WWE and Underdogs: A Theory on the Love-Hate Relationship of the IWC
At some point in your life you have probably supported the underdog of a sporting contest. When we watch a matchup between two entities as a neutral spectator we take away a more satisfactory feeling when the supposed weaker side wins.
It's obviously a popular concept as the entertainment industry thrives on underdog victories, and professional wrestling is no different. Many times WWE have used an underdog situation to promote a PPV. A prominent example being the Backlash 2000 PPV event which saw The Rock take on WWE Champion Triple H, who had the entire McMahon-Helmsley regime backing him up.
A more traditional version of match matchup can be seen from No Way Out's main event in 2004 where Eddie Guerrero fought Brock Lesnar for the championship.
However, these are examples from within the story and do not explain the IWC love-hate theory I have promised to explain in the title. With the Internet becoming more prominent for fans from the late 90's onwards, information that wasn't available before came to the forefront.
Fans could now read backstage stories dishing out the dirt on how their favourite wrestler was being denied a push or how a top performing star was bending storylines to fit their own needs. This information allowed some fans to see who really had the power and how far certain wrestlers were going to be able to go in their careers.
While we all like to support an underdog, there's nothing more hated than a winner who plays out as one. This was a point brought up by CM Punk when he cut a promo on John Cena during his "contract negotiation." As he pointed out, whilst he may like to look at himself as the underdog in every situation, it's hard to believe that an 11-time world champion can truly be one.
Rey Mysterio is WWE's favourite underdog, but since 2002, when he joined the company, he has won 12 championships (three of which are world titles) and has an approximate win rate of 61 percent (according to Pro Fight Database).
Many fans hate being fed stories that are hard to believe and that's why these supposed underdogs are reviled by the Internet fans.
This brings me onto the wrestlers that the fans adore. Names like Christian, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk were long championed by the IWC as men with the talent to become the company runners but lacked what WWE wanted from them to actually make it. Whilst never portrayed as underdogs on screen, their lack of backstage support made them real life underdogs for the IWC to support.
The names I have chosen above are there because of the irony. Christian currently reigns as World Heavyweight Champion. Daniel Bryan is the SmackDown Mr. Money in the Bank. CM Punk is a WWE Champion who supposedly has gained a small amount of backstage swing.
This could prove my theory. Should these men lose their true underdog status to the fans then the volatile portion IWC will turn on them, regardless of whether they are doing a good job or not. In some respects my theory is already starting to be proven. How many times have you read an article that is negative towards the CM Punk-Cena storyline despite all the praise the angle was receiving mere weeks ago?
Some would argue that creative are just handling the story incorrectly. But is it possible that CM Punk's underdog status is what truly made the angle work with the fans? It will take time and for the reality era to successfully take off for us to truly decide.
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