Sometimes, it only takes one single match to make or break a wrestler’s career. Every wrestler has that one match that made fans re-think how they were looking at that wrestler. Batista started putting on much better matches after feuding with the Undertaker. ‘Taker did the same after wrestling Bret Hart. John Cena really improved after competing against Shawn Michaels. Each one of these wrestlers has that one match or that one opponent that helps skyrocket their careers even further.
Then, there are the bad matches. There are some feuds that drag wrestlers down so much that their careers risk getting completely ruined. The Undertaker was fed one immobile monster after another, and if it wasn’t for his gimmick being totally awesome, fans would’ve rejected those plodding matches completely.
Many top guys in WWE have had to face the Great Khali and in each match, he bored the audience with his immobility, bringing down whoever his opponent was. Countless times, we’ve seen Vince put two monsters together, blissfully unaware that everyone except for him liked the idea.
Sometimes, WWE changes match-ups at the last minute, hoping to surprise the fans with something unexpected. On other occasions, WWE’s creative team decides on one wrestler combination, only to change it because it doesn’t fit, or something. This is why there are so many ‘what if scenarios’ regarding theoretical wrestler combinations in WWE.
While many of them could’ve (and would’ve) put many butts in the seats, there are just as many, if not more, that would’ve not only kept those same seats empty, but could’ve ruined the careers of the wrestlers involved.
Here are 12 such hypothetical match-ups, where one or both of the wrestlers involved could’ve experienced career suicide if these match-ups were actually executed.
12 The Ultimate Warrior Vs. The Undertaker - An Extended Program During The Early 1990s
Admittedly, these two did have a high-profile Bodybag match in 1991, but their rivalry was relatively short. If it wasn’t, you can guarantee that one of these guys’ career could’ve been severely damaged as a result. On one hand, Vince was trying to protect the Undertaker by having him lose as rarely as possible, and by booking him as a supernatural force that didn’t feel pain. That wouldn’t have meshed well with Warrior’s booking, as he had a tendency to work only short matches consisting of a handful of power moves.
11 Ryback Vs. Goldberg
Ever since he debuted the new character, Ryback has been compared unfavorably to Goldberg, especially when he started using some of Goldberg’s signature moves. That has fueled speculation that these two men would eventually cross paths…and if they did, it would kill Ryback’s career.
10 JBL Vs. Kurt Angle - 2004
JBL’s WWE Championship reign came about because WWE lacked top heels on SmackDown, mainly because so many top guys couldn’t carry the brand. But imagine if Kurt Angle, who was injured at the time, wasn’t, and worked on the roster in 2004, there’s no way that Bradshaw would’ve been WWE Champion.
Angle was better than JBL in every way. He was a better wrestler (well, technically, Angle’s a better wrestler than everybody), he was better at playing a heel (whether serious or wacky), he was better at portraying a patriotic character (as seen by his smug Olympic hero gimmick when he debuted), and he was a better draw. If Angle worked the main event picture instead of JBL, SmackDown’s main event picture would’ve been so much better. Angle vs. Eddie, Angle vs. Undertaker, Angle vs. Booker T (sans cheesy sex-related gimmick), Angle vs. Cena; all of these matches would’ve been so much better than having JBL in them.
9 Kurt Angle Vs. Batista - During Batista's Time At The Top On SmackDown
Throughout the 2000's, Batista was pushed to the moon as a top guy, mainly because he looked like a beast. Though he looked menacing and had a devastating finisher, the key to Batista’s success was concealing his weaknesses, which were his lack of mat technique and chain grappling skills. If he were placed in a feud against someone who was more technically-sound than him, like Kurt Angle, it would’ve devastated his image as the top guy on SmackDown.
8 Randy Orton Vs. Batista - WrestleMania XXX
This was the original main event for WrestleMania XXX, before Daniel Bryan was added into the mix. If WWE went with this match-up as planned, the audience would’ve completely rejected the match, destroying Batista’s return in the process. The idea of Batista being presented as a returning, conquering babyface was universally rejected, and Batista did much better as an arrogant heel, anyway.
7 Chyna Vs. Any Diva Post-2001
WWE put a considerable effort into making Chyna look like a million dollars, but that only went as far as her looks. In the ring, Chyna was a decent worker at best, and after WrestleMania X-Seven, there was a gradual shift in women’s wrestling. That transition towards actual female grapplers with technical skill allowed women like Trish, Lita, Victoria, Mickie James, and a slew of other women to come in and succeed as athletes and as workers.
6 Braun Strowman Vs. The Undertaker - WrestleMania 32
Up until fairly recently, this was the rumored direction for WrestleMania 32. Had WWE gone ahead with it, it’s likely that it would’ve been the worst match on the card, and would’ve doomed Braun Strowman’s career (because nothing, NOTHING can harm the Undertaker’s reputation at this point). It would’ve been a fan’s worst nightmare, seeing ‘Taker wrestle a monstrous wrestler who’s still very inexperienced in the ring, especially since the Undertaker’s best matches at ‘Mania have been against so-called ‘workhorses’ like HBK and CM Punk.
5 Goldberg Vs. The Undertaker
When Goldberg appeared the night after WrestleMania XIX, the fan response was thunderous. A year later he was gone, after being booked horribly when compared to how he was presented in WCW. It didn’t matter who his opponent was; WWE wanted him to work longer, more technical matches, which was anathema to the juggernaut he was in WCW.
4 CM Punk Vs. John Cena - Money In The Bank 2011 - If Cena Won
After his famous ‘pipebomb’ promo in June 2011, CM Punk was the hottest thing in WWE. He had blurred the lines of script and reality in a major way, and he was building momentum towards a WWE Championship against John Cena and MITB 2011.
Now imagine if Punk lost, in his hometown, after all that work.
3 A. J. Styles Vs. John Cena - Early 2016
It’s a good thing that A.J. Styles’ first opponent in WWE has been Chris Jericho. He’s considered a part-timer who can come and go while still maintaining a degree of respectability, even if he loses marquee matches. He’s the perfect opponent for Styles to face at a major event, instead of someone like John Cena.
2 Brock Lesnar Vs. John Cena - Circa 2005
Imagine if Brock Lesnar never left WWE, and he remained as the promotion’s top guy. There’s no way John Cena would’ve achieved the legendary status he has today. If Lesnar stayed with WWE, he would’ve been the one to carry the company until at least 2008 (because it would’ve been uncertain if Lesnar would’ve thrived in the wholly PG era of 2008 to 2014). During that period, he would’ve acquired countless titles and would’ve vanquished many opponents, including John Cena.
1 Sting Vs. The Undertaker
This was the dream match that everyone wanted to see, without taking into consideration what it would’ve done to both men’s careers. When Sting signed with WWE, it was assumed, and even hoped, that he’d face ‘Taker at WrestleMania. That match-up posed serious problems, the most obvious of which being that both men were so late into their careers that there’s no way they could’ve put on a good match without it being heavily gimmicked.
We all saw how Sting’s first match went; it required heavy interference for it to work. Moreover, determining a winner in that case would be very hard. Would WWE allow Sting, the franchise of WCW, to defeat the Undertaker, the franchise of WWE, at WWE’s flagship event? Highly unlikely. Sting wouldn’t have been an ideal opponent for the Undertaker, and so the match would’ve been poor. ‘Taker would’ve won (because, Vince McMahon), and Sting’s WWE career would’ve floundered thereafter.
Sources: www.wwe.com ; www.reddit.com/r/SquaredCircle
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