I enjoy alternate histories, and the best alternate histories are those that are plausible. Just one thing happens differently and everything changes. It is in this spirit that this article is written. Earlier, one of my best friends and I were talking and The Rock’s football career came up. The Rock played for The University of Miami until being sidelined by injuries and being replaced by the soon-to-be NFL Hall of Famer Warren Sapp. Without injuries, Dwayne goes to the NFL. Regardless of whether he fully takes Warren’s place in the history books, this means The Rock likely never happens, and without him, WCW winning the Monday Night War is completely plausible.
Without The Rock, WCW is in a better position, so they absorb ECW. At the time, WCW and ECW were both more about the wrestling than the storylines, more resembling today’s NJPW and ROH compared to WWE. This model is a popular one, and regardless of the success of the Attitude Era in WWE, big names soon jump ship, just like they did in our timeline, though there are more, and the names are bigger. Eventually, WCW wins and buys out WWE. Whereas the WWE had this whole invasion angle, WCW doesn’t opt for this, as the angle is played out with the WCW v nWo storyline, so they just absorb this influx of talent. Their rosters deepen, as WWE’s did in our timeline, so, as in ours, the surviving promotion adopts a brand split. Unlike WWE though, an equivalent to NXT develops much quicker due to the action-focused model of WCW.
Ted Turner isn’t as spiteful as either Bischoff or McMahon, so it’s plausible he sees the popularity of ECW and allows for there to be a third night reserved for ECW-style matches and developmental talent, but since it happens quicker than in our timeline, the WCW ECW show benefits from younger talent and is a more successful venture than WWE’s attempt. WCW being more action-focused means there’s not really a market for NWA-TNA to corner in the shadow. That and A.J. Styles, who was a jobber in WCW at one point, stays in WCW. Same goes for Jeff Jarrett and Sting. Without them, TNA never gets off the ground.
Overall, is our timeline better than this alternate one? That is not for me to say; that is more of a subjective thing. I personally like the alternate better, but I was also a WCW loyal, having grown up an hour west of Atlanta. What I can say is without The Rock, our timeline would not be what it is, so thank you, Dwayne, for being the legend that you were. I’m sure I speak for everyone at the 434 when I say… Come home.