The complexion of NXT nearly looked very different.
The former right hand man to Dusty Rhodes, Rob Naylor, tweeted his suggested list of Independent names from 2012 in 2016, a tweet that has recently regained traction thanks to Reddit user Dawson41.
In the real timeline, several of these names did sign with NXT, with some experiencing massive success of the yellow brand, and virtually all suffering a sad midcard fate on the main roster proper.
Why WWE didn’t sign the ingenious reaches of this list is a merciful swing of fate for New Japan fans. 2012 saw only the embryonic rise of the Yes! movement; Daniel Bryan’s meteoric ascension hadn’t yet shaped WWE’s recruitment process. NXT itself hadn’t quite recovered from its FCW hangover, and was mostly concerned with looking after their own.
And, crucially, the Independent scene had not yet lit up. There was little need for WWE to embark on a spiteful spending spree orchestrated only to weaken the opposition. And if that in itself reads as spiteful, where is Wolfgang on this list?
In this alternate timeline, the Bullet Club was hardly 4-4-4 LIFE…