Sid Vicious and maybe even Ken Shamrock which would then also mean that 1998 would have been dominated by Shawn Michaels injury permitting and The Undertaker.
 

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Things would have turned out fine.

BTW I didn't read the actual post in protest of the completely vague thread title.
 

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I can't imagine Triple H getting over under the guise of a Greenwich snob.Gimmicks like that were out of fashion and I remember critics of the time accusing him of being a ripoff of WCW's Lord Steven Regal.In fact,it took one hell of a push to get him super over in 1999; storylines such as injuring Mick Foley and Steve Austin,in addition to reforming DX and taking over the company after marrying into the McMahon family.

It's very difficult to imagine what would have happened.Perhaps Austin would have played second fiddle to the Rock,who they did have big plans for from day one.I think Austin would have eventually received a huge push because the origianl Mankind character wasn't really mainstream,Helmsley would have failed and Vader wasn't liked by Vince.Who else was there? Bulldog and Owen had been tried and tested.Goldust was getting fan approval.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I can't imagine Triple H getting over under the guise of a Greenwich snob.Gimmicks like that were out of fashion and I remember critics of the time accusing him of being a ripoff of WCW's Lord Steven Regal.In fact,it took one hell of a push to get him super over in 1999; storylines such as injuring Mick Foley and Steve Austin,in addition to reforming DX and taking over the company after marrying into the McMahon family.

It's very difficult to imagine what would have happened.Perhaps Austin would have played second fiddle to the Rock,who they did have big plans for from day one.I think Austin would have eventually received a huge push because the origianl Mankind character wasn't really mainstream,Helmsley would have failed and Vader wasn't liked by Vince.Who else was there? Bulldog and Owen had been tried and tested.Goldust was getting fan approval.
Exactly my point because the character that Triple H was playing back then just didn't look believable as a main event wrestler and it wasn't until Chyna came along in early 1997 that he managed he even draw any proper heat. Maybe had Triple H feuded with Shawn Michaels in the summer of 1996 off the back of winning King of the Ring he may have drawn some heat because Shawn Michaels was very popular in between The Royal Rumble and Survivor Series with the face character he was playing then but i don't think that Triple H would have been more believable than Vader as main challenger for Shawn Michaels.

If Chyna had debuted prior to King of the Ring it may have been a different story because Triple H as a character changed a lot and became a lot more sadistic once Chyna was with him than he was beforehand and how he was when he was meant to win King of the Ring. I don't think Triple H would have been anywhere near as successful as he went on to be if he had been pushed hard in 1996 because i think he would have failed in the main event scene and been moved back to the mid card by the latter stages of 1997 by which time The Rock had already began his asscent to the top and as a great heel.

As for Stone Cold Steve Austin if he had played second fiddle to The Rock it would never have worked because whilst The Rock was getting really over in 1998 it was the feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin the we saw the best of him come out and that was as a heel. I am not sure if the feud would have worked with The Rock as the face and Stone Cold Steve Austin as the heel when Stone Cold Steve Austin would have been a mid card heel at best leading up to it.

Also it was because of Stone Cold Steve Austin as a character that The Rock was able to play a face as Stone Cold Steve Austin was the one that broke the mould as an edgy style face which was then used by The Rock afterwards. Originally when Vince McMahon decided on pushing an edgier style product he wanted Shawn Michaels to play the edgy face which is what we saw in between Survivor Series and WrestleMania 13 when Shawn Michaels would say that he wasn't a role model and didn't care if people liked him or not but Shawn Michaels would not have been a good character for The Rock to base his edgy style face character around in my opinion.

If Stone Cold Steve Austin didn't win King of the Ring in 1996 i don't think that we would have seen Austin/Rock as a main event feud let alone the defining feud of that era because Stone Cold Steve Austin was never meant to be a main event wrestler and was meant to have a silent assassin character that barely talked which would have held him back and meant the crowd would never have got behind him as much. At the same time the identikit of an edgy style face would have been Shawn Michaels which would have meant The Rock may have never been as big as he was either although WWE were always high on him but as a old style face in the mould of Hulk Hogan as we saw upon his debut and also from 2002 onwards.
 

