There are weeks when I start this column with almost no idea what I should be talking about. While there might be a major wrestling story going on, it might be something that I had already talked about recently or there just isn’t enough to write a full column about it. Then there are weeks like this one, when there are two major stories that I can’t pick between. Therefore, I’m not going to try, meaning that this week we’ll be having a pair of mini columns about the two biggest wrestling stories of the week.
First up, we’ll start with one of the biggest What If’s in recent memory: the possibility of Steve Austin returning to the ring in April for WrestleMania 38. Should Austin actually get in the ring, it would end his nineteen year retirement, marking one of the all time surprise returns to the ring. Austin has long since maintained that he is retired and not interested in a return to the ring, but the rumors have started up again for WrestleMania season.
Now granted, there is a Texas sized grain of salt here, as there is nothing guaranteeing that Austin actually wants to get back in the ring or has agreed to do so. That is a pretty long way from the glass shattering and then the bell ringing a few minutes later. Getting Austin back in the ring is one of those things that could actually put a dent in the 200,000 tickets needed to sell out AT&T Stadium on back to back nights, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea anywhere outside of the box office.
At the moment, this is firmly in the “I’ll believe it when I see it” category, but given that we have seen Shawn Michaels, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk all return to the ring, it is certainly not something you can write off as an impossibility. Austin getting back in the ring is something that would certainly be great to see….but man alive nineteen years is a very long time.
I know there is this vision of a big return like Michaels (53 at the time of his comeback, after an eight year hiatus) or Bryan (36, after about a three year hiatus) or Punk (42, after a seven year hiatus), but a 57 year old Austin returning to the ring after nineteen years feels like something that is beyond any realistic situation. Austin might not be like anyone else in the history of wrestling, but this would be the wrestling miracle of miracles and I just don’t think I can see it happening.
But what if it happens? The biggest rumored name that I’ve heard so far is Kevin Owens, who has been talking about how much he hates Texas. Granted that might not exactly mean Austin as there are all kinds of other Texas wrestlers/former wrestlers around, but let’s say that is where they are going. That has the potential to be a good old fashioned fight, with the Stunner being thrown in as the bonus factor. Owens has talked about how big of an Austin fan he was before, so there is a bit of history there.
I could see the two of them working well together and having a heck of a fight, which is about all the match could be. You can’t expect Austin to be out there for twenty five minutes having some kind of a mat classic (which he was never really known for in the first place), but a Texas style brawl could work out very well. That’s about the only way they could go, and it is something they could make work.
Overall, there is a possibility that Austin might get back in the ring, and that alone is what makes this fun. I’m not sure how well it would go and I’m even less sure that it will happen, but this isn’t just someone making a return. This is Austin himself, and that would be about as bit of a deal as WWE could make happen. Besides, they need the help. What else are they going to do? Build up someone young and turn them into a star?
Now we’ll move on to something that has already happened: Cody and Brandi Rhodes leaving AEW. This is the kind of shock that really did come out of nowhere, even with Cody wrestling without a contract for the last several months. Sure he has been a free agent, but was anyone really believing that he would actually leave the company? AEW having someone leave because their contract expires is a surprise, but one of the founding fathers walking away is something else entirely.
Word on the street is that this is over the Rhodeses and AEW not being able to come to terms on a new contract, which is kind of hard to fathom. I know Cody is one of the bigger stars of the company, but is he such a big star that the billionaire owner is unable to make him happy? Cody has been around since the beginning and is a regular around the TNT Title (thank goodness they got it off of him before this happened) but this company? Unable to give him enough money? Those are quite the lofty expectations.
With the two of them gone, the instant thought goes to a WWE return, and that is what seems to be happening. While there is no deal made between the two sides (a recurring theme here), Cody is expected to be returning soon. I would assume he’ll be in some kind of a WrestleMania match and Brandi….well Cody will probably be in a WrestleMania match at least. That should make for a big enough moment, but it is going to bring up an issue.
While things have changed quite a bit since he left, Cody was not exactly a major star in WWE. He was a completely solid midcarder, but how is it going to go if you bring back one of the former AEW bosses, who is a completely different star than he was when he left, into the company he fought against for the last few years? Cody is going to get an interesting reaction, and it won’t be just from the fans.
If there is one thing that WWE does, it is remember what someone has done to them before. Cody walked out on the company before and then committed another sin by trying to fight against them. Now he is back and….what the heck is going to happen? Will WWE present him as a top star? Or will he be back with a splash and then turn right back into the same level star he was when he was around in the first place?
In addition to all of that, the move brings up the question of who is next. Sure Cody leaving is a surprise, but this is another name that has decided WWE is the better choice at the moment. There have been a few names who have signed an extension with WWE rather than moving over to AEW, but this is someone going from AEW to WWE. It was going to happen at some point, though I don’t think this was exactly the name people were expecting to make the jump. It makes me wonder who else might be on their way over (or the other way) and that is what makes this all the more interesting.
There are a lot of ways that this story could go and that makes it so much more fascinating. It is the kind of thing that I didn’t see coming and I don’t know the last time that is something I could have said. This might not be the same thing as the Monday Night Wars or even the Wednesday Night Wars (assuming they counted as a war in the first place) but what makes this so much more fun is the shock. It could make for a very interesting moment when Cody comes back to WWE television, and that is the best part. I wouldn’t have bet on this and that depending on which side you’re on, it could be a dream or a nightmare.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books
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