This week I accidentally dragged myself into a heated debate with my friends over the answer to a simple question about a particular food brand – namely which of the most popular brands I preferred. Apparently my answer was not popular and though some chose to question my decision, others jokingly thought I’d lost my marbles. I didn’t back down, and we eventually agreed that I had stumbled upon an unpopular opinion – something I staunchly believe to be true, but will leave myself wide open for criticism, or outright disbelief that I think such things.
Though some of the following opinions of mine are light-hearted and not judgments I’m willing to die on a hill for, it’s worth remembering the golden rule; opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. Just because I think something doesn’t mean you have to agree, but this is wrestling and it’s not supposed to be taken too seriously.
Baron Corbin was the right choice to win King of the Ring
I know, many of you will have stopped reading as soon as you saw that, but hear me out. I wrote a few weeks back that the whole point of the King of the Ring tournament was to elevate a mid to lower card wrestler. Established names or guys with titles need not apply. This is purely to give stars some much-needed exposure and hopefully propel a career that may have stalled. Someone who at one time showed much promise, but for one reason or another, hasn’t hit the dizzy heights expected of them and needs a push. Corbin ticks all of these boxes.
Look, I wanted Chad Gable to win this Monday on Raw, I really did. But WWE doesn’t always give us what they want and sometimes with good reason. Gable has been the plucky good guy since he arrived in WWE, always up against the odds, and the KOTR tournament gave him a shot at winning over the crowd – and to be fair, he was doing a good job. However, perhaps WWE’s plans for him are as a heel going forward, or as a frustrated good guy who thinks the world is against him and will fight and scrap for everything from here on out. Worked out ok for Becky Lynch, didn’t it?
Back to Corbin and I’ll be the first to admit he wasn’t my favorite guy in WWE. Then again, when I think about it, he’s been hampered with some awful gimmicks; the annoying authority figure on Raw, the whiny wrestler who inserted himself into feuds and generally whining about everything. In recent weeks he’s changed. He’s stopped bitching and become cockier. He’s winning matches rather than fluking them, he’s berating the crowd a lot during his matches and now he’s won a high-profile tournament.
Corbin is never bashed by his peers inside or outside of the business and seems to be well-respected. He took on those awful gimmicks and tried his best with poor material. I don’t think it was his fault he didn’t connect with the crowds, but perhaps all he needs is a fresh start, a new feud and an opportunity. Gable will likely get a feud with Corbin out of this, so hopefully putting Corbin over was the right call and can elevate both guys in the long run.
Seth Rollins Isn’t The Biggest Name in Wrestling
Is Seth Rollins talented? Hell yeah. Is he a top guy? Of course. Is he one of the most well-known stars on the roster? Yep. Is he the ‘biggest’ name in the company? Well, that depends on who you ask. Being the champion of a brand or show in wrestling proves two things; you’re the man/woman to beat, and the company has faith in you right now. Rollins is a very safe hand and a credible champion. He never phones it in and is a poster boy for hard work, determination and toughness. Do I think he should be champion? Yes, I do. He’s popular with the fans of all demographics and is the standard-bearer for Monday Night Raw. His recent engagement to Becky Lynch has only served to make him more likable and popular.
However, some questioned his #1 ranking in the recent PWI rankings, and though I don’t class myself as a wrestling scholar or at the same level as those who ranked over 500 pro wrestlers – I mean, where do you even begin with that list? – is he the biggest name in pro wrestling right now? Let’s do some searches on Google. If he’s the biggest name out there, surely he should be top of the search rankings, right?
- Seth Rollins – 25.9 million results
- Chris Jericho – 26.6 million results
- Bayley – 26.7 million results
- Becky Lynch – 30.3 million results
- Roman Reigns – 40.5 million results
- Sasha Banks – 198 million results
- AJ Styles – 260 million results
- Daniel Bryan – 310 million results
And to prove the internet is a fickle mistress and not all wrestlers are equal:
- Gillberg – 1.08 million results
- Braun Strowman – 4.8 million results
- Kenny Omega – 9.75 million results
- Baron Corbin – 9.9 million results
- Kofi Kingston – 13.7 million results
- Randy Orton – 18.5 million results
- Hulk Hogan – 36.4 million results
- John Cena – 228 million results
So does that prove that Rollins’ popularity doesn’t transcend outside of WWE? Perhaps, but if that was the case, AJ Styles would be mega-popular outside of wrestling and more people would know Roman Reigns than Hulk Hogan. Take it with a pinch of salt, but my opinion is that Rollins isn’t the biggest star WWE have on their books – at least to the non-WWE audience.
Brock Lesnar is Money and an MVP Whenever He’s in WWE
It came as no real surprise that Brock Lesnar has been brought back to WWE to coincide with Smackdown Live’s launch on FOX. I’ve gone on record before that Brock is a blessing and curse to WWE. He is a draw. He is a freak of nature and a natural talent. He is a star attraction. If he lived, breathed and bled WWE, he would be the biggest star in the industry since Hogan or Austin, perhaps even bigger. Thing is, he doesn’t live for wrestling. WWE is a paycheck to him and nothing more. And honestly, who can blame him?
WWE will always find themselves in a Catch-22 situation. They try to push new talent, but forever go back to big names for their biggest shows.
Wrestlemania coming up? Book Undertaker, Triple H and Goldberg in matches. Got a high-profile show or major change to the brand on the horizon? Throw money at Brock Lesnar and give the Rock a call to see if he’s busy. What’s that? There’s a new X-BOX/Playstation game being launched and we need some talent for the promotional video? Find Sting and tell Hogan all is forgiven.
It’s a never-ending cycle. If WWE won’t push or build new stars for the future, they’ll be forever relying on big names from the past. It would be like NXT bringing in Samoa Joe or AJ Styles to headline a Takeover show.
The problem now is that everyone mentioned above can’t put on a show longer than ten minutes in a high-pressure match with the exception of Lesnar, so they have little choice in bringing him back. Lesnar is their current go-to guy, and sad as it may seem, he is a big attraction and will generate interest – also due to the fantastic hype man that is Paul Heyman. I’d love to write that Rollins, Reigns or Kingston were the big ticket guys who will draw in new audiences, but they just aren’t right now. Reigns does have a good demographic reach and a recent study showed non-wrestling fans find him the most intriguing/interesting/handsome of the current crop on TV, but his run as champion a couple of years ago, along with a negative reaction from WWE fans, saw that idea put on the back burner for a while.
As it stands, we’re stuck with Brock Lesnar being billed as the big draw for WWE. I don’t hate the guy, far from it, but it would be nice for WWE to try something new and showcase some of the current roster and use them as ways to draw in new audiences. Do what NXT does; build from within and use the talent in the locker room to get out into the world and make names for themselves. Garner interest from outside and bring new eyes to the product.
So what do you think? Do you have unpopular opinions about wrestling? Did you disagree with all of mine, or did I get some right? I’d love to hear your thoughts. – Oh, before I forget, the unpopular opinion I had with my friends that caused so much outrage? I said the Burger King Whopper is a better burger than anything on offer in McDonald’s. There, I said it. I’ll die on that metaphorical hill.