PWInsider - WWE News, Wrestling News, WWE



By Kendall Jenkins on 2019-09-09 16:50:00

It's not really much of a secret that when it comes to wrestlers in WWE, Vince McMahon prefers them to be on the larger side. If possible, he'd also like them to be covered in muscles. A look back over WWE history, from the thick musculature of Bruno Sammartino to the rugged good looks of Roman Reigns, confirms McMahon's preference for his leading men to be the visually dominant type. It's safe to say that you'd have no difficulty spotting John Cena, Hulk Hogan, Brock Lesnar, Triple H, or The Undertaker in a crowd. 

There are, however, exceptions to every rule. Some wrestlers have managed to walk into WWE and upset the apple cart, going on to achieve main event and WWE Championship success despite the fact they bear almost no resemblance to the type of wrestler McMahon would usually go for. They’re the wrestlers who truly upset the odds to seize their main-event status, and we’re going to look at three of them from recent years in this article. 

Before we go into our selection of three, we'll give an honorable mention to Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, who were arguably the first 'smaller guys' to seize the spotlight. Although they're undoubtedly two of the greatest to ever do it, their accession to the top of the food chain in WWE was more a case of necessity than overcoming the odds. At the time Hart and Michaels were on top, WWE had lost most of their major-name talent to WCW during the Monday Night Wars. HBK and the Hitman took the ball and ran with it, but they may never have been given the ball at all had Vince been out of options elsewhere. Our three picks took the spotlight away from much larger men - and looked great while doing it. 

Rey Mysterio

WWE fans have always had a strong affinity with Rey Mysterio. You can make your own arguments about whether he's the best wrestler ever to come from Mexico, but he's indisputably the best Mexican wrestler ever to compete in a WWE ring. Even now, in his mid-40s, and without a run at the top of the card in over a decade, fans still treat Mysterio as a big deal whenever he steps into a WWE ring. While the high-flying, fast-paced style that made Mysterio stand out as a younger wrestler may now be commonplace, Mysterio was one of the first wrestlers of the modern style that many WWE fans saw. 

Such was his popularity that McMahon eventually decided to put the World Heavyweight Championship on him with a victory over Randy Orton and Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 22. He may not have been Vince's ideal choice, but if you're going to take a gamble on someone, Mysterio is a fine choice. Although he's not the most famous wrestler of all time, Mysterio is probably the first masked wrestler that most people think of. Even on mobile slots websites or related casinos, you may occasionally see references to Mysterio. Mobile slots games like 'Lucha Legends,' and 'El Jackpotto' feature characters who bear more than a passing resemblance to Mysterio, and that's probably not a coincidence. He can draw money when his likeness turns up in a mobile slots game, and he can draw money in the ring. Mysterio is a legend of the squared circle- and he beat the odds to get there. 

Daniel Bryan

There's no way that Daniel Bryan should ever have made it to the main event of WrestleMania 30. If you believe the man himself, he almost didn't get a job with the company at all when McMahon found out he was vegan. Shortly after debuting, he was fired for choking Justin Roberts with his own tie on-screen, only to be brought back again a few weeks later. After that he was largely treated as a strong, dependable mid-carder. His eighteen-second defeat to Sheamus at WrestleMania 28 was supposed to be the comedy punchline of his meandering World Heavyweight Championship run. Instead, it was a huge catalyst. 

Instead of accepting Sheamus as a new babyface superstar, fans rallied behind Daniel Bryan. They chanted for him relentlessly. When WWE tried to shift heat off him by turning him heel and allying him with the Wyatt Family, they kept on chanting. When WWE went out of their way to tell us directly that he was an inferior talent to Randy Orton, they kept on chanting. When it became clear that Batista was being groomed for the main event slot at WrestleMania 30 that fans felt was rightfully Bryan’s, Batista got booed out of every building he set foot in. The people wanted Bryan. In the main event of the 30th WrestleMania, they finally got their man. Bryan’s victory is one of the all-time great WrestleMania moments. 

CM Punk

People often say that if you drew the perfect WWE superstar, it would look like Randy Orton. If you were to try drawing someone who would have no chance of hitting it big in WWE, you might come up with something very similar to CM Punk. Outspoken, allegedly difficult to work with, covered in tattoos and slightly-built, Punk was the antithesis of John Cena when their paths crossed in 2011. Punk’s contract was up, and he was on his way back to the indies. Somehow, he persuaded McMahon to hand him a live microphone and let him talk unscripted to sell his final match with Cena. Instead, Punk delivered what is now probably the most famous promo in professional wrestling history, and his life changed in an instant. 

After speaking his mind candidly, Punk became 'the voice of the voiceless.' He'd said exactly what a lot of fans thought about WWE's product, and just for a few weeks, wrestling seemed 'real' again. Punk rode the wave, signing a bumper new deal with the company and setting off on the 'summer of Punk,' during which he'd win the WWE Championship and hold it for longer than almost anybody in the modern era. This was a guy who was allegedly once dismissed as an indie guy by Triple H, and ridiculed for his ring attire by Tony Atlas. He was almost fired before Paul Heyman asked for him in WWE's ill-fated version of ECW. Instead, he went on to become an icon whose name is still chanted today, years after his final WWE match - and he did it all against the odds.


If you enjoy you can check out the AD-FREE PWInsider Elite section, which features exclusive audio updates, news, our critically acclaimed podcasts, interviews and more, right now for THREE DAYS free by clicking here!