Top Last 25 7 Matches that Could Have, But Didn’t Happen
Wade Barrett v. The Undertaker - Wrestlemania XXVIIJessel: At Bragging Rights 2010, the Undertaker faced his freshly turned brother, Kane. During that match, the Nexus (run by Wade Barrett) came in and helped Kane bury the Undertaker alive. Literally, that was the stipulation. Why did they do this? If you watch the story that was presented, no clue, because nothing came of it. But what WAS to come of it was to see The Undertaker return and face the new star Wade Barrett at Wrestlemania XXVII. How could he beat this new powerful heel, especially since he has a whole crew of able-bodied and same-minded new blood all wanting to end the oldest of old guard. And rumor was, The Undertaker was ready to retire then and there, ending the streak like he recently did with BrockLesnar, putting over the new faction of the Nexus and their leader over in a huge way.
So what happened? John Cena happened. John Cena’s feud with the Nexus absolutely brutally murdered and left for dead every ounce of credibility the faction had. I talked about it before, but apparently Cena squashed a needed Nexus win at the earlier Summerslam, then the Nexus’ powerhouse Skip Sheffield – now known as Ryback – got injured, then the entire long feud with John Cena killed every ounce of momentum the faction had. There was nowhere for these guys to go, and despite setting this up and potentially creating a huge new star, we got … well, all the crap at Wrestlemania XXVII instead.
Oh, you just wait, Miz, we'll talk about you in a minute.
Daniel Bryan v. Sheamus - WrestleMania XXVII and WrestleMania XXVIIIJessel: Sheamus had his debut match at Wrestlemania XXVI against Triple H. It wasn’t great. It was fine. Nah, it was a little less than fine. But Sheamus had a better year after that, and some incredible matches. He was a big ole bully and a huge ole jerk, and with his size and power and brutal in-ring style, it worked amazingly well. Daniel Bryan, on the flipside, was just a well loved babyface who finally beat the Miz, who was a chicken-crap heel, and held the US Championship! There had been some heat to this feud for awhile, with Sheamus being a bully on Bryan over and over, and other guys coming in to help, but this was finally Bryan’s chance. Not only that, Daniel Bryan as we all know now is one of the best in-ring workers there is currently. This had the makings to be fantastic!
And it got shoved off the card for time, and then it got turned into a lumberjack match (which are almost all terrible), and that got turned into a battle royal. This match, that had some good heat, a nice midcard build, and two good workers ready to prove themselves, got turned into a clusterfudge paycheck-earner for Yoshi Tatsu and JTG.
We as fans thought we’d finally get to see this match a year later for the bigger belt, with the roles reversed as Daniel Bryan had become an insufferable braggart of a champion and Sheamus a crusading babyface champion to be, but even that match ended with just a single Brogue Kick. A really good one, and it ended a feud wonderfully, but once again we did not get to see these two fellas deliver a great match one-on-one on the grandest stage of 'em all! They both are great wrestlers who could have delivered something magical twice, and twice got a great match ripped out from under them.
The Miz v. The Rock v. John Cena - Wrestlemania XXVIILenny: It's the match that should've happened to being with. Maybe not everyone wanted to SEE it, but if the option was Miz/Cena or a triple threat, then I'd take the triple threat! The Rock had just returned a few weeks earlier to start his YEAR LONG program with John Cena to lead to their match at WrestleMania XXVIII, so he was already heavily involved with The Miz/Cena's feud. So involved that his interference was the only reason that Miz was able to retain the belt. The match went down as one of the most forgettable Mania main events in the history of Mania, but a simple addition of the Rock could've added some much needed electricity to a weak, weak card.
Jessel: I completely agree. You folks at home'll see more soon.
Lenny: You could've teased and teased and teased and teased The Rock/Cena showdown until the very last few minutes of the match, still had the Rock hit the Rock Bottom on Cena and still have the Miz capitalize on it to win. It would've made much more sense, and while it wouldn't have been an outstanding match, it certainly would've been better than what we got. I also would've accepted Miz winning the 2013 Rumble and facing the Rock at WrestleMania XXIX.
