At Starrcade 1996 we saw the culmination of the first mini feud in the NWO age with the newly christened Hollywood Hogan against his former rival Roddy Piper, but in different roles. This match is pointed out by fans because something seems to missing as the WCW Title wasn't on the line. Piper would win the match using the sleeper hold, but this time around we will be looking at what it would've been like if Piper took the title in this match. Now I know that based on the image of WCW at this time Piper would've never won the title, but then again with Hogan being champion would it be that hard to believe.
Starting at Starrcade Piper would capture the World Title leaving the biggest event of the year on an interesting note, because we would have a new World Champion. On Nitro the next day the feud continues between Piper & Hogan, but with a twist this time around as The Giant brings up his guaranteed title shot from World War III. This brings some tension within the ranks of the NWO and Giant getting Hogan's face, but Piper would arrive to play up the tension within the ranks. It is announced that on first edition of Nitro in 1997 Hogan will get rematch for the World Title. This rematch would end with The Giant costing Hogan his title shot to get him out of the way and get his fair title shot.
The actions of The Giant though would get him removed from the New World Order. Giant is bringing up his place in the company and how the previous generation have held him back; now he begins to refer to himself as a "lone wolf." Now in keeping with reality DDP would start his feud with the NWO on the same night he did in real life to begin grooming him to take Piper's spot.
At Sold Out in January a masked man would cost Giant for the WCW World Title raising the question who was under the mask. This draws the focus away from Piper and places it on The Giant and the mask man as well as Dallas Page's ascension up the card. In the build to Superbrawl we see Piper issue an open challenge to anyone who has never won a World Title before and the challenge is accepted by Arn Anderson. The build for this match would be more of a classic approach to allow this match to be different then the other matches set for the show.
Following Superbrawl and another successful title defense for Piper we find out that he has a new #1 contender and it is Hulk Hogan. At the event Hogan would defeat The Giant to become Piper's next challenger setting up their match at Uncensored. This brings things full circle and allows us to keep the plan set for Starrcade with the face-off between Hogan and Sting still in the works. After a short title reign Hogan would defeat Piper for the World Title and the feud with Sting would officially be set in motion tonight with Starrcade in the in spotlight. Though this doesn't change much it does breath a little bit of fresh air into the WCW product heading into 1997.
Looking at the current standing of wrestling one name that has kicked himself to a new level and in many cases he has hit the potential many fans expected for him. At one point Nick Aldis was looked at as a future star for TNA wrestling and even won a World Title for the company, but his run was extremely lackluster and really reflected the status of the company at the time. At the time of his title reign TNA was in a period of transition as a number of long time employees were heading for the door. In reality Nick was the chosen "golden boy" for the future of TNA, but never really brought stability to the promotion. This is exactly why I have chosen to rebook his title reign for Magnus:
So around this time AJ Styles had to vacate the TNA World Title due to a contract dispute and "walked out" on TNA wrestling. Dixie is out to announce "With the unforeseen circumstances of AJ Styles current contract we have decided to vacate the TNA World Title and announce a tournament to crown a new champion. This tournament will culminate in our special this coming December on Spike so we will crown a champion before the year is out." Magnus will be in the tournament and his first round match would be against Eric Young & Magnus would get the win. Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe, and Kurt Angle would also be a part of the tournament to add credibility to the goings on. Joe would defeat Mr. Anderson, Hardy would defeat Gunner.
Angle would arrive half-way through the show and pushes the tournament as a way to prove himself that he was still at the top of his game. Angle defeated Abyss in his first round match the show ends with Magnus staring down Kurt Angle. Next week Magnus explains his actions last week saying "I was trying to scout my competition and see if I can find an advantage before meet you in the ring." Angle respects the reason and says he will be ready to fight Magnus when that time comes. Bobby Roode, James Storm, Bully Ray, & Austin Aries would round out the tournament setting up Roode vs Joe, Aries vs Angle, Ray vs Hardy, Storm vs Magnus in round two.
On the Halloween edition Impact we saw Magnus against Storm, but Magnus would get "injured" in the match and he could be seen getting emotional after the match. At this point Magnus would be removed from television for the remainder of the year. The tournament would end with Samoa Joe defeating Austin Aries in the finals to win the World Title. This show would also be the first hype video talking about Magnus's recovery, but this is where he changes his name to Nick Aldis. In the recovery video Nick says "I would like to congratulate Samoa Joe on his victory, but to enjoy the championship for now, because I will be back."
This does mean that AJ Styles last match in the company would be against Samoa Joe instead of Magnus which I think would mean more due to their history. Nick would return in early February at the end of the February 6 edition of Impact Wrestling. Following week Nick arrives "Samoa Joe please join me in the ring." Joe is out and Nick says "First thing is first I want to personally congratulate you on the title victory (shakes hands) I want my shot though." The match would be set up for Lockdown in March and the build for the match would be tied into their past as a team.
"Two years ago Samoa Joe and I were a team and earned the TNA World Tag Team titles. Joe and I became friends, but we never really got a fair chance to meet in this ring. I enjoyed being Joe's partner, but the goal for everyone is to become the top champion I couldn't have asked for a better opponent for my first World Title shot." Both Nick & Joe are booked strong going into the event and this match would have a big fight feel. Even going to sit down interviews on both sides with Mike Tenay explaining what the match means to both Samoa Joe & Nick Aldis. Also Nick would explain why he chose to change his name.
