#AhmedJohnsonWeek: A Series of If…Whats

Ahmed_Johnson_-_Anthony_Norris_20

It’s Day Three of #AhmedJohnsonWeek, our celebration of all things Pearl River, and the first installment of our (patent-pending) Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week series. We started off with A Wrestler You Should Probably Know Better, and then gave you the finer points of the Tony Norris oeuvre with yesterday’s Essential Viewing. Today, we’re asking the important questions with  A Series of If…Whats on “Big T” Tony Norris, before we make our Amazon.com-on-steroids dreams come true with “Juice Make Sugar Recommends…” tomorrow. We’ll finish everything off this Friday with a Difference of Opinion (where JMS HQ erupts in a Legal-Rights-to-the-Letter-T-fueled civil war.)

If Ahmed Johnson had NXT, what would he have been like in the ring?

mason-ryan-recharged-and-refocused-for-comebackWhile it’s hard to say exactly what he would have been like, because Mason Ryan, chances are he would have at least been able to the basic aspects of wrestling that he seemed to have trouble grasping physically. It’s not as though Ahmed Johnson was exceptionally bad, he just wasn’t particularly good in the ring, and in an era of main event guys like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and even the Undertaker, it stood out even more.

From a “promoted to the main roster” perspective, and not to make the easy comparison, he likely would have been in the Big E. Langston position: put in a main storyline as a silent heavy who occasionally shows flashes of massive potential. Obviously, Big E. Langston is smoother — if not as intense — on the mic, but he’s also much smaller (5’10” to 6’2”) so it’s entirely reasonable to believe they’d be at nearly the same position for their first year or so, even in a significantly more shallow era.

Ahmed had way too much potential to not eventually get a mega-push, but they likely would have taken their time getting him to the top of the card for everyone’s benefit.

If Ahmed didn’t get hurt after earning a title shot after Summerslam ‘96 what would have happened to his career?

While this isn’t as depressing as the next question (these questions are all depressing, actually), Ahmed’s “kidney issues” (supposedly a result of Ron Simmons potatoing him because of some professional jealousy issues) were the most vivid reminder of the fragility of human existence most of can remember as children.

It also was the first instance in what would be a recurring theme in Ahmed’s career: a Greg Oden-esque inability to stay healthy. Like an athlete in a “real” sport, once you are considered injury prone (see: Sin Cara), the likelihood of ever getting another major push decreases ever so slightly. One can earn points back with the front office, but given that it’s a continuous show with almost no days off, not being able to be relied upon because of injury issues is only slightly above “drugs” or “sucking”, with being unsafe the worst of the bunch.

But, on the positive side, he was given another chance at a title match the following year, which shows how much faith they had in the character.

If Ahmed didn’t get hurt after joining the Nation of Domination what would have happened at Canadian Stampede?

This usually won’t happen, but for such a star-crossed career, “if Ahmed didn’t get hurt” was pretty much the theme of Ahmed’s career.

It’s unlikely that Ahmed would have beaten Taker, given that they were building towards the Hart-Michaels feud — Michaels cost Taker the title at SummerSlam, and would face Hart at the Survivor Series in Montreal that year… yes, that Survivor Series in Montreal — but him actually getting a main event title shot may have changed the entire direction of his career.

This run had the potential to be fantastic, and this is far and away the best that Johnson ever sounded on the mic, but as always, injuries derailed poor Ahmed before he ever had a chance to get out of the gate. When you compound this with the fact they turned him face again even with such a great heel character to play up the “babyface returning from injury” angle, and him being replaced by The Rock (which Dave spoke about during yesterday’s Essential Viewing) it’s clear that this was THE turning point in his career.

If WCW wasn’t a bunch of idiots, what would have Ahmed been able to do there?

As always, WCW took a good idea — Ahmed challenging Booker T for the rights to the Harlem Heat name — and pushed it one step too far.

Instead of just having the match be about that, they also put the “letter T” on the line in the match, as Ahmed was now going by Big T (his real name is Tony Norris) and needed to make sure he was the only T in WCW, apparently.

That his name matched his girth was actually the larger part of Ahmed’s issues in WCW, and it’s unlikely they would have been able to do much with what was at that point all of the bad parts of Tony Norris with almost none of the good.

If Ahmed Johnson magically stayed healthy, what would have happened to people like Batista?

The Brock Lesnar push would have not been reserved for the likes of Brock Lesnar, and everyone with the McMahon look would have been pushed to the moon, despite an increasingly sophisticated fanbase who would have cringed at the number of botches performed on a nightly basis up and down the card.

Of course, people like Batista would have had the training of OVW (like Lesnar and Cena did), but instead of a slow burn push, they would have likely been thrust into action like cars coming off an assembly line. It probably wouldn’t have been the downfall of business, but it safe to say it would have kind of sucked.

It was also entirely likely, however, that even if he stayed healthy, his weight would have become an issue like it did during his time in WCW. For someone with so much potential, it’s hard to say if it’s better that we at least have the ability to say “he just couldn’t stay healthy” as opposed to “he just couldn’t stay away from the buffet”.

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