Since his debut on the main roster many people have wondered if the "Bulgarian Brute" would be able to land the top spot in the company. Based on the heat that he was garnering upon his arrival in the company some thought it was only a matter of time. However, things began to change and much like so many after him Rusev hit the "dark ages" of his time on the main roster. His "dark ages" saw lackluster feuds with John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, and Lana this really derailed all of the momentum that he built since his arrival on the main roster. This forced the WWE to really start over with Rusev and rebuild him from the ground up which really didn't happen until the launch of #RusevDay.
Now I don't think that anyone including WWE creative could've predicted the success of #RusevDay and just how popular both Rusev and Aiden English has become from this gimmick. Once this gimmick started to take off the fans immediately insisted that either Rusev should capture the World or Tag Team titles to capitalize on the insane amount of popular of his gimmick. However, thus far the WWE has yet to much with Rusev and his incredibly successful gimmick which has left fans including myself very puzzled. This one is very different then most other things I have talked about with this series because they never actually made an attempt to push him like we have seen before.
Overall though seeing AJ Styles fight Rusev for the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules was a sight that many of us have been waiting for and the feud getting more build then AJ's other feud this year was icing on the cake. In a way this title shot for Rusev really gave fans of his current gimmick his future in WWE a shred of hope that the "Bulgarian Brute" could become a top star in the company before his future becomes "Too Little Too Late."
Up until the modern era many wrestling companies always had a very deep tag team division with a lot of teams not only staying together for years but some stayed together for their entire careers. During the 1990's one the top teams who would spend time everywhere was Rick and Scott Steiner. The Steiner Brothers would get their big break in the NWA/WCW really taking off following the name change in the late 1980's. The brothers would leave for WWE in 1992 but wouldn't stay that long for whatever reason spending sometime in ECW before heading back to the WCW. Both Rick and Scott would remain with the company until the end of the promotion in 2001 spending time as the top flagship team in WCW before they'd finally go their separate ways.
At Superbrawl 1998, Scott would turn his back on his brother to join the New World Order and even though at the time this was a special moment the company did nothing with it. Even though after the turn Scott would stick out from the pack with his look changing and landing Buff Bagwell as a manager. However, it took a long time for them to give him a singles chance even a step above his previous position. The one thing I will point out is that the company seemed to always want to build talent from the ground up like they did with Booker, T and Steiner. Before he got his massive position into the Main Event he would have runs as both Television and United States champion.
Looking back it wasn't until late 2000 when the company would finally give Steiner the opportunity to lead the company. Now don't get me wrong he wasn't the easiest person to work with based on all the stories talent has told but there is no doubt that he was over and could've been given a shot sooner. In my opinion Scotty's reign with the World Title was a highlight for the end of the WCW and could've helped the company boost the ratings a little bit. I think that Scott would've been a breath of fresh air for the company and the fans which would have also given some fresh matches for the company. However, this was really a little "Too Little Too Late" for things to have changed.
Starting his career in 1982 crossing between both Jim Crockett Promotions and All Star Wrestling in Canada. Rude wouldn't find his footing in wrestling for the next two years really until he returned to Memphis in 1984 and found the gimmick that would make his career. Upon his return to Memphis he would find the "Ravishing" gimmick that would make him famous, and it would start with him feuding with Jerry Lawler in his never ending rivalry as a hired gun for Jimmy Hart. Rude would then move around a little more acting sort of like a freelancer spending time in CWF, World Class, and Jim Crockett Promotions before finding a long term home in the WWE. Though his run with the company didn't last a ridiculous amount of time his stay with the WWE was his longest run with a company up to that time which was about three years.
Rude would have many of his famous feuds as a member of the company including his feuds with Warrior, Piper, and Jake Roberts. Fact is I do believe that even though he might have only held the title once he did go down as one of the best Intercontinental Champions in history. In October 1991, Rude would be apart of one of the most shocking moments in pre-Hogan WCW with Paul Heyman introducing him as his new client. Rude would then become the leader of the Dangerous Alliance along with Bobby Eaton, Larry Zbyszko, Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, and Madusa, this stable is one that most fans call underrated cause of the amount of talent in the group. One of Rick's highlights in WCW was winning the WCW International Heavyweight title which was formerly the NWA World Title prior to the NWA with drawing from WCW. Rude durting his career would be a multiple time International Champion prior to his retirement in 1994.
Rude's career would be cut down in his prime during a match with Sting for the International title when he caught a flying Sting but caught his back on one of the raised mats at ringside. Rude would hurt his back and it would actually end his career this would take him away from the spotlight for the foreseeable future. In 1997 it would be a marquee year for Rude as he was the most valued asset in wrestling working for each of the big three at one point or another. At first he would show up in early 1997 with Extreme Championship Wrestling starting as a masked man and then ending up as a color commentator with Joey Styles. Rude would then become the first and only talent to work for both WCW and WWE at the same time choosing WCW over WWE after the Montreal Screw job.
In the Spring of 1999 rumors started popping up that Rick Rude could be making his way back into the ring for the first time in six years. According to Eric Bischoff it was a part of Rude's Lloyd's London Settlement that stopped him ever returning to the ring. However, I am unsure that without Rick updating his gimmick if he would've done as he did the first time around. It is also possible that Rude's in ring skill would've fallen off to the point of being nowhere close to where it was before. I know it is tough to predict what could've have happen but I just think that at the height of the Monday Night Wars an in ring return for the "Ravishing One" was a little "Too Little Too Late."
This might be something that nobody who watched the WWE during the "Ruthless Aggression" era would've expected just based on how easily replaceable Doug Basham was when he was on the main roster. However, first of all you need to remember that the WWE did have developmental territories before NXT and one of them was OVW which was the territory that gave the company a number of top stars. Unfortunately though a lot of the talent that called OVW home never was able to catch on within the ranks of main roster WWE for one reason or another and one of those names was Doug Basham.
During his time down OVW the man once known as The Machine would spend time as both the top heel and top face in the company. This all would change though when as Jim Cornette said in an interview "One night my top heel came in the door and he was bald." As the story goes they had him shave his head to see what he would look like bald before he came up the main roster mind you at that point Doug had a full head of hair. Just think about this in OVW they had Doug fighting under mask against the likes of Nick Dinsmore, Rob Conway, and Danny Basham trying to spoil the opportunities these good guys were getting within the WWE as far as tryouts and other opportunities go. The main layer of this angle was Doug had a falling out with his uncle Danny Davis and left wrestling only to return on the mask after becoming spiteful of those mentioned above. Now compare this to his first storyline on the main roster where he and Danny had an S & M gimmick with Linda Miles as their handler.
Overall the Basham Brothers were a solid tag team and among the best in the division during the weakest points for the WWE's tag teams. But it is hard not to wonder how things would've been different had the WWE saw the talent and potential Doug had to be a singles competitor as oppose to wasting him within a placeholder tag team. Honestly, I think that seeing Doug's success in the lower level I think that Doug could have be a stable mid card singles talent to add more depth to the WWE. I've seen a little bit of Doug's work at the time and he had potential but for some reason management didn't see it in him or didn't get the point of developmental at the time. Now some might point to Doug's short singles run following the split the Basham's had due to the draft, but I do think at that point it was a little "Too Little Too Late" for anything to really happen.
Looking back the last golden age of wrestling brought us a lot of great moments, but it also allowed for a lot of missed opportunities. During the war a lot of talent shifted between companies back and forth some multiple times and others one they switched they never went back. During the "Age of Attitude" a number of talent were unable to find their potential for one reason or another and one of those stars was Brian Pillman. From his time at the start of his career in Calgary to his move to North America as a member of World Championship Wrestling it didn't take fans long to realize just how talented the man then nicknamed "Flyin" was.
