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Top 5: Underdog WWE Champions

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The result of Super Bowl LII seemed set in stone to most observers, myself included. The Philadelphia Eagles would give the New England Patriots a good game, but at the end of the night the dynasty would prevail once again. LOL Patriots Win, right? Didn’t happen. Doug Pederson coached with cojones the size of grapefruits, Nick Foles made for a better wide receiver than Tom Brady did, and the Eagles shocked the world to win their first Super Bowl.

Underdogs have been a part of sports as long as one can remember. Pro wrestling has certainly seen its share. Here are the Top 5 Underdog Wrestling Champions.

Honorable Mentions: Bret Hart & Shawn Michaels

Here’s the thing: Neither of these men were expected to be WWF Champion heading into the 1990s. The Championship had been dominated by large muscular men that were big in charisma & low on technical ability. Hart & Michaels were solid hands. They were part of successful tag teams & even made a dent in the Intercontinental title scene. The IC title was supposed to be their ceiling.

Circumstances changed & the times called for men that weren’t walking steroid advertisements to lead the company. Bret & Shawn were perfect for that. As a young fan that had watched them develop, I wasn’t shocked when Bret defeated Ric Flair, or when Shawn topped Bret in the Iron Man match at WrestleMania XII. They had proven themselves to me & many others as exceptional wrestlers, and the people standing in their way weren’t exactly unbeatable giants themselves. They were only underdogs to people that weren’t paying attention.

5. Rey Mysterio

WWE Rey Mysterio Underdog

Speaking of smaller men, Rey took the wrestling world by storm in the mid-1990s. His brand of high-flying was something that had never been seen before. He immediately became one of WCW’s most popular performers, and attained the same status in WWE upon his arrival in 2002. Even though the size barrier had been broken by 2006 & wrestlers were trending smaller on average, Rey was still considered way too small. His billed height at 5’6 was very, very generous.

Rey’s time came at WrestleMania 22, where he beat Randy Orton & Kurt Angle in a triple threat match. Unfortunately for Rey, the title reign wasn’t as well-received as it should have been. Many thought that he was only World Champion as a way of WWE paying tribute to his best friend. WWE did Rey no favors during his title reign, as he got beat like a drum by every big stiff employed by the company. It was intended to build up his underdog status, but had the effect of portraying him as undeserving.

In an ironic twist of fate, Rey was at his least popular when he was on top of the mountain. Some underdogs are better off in that role.

4. Jeff Hardy

WWE Jeff Hardy Underdog

Jeff was always tremendously popular with WWE fans. His biggest obstacle in reaching the top of the company was himself. Drug issues threatened to derail his career on multiple occasions, and even after he reached the mountaintop of the WWE Championship he struggled to conquer his demons. That story, added in with the fact that like Hart & Michaels he was smaller & less conventionally charismatic than your typical WWE Champion, made it extra sweet for his fans when he finally won the Championship in December 2008.

In the eyes of many that never thought they’d see it happen, WWE Armageddon was a fitting title for a show featuring a Jeff Hardy world title victory.

Honorable Mention: Chris Benoit

Had the tragic events of June 2007 not taken place, there’s no doubt in my mind that Benoit would be somewhere around this position on the list. He’d wrestled all over the world for nearly fifteen years and was considered one of the best in the ring. Nobody, not even his biggest fans, believed that WWE would ever put him on top. Even after he won the 2004 Royal Rumble & got placed in the Raw title picture, most figured that Shawn Michaels or Triple H would win at WrestleMania XX, even if Benoit made the most sense from a storyline perspective. At the time, it was a wonderful story of an underdog clawing his way to the top of WWE & winning a major championship.

3. Eddie Guerrero

WWE Eddie Guerrero Underdog

At the same time Benoit was working his way to the top of Raw, his longtime friend took the world by surprise on SmackDown. Like Jeff Hardy, Eddie had waged a battle with his demons for most of his career. Like Rey Mysterio, Eddie was small even by the standards set by Hart & Michaels. Unlike any of these men, Eddie had the task of winning the WWE Championship from Brock Lesnar. Brock was & is the exact opposite of an underdog. On paper, Eddie didn’t stand a chance.