Santino Marella and the 2011 Royal RumbleJessel: Technically, this is a little bit against the themes of this article, but hear me out, as this leads into more and more talk about WrestleMania XXVII. The 2011 Royal Rumble was the largest every Royal Rumble. 40 participants, enormously difficult, and it makes the people who starting in the first ten have a much more difficult time than any other Rumble in history. We watch the match, which the early story is dominated by CM Punk pre-pipebomb doing his New Nexus schtick (yeah, there was a new Nexus created because of how badly Cena squashed original Nexus, killing the Barrett/Taker match I mentioned above real bad, huh?), which John Cena ends as well, setting up for their future competition. And then we watch a bunch of guys waste time until the final five. It isn’t a great rumble, to be honest.
Now, why would I suggest Santino to win? Santino is a well-loved performer, mostly a joke, but well-loved. He was having a surprisingly fun and pretty good tag titles run, and don’t forget that he won the IC title in his debut some years back. While a joke, he’s always been a credible joke. Kind of like Dude Love. The guy is crazy and silly ... but is also Mick Foley, which means that Dude Love was someone to be reckoned with. Well, the Rumble ends with what looks like Del Rio winning, but he forgot about Santino, who rolls into the ring, incredibly afraid, but ready to deliver his finishing maneuver. The fans rally behind him like something insanely crazy, something unexpected. Except it could be expected, because fans love seeing people succeed, especially well-loved wrestlers, and especially seeing succeed upwards. And the place ERUPTS when Santino hits Del Rio with the Cobra.
Here is where we have two timelines. First, the real one, where Del Rio comes back, no-selling the Cobra and goes on to win the Rumble, then moves on to feud with Edge and lose at Mania, making the win pointless, and the build up to the feud pointless, and Del Rio never got any higher in his career than this moment. He was wasted money, and wasted time, as proven by how he is acting now in the real world.
But the second timeline! Where Santino, the unlikely and well-loved midcard babyface joke ends up doing the impossible! It shows how important the Royal Rumble is! It reminds viewers that you don't have to be a former champion to win the Royal Rumble. Ok, so I’m not suggesting Santino wins the big belt, not necessarily. But Wrestlemania XXVII was very not good. And evidence shows that Santino, even with his almost win, got over hugely with fans, as he was prominent in the Elimination Chamber in 2011 and the fans LOVED him there as the tag champ ... before being squashed quickly in a five minute match.
Imagine if instead of being wasted in that Chamber PPV and then a one and a half minute Wrestlemania match, imagine if Santino even just had a singles match against Del Rio for the right to the Mania match that year? Or instead of the Miz’s ridiculous feud with Jerry the King Lawler at the Chamber PPV, Santino was tricked by some heel into using his opportunity early and the Miz did an even bigger heel thing to retain at the Elimination Chamber? There are so many ways it COULD have gone. But the way it did go was just terrible.
The Wrestling Retribution Project - 2011 to 2012Jessel: This ... this one is hard to talk about. You see, a kickstarter was created for what was originally titled the Wrestling Revolution Project. Created by Jeff Katz, who has a background in both film and wrestling, the idea was to take the professional wrestling product and apply to it the writing techniques of television, in particular the season arc. He crafted a 16-episode season, which included a double-sized season finale that acted as the "PPV" for the WRP, then hired a bunch of great indy and former WWE wrestlers, created awesome characters, got his kickstarter funded, and filmed it. And by all accounts, the entire thing was filmed to completion. And then ...
Jeff Katz fell off the face of the earth. Not literally of course, but he, and this project, have both just ... all but disappeared. Not a lot of reasons are given for why. Some have called Katz a criminal, stealing all the money and not distributing the product, though I have a hard time believing that. I have a very hard time believing that, in fact. I was a proud member of the fan base for this product. I had conversation with Katz about it personally. I was the liason for my wrestling forum at the time, posting the information and keeping up on it. I was as involved as an outside source could be to the product, and I just don't believe that he did that.