While a member of the WCW there were a number of opportunities for him to fulfill his untapped potential & become a top star in the wrestling business. Though Brian at this time was still on the younger side he was slowly bringing together all of his skills including incredible in ring skills and among the best on the microphone. According to the WCW Timeline: 1990 featuring Jim Cornette who spoke about Pillman and the planned push that was scrapped in 1990 following Sting's debilitating injury. After watching the DVD I firmly believe that if the angle would've have gone off the right way then Pillman would've likely become the World Champion & maybe that would've been enough to keep Flair in the WCW.
Before you think I am going to skip over his run in 1996 before heading to the WWF don't get me wrong it was a great run, but their was no way Pillman would've been World Champion. I am aware that it was around this time when Brian had the tragic motorcycle crash, but also not long before that he was the most intriguing talent in the business after the "I respect you booker man" stunt. However, due the shortsighted nature of that angle and Bischoff not working out Pillman's return before he left the legs were cut off the angle soon after it got going.
Either way though it is hard to say that Brian Pillman at one point or another wouldn't have or couldn't have been in the Main Event of WCW or WWF at a time. I will go out on a limb and say that had Brian not had the terrible accident I think he would've have finally had his feud with Steve Austin for the WWF Title. There is no doubt in my mind that Brian as the Loose Cannon in Attitude Era WWF would've have worked and done extremely well. But WCW coming to the realization of the talent they had and his arrival in the WWF was just a little "Too Little Too Late."
To continue what I started last month in taking situations that haven't happened yet but at this point seem unlikely to happen and talking about them instead of talking about things that have happened. Since his career kicked off John Cena has really been looked at a talent with a tremendous potential and thus far he has proven exactly that. Cena did start his career off very slow, but when it got going he very quickly became a top star within the company during a time in which the company really needed some new top talent. By the time Cena won his first World Title in 2005 he was something unlike anything else the company had in decades.
But now you look at things like the fact that Cena has been a good guy for over 15 years at this point and has pretty much also had the same gimmick for that time as well. For years internet fans have been begging the WWE to turn John Cena heel and allow the "franchise" of the company to not be a good guy for once. However, into his forties at this point the company has moved on from him and found their next "franchise" even though Roman is not on Cena's level it was time for him to be replaced. Even with this in mind it doesn't matter though that John will be able to turn heel at this point as he is part time player now and this makes it even tougher to flip him to the dark side.
Though there might be other ways at this point to be able to turn John heel it isn't extremely easy to turn heel a top star that has been a good guy. Keeping in mind the amount of members of the IWC that have been dreaming of Cena's heel turn I am not sure if at this point they'd care as much about the anticipated turn due to the ascension of Roman Reigns. At this point I think it is safe to assume that John will continue down the road of being the company guy until he leaves the WWE for Hollywood like many have before him.
Since his unwilling retirement a few years ago many fans have wanted Bryan to return to the ring and felt that if he is good enough to return he should be allowed to, and the WWE's doctor doesn't know anything. Either that or due to the companies current lawsuit against them from both CM Punk & other former employees this could make them want to avoid Bryan being in the ring if he is actually risking severe injury. At this point though most fans wonder if Daniel will leave the company and get back in the ring. However, I do think that if Daniel does return to the ring I don't think that he will leave the WWE or do I hope that he choses to stay just for his safety and WWE being able to best protect him.
With current rumors though it seems like the company is setting up a plan to allow them to protect themselves if Daniel does decide to leave. The current rumor is that the WWE will attempt to turn Daniel heel before his contract expires to try and "damage his mainstream appeal." However, I think that aligning him with Kevin & Sami Zayn if that is how they would turn him I don't think that would hurt him and could actually help keep him fresh. The reason that Bryan wouldn't be affected is because I believe that he would be looked at sort of a cool heel and not really an evil person especially compared to a McMahon.
Overall looking back at Daniel Bryan's tenure following his retirement and the fact that he really hasn't gotten off the idea of returning to the ring. This really has I would assume the WWE has wished that Bryan would drop the idea, but it just shows how little Bryan wanted to retire and that it wasn't his choice. Now do I think that Bryan will get back in the ring. I absolutely do think he will and it wont be in the WWE. Bryan being in a WWE ring again seems to be very unlikely, but the idea of seeing Bryan in the ring again is still likely.
