So people feel Roman Reigns doesn’t deserve his championship match at WrestleMania against Brock Lesnar, despite the legally binding contract that is winning the Royal Rumble. But this isn’t the first time the WWE has accelerated a wrestler’s path to the main event, or even thrown a bone to a long-time mid-carder that had no business being in a match that had the title graphic “WWE Championship” before the bell rang. To be fair though this list will only concentrate on those undeserved number one contenders that were given pay-per-view title shots, or else it’d be filled with every wrestler Bret Hart faced in 1992, or almost every other superstar Hulk Hogan defeated on Saturday Night’s Main Event.
While the Cold War had been a thing since the late 1940’s, it was still a pretty intense situation in the 1980’s and, most importantly, a major part of the fabric that made up a lot of 1980’s popular culture. You had Sylvester Stallone defending America’s honor against the Soviets in the best Rocky movie since the first one, Rocky IV. Even “teenage” movie heartthrobs answered the call to arms in the war against Soviet Russia in the original Red Dawn. And wrestling was no different. Always trying to remain relevant with the times, every territory had its own Red Menace, sometimes even two.
Often perceived as a villain, in particularly the few films he’s made appearances in, the “Red Cyclone” is actually considered to be “good natured, with a great sense of humor, and totally fearless.” according to the Capcom Wiki page of Street Fighter II: Special Championship Edition. The grappling Ruskie is also considered to be the first fighting video game character who relies on a rasslin’ moveset. So you can thank this man for your Kings, Wolf Hawkfields, and Big Bear/Raidens.
Oftentimes, a foreign wrestler who has such a strong hatred for America that it could only be remedied by moving to the U.S., joining the WWE, and fighting American wrestlers in American cities, with the occasional tour to other countries where they’re still booed, will sometimes turn babyface once they realize that America isn’t as bad as some people make it out to be. Usually, the foreigner’s xenophobic stance on American culture is gradually pacified by an American friend. Or, in the case of Tajiri and Kozlov, someone who speaks English better than they do. More often than not, despite how talented the wrestler is, assimilating to American culture means letting your guard down and becoming the comic relief. Because when we Americans aren’t busy trying to run foreign people out of our country, we’re usually laughing at them.