It has been stated on at least one website that Katz was cheated, and all the distribution money was taken, leaving him with a bunch of filmed and partially edited footage, but no way to get it out to people. Seems possible. It also should be known that Katz just absolutely left his online presence. He was having personal problems, and even looked to be getting things fixed with a name change on twitter from KatzMoney or some such to KatzLives. But he has since ... disappeared.
Some of the wrestlers involved have been able to put the unfinished footage online. You can find at least two matches and one solid promo from the show, and perhaps even more if you looked a little deeper on youtube. It isn't finished, it is in standard definition, and ... it just isn't good enough. But it is hard to judge an abandoned unfinished product on what little we have.
The most important thing about this failing and missing isn't the matches themselves. It is the conceit and promise for the future it could have created. A world where wrestlers were considered actors instead of contracted athletes, which means SAG cards for each of them. A world where instead of 4 shows a week, with a 5th at least once a month for their PPV, we have writers actually crafting full stories that have a beginning, middle, and end. A world where innovation creates a new style, a new way to watch professional wrestling. Something that could live on in people's homes, as well as potentially become a challenger to how the only big company around now does it.
It is not only a wasted opportunity, as I still semi-patiently, semi-hopefully wait for WRP to be completed, but it is a wasted change in the industry that has been monopolized since 2001.
Goldberg v. Ryback - ???Jessel: Lenny has this and the next one covered, it seems. Even if ... when was this ever going to happen? Or is this another fantasy booking?
Lenny: Goldberg has gone to the internets and said plenty of time that he'd wrestle again if the right deal and money and cash and flow and dough and for his kid and you're next and whatever and stuff! Just DO IT, Goldberg! And just do it against Ryback!
Feed him Goldberg!
Jessel: In the idea of fairness, I would just like to point out the amazing reception Ryback got recently in his hometown, which was Goldberg chant-less. Also, the Big Guy cuts a really great stoned-out-of-his-head promo in the hospital as he gets himself taken care of.
Lenny: When Ryback can put Goldberg out then Ryback can use those chants against the crowd and skyrocket back to the top (where he belongs). There really shouldn't be anything stopping this match from happening but McMahon not wanting to pay Goldberg whatever amount Goldberg seems to want. Which probably makes sense, but still pisses me off.
Brock Lesnar v. Daniel Bryan - Summerslam 2014Lenny: People say this was the match that was supposed to happen before the unfortunate and IMPOSSIBLE TO HEAL FROM Daniel Bryan injury. I'm kinda on the fence about this match, though. Would it have been booked like Cena/Brock? In that case, no, I don't want to see it. That was a beautiful match (unless the rematch goes horribly with Cena looking amazing) and made Cena look like he's never looked before. But if it would've been a real story about how the style and heart of Daniel Bryan had to overcome a new kind of beast (not like the Authority that cheats, but a man that's just strong) to keep his title? That's a hell of a story and I'd love to watch that. Their styles are very different, but very similar with the focus on submission and suplexes. It wouldn't be about "Never Give Up" and "Do it for the fans!" like it is for Cena. It would be about Daniel Bryan looking for a way to out-wrestle Lesnar. That's a hell of a task and would make a hell of a match.
Jessel: I'm still holding out hope that it is a match they can still do down the line, maybe WrestleMania XXXI. But who knows. That is the future. And we do not know what it holds.
I have to thank Lenny and Michael for helping me here. If you can't tell, we each had an era or a wrestler or two that got stuck in our craw, and in putting this whole thing together, we didn't have a single overlap in thoughts. And there are so many more stories out there of other matches that could have been, other dream matches that might have happened but didn't. Hopefully soon I'll get us together again and we can talk wrestling again. Leave some suggestions below if you have ideas. For now, I am tired of editing all four of these in one day, so I'm going to be done.
Have a suggestion for another wrestling top or a different Arbitrary Numbers you'd like to see myself and my friends cover? Let me know in the comments. See you tomorrow for something different!