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There are thousands of forks in the road when it comes to wrestling history. Some small, some potentially quite seismic. One that we looked at the back end of 1993 was WCW’s plans to put the World Title on Sid Vicious – one that potentially could have postponed or prevented Hulk Hogan’s arrival in the year that followed. But the one I’m going to take a look at today is one that very possibly could have created a very different universe in the years that followed.
Diesel handed in his notice with the WWF at the beginning of March 1996, confirming to Vince McMahon by a phone call that he would be joining WCW at the end of his notice period. Two weeks prior Razor Ramon had also handed in his notice, he would ultimately be moving to Atlanta too. While Razor would, within days, start serving a suspension, Diesel would be asked to put over his prospective opponents on the way out – namely The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels.
All well and fine. The match with Undertaker would go ahead, as has been billed since In Your House 5 in December, and he could put the eventual new champion Shawn Michaels over in the pay per view that followed in April. All of that makes sense. But what if Diesel never hands in his notice? Then what happens?
The likely answer, as unbelievable as it initially might feel with the benefit of hindsight, is that Diesel probably would’ve won the match. As the King Of The Ring showed in 1995, they didn’t need an excuse to beat the Undertaker if there was a need for the greater good (even if his defeat to King Mabel was as the result of interference from Kama). While it’s highly unlikely, but not impossible, to believe Diesel would win the match cleanly, the lay of the land if Diesel re-signed his contract would likely have resulted in some sort of convoluted finish in an effort to protect both men.
It's likely a Diesel victory would've propelled him as a lead heel into a feud with Michaels that would've moved into the early part of the summer. Undertaker was often listless coming out of Wrestlemania – his victories over Giant Gonzalez and King Kong Bundy in recent years didn't really lead into anything of note. He had a program with the debuting Cactus Jack (as Mankind) lined up, but that really wasn't anything necessarily predicated on Undertaker winning the match.
What's bizarre, unlike many forks in the road we might consider, is that this one would likely have made little difference in the immediate years that followed (beyond denying WCW of the NWO angle). Undertaker wasn't particularly any better off as a result of the win (better off than losing, I suppose), but it's not like wins over Gonzalez or Bundy had particularly had an impact on him. The Mankind feud was happening regardless, and a tainted finish at Wrestlemania (that acutally could've included Foley) wouldn't have been to either mans detriment.
For Diesel, also, a victory over Taker would've been a coup, but nothing ground-breaking. He likely would've been fodder for Shawn Michaels either way, although the feud would've surely progressed beyond In Your House 7. As it is we are left wondering whether, in signing Kevin Nash, Eric Bischoff inadvertently helped prolong the career of the Undertaker by a number of years, maybe over a decade. There are stories going back as early as 1999 that Undertaker was beaten up and could be near retirement, without the undefeated streak at Wrestlemania does he make it to 2010, let alone 2016, as an active performer?