Alternate history has always fascinated the minds of many for the sheer fact that people could look at a time or moment in history and speculate on what would have happened it things turned out the other way.
This is nothing new to wrestling fans, as many have speculated over the years on how the landscape of pro wrestling would be if certain decisions or storylines would have gone differently:
What if Shawn Michaels had joined Scott Hall and Kevin Nash in WCW? What if ECW never did the Sandman Crucifix angle during Sandman's feud with Raven? What if the Finger Poke of Doom Never Happened? and What would of happened if Dixie Carter and her family didn’t buy stake and financed in TNA in the early 2000’s?
These are just some of the "what if" scenarios that fans have speculated over the years but today I'll talking about seven "What Ifs" that could of change the direction TNA aka Impact Wrestling as well as scenarios could of affected the careers of many wrestlers at the time.
10. Fox Keeps TNA Wrestling On FSN
Before they started hopping from one TV Network to another in the hopes of finding a stable platform to show off their content, TNA who were still partnered with the NWA at the time manage to air their pay per view like events on Fox Sports Net in 2004 after spending the last couple of years airing their show on the internet.
The deal manage to get TNA some attention from the general public, who were getting sick of watching the WWE's programming following the demise of WCW and ECW in 2001.
The deal only lasted a year as the company decided to go from weekly pay per view events to weekly episodes and monthly pay per views.
Thankfully for TNA, they managed to scored a new TV deal with Spike in 2005 months after the iconic five star match between AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe at Unbreakable.
This would be the home for TNA/Impact Wrestling content until their cancellation and contract with the network expired in 2014.
So what would have happened if Fox Sports continued to support TNA into it's decision of becoming a weekly episodic TV Show running monthly PPV's?
For starters the network would have been host to some of TNA's best work during it's golden period of 2005-2009 thus, generating viewership numbers that would of kept the network executives on Fox happy thus, cementing the deal between Fox Sports and TNA for the foreseeable future.
Not to mention the exposure of being on a recognizable network like Fox Sports could opened up new possibilities that would help the company financially and have bigger presence than it's rival Ring of Honor at the time.
Perhaps, FS1 could of been what AXS TV currently is right now for the former TNA.
9. What If AJ Styles Accepts The 60% Pay Cut?
According to a interview he gave with Title Match Wrestling years after the incident, AJ Styles who was the face of TNA Wrestling for a time mentioned during an interview about how management at the time asked him to take a 60% pay cut which lead AJ to response with "It's kind of crazy when that's the first offer, you're like wait, what? That doesn't make any sense. I've worked here for 11 years, hard for 11 years. I've gotten more popular over the last year, so I don't know what's going on. This doesn't make much sense to me."
Not Surprisingly, Styles refused the offer but he did go out and wrestled his last match during an episode that aired in 2014 which saw Styles losing a unification title match to Magnus (aka Nick Aldis).
From there AJ Styles went on to wrestle in NJPW where joined the Bullet Club, formed a friendship with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, had a classic match with Shinsuke Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom 10 and eventually joining the WWE in 2016.
Okay, so let's imagine in this alternate history AJ Styles out of sheer dedication to the company bafflingly took the 60% pay cut what would have happened next?
Well aside from making less money than before AJ Styles would probably continue to feud with Dixie Carter on screen leading to high a profiled match involving Styles and Ethan Carter the Third, to which EC3 would of won.
AJ also could of been booked to beat Magnus later on down the road and become world champion again thus, preventing people from accusing Impact of putting the belt on Eric Young was a copycat attempt of what WWE was doing with Daniel Bryan at time.
Not to mention, it would be Styles not E.Y. taking part in a program with MVP that would soon become a title match involving Bobby Lashley, Meaning the Eric Young would never be won champion.
On top of this, it was AJ's departure from the company that led to TNA originals like Kazarian, Bobby Roode, Eric Young, Christopher Daniels and James Storm to leave Impact for other promotions, if AJ stayed perhaps they would've stayed too.
Then again, the company was going through a financial crisis in 2016 especially so it is possible that AJ and the rest of the originals would've left then but what kind of shape would company have been in this time period?
It seems whichever way you look at it Styles would have ended up leaving the company before any actually chance of hope could actually appear for Impact Wrestling.
8. James Storm Becomes World Champion In 2013
Although his brief world title run in 2011 was instrumental in Bobby Roode's rise into superstardom as a main eventer, James Storm was never given a fair shake when it came to being the world champion during his decade plus run within TNA.