The match at No Way Out 2004 told the story of an underdog that never said die against an unstoppable force who was annoyed that his opponent wouldn’t just die. As far as a one-night story of an underdog reaching the top of the mountain goes, I don’t think there’s been a better one. Eddie’s untimely demise less than two years later makes the story live on even more than it would have otherwise.

2. Mick Foley

WWE Mankind Underdog

Foley was a man of many personalities. Whether he was Cactus Jack, Dude Love or Mankind, at the end of the day wrestling fans could relate with him. Mick didn’t have the look of a typical WWF Champion. He took some of the worst beatings in the history of the business. He cut some of the best promos. As talented as he was, championships didn’t seem like they would come his way.

His victory over The Rock on a taped episode of Raw that aired on January 4, 1999 was such a monumental & crowd-pleasing moment that people wanted to see it even though WWF.com & WCW spoiled the result of the match before it aired. It was fitting that Mankind, the most downtrodden of Foley’s personas, won the Championship. He had opened his heart to Mr. McMahon only to be rejected in favor of the younger, more charismatic & more cosmetically pleasing Corporate Champion. Fans could relate to Mankind’s story & saw him as an ultimate underdog that would fight through any type of punishment.

Some still didn’t get it. Even WCW tried to downplay it as somebody that worked for them before & couldn’t get it done. Fans knew all that meant was that WCW didn’t know what they had. One of the greatest underdogs of all time.

Honorable Mention: Steve Austin

It’s hard to believe it now, but at the time of his first WWF Championship victory, the Rattlesnake was considered an underdog. He’d been fired by WCW, it was obvious that Vince McMahon didn’t want him to be WWF Champion, and he talked about how it took him eight f’n years to get to the top of the business. In retrospect, the bit about eight f’n years was pretty ridiculous. It takes most top guys at least that long to attain their position. Once Austin reached the mountaintop, the only thing that could knock him off was injury.

The New England Patriots were underdogs at the beginning too.

1. Daniel Bryan

WWE Daniel Bryan Underdog

Underdog champions have a way of popping up at WrestleManias every ten years. Bret Hart avenged his defeat to Yokozuna at WrestleMania X. Benoit & Guerrero stood tall at the end of WrestleMania XX. WrestleMania XXX saw the crowning of possibly the least expected champion of all, Daniel Bryan.

Bryan’s rise through the business was chronicled on the Internet. Ring of Honor, the company that he was associated with more than any other during the 2000s, was a niche product targeted towards Internet fans. Bryan seemed like the opposite of what WWE wanted in a wrestler when he arrived there, and he continued in that path during his time with the company. His charisma became more pronounced & he attained more of a connection with the audience. He won the World Championship on SmackDown, but was still marketed by WWE as a man that looked like a goat.

His loss of that championship in eighteen seconds to Sheamus at WrestleMania XXIX riled the fanbase. They were appalled by WWE’s lack of respect for Bryan to job him out like that. Pro-Bryan chants dominated the rest of WrestleMania weekend. He went into SummerSlam against WWE Champion John Cena because Cena asked the fans who he should wrestle & Bryan was their answer. His loss of that championship to Randy Orton minutes after defeating Cena riled the fans up even more. Pro-Bryan chants dominated WWE programming for months afterward. News that Bryan was destined for a lower-midcard WrestleMania match combined with his lack of presence in the Royal Rumble Match made the chants even louder. By the time WrestleMania rolled around, it was obvious that there was only one way the event could end.

People still debate whether or not WWE intended the Daniel Bryan push to happen the way it did. That’s the number one sign that it worked. Bryan was such a loveable underdog & had such a connection with the fans that we all felt like we were part of it. Whether we were or not is irrelevant.

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Opinion

The Good, Bad and Ugly: SmackDown Live 12.11.18

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Does the TLC Go Home of SmackDown continue to build excitement, or does it go the way of Raw and help us all get to sleep earlier? Bobby let’s us know how things are shaping up.

