What would a Vince McMahon rebirth of the World Wrestling Federation have looked like if the company had moved on with Jimmy Snuka as the new face of the company instead of Hulk Hogan? The McMahons had a “Plan B” in place had Hogan not left the AWA and Verne Gagne’s outfit to help change the landscape of the business and make the canary yellow and red a popular symbol of the greatness of sports entertainment.
Snuka, 73, died over the weekend after losing a battle to stomach cancer he fought valiantly until the bitter end. The high-flying performer was loved by fans for his cagey style and high-risk maneuvers – most notably the cage match he had with the Magnificent Muraco at Madison Square Garden in 1983. It’s hard to imagine a world of professional wrestling, with McMahon pulling the marionette strings with the man from Fiji selling the business in as devoted a fashion as Hogan did during the heyday of Hulkamania and the birth of WrestleMania.
In this case, maybe the fact Snuka was “snubbed” was the best thing for business and the McMahon empire.
Snuka’s battles with Muraco, Bob Backlund and Roddy Piper are as instrumental in the fabric of WWE history as any character in the past, present or future. His passing is yet another reminder that the heroes of my generation are leaving this earth, their legacies forever cemented in time and the lack of bonafied stars to carry the torch of a business that has flipped on a dime. I wasn’t necessarily the biggest Snuka fan, but his place in WWF is a reminder of what used to be, before the foundations of Kayfabe were ripped from its core.
Snuka’s legal issues in the fall of his life clouded his final years and added a bit of tarnish to his career due to his alleged involvement in Nancy Argentino’s death. Also, the effects of cancer and dementia from years in the ring had burdened him over the years. In the end, fans will remember him for his skill and ability – not his unfortunate circumstance.
WHO SHOWS UP IN SAN ANTONIO?
Is anyone taking bets on who will shock the world at the Royal Rumble 2017 with their appearance in the actual Rumble match?
If you are like me, you want to be blown away by entrants, surprised at guest appearances and you pray to the wrestling gods that a part-timer does not win the right to go to WrestleMania 33 as a headliner. There is a thought that Undertaker will win the match and face AJ Styles or John Cena for the WWE World Title. I’m not as opposed to that scenario as some might be, but I do think there are other ways to book the big man after January as we have talked about before.
If I am a betting man – and that is on a rare occasion – I think fans will see Samoa Joe and Nakamura make their main roster appearances. Fans may also see Bobby Roode compete in the event but remain on the NXT roster. Then, looking from outside the box, I get a feeling someone like Finn Balor may still make his return from injury in two weeks. I also like the idea of someone like Shelton Benjamin coming out from the back.
The one name I am going to leave off this list is Kenny Omega. Even after his recent showing against Okada, the NJPW star is under contract until the end of the month. It has been written there is some interest in WWE signing the international star, but maybe he should make his first appearance in NXT before he is given main roster consideration.
STAYING ON THE SIDELINES
Remember last year when the image of AJ Styles and Shawn Michaels became a big deal on the Internet, sending fans and wrestling bloggers in a frenzy over a “potential” match between the two greats? Well, it seems that has been put to rest. Michaels told TMZ he has no interest in returning to the ring. While I am saddened that match with Styles will never materialize, I like the fact Michaels will stick to his guns and remain inactive.
If there is anyone who could come out of retirement and deliver a five-star match with Styles, it may be one of the greatest of all time and one of the most popular wrestlers in the business, period. Michaels appeared on the Jan. 9 edition of Monday Night Raw, and while he did get physical by hitting Rusev with Sweet Chin Music, he was primarily there to promote his upcoming movie, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.
It has nothing to do with him seeking to lock it up one more time in the ring.
Now if someone like Kurt Angle would like to formally get back in a WWE ring (The Royal Rumble) I am all for that happening sooner rather than later.