It's only after leaving the company where Storm achieved singles championship gold by becoming the NWA National Heavyweight champion in June of 2019...but what would of have happened if Storm was given a second opportunity as world champion in TNA?
A good place to start would have to be Turning Point 2012...
For those who don't remember, this match ended with James Storm becoming the number one contender at least until the next episode of Impact when Roode challenged Storm in a match for his contendership spot, which the IT Factor won..so how would things change?
For starters Bobby Roode wins the three match by pinning AJ Styles as Storm tries to come in the ring to break it up but his unsuccessful leading to the cowboy getting enraged over the fact that he once again lost to Bobby Roode as well as losing the chance to get one step closer to the world title.
By the next PPV, Roode takes on Jeff Hardy for the world title at Final Resolution (as he did in real life) except this time there's a special guest referee in the form of James Storm. Storm not only forces the members of Aces and Eight to retreat when they try to interfere in the match, but at the end of the match he celebrates with Hardy over his title defense with a couple of beers in the ring and when Hardy turns his back, Storm takes out a lighter and spews his beer into the flame causing a fireball right into Jeff's face (similar to what Storm did to hardy in 2010).
Storm turns heel as a result and during this run the cowboy plays endless mind games with Hardy and he even kayfabe injures AJ Styles (which takes him off of TV).; This and his actions towards Hardy gets Storm 'suspended' for a couple of months until he returns around in February.
This leads to James Storm challenging and beating Jeff Hardy for the World Title at Lockdown 2013 with Bully Ray instead taking part of the Lethal Lockdown match (In this scenario this match is the main event) where he still turns heel and still reveals himself as the President of Ace and Eights.
James Storm defeats and "Injures" Hardy in a rematch and in the following months he defends the belt against Kurt Angle, Christopher Daniels, Bully Ray and Chris Sabin until he loses it to AJ Styles (who returned months earlier) in the main event at Bound For Glory with no inclusion of Dixie Carter in any part of the story; Thereby giving Storm an eight month run as world champion.
7. Gail Kim Doesn't Leave TNA In 2008
Gail Kim is a living legend in modern day pro wrestling who defied expectations and became a star outside of the WWE machine thanks in large part to her feuds with names like Awesome Kong, Angelina Love and Jacqueline Moore which helped to launch one of the most influential women's divisions in pro wrestling history.
In August of 2008, Gail Kim's TNA Wrestling contract had expire and she made the decision to return to the WWE later that year spending three to four years in the promotion...and if you were to ask Gail about her second run in the company, let's just say that she probably wouldn't have anything nice to say especially in regards to Vince McMahon.
Gail would be back in TNA in late 2011 defeating Velvet Sky for the Knockouts Championship a month later at the Turning Point pay-per-view and the rest as you say is history. But what would have happened if Gail never left TNA in 2008?
Well it isn't hard to imagine that not much would of changed for Gail as she would still be the top star in the division but names like Roxxi and Taylor Wilde would probably get relegated in being second banana to Gail in her battles with Awesome Kong and The Beautiful People, however it is possible that Gail Kim would have left TNA in the early 2010's thanks to the Hogan/Bischoff regime.
Issues like the slow decline in quality for the Knockouts Division at the time, the injuries and eventual lawsuit by former superstar Daffney onto the company and the whole Jeff Hardy Victory Road incident could of easily have been the major factors in Gail leaving the company.
So imagine Gail Kim's second run goes from 2011-15, it's highly plausible that Gail Kim would be treated like an afterthought after a surprise and shocking return to the company but while Gail's work on the main roster might not be viewed with a lot of interest (considering how the ladies where booked on Raw or Smackdown) her in-ring contributions would be valuable somewhere in the WWE and that is NXT.
Gail's willingness to help grow the future stars of women's wrestling is well documented and considering names like Tenille Dashwood, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Paige were wrestling in the early stages of this newly branded NXT you can imagine the great matches she would have there. In fact if her time in NXT was that good and she was able to make friends with names like William Regal and Triple H, there's a possibility that Gail Kim could of stayed in the WWE solely for her work in NXT and that's not even mentioning the amount of influence she would have as a producer or head coach in the performance center.
