[This will expand as new ideas come to mind, which they seem to often.]
*Eddie Guerrero vs. Owen Hart: Under the right circumstances, this could have happened. Guerrero jumped from WCW to WWE in 2000 (along with Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn), only a few months after Hart’s preventable death at a WWE PPV in 1999–one of the most wrenching tragedies in an industry replete with it. Had he lived, Owen Hart would probably still be in ring shape, and a multi-time world champion; the matches that could have occured over the last decade stagger the mind, starting with “Latino Heat”. Hart and Guerrero would have surely encountered each other in the mid-card shuffle of that era. They’d have made good tag-team partners, but a feud would have been epic.
*Steve Austin vs. Dusty Rhodes: The promos alone would have been amazing, but the matches could have been better. To pit the two legendary Texans against each other at their peaks–say, Dusty of 1985 vs Austin of the late-’90s–would have been a clinic in the unique characteristics of pro-wrestling in that area. To this day, a fan can immediately tell if a guy’s from Texas, just by the way they run the ropes; the term “hoss” comes to mind. It’s inexplicable, but true. Barry Windham is the exemplar. A heel Austin would be an ideal foil for Dusty.
*Kurt Angle vs. the Iron Sheik: Before he became a pro-wrestling star, and long before he became an Internet sensation, the Iron Sheik was Khosrow Daivari, an Olympic-class amateur wrestler and assistant coach for the Iranian national team. One assumes the Iranian wrestlers, like the Israelis, don’t fuck around much, and Sheiky Baby was a legitimate tough guy in a business full of them: Anyone who gets the rub from Verne Gagne, Billy Robinson and Brad Rheingans is no joke. 20 years after Sheik’s peak as an amateur, an Iranian wrestler was beaten for gold by Kurt Angle at the 1996 Olympics. The bombing that year was awful (with a shady an uncertain resolution), but in retrospect the biggest news from that Olympics was Angle’s debut. Angle vs. Sheik would be a technical masterpiece, with natural storyline value thanks to the politics of their gimmicks. On the mic, well, obviously hilarious.
*Chris Benoit vs. the Undertaker: Media reports generally suggest that Benoit’s mental collapse in 2007 was motivated, in part, by anxiety over his position in the business. He allegedly viewed being booked to win the rebooted ECW title in Jacksonville as a demotion, a sign that he was on his way out. If he truly felt that way, it’s unfortunate, because it’s likely the opposite was true: Benoit was being put in a trusted position to help develop the rising stars of the future. Note that Benoit’s would-be opponent in Duval that night was CM Punk, who ended up dropping the belt to John Morrison while the crowd chanted “We Want Benoit”, unaware of the tragedy that had unfolded. (It’s unclear if Benoit lived long enough to watch the PPV.)
Had he lived, one presumes Benoit would be ideally-positioned to be a main-event player in today’s WWE. Physical issues aside, Benoit would have been an interesting opponent for the Undertaker at one of the recent WrestleManias. Taker has evolved a ground-based, submission-heavy style of wrestling, a new thing for a big man, and who did that better than Benoit. The Crippler also ranks right up there with Taz, Rey Mysterio, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels in his ability to work credibly against much larger opponents. Honorable mention to Royce Gracie, whose epochal work in the first five UFCs lit the fire for such stuff in the United States. Taker’s use of the Triangle Choke is a direct homage to Gracie, as is Samoa Joe’s rear-naked choke. In 1997, Ken Shamrock reversed a Taker chokeslam into a cross arm-breaker, an important moment in pro-wrestling history.
*British Bulldogs vs. the Legion of Doom: Davey Boy Smith was one of only a handful of wrestlers who could go rep for rep with Animal on the Bench Press. But the decisive match-up in this match would be a battle of charisma between Road Warrior Hawk and the Dynamite Kid. The Warriors’ size and toughness usually meant they could do what they wanted in the ring, but Dynamite wouldn’t stand for the kind of ring-work they brought to the AWA and NWA.
*Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair: Yeah, they wrestled a bunch of times, but what should have been the biggest series of matches in wrestling history were, in fact, botched. Flair vs. Hogan should have happened at WrestleMania in 1992, after Flair had won the Royal Rumble, but it somehow never happened. Flair jobbed in almost every match he ever had with Hogan; his few wins were invariably tainted. As such, millions of dollars were thrown away that could have been earned through an evenly-matched, credibly booked series of matches between the two greatest champions of the last 30 years.
*Brock Lesnar vs. Vader:
*Midnight Express vs. Motor City Machine Guns:
*Beth Phoenix vs. Awesome Kong/Kharma: