10 moments when “Yes” could have been “No” in WWE history
The power of positive thinking has put Daniel Bryan in a tough spot lately.
The vegan grappler used to let out a confident “Yes!” to mark his many triumphs in the ring, but his contagious battle cry has caught on in the WWE Universe and left Bryan convinced he’s being mocked. Now, the bearded battler hears the WWE Universe’s copycat “Yes!” chants and instead chooses to cut off their agreeable calls with some negative reinforcement.
Of course, reaching the point of “No!” returns could lead the stubborn Bryan to some unintended consequences. From finding true love to fighting for a World Title, the power of “Yes!” tends to open a lot of doors in WWE. A Superstar can’t accept any challenge without responding in the affirmative to the invitation, right?
As proof of what Bryan could miss out on while ramping up his “No!” campaign, consider these 10 moments from WWE history in which accentuating the negative would have destroyed any chance of a Superstar realizing a positive outcome.
The Match Made in Heaven
“Miss Elizabeth, will you marry me?”
The “First Lady of Wrestling” waited quite a while for her longtime beau, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, to finally pop that question. From fending off George “The Animal” Steel to witnessing his first WWE Title victory, Miss Elizabeth dutifully and willingly made herself the one constant in Savage’s formative years in WWE, enduring his volatile temper and jealous behavior along the way. So when she came to Savage’s rescue following his Retirement Match at WrestleMania VII, the WWE Universe could see that Miss Elizabeth stayed by his side not out of duty or loyalty, but because these two kindred spirits were fated to one day join together in matrimony.
Unless, of course, Miss Elizabeth had chosen to decline Savage’s proposal. How would things in their storied career together have wound up if the elegant debutante kept things strictly platonic with the man who once shocked the world by choosing her as his manager? Would Savage have still found the confidence for a second tour of duty in the squared circle? And could the WWE Universe believe in true love if The Match Made in Heaven had never taken place?
The Undertaker reuniting with Paul Bearer
When The Undertaker reunited with his longtime manager, Paul Bearer, in 1997, it wasn’t because The Deadman wanted the ghostly character back in his corner. Bearer, who famously turned his back on his longtime protégé during the Boiler Room Brawl at SummerSlam 1996, blackmailed the supernatural Superstar into renewing acquaintances or risk having his deepest, darkest secrets revealed to the WWE Universe.
How might history have changed if The Phenom chose to say no to Bearer’s blackmail attempt? Considering that Bearer ultimately revealed the secret — the existence of Kane — to the WWE Universe, could The Undertaker have broken the news himself and possibly recruited The Big Red Monster to his side? And given that Bearer’s reunion with his legendary pupil ultimately led to the formation of the Ministry of Darkness (and later The Corporate Ministry), how strong could that dark alliance have become if The Undertaker had kept Kane on his side instead of as a chief rival?
Reinstating The Second City Saint
Unlike his unrelenting rivalry with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, all WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon needed to do about CM Punk following The Straight Edge Superstar’s infamous “pipe bomb” was ignore him. Punk felt empowered because his contract with the company was reaching its end, but his words had earned him a suspension designed to silence The Second City Saint into quietly going away.
Then, John Cena interceded and inspired Mr. McMahon to bring Punk back for his title opportunity against the Cenation leader at Money in the Bank 2011. If the WWE Chairman allowed Cena’s pleas to fall on deaf ears, did that also pose a way out of seeing Punk send the competitive ranks into chaos by winning the WWE Title and departing the company with it? Moreover, if Mr. McMahon had held his ground, would The Second City Saint ever become the WWE Champion?
Creating the Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection
Faced with the prospect of having to face The Undertaker & Big Show simultaneously, The Rock agreed to let Mankind join him in battle for one night only on Aug. 30, 1999. However, their alliance proved to be championship caliber as The People’s Champion & Mick Foley defeated The Unholy Alliance that evening to claim the World Tag Team Titles and gave birth to a groundbreaking partnership that came to be known as the Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection.
Of course, The Brahma Bull needed to bury the hatchet with his longtime rival to even allow the unlikely combination to occur. Considering that he originally challenged The Deadman & The World’s Largest Athlete to a Handicap Match that night, what might have transpired if The Rock instead chose to face the monolithic Superstars alone? Would saying “no” to Mankind’s offer have put The Most Electrifying Man in All of Entertainment on a path to his own oblivion that fateful night in 1999, thus denying the WWE Universe of The Rock’s rivalry with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and his “Once in a Lifetime” clash with John Cena?