Impact Wrestling on the other hand would suffer greatly if this was to happen, as the Knockouts Division many fans know today would be vastly different as the star power and talented athletes was beginning to lack in the mid 2010's and it would be another issue that the company would have to deal with; Plus, with no Gail Kim returning to Impact that means no Last Knockout Standing match with Taryn Terrell at Slammiversary 2013, no TNA Hall of Fame induction in 2016, and the consistency within the KO division would probably not be as high as it is right now.
6. What If Monty Brown Won The World Title At Final Resolution 2005?
Monty Brown was one of the most over wrestler's during the early years of TNA is well remembered for his gift of gab on the microphone, intense personality and powerful moveset, his up there with names like Abyss and AJ Styles as one of the best wrestlers to come out the TNA, however his momentum started to halt in 2005 when Brown was set to square face off against TNA Founder at then NWA TNA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett in the main event of Final Resolution 2005.
In the final moments of the match it looks as if "The Alpha Male" would become the NWA World Heavyweight and the fans in attendance were cheering throughout hoping that Monty would finally become the world champion and get the title reign that many felt that he deserves but, instead in a rather messy if not convoluted ending Jarrett used his guitar multiple times in order to knock out Monty long enough to score the three count and retain his title...much to the anger of many fans who not only began to throw garbage in the ring but you could hear them chanting "Bullshit" "Bullshit" "Bullshit" "Bullshit".
A few weeks later, Monty would bizarrely join forces with Jarrett and became a heel in the process a decision that in hindsight wasn't the best as fans didn't want to boo the wildly popular Alpha Male and the decision to work with the guy who cheated to beat you for the title a month earlier made even less sense.
Monty would continue to wrestle within the company but the heel turn diminished his popularity plus the company's willingness to put former WWE guys like Jeff Hardy and Christian Cage in the world title picture instead of him, ultimately led to Brown exit from the company in 2006.
So what would the career of Monty Brown's looked like if he had won the world time back at Final Resolution 2005? For starters, Brown's title win and celebration would have been something similar to that of Christian's after winning the belt at Against All Odds.
Monty's reign could see him defending the belt against challengers like AJ Styles, Abyss, Rhino, Samoa Joe, Chris Harris, James Storm, Jeff Jarrett and Christian Cage all while being one of the most popular babyfaces on the roster whilst the company could make a couple thousands of dollars selling t-shirts and posters with the Monty on the cover.
Plus, the impending debut of Sting could eventually led to the first ever one-on-one meeting between the two in a match (whether the match will be any good or not is a different story)
And if you want to go one step further, imagine Monty Brown staying in the company a little while longer instead of going to the WWE and he begins a feud with a debuting Olympic Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle.
The feud could possible happened in early to mid 2007 with Angle defeating Monty for the NWA TNA title and once again in the rematch with Monty's career on the line; With that final loss, the Alpha Male says his final goodbyes to the TNA fans before eventually stepping away from the business entirely.
5. CM Punk Chooses TNA Instead Of Ring Of Honor
Cm Punk was the symbol and voice for a large sum of wrestling fans who were jaded from the WWE's PG product as well as seeing names like John Cena and Triple H taking over the main event scene.
However before he became the self proclaimed "Best in the World", CM Punk was a young wrestler in the early 2000's who took part in both ROH and Impact whilst the two companies had a working agreement at the time. Unfortunately a scuffle between Punk and Teddy Hart led to some serious bad blood between the two of them and with TNA management believing Punk was getting over as a babyface despite being booked as a heel at the time, the company put end to storyline involving CM Punk, Julio Dinero, James Mitchell and Raven.
However, the final straw came in March of 2004 when Punk quit the company after TNA refused to work with ROH anymore following the Rob Feinstein scandal.
Punk would remain with ROH leading to punk having a five star classic match with Samoa Joe, signing a contract for the WWE in the middle of the ROH ring and Punk's infamous promo after winning the ROH Championship from Austin Aries.
So what would have happened if Punk chose to stay in TNA instead of ROH?
For starters, TNA management would have been forced to acknowledge the crowds reaction to CM Punk and turn him babyface; there's also the possibility that Punk, with his ability to go high risk could transitioned into the X Division thus leading to classic bouts with Elix Skipper, Kid Kash, Christopher Daniels, Amazing Red, Low Ki, Jerry Lynn and of course AJ Styles.
And you know what could make this alternative history even more interesting: If Punk had stayed TNA right around the time Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy came to the company.