 

With Tables, Ladders and Chairs coming up this weekend, we had a semi-sweet Monday Night Raw.  The actual in ring action looked decent.  SmackDown is always looking bright, and tonight shouldn’t disappoint.  What surprises are ahead on the Pre-TLC SmackDown?

The Good

Opening Promo w/ Daniel Bryan to Non-Title Match (WWE Champion) Daniel Bryan vs. Mustafa Ali

Daniel Bryan is solidifying his heel persona by continuing his onslaught on the general public and acting as wrestling’s Smokey the Bear.  Shaming his once devoted fans, causing everyone to react in some way.  Daniel Bryan continues to pile on that his old self is now dead, and all of the fans are idiots.  Cheap pops and heat continued on.  Until luckily it was interrupted by Ali.  Mustafa Ali is a great talent.  He didn’t do much of the talking here.  He mostly fell victim to Daniel Bryan spewing his agenda.  Ali went on to ask Daniel Bryan what’s up with his new attitude, only to be disrespected with a slap to the face.  We saw a little action which gave us a taste of what is to come.  Daniel Bryan looked sharp.  His strikes were well done and was full of energy.  This evil, snapped gimmick is working well for him.  He wore down Ali,working the knee.  Old school, clean wrestling.  Ali had minimal offense but stuck to his high spots.  Even with the multiple interruptions and heavy commercials, this was a Good match.  After some incredible feats, Ali misses an inverted 450.  Daniel Bryan went on to tear Ali apart, making him tap to the “Heel Hook.” Daniel Bryan Wins, a hot opening match. After the match, overkill set in, with Daniel Bryan viciously attacking Mustafa Ali up the ramp.  This wasn’t needed but acted as a callous to Daniel Bryan’s changeover to a heel. 

Randy Orton Promo

Orton wielding a chair went about showing off his previous torture of Rey Mysterio, questioning why anyone would want to have a chair match with a guy like him.  Just as he was about finished, Rey Mysterio attacked him out of nowhere, hitting Orton with a chair and a 619, causing Randy Orton to flee.  Not a bad promo.  Short and effective. 

Rusev and Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe and Shisuke Nakamura

Rusev being involved is Good for business.  These four are some of the best in the business.  Rusev has the abilities to carry the WWE as the Heavyweight Champion. Much like a Bobby Roode, he has had moments of being overlooked, however that can change at any moment like we saw on Raw.  Pairing Shinsuke and Rusev is genius and a guaranteed winner.  WWE just has to let them work and it will be fantastic.  After being interrupted by an untimely dance off from Carmella and R-Truth, Shinsuke Nakamura brutally attacked Jeff Hardy from behind.  Samoa Joe continued the assault on Hardy.  This wasn’t brilliant considering the talent here, but it was entertaining enough.  As the crowd showed everyone, Rusev when finally given the opportunity, delivered and looked Good in there.  He is a great talent all around.  After a devastating kick to the face, Rusev covers Nakamura for the Victory! 

Asuka vs. Charlotte

Going into this, how could it be Bad?  It really can’t right?  First thing, it is a great Main Event, also,having Becky Lynch come out after the contenders were already in the ring was also great.  Charlotte looked completely flawless and confident.  This was very physical.  Asuka not to be outdone did some outstanding work.  Asuka kept after “The Queen” working her arms and beating her down. Charlotte and Asuka went back and forth most of the match.  Charlotte finally trapped Asuka into a “Figure 4” but getting reversed.  The two went back and forth fighting every second. This match was action packed.  Asuka repeatedly kicked Charlotte in the face, until Charlotte hits a spear.  After landing on her feet from a blocked moonsault, Charlotte then kicked out of a roll up from a countered “Figure 4”.  Asuka hit the “Asuka Lock” that was countered sending Charlotte and Asuka to the floor. Charlotte then when psycho, Getting Disqualified for using her Kendo Stick.  Before Charlotte could go too far, Becky Lynch got her back, only to get attacked by Asuka.  Asuka went crazy with the Kendo Stick staking her claim of dominance.  Asuka Win!    