Choosing the championship over a comrade
By putting his World Heavyweight Title aspirations ahead of his former WWE Tag Team Championship partner at WWE Bragging Rights 2009, Rey Mysterio cost himself a lot more than his friendship with Batista. Neither Superstar left the pay-per-view with the championship gold, but The Animal developed animosity for The Ultimate Underdog and sought to take it out in a brutal battle at Survivor Series 2009 — a battle that required the masked grappler to sign a hold-harmless agreement to absolve Batista of any lasting damage that he might inflict on The Biggest Little Man.
If Mysterio resigned himself to Batista winning the World Title at Bragging Rights and instead chose to help his friend seal the victory, would that have been enough to save their friendship as well? Did the Master of the 619 need to endure The Animal’s brutal beating at Survivor Series, which included three Batista Bombs and a ride on a stretcher from ringside?
Career vs. Streak
At the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania, Shawn Michaels gave everything he had in hopes of ending The Undertaker’s undefeated streak on The Grandest Stage of Them All. While he came up short, The Showstopper received an invitation to try again at WrestleMania XXVI on one condition — he had to put his own career on the line in the rematch.
“Mr. WrestleMania’s” iconic career came to a close in the thrilling Career vs. Streak Match, but did it have to end that way? What if Michaels refused to accept The Deadman’s stipulation and lived to fight another day? And what would have filled the void in WWE history if one of its greatest battles between two of the most influential competitors to ever grace The Showcase of the Immortals never happened?
Championship gold for sale
“Everybody’s got a price” was the mantra of “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, who never hesitated to throw cash at an obstacle to overcome it. That strategy shocked the WWE Universe during The Main Event on Feb. 15, 1988, when DiBiase infamously bribed Andre the Giant into surrendering the WWE Championship after the 7-foot-4 WWE Hall of Famer defeated the reigning titleholder, Hulk Hogan.
However, the controversial move backfired due to WWE rules and regulations about the transfer of championship gold, which left DiBiase stripped of the title and Andre the Giant with one of the shortest WWE Championship reigns in WWE history. How would the events have transpired if Andre balked at DiBiase’s bribe and kept the title for himself? Should “The Million Dollar Man” instead thank his lucky stars that he never needed to challenge “The Eighth Wonder of the World” for the WWE Championship?
Officiating the Montreal Screwjob
“Bret screwed Bret,” proclaimed Mr. McMahon in defense of his notorious decision to conspire against Bret “Hit Man” Hart at Survivor Series 1997. Labeled the “Montreal Screwjob,” the WWE Chairman ensured that the reigning WWE Champion would lose the title in his home country of Canada to Shawn Michaels by ordering the referee to ring the bell prematurely and declare The Showstopper the winner.
However, the WWE Chairman still needed a co-conspirator to ensure the plot would perfectly unfold against The Excellence of Execution that night. While it likely would have cost him his career in WWE, did Earl Hebner need to follow orders? Could he have denied Mr. McMahon’s wishes by calling the match down the middle until a winner was decided? And if Hart ultimately won, what path would The Showstopper’s career have traveled from that point forward?
Zack Ryder’s courtship of Eve
There’s no shortage of reasons why Zack Ryder chose to court Eve toward the end of 2011. The self-confident Diva has proven herself time and again to be intelligent, savvy and certainly easy on the eyes. Yet their short-lived relationship was hardly sweet, largely due to Kane’s unrelenting attempts to abuse Ryder to teach John Cena about embracing the hate. Their whirlwind romance came to a crashing halt on The Grandest Stage of Them All when Team Johnny prevailed at WrestleMania XXVIII, which allowed Eve to mark the occasion by leaving Long Island Iced-Z with a vicious breakup maneuver.
Still, what if Eve saved everyone’s time and Ryder some embarrassment by not agreeing to go out with him in the first place? Would The Big Red Monster have spared the self-proclaimed “Internet Champion” from his attacks, or perhaps have been unable to inflict them with Ryder able to focus solely on the masked Superstar’s tactics? And how might Eve have embraced “People Power” if she wasn’t living in constant fear of the next move by The Devil’s Favorite Demon?
WCW letting The Outsiders in
The powers that be at World Championship Wrestling likely thought they were just making a shrewd business move by creating an opportunity for Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to walk through the door of WWE’s primary rival in the 1990s. However, the towering competitors started corrupting WCW from the inside almost immediately by becoming the disorderly duo known as The Outsiders — the forefathers to the infamous renegade faction that called itself the New World Order.
If WCW’s power brokers refused to bring Hall & Nash on board in 1996, could that have prevented the rebellious influence of talent into the company and later WWE? Would that have allowed Hulkamania to run unfettered in WCW, rather than creating an opportunity for Hulk Hogan to go “Hollywood” in the decision that served as the catalyst for the formation of The nWo? And if The nWo never came to fruition, what, if any, fight would WCW have been able to mount in the Monday Night War?