The heat on Baron Corbin and Shane McMahon, both of them in the midst of significant television pushes, has little to do with their characters' weekly exploits. No, the disdain for those two is rooted in the belief that neither deserves nor has earned what they have.
It is an interesting dynamic facing the Superstars, who will again star in high-profile pay-per-view matches on July 14 at Extreme Rules, but one question remains: Which of the two is WWE's most unlikable star and why?
The Case for Shane McMahon
Shane McMahon is not a wrestler.
No matter how many wrestlers he has shared the ring with or how many gimmick-heavy matches he has had over the last two decades, Shane-O-Mac is still the prodigal son of the billion-dollar owner of the company. For that reason alone, he will always get opportunities that should rightfully belong to younger, hungrier and traditionally trained wrestlers.
Among those opportunities: increased television time and no other heel on the roster has enjoyed as much exposure on Raw or SmackDown Live over the last handful of months as McMahon. He is in the middle of rivalries with Roman Reigns and The Miz and will now share the squared circle with The Undertaker at Extreme Rules.
As if he needs the rub that comes from squaring off with The Deadman.
The idea McMahon is the "Best In The World" worked as a heel tactic as long as he was presented as a heel who was undeserving of that title and unable to back it up. The problem, though, is the 49-year-old has been allowed to defeat Miz three straight times and beaten Reigns.
Why? Because he is the boss' son, and therein lies another reason fans detest the idea of his continued push.
No matter what he does, how much he accomplishes or how hard McMahon busts his ass, there will always be that portion of the audience that resents him because of his last name. To an extent, rightfully so. He has been given chances no one else with his lack of training would have been.
Finally, McMahon has been a staple of WWE television for 20 years. Like other Attitude Era icons who have overstayed their welcome and taken television time away from younger stars, he receives a backlash any time he is programmed in a rivalry with a top name who could have been better off working with someone who can keep up with them and not appear to be having a mild heart attack every time he finishes his ring entrance.
The Case for Baron Corbin
Corbin is a former NFL player for the Arizona Cardinals whose pro wrestling career began when his gridiron career ended.
He is tall, powerful and has the look of a star. History tells us those who come from other sports and receive opportunities because of their athletic background and look tend to find it harder to win over fans.
Throw in the fact WWE has been breeding Corbin for success on the main roster from the moment he eliminated Kane to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32 and you have a recipe for fan irritation.
Another issue facing Corbin is his in-ring skill set.
The Lone Wolf is a throwback to the big men of yesteryear. He is a physical, smashmouth worker whose arsenal is reminiscent of The Big Boss Man. He is quicker, faster and more athletic than the Hall of Famer but his abilities are still very much based in a ground-and-pound style.
In a day and age when fans want to see flips, dives and 17 variations of a suplex, Corbin's reliance on headlocks, backbreakers and powerslams does not necessarily inspire excitement.
Bad News Brown's Baadasssss Song @5Deuce4Tre7
Best way to describe Baron Corbin is the modern day JBL. Someone who hated for getting a big heel push & his so called lack of skills. But will be vindicated later as the best person for the job. An old school heat seeker who not trying to beloved or earn internet accolades.
That does not make him a bad wrestler by any means, but it does open him up for criticism from fans who believe they know what makes a Superstar in 2019 great or not.
The unwavering support of management does not help him.
Corbin has won championships, captured Money in the Bank and been heavily featured all over WWE programming in his three years with the company. He has been given opportunities that other, more seasoned and polished wrestlers have not.
That strikes a chord with fans who may think someone like Apollo Crews or Andrade are better options for the spot he has been awarded, despite not having the pedigree or resume they do.
When it comes to Corbin and the criticisms of his push, two particular phrases are common: "He's not ready" and "he doesn't deserve it."
First, the idea anyone deserves anything is not for anyone outside of WWE to determine. No one knows what Corbin (or McMahon, for that matter) goes through or the amount of work they put in behind the scenes to be better.
Secondly, there are many Superstars who have been pushed before they were ready and forced to grow and evolve on the job.
The Rock is one such name that comes to mind.
Corbin may not be the most dynamic in-ring performer or the most polished worker, but he has proved time and again he can have a quality match with Superstars of all backgrounds and styles.
While it may be cool to assign credit to his opponent, there comes a point when even his harshest of critics have to factor in the law of common denominators.
McMahon has two decades of television exposure behind him. He is an Attitude Era icon and a member of the most royal family in professional wrestling. He has competed against the biggest names to lace a pair of boots and currently finds himself engaged in a rivalry with the top star in the industry.
While he has goodwill stored up from the many classic encounters and angles he has appeared in over the years, the idea he is not a trained wrestler but is being allowed to defeat those who are has been a sticking point for fans in their criticism of the prodigal son. And rightfully so.
The idea that the silver-spoon son of wrestling's Grand Poobah is allowed to be portrayed as an in-ring equal to a Reigns, Miz or The Usos is an insult to the intelligence of the fanbase and that is most damning of all.
Fans can forgive Corbin's main event push because he at least has a background as a wrestler, is an established athlete and looks like he can kick someone's ass. McMahon? He's blown up by the time he reaches the ring these days.
That his opportunities continue at his age, because of who his dad is, McMahon will always be more despised than someone who is actually putting in that work and earned their way to the main roster through NXT.