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To be honest he always would've got over. It might have took him a very long time like the likes of RVD or Jeff Hardy. But those two wrestlers proved that you don't need to be amazing on the mic, or be the best wrestler, if the fans are giving you pop of the night week in week out you'll eventually get there.
 

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Austin would've eventually took the #1 spot, KOTR winner or not. If anything he might've ended up capturing his first world title in '99 or '00 instead of '98.

But I think we are all missing the most important detail here. If Triple H had won KOTR in 1996, Austin may not have ended up feuding with Owen at Summerslam and would have never broken his neck and may still be wrestling today. So all in all, I wish Triple H didn't get in trouble so Austin's career wouldn't have gotten cut short.
 

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Short term business would of gone along like usual. Long term could of been bad though, iIf they didn't push Austin, till say 97 (he was too talented not too push i'm sure they could see that in him), by the time he would of got real hot I believe WCW would of near enough won the war to the point where the tides couldn't of been swung in to WWE's favour like Austin caused them to, especially if Hunter kept his blue blood gimmick, that went nowhere as opposed to the first year of Austin's 3:16 gig which took off like a rocket.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Austin would've eventually took the #1 spot, KOTR winner or not. If anything he might've ended up capturing his first world title in '99 or '00 instead of '98.

But I think we are all missing the most important detail here. If Triple H had won KOTR in 1996, Austin may not have ended up feuding with Owen at Summerslam and would have never broken his neck and may still be wrestling today. So all in all, I wish Triple H didn't get in trouble so Austin's career wouldn't have gotten cut short.
A point you are missing though is that in 1998 and most of 1999 Stone Cold Steve Austin was Raw as the whole show for the most part was centred around him and he drew crazy ratings which saw WWE overtake WCW so without Stone Cold Steve Austin being in the spot he was then his first WWE title in 1999 or 2000 probably wouldn't have mattered because WWE would have most likely have been out of business.

Vince McMahon said himself that WWE came close in 1997 and 1998 to being out of business because WCW had Sting at his most popular and who was as popular as Stone Cold Steve Austin in between that period whilst also having The New World Order who until Randy Savage won the WCW title from Sting were still HUGE so if Stone Cold Steve Austin hadn't become WWF champion until 1999 or 2000 the title may have been meaningless.

I know that a lot of people believe that Stone Cold Steve Austin would have still got to the spot as number one guy but he really might not have done because as i have said and it is the words of Stone Cold Steve Austin himself that Vince McMahon never saw him as any more than a mid card act who would only ever be in the ring with the main men when they needed a decent win. The character that Stone Cold Steve Austin was meant to have was that of a silent assassin who would go in against mid card face's and just wrestle, he was never even meant to be a dominant mid card wrestler either and wasn't given a mid card title in 1996 because until the match with Bret Hart at Survivor Series had happened Vince McMahon still didn't have much hope of Stone Cold Steve Austin as even a dominant mid card wrestler.

If Stone Cold Steve Austin had not cut that promo at King of the Ring he would have been given as much promo time as Shelton Benjamin or John Morrison which would have taken away a HUGE part of Steve Austin's all round ability and which would have seen the crowd never get behind him anywhere near as much. We would never have seen the anti authority promo's that he cut which got him so HUGELY over and as has been said it may have taken until 1999 or 2000 for him to get to the main event scene but just picture WWE's main event scene in between 1996 and 1999-2000 without Stone Cold Steve Austin.
 

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For HHH it wouldn't have changed a thing... and, honestly, I don't think it would have either for Austin. Sure, him not winning would have changed in terms of his career path, but, the major point is that, he would have still made it big.


Or at least, I don't see how either could have not gotten over either way.
 

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A point you are missing though is that in 1998 and most of 1999 Stone Cold Steve Austin was Raw as the whole show for the most part was centred around him and he drew crazy ratings which saw WWE overtake WCW so without Stone Cold Steve Austin being in the spot he was then his first WWE title in 1999 or 2000 probably wouldn't have mattered because WWE would have most likely have been out of business.