This could of meant that during TNA's golden period the company could of seen not one but two five star matches involving Samoa Joe in TNA but, also the WWE Hardy vs. Punk feud from 2009 would of happened years earlier in the Impact Zone.
4. Billy Corgan Gets Control Of TNA
In 2016 former Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan had assumed power in TNA following the failures of the previous regimes and the company's financial woes at the time. Corgan was looking to improve the reputation of TNA Wrestling after years of embarrassing scandals, but things didn't turn out that way as Billy would gone a few months later after then company president, Dixie Carter made promises to Corgan that she didn't uphold which resulted in a lawsuit (which was later settled) and continued instable in the promotion for another year.
Still determined to be in charge of a wrestling promotion, Billy Corgan bought the rights to the National Wrestling Alliance or NWA in May of 2017 and just a few years into this purchase, the NWA has once again become a must see wrestling promotion which has combined the old school feel of the NWA from the 70's and 80's with the modern style of wrestling we see today...but what would have happened if Corgan was given full control of TNA back in 2016?
Well first and foremost, names like "Broken" Matt Hardy as well as Mike and Maria Kanellis-Bennett wouldn't have left the promotion in early 2017, factions like Decay or the DCC would have continued to encapsulate the minds of Impact fans moving forward, the GFW merger/takeover doesn't take place and I'm just scratching the surface of what could of been for the company.
Furthermore, Anthem Sports and Entertainment had already signed their deal in becoming the financial backers for the company, so it's highly unlikely that Corgan would have to finance the company moving forward; Plus, it's very possible that a name like Thunder Rosa would of wrestled for TNA which could of resulted in the Knockouts Division having a new face to represent the new regime and the division.
According to an Chris Van Vliet interview that Billy Corgan had in February of 2020 regarding the NWA, Corgan admits that "throwing money at professional wrestling will not make it go anywhere." and that "the key to success is patience and putting together the right team of people to execute your vision."
Corgan also says in the same interview that he wants to create a perfect balance of good storytelling and impeccable wrestling while also persevering the legacy and history of the promotion. With a mindset like that, it's very easy to see Corgan implement these same ideals to TNA/Impact back in 2016; While the Don Callis and Scott D'Amore regime have done a fantastic job at cleaning up the mess that Hogan, Bischoff, Dixie and Jeff Jarrett left behind, you can only imagine what Impact wrestling in 2020 would look like under Billy Corgan.
3. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff Don't Join TNA/Impact
Okay, let's just get this bit out of the way without Hogan and Bischoff being apart of the company means that names like Orlando Jordan, The Nasty Boys, Lacey Von Erich, Sean Morley and The Band would never appear on Impact programming, the pseudo Monday Night Wars from 2010 would never happened, the company doesn't go through a myriad of bad decisions or financial troubles and Impact isn't looked upon as the "joke" of the wrestling world by the smarky internet community.
However, if you look back at some of the storylines that took place around this time, the history of this company could of completely different for example storylines that were never finished like Don West being Amazing Red's promoter or Jay Lethal open challenge could have gone somewhere, Desmond Wolfe's career could of also seen have classic feuds with names AJ Styles and Samoa Joe, not to mention that Tomko's reveal and return to Impact in late 2009 could of led to a months long feud where Tomko could challenge AJ for the world title and that's just a small fraction of what could have happened if Hogan and Bischoff had signed with Impact.
There's also the chance that Eric Young who was the leader of the heelish foreign group "World Elite" could of become world champion if management were will to pull the trigger on the idea and this would of made E.Y. world champion long before Daniel Bryan and the YES movement became a thing in the mainstream medias consciousness.
Not to mention what the careers of Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, Awesome Kong, Abyss and the entire x division who's careers and momentum were completely halted thanks to the new regime.
And let's not forget how New Japan Pro Wrestling fits into this story as well...
It has become well known today that the reason for NJPW and Impact Wrestling's partnership coming to an end was the terrible booking of New Japan star, Kazuchika Okada who was used as Samoa Joe's henchman during Joe's feud with "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero and a number of Xplosion matches where he lost every single one.
Remember all of this happened under the Hogan/ Bischoff regime but if Hogan and Bischoff never joined then it's safe to say that partnership between Impact and NJPW would probably still be going on today, the bullet club would've appeared on Impact programming and events like the G1 Climax would see New Japan cross promoting with Impact instead of ROH.