THE BAD:  N/A

THE UGLY

New Day Rap Battle:  Usos vs. The Bar

This style of promo has potential.  It can be really Ugly or really Good.  Depending how much cheese is involved vs.actual humor.  The New Day came out looking dapper and ready for the festivities. They are always ready to party.  The Bar had their Run DMC track suits and Flavor Flav clocks for decor.  That’s where it ended with a cheese filled “Ice Ice Baby” to remedy their horrendous rap abilities.  The Uso’s surprisingly were also not great at this.  This was a completely ridiculous,worthless segment.  Chalk this up as Ugly. 

Miz Promo (Shane McMahon and Miz vs. The Vegas Boys

Begging is just ridiculously over the top, especially in the current SmackDown setting.  It’s cheap.  The Miz and Shane are both Good typically on the mic.  This was a smooth promo,however out of the blue Miz calls out a ref for a tag match.  This match was horrible.  Shane had more botches than I have ever seen.  This was absolutely Ugly all around.  Shane ended the debauchery by submission for the victory. 

Tally

Good:  4

Bad:  0

Ugly:  2

Final Results:  Good(ish)

Although the Good outweighed the Ugly on this one, we had some pretty Ugly moments.  More than I have seen on SmackDown in sometime.  This wasn’t their strongest show among the past few weeks, but it worked. The highlight of the night was the Main Event!  TLC is Sunday and I would say thanks to SmackDown, we are ready to roll! 

 

How did you feel about this past SmackDown? Let us know on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!

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Can a Queen of the Ring Event Work in Today’s WWE?

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Sasha Banks WWE Queen Of The Ring

Rumors are swirling about WWE bringing back a throwback event for the next all-women’s PPV.  A Queen of the Ring tournament sounds like a good idea as a focal point for the PPV considering the ever-evolving Women’s Evolution.

Many fans remember the King of the Ring, which was considered one of the big five PPVs for WWE back in the 1990s.  King of the Ring had its ups and downs, but it was mostly known for the birth of Austin 3:16.  The iconic moment still stands the test of time twenty two years later, however others such as Owen Hart, Triple H, and Edge certainly benefited from the once-prestigious tournament.

After Brock Lesnar’s win in 2002, King of the Ring slowly began to fade out.  The last tournament was in 2015,where Bad News Barrett would later become King Barrett to celebrate the win.  Before that was the infamous King Sheamus, who won the one prior back in 2010.

The allure and beneficial factor of King of the Ring definitely dissipated by the time it was brought back.  King of the Ring used to be a big deal, meaning that the winner was definitely en route to a huge push or a WWE Championship opportunity down the road.  The accolade was something that a few men could add to their list of accomplishments.

So let’s fast forward to now with these Queen of the Ring ideas.  Could this really work in today’s WWE that is struggling to create lasting moments and new stars?

It depends on the commitment factor for the company; and that lies on the success and reception of the event if it did happen.  There is certainly use for it, as the tournament can be used to elevate talent such as Ruby Riott, Peyton Royce, or Sasha Banks.  On the flip side, it wouldn’t be no surprise if someone such as Alexa Bliss or Mandy Rose could take the win to garner extra heat for their respective character.  That would certainly work, as Bliss is an example of someone who is very much over and the company seems to be completely behind her.

Consistency also matters, in which it is crucial to make the Queen of the Ring idea work.  That goes hand in hand with the storytelling aspect that the company has been struggling with for some time now.  Gaps in logic with missed opportunities have done more harm than good, and with Evolution’s success, it wouldn’t be fair to the women if Queen of the Ring was one and done thanks to those poor factors.

Queen of the Ring is a great idea that could certainly help the Women’s Division.  Having the tournament at the Women’s PPV would create interest for fans that want something to look forward to.  There is no doubt that the talent would shine during the Queen of the Ring – even the potential for possible Match of the Year candidates is high at an event such as this. 

WWE has all of the tools to make this a success if at all possible this is true.  Overall, it would be beneficial for the Women’s Division, and it will help the Evolution become full circle –something that the Division is meant to be.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!

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