Now this might be me grasping at straws but it also is sort of the point of this series. This really is one of the top memories for fans when it comes to the latter days of the European Championship title. For those who may not remember Al Snow would defeat Perry Saturn for the title back in August of 2000 on an episode of Smackdown. In the following weeks Snow would actually come out to different music and using flags from different European countries. This I feel like was Al Snow moving away from the "hardcore manic" and more to the comedic guy much like Mick Foley did when he started doing Socko.
Now don't get me wrong this actually did give new life to the European title that felt very weak & insignificant at this period of time. To the fans that didn't watch the WWE at this time the prestige of the European was looked at as lower then the current status of any WWE title. In my opinion before Al Snow's reign this title really could've been retired for good and nobody would've missed it. However, Al's run didn't change the fact that the WWE really didn't care about the title at this time and that it was only a matter of time before the title would be retired.
Though part of me feels as though they tried to get interest back into the title by giving Al a comedic run with the belt. However, the title at this point was dead and it was only a matter of time before it would retired. The problem with this title is that the WWE never cared about it even though this could've been a title that helped build new stars or give lower card talent something to work for a fight about. Either way giving someone a meaningful and interest drawing run with this title may have been a little "Too little too Late."
Following the end of both Extreme Championship Wrestling & World Championship Wrestling in the Spring of 2001 wrestling changed. The free agent pool and the independent circuit became a lot more populated and for the next year wrestling would be very different. Then in early 2002 both Ring of Honor and NWA-Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling would be founded. The best way to compare the companies, TNA went for the more known stars & ROH went for the lesser known and fresh talent. Names like Bryan Danielson, Homicide, Chris Daniels, and Low-Ki would make ROH home.
One other name that would help lead the early years of ROH is the man who would be the longest reigning ROH Pure Champion Nigel McGuinness. Nigel would become a household name for the company and would actually the lead company following the early departures of talent that would become famous for being in TNA. His title reign would actually land right behind Samoa Joe as the second longest reigning World Champion in the companies history.
Around 2009, Nigel would actually leave the company and head to TNA making his first attempt into a national company. However, an unfortunate medical condition would actually stop him from joining the WWE and it wasn't serious enough to stop him from joining TNA. Nigel would then flip his name to Desmond Wolfe and sadly his run wouldn't be for that long. But he would be the returning hero when he came back to ROH and took over the matchmaker duties from Jim Cornette.
Overall, I would say that the in-ring style that was common in ROH took its toll on Nigel especially after his World Title run. Now I am unsure if this did have anything to do with Nigel having to retire, but it would be very hard to believe if it didn't at least play a part. Either way in a way his arrival in TNA was sort of a little "Too little Too late."
One sight that most wrestling fans never thought they'd see is the franchise of WCW in a WWE ring and it seemed pretty likely that Sting would never be in WWE. But once again the saying actually came back that "You never know what will happen in WWE." Because in November 2014 at the Survivor Series the WWE shocked the world as The Stinger made his WWE debut. In a sight that most of us never thought would happen we were able to see Sting in a WWE ring at one of the big four events.
At the time that Sting first debuted a lot of fans were interested in seeing some dream matches finally happen. The number one match on every ones mind is that Sting could finally step into the ring with The Undertaker. However, things didn't work out that way due to well the WWE being the WWE in many fans eyes. Now do I think that Sting & Undertaker could've carried a good match together at Mania, honestly I do think so. But it would have to be kept in mind that both men were into their 50's and may not have been able to have the type of match they could've had in their prime.
Once Sting arrived in the WWE he was in his mid 50's and yes he was still Sting, but not in his prime. I think it was a lost opportunity that Sting didn't arrive in the WWE sooner; had Sting left TNA before 2014 and arrived in the WWE sooner he may have been closer to his prime and with more of an opportunity to see Undertaker & Sting. Is it unfortunate Sting did end up in the company I don't think so, but overall I don't think his run went as well as it could've been had he arrived sooner.
This section has to do with moments that may have happened a little "Too Little Too Late."