All of this and more could have happened if Hogan and Bischoff never signed with TNA/Impact.
2. Kurt Angle's Run In TNA Was A Failure
Kurt Angle debuted in 2006 and began a program with Samoa Joe after a thunderous, head splitting headbutt which led to an impressive tenure with TNA/Impact that lasted 10 years.
He also went on to have classic feuds with names such as the aforementioned Samoa Joe and Christian but also names like Bobby Lashley, Mr. Anderson, AJ Styles, Jeff Jarrett, Bobby Roode, James Storm just to name a few...but what would have happened if Angle's time in TNA/Impact was an absolute flop?
Well Kurt Angle's failure would do a large amount of damage for both parties, as a wrestling promotion that has someone with the credentials and wrestling background of Kurt Angle having his issues play out on screen (like Jeff Hardy at Victory Road 2011) would lead to not only terrible PR for that company but it would also discourage wrestlers from working with Impact, which could of led to TNA/ Impact looking at headlines talking about their demise long before Hogan, Bischoff, Dixie and GFW had the chance to cause it.
On the other side, Kurt's run in TNA being a failure coupled with his drug problems that he was still dealing with at the time would making the Olympic Gold Medalist a liability to many promotions but he would still be a big name to sign regardless.
If this happens but Kurt still has an interest to compete he could either: wrestle in Ring of Honor and help that company succeed, return to the WWE sooner than he did and help grow the next generation of pro wrestlers for Vince McMahon or perhaps the Olympic gold medalist goes on to pursue an MMA career which was rumored to have been an opinion for Kurt Angle at some point in his life.
1. What If Eddie Guerrero Joined TNA Before Returning To The WWE?
The last "what if" I'm going to be mentioning on this list not only affects TNA/Impact but also affects the entire wrestling world as a whole.
Eddie Guerrero is simply one of the best wrestlers of all time and has been regarded as such even before his 2005 passing. Guerrero wrestled through personal demons, substance abuse, and injuries both in and outside the ring only to come out a better man in the process.
On November 12, 2001, Guerrero was released from the WWE following his arrested for drunk driving days earlier. Following this Guerrero traveled and wrestled around various shows and promotions like IWA, NJPW, World Wrestling All-Stars and most notably the debut show for Ring of Honor where he took on Super Crazy.
By April of 2002, Guerrero returned to the WWE where he would cement his legacy by defeating Brock Lesnar at No Way Out 2004 for the WWE Championship.
So, how does Eddie Guerrero end up joining TNA and why? The answer is easy, Eddie Guerrero's whole reason for wrestling in the indies was to get his life and career back to together, while at the same time wrestling/putting over the future stars of the business.
So what if Eddie decided not to return to the WWE just yet and months later chose instead to wrestle for the small and relatively unknown company called "NWA TNA".
How this would happen? Eddie could take part in the over the top battle royale on the very first episode back in 2002 and become the very first TNA/NWA world champion thus, legitimizing the title by bringing in a well known talent like Guerrero who's star power could of gotten the company some recognition in the early days.
During his time as champion, Guerrero goes on to have a long and memorable title reign whilst wrestling in matches with names like Jeff Jarrett, AJ Styles, Ken Shamrock and Abyss before eventually dropping the belt.
What makes this reign as NWA world champion so important is that it could be used as a practice run for Latino Heat's confidence as a world champion as it helps prepare him for his eventual WWE title run later down the road when he returns.
Plus, it's easy to imagine Guerrero staying in TNA for a couple of years as the company's lacks schedule and smaller dates could of also helped him maintain his sobriety from drugs and alcohol while at the same time being a fixture for the company's X and Tag Team Division.
Now imagine what Eddie's decision on joining TNA would have done for the WWE; without Eddie Guerrero's death, Chris Benoit doesn't fall into a depression that ultimately led to the double murder suicide he committed back in 2007 but instead he becomes ECW Champion by beating CM Punk at the Vengeance PPV, he isn't permanently blacklisted from WWE and eventually gets inducted into the Hall Of Fame.
Furthermore, the wellness policy and WWE's maligned PG era would be created follow events like the Signature Pharmacy Scandal, Linda McMahon's political aspirations and the Concussion Lawsuit instead of the tragic deaths of Guerrero and Benoit.
In short, Eddie Guerrero joining TNA in the early stages of it's existence could of affected not only the careers of two of the all time best but also changed the wrestling world as we know it today.
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