We all like to think things are fated to happen. Austin 3:16, Undertaker’s streak and The Rock’s success are all a foregone conclusion. Or were they? Today we’ll look at 5 famous storylines that almost didn’t happen.
Austin 3:16: Everyone knows the story. There was a guy nicknamed “Rainbow Man” who used to hold up signs that said John 3:16 at various sporting events and became a minor celebrity. Years later, after winning the King of the Ring, Steve Austin quoted that saying to Jake Roberts, portraying a born-again Christian, the line “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass.” From then on Austin 3:16 became Steve Austin’s iconic saying and is still one of the best selling shirts of all time. All of this however almost didn’t happen.
First of all, Jake Roberts was really a born-again Christian at this point and did not like using it as part of a storyline. Had he known what Austin was going to say HE probably would have nixed it as blasphemy and had the pull to do it. Also, Austin was not supposed to win the King of the Ring, HHH was. No win no speech. But because of the Curtain Call incident (see last week’s article) HHH was overlooked in favor of Steve Austin and a legendary phrase was born.
The Rock: Arguably one of the most popular WWE superstars ever, is The Rock. However, instead of the mega success he became, he was almost a failed babyface. The Rock started out in the USWA as generic good guy Flex Kavana (a name that would kill most wrestling careers dead on the spot) they teamed him with Bart Sawyer (named because he resembled Bart Simpson….no really) and they won the USWA tag team titles to no acclaim.
The WWE signed him though and he debuted as “The Blue Chipper” Rocky Maivia. It is hard to put into words how much people hated this gimmick and Rocky. “Die, Rocky, Die!” was a popular refrain in every arena. He was hated as much as John Cena and Roman Reigns combined. It would take a heel turn and some growing of his mic skills to turn him into the legend he became.
The Streak: From Wrestlemania VII to Wrestlemania XXX the Undertaker had 21 wins at Wrestlemania, going undefeated in what became known as “the streak.” The streak became such a huge presence that often ending the streak was considered a bigger prize than winning the WWE title, but the streak almost ended several times. Over the years many people were mentioned as possibilities for ending the streak but, reportedly, the closest it came was at Wrestlemania XXI where Undertaker was teaming with Kane against Heidenreich and Snitsky.
And Undertaker and Kane were slated to lose, In fact, the streak would have ended had Kane not gotten injured a week before and Randy Orton lost to the Undertaker instead. Imagine the horror had Heidenreich and Snitsky ended Undertaker’s streak. Heidenreich and Snitsky would both fade out of the WWE not long after and thankfully for fans everywhere, this match never occurred.
Kane replaced: Firstly, Kane was not the first wrestler to be called that. The Undertaker debuted as Cain the Undertaker. Second, Kane went through a number of changes, both speaking and not speaking, but in the mid-2000’s he was thinking of retiring. On Soap Operas if an actor retires they just get a new actor to take his place and that was the plan here.
Luke Gallows played a 2nd Kane in a storyline where he was supposed to win and replace Glen Jacobs as Kane letting him retire. Gallows would wear the same attire Jacobs had during his initial run back in the 90’s. Often taunting Jacobs and trying to do what he could to get in his head.
However, the crowd never quite got behind Gallows and Jacobs began to have cold feet about his retirement so Jacobs quickly defeated Gallows instead killing the storyline dead.
Kenny Dykstra and Mickie James: Kenny Dykstra was slated to be a mid-level star. The Spirit Squad had broken up. Nicky had already been repackaged as Dolph Ziggler and Kenny was getting the same treatment. Kenny at the time was dating Mickie James which would not be a big deal but she was cheating on him with another wrestler. Normally, it’s the cheating wrestler who gets punished BUT according to Kenny, the cheating wrestler was John Cena and Kenny was slowly pushed out of the company.
After, John was done with Mickie, and she took it less than gracefully, she too was punished with the “Piggy James” character and a slow push out the door. Several years later Mickie would return to the company and is having a bit of a career resurgence. Kenny would never reach the potential that he was prospected to have.
Success and failure in the WWE can happen in the snap of a finger. Had the stars not lined up there may have been no Steve Austin or The Rock to help the WWE during the Attitude Era and instead of RAW on Monday’s perhaps we’d be watching Nitro.