The week before Lockdown it is announced that Samoa Joe & Nick Aldis will compete in a NO-DQ contest to make them stick out as a different match then every other on the show. I know that the feud should sell the match, but when every match is in a Cage I don't think that this match belongs in that type of gimmick match. At Lockdown Nick Aldis defeats Samoa Joe to win the TNA World Title after grabbing his tights. Following the match Joe wanted an explanation and this when Nick's big push would happen. However, I would officially turn him heel until the rematch was signed for Slammiversary and this is when I would put them in a Cage.
Overall I think that Nick Aldis needed to change his name from Magnus as I think that name was a terrible name for a main event talent. I do believe that Nick needed to leave the company to really find his potential, but I also think that not having a major PPV win for his title opportunity it hurt him. The old saying goes that "The title doesn't make man and the man doesn't make the title," but at the time Magnus won his title he wasn't ready for the win. The best comparison I can make is that Ethan Carter won the title from Angle and that really helped with his credibility, but the build did too; which is something that the Magnus win didn't have.
In July 1998 one of the biggest moments in WCW history happened at the Georgia Dome when Goldberg challenged Hulk Hogan for the WCW World Title. This moment would in some cases be one of the final major moments in the history of the company, but could it have changed things if Goldberg had been booked better after winning the title. The one thing that sticks out about Goldberg's title reign was the fact that he never was really treated like the World Champion. Following his victory Goldberg never really felt like he was on the same level of Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Sting, The Outsiders, Lex Luger, and others which is a shame. The company really missed out on having Goldberg go head to head with the established stars. But in hindsight that's what this series is for as I show how I would've changed the booking of his reign on top.
To start I wouldn't change much about his first defense against Curt Hennig as they had been feuding prior to his title win. The one thing about the match I would change is the length the match goes due to the belief I would have that Curt could carry Goldberg for at least 10-12 minutes in a competitive match. In my opinion this shows that Goldberg would now be facing a higher level of talent then he had before his title victory. I would also start holding Goldberg off some episodes of Nitro similar to how the company had been booking Hulk Hogan as a way to make Goldberg's appearances on free television more special.
The focus of my attention would be on Road Wild & Fall Brawl 1998 which highlights how poor Goldberg's title reign was booked. At Road Wild he was booked in a battle royal which included every NWO member & then he wasn't even booked on the Fall Brawl PPV. Looking at the Fall Brawl event I ponder the reason the World Champion wasn't featured on the show even though the main event was a number one contender match. In my opinion Hulk Hogan should've gotten a rematch against Goldberg at Road Wild with Kevin Nash getting involved causing a DQ. Which would've elevated Goldberg having him included with Hogan & Nash as well as elevating the NWO vs NWO storyline due to Hogan actually being included unlike he was in real life.
Then moving forward to Fall Brawl instead of having the match they did I would put a triple threat match between Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan, and Goldberg for the WCW World Title. As far as the number one contender I would've taken Stevie Ray out of the match and instead had a Six Pack Challenge for the #1 contender honors. Moving forward I'd either go with Lex Luger or Diamond Dallas Page to fight Goldberg as both men could help Bill to a good match in my opinion. As a way to help Goldberg's credibility as a main eventer I would have him against Luger in sort of a passing of the torch match which would have Goldberg take Luger's spot in the main event. I would save Goldberg vs Page, because I think that could have a longer story arch then rushing a match between the two for Halloween Havoc like they did.
Overall though booking things the way I did would put more emphasis on the NWO vs NWO storyline which Hogan should've been a part of from the start. His involvement in that story could've been the way to send him down the card a little out of the main event allowing Goldberg to hold the spot for a few months to see if he could sell as the face of the company. Leading the company Goldberg could start with Kevin & Hogan, then move to Luger, Hart, Sting, Flair, the possibilities were there, but WCW didn't explore them. The other door that was opened by how I would've booked was the seeds were planted for Kevin & Goldberg to revisit a feud at a later date which could've been Starrcade.
I think I would've went with Kevin Nash vs Hulk Hogan at the event in sort of a blow-off to their Wolfpac vs Black n White feud, but Nash vs Goldberg could've worked too. However, if Nash vs Hogan was the match then there is no doubt that Ric Flair would've been my selection to challenge Goldberg at Starrcade. The reason being this was the biggest event of WCW's year and should've been the culmination of Goldberg's main event ascension as his match vs Flair would've been his longest match yet going 20-22 minutes and other than Bret Hart I don't think anyone could've helped Goldberg to that long of a match and made it look good. Unfortunately thinking about these possibilities tells the entire story of what could've happened had the WCW not just had tunnel vision to mediocrity of the time.
One term that I really started hearing listening to the "What Happened When" podcast featuring long time WCW/Jim Crockett Promotions Announcer Tony Schivone & Conrad Thompson. The term that Tony so often uses is playing the "Monday Morning Quarterback" which is basically looking back in hindsight to what you would've done differently. Fact is that this concept of thinking really goes hand and hand with the wrestling business, because not only do those within the business talk about what could've been done differently when talking about a specific situation, but fans do as well.
The reason that this series has come together is because it is sort of different then most series as it will take short term approach to a specific event. Comparing this series to the old How I Would Book it series that took a more long term outlook to a specific situation as oppose to a more short term approach like that this series will handle.
Overall I don't think that this series could actually be anything more than a monthly series which is why it will be in this section along with the "Too Little Too Late series. For a while now I've been trying to figure out a new monthly series to put together and I am hoping that this is that series to fill the void left behind by the Superstar Recall and Moment in Time Series. I will be putting together the first edition of the series this month before it is over as sort of a test run for this new series.