Vince McMahon said himself that WWE came close in 1997 and 1998 to being out of business because WCW had Sting at his most popular and who was as popular as Stone Cold Steve Austin in between that period whilst also having The New World Order who until Randy Savage won the WCW title from Sting were still HUGE so if Stone Cold Steve Austin hadn't become WWF champion until 1999 or 2000 the title may have been meaningless.
That's where I am confused.Vince said they were close to being out of business in 1996 - 1997.But everything I've read suggests the company reported a small profit in the tax years 1995,1996 and 1997.Diesel didn't turn their fortune around,but he wasn't a total failure.Shawn Michaels,despite being criticized,was a bigger draw for them in 1996 than Bret,Luger and Diesel had been.For instance,they managed to sell over 40,000 tickets for the Royal Rumble 1997.Buyrates were usually about the same as WCW PPVs,although they did bring less revenue because the IYH PPVs only cost 19.95 until September 1997.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
That's where I am confused.Vince said they were close to being out of business in 1996 - 1997.But everything I've read suggests the company reported a small profit in the tax years 1995,1996 and 1997.Diesel didn't turn their fortune around,but he wasn't a total failure.Shawn Michaels,despite being criticized,was a bigger draw for them in 1996 than Bret,Luger and Diesel had been.For instance,they managed to sell over 40,000 tickets for the Royal Rumble 1997.Buyrates were usually about the same as WCW PPVs,although they did bring less revenue because the IYH PPVs only cost 19.95 until September 1997.
From what i read about Manchester United recently for some reason there are working profits but you can also have losses as well which i don't pretend too know anything about as i have never been in the financial world or worked with big figures like that. Vince McMahon had said that he was closer to going out of business in 1997 when The Undertaker was WWF champion as they had been behind WCW for a long time at that point and it was only after SummerSlam in 1997 that they started selling out arena's every night they were doing Raw or house show's.

I remember Triple H, Jim Ross and Vince McMahon all saying that it hadn't hit the poll's yet in the ratings but by October 1997 they were winning the people on the street in their war with WCW and with Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker working nearly half hour matches every night they were selling out everynight. At this point though obviously Stone Cold Steve Austin was not regularly around because of his injury but he was becoming a big draw for WWF when he was around.

The point i am making though is that even with Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker working nearly half hour matches everynight they were not clawing back a big deal in the ratings although through D-Generation X they were doing the best numbers they had done in years. If Triple H had been in the spot that Stone Cold Steve Austin held after winning King of the Ring in 1996 then Stone Cold Steve Austin would have still been waiting until at least 1998 when Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were both gone to have a chance at the main event scene therefore we wouldn't have seen his character become big until 1999 by which time WCW would have been on top for three years and wouldn't have panicked and produced horrible storylines.

What a lot of people forget is that up until 1999 WCW were still producing a great show in Nitro and had six months worth of storylines lined up after "The Fingerpoke of Doom" incident with Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan where over the six months Goldberg would go through Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and then Hulk Hogan which would have been good tv. A lot of people say that "The Fingerpoke of Doom" was a nail in WCW's coffin but in reality it was just a swerve and a way of reuniting The New World Order and making Goldberg even stronger after he had gone through all of them and had Goldberg not thrown a tantrum and busted his hand and ruined the storyline WCW would have been halfway through 1999 still on top.

Without Stone Cold Steve Austin having that two year build towards being the main man WWF would have had no one who could respond to what WCW had in Sting, Goldberg and The New World Order because outside of Stone Cold Steve Austin those four things WCW had were the biggest draw's in wrestling. I do not believe for one second that WWE would have had anything that could compete with that if Triple H had won King of the Ring in 1996 or even if Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart would have still been around because The Rock was only really becoming a main event wrestler towards the end of 1998 and neither Mick Foley or The Undertaker could have taken WCW on either.

I believe that had Stone Cold Steve Austin not won King of the Ring in 1996 he would never had been given the feud with Bret Hart which took him to the main event scene and therefore the whole Shawn Michaels/Stone Cold Steve Austin/Undertaker/Hart Foundation storyline that dominated 1997 would never have happened with Stone Cold Steve Austin being involved. That would mean that by the time 1998 had come along Stone Cold Steve Austin would have been nowhere near the main event scene and therefore have had no build whatsoever towards being the main man and would never have outdrawn Sting, Goldberg and The New World Order.
 
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