In this edition of the BUSTED OPEN segment here at Smark Out Moment, we take that theoretical situation and try to pick apart which stars would have been able to win a world title in WWE and which ones still just didn't have it in them to get the job done.
The first thing to mention is how virtually everybody would have seen a bump up in the hierarchy. The environment that was bred out of the second world title meant that there needed to be more main-eventers, which were taken from the previous "upper midcard" position. This watered down the midcard itself, as to fill in those missing ranks, people that would have only been jobbers or in tag teams were bumped up.
As such, we would have seen many more Intercontinental champions that probably didn't deserve the title and to compensate, the best midcard champions we had would have become world champions.
Anybody who graced the main event and came close to a world title, but couldn't officially pull it off, immediately need to be discussed. I think it goes without being said that three names that are guarantees are Mr. Perfect, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. Those three were in Hulk Hogan's era, where it was virtually impossible to give the belt to anybody else. Their credentials speak for themselves to the point where they don't even need to be discussed here in this article. Rick Rude, on the other hand, is someone that might need some more defense, even though many would probably agree with no hesitation that he would have held a main event title.
But who else could have become world champion in this era or in other times in WWE's history?
Another name that I feel is a guarantee is Razor Ramon. He was one of the absolute most popular people in the New Generation era and a multiple time Intercontinental champion. Bret Hart and Diesel took the spotlight when he was at his peak, but with a second world championship to go around, Scott Hall would have been entrusted to take that spot and make it his own.
Just as they traded the Intercontinental Championship back and forth, someone else who would have become champion and feuded with him over this title on a frequent basis would have been Jeff Jarrett. He and Vince McMahon never quite seemed to have gotten along famously over his tenure in the company, but his talent did not go unrecognized and he was one of the biggest heels for quite some time.
You can make the argument that Goldust had some potential toward the end of the New Generation era to break this barrier and become a world champion, but I'm not 100% convinced about this. Who I am convinced about, however, is Owen Hart. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if there were another world title in 1996, Owen Hart would have been a multiple time champion and could have possibly even surpassed Bret Hart's legacy when all was said and done.
After the New Generation era, there are three names that come to my mind that I could definitely see as world champions for at least one reign, if not more.
The British Bulldog is someone who was by no means The Rock on the microphone or Shawn Michaels in the ring, but he was a steadily consistent performer who had a popular enough following to more than make up for whatever shortcomings he had. If Batista could be given the championship multiple times based primarily on his size, Davey Boy Smith would have filled that role marvelously as well.
Two guys that I've always been fond of and would have liked to see hold a world title in this kind of environment are Ken Shamrock and Billy Gunn. The former is someone that I had rooted for as a kid to actually win the sole WWF Championship from Bret Hart back in 1997. I always thought Billy Gunn had more to offer as a singles competitor than he was ever given credit for, and "The One" Billy Gunn could have been a good opportunity to give him a title reign.
Would this have been a good idea?
While I think it is a shame that some of these guys (and others, too) never became a world champion in WWE, I'm not exactly sold on it being a better version of history than the one that we have already. For every gem on this list, we have to also play devil's advocate and remember that some bad apples would have become champion as well. Having two world titles led to a multi-time champion in Alberto Del Rio, a title reign for The Great Khali, and so forth. By that rationale, we may have ended up with Val Venis holding the World Heavyweight Championship, or possibly even The Mountie. Those two and many others were talented stars in their own right, but not world title material. Having one world champion strengthens the credibility of that champion, so that's a factor that cannot be denied.
There are plenty of other names that we'll be discussing on the next edition of the Smack Talk podcast, which will be embedded below once the episode has been recorded, so stay tuned and check that episode out!