Wrestling with the Odds: The Importance of Kayfabe when Betting on Predetermined Outcomes

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Seth Rollins wins at SummerSlam as the underdogs in wrestling betting.
Credit: WWE

On May 14, 2018, the United States Supreme lifted a federal ban on sports betting, when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was struck down as unconstitutional because it interfered with states’ rights. This move allows individual states the choice to legalize the act of sports betting and so far, 42 of the 50 states have moved toward some sort of legalization. According to Business Insider, as of August 2019, 11 states have legalized sports betting, seven additional states passed a law to legalize but are pending a launch date and 24 remaining states have legislation pending.

Many states have also taken that sports betting online, so like the phenomenon of online casinos like https://toripelit.com/netticasino/lvbet/, bettors can now enjoy the prospect of making some quick cash right from the comforts of their own homes.

So why is this important when it comes to pro wrestling and betting odds?

While betting is traditionally held to what some refer to as “real sports,” entertainment betting has been on the rise. In addition to betting on presidential elections or who the next pope will be, bettors can take odds on awards shows such as the Oscars and Emmys, reality TV shows such as Big Brother and Dancing with the Stars, and even scripted shows like Game of Thrones which hosted a variety of prop bets for its finale season including who would rule the Iron Throne, who would die first and how many named characters would Drogon kill. Even movies have gotten into the action with bettors able to place their money on whether or not the final Avengers film would break box office records as well as a series of other props involving everyone’s favorite Marvel Superheroes.

Point being, there are almost no odds that bookies won’t take anymore. And in light of the other things you can bet on, betting on pro wrestling odds really isn’t that crazy a thought these days. In fact, it’s a pretty popular one. It just works a little differently than betting on the outcome of a football or baseball game. Because like Game of Thrones or the Avengers, you’re betting on an event that has a predetermined outcome. That can be tricky, but it also can be rewarding, especially if you follow the kayfabe trail.

We’ll use the Avengers as an example. Leading up to the movie, it was known that Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans were seemingly done with playing their respective characters of Iron Man and Captain America. So from that respect, it wasn’t a bad bet to take the prop on if those characters would die. And hey, one out of two ain’t bad.

The same can be said for pro wrestling. Before placing a bet, examine what you know, specifically the why it makes sense for a certain wrestler to win over another. Let’s look back on wrestling odds from this year’s SummerSlam for an example of how everything played out and what we knew going into the event that would have helped with placing a bet.

Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins had Lesnar -200. And for the most part it seemed like the safe bet to take Lesnar to retain his Universal title. For starters, Lesnar had just won the title from Rollins after cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Not to mention, it had started to be reported around that time, that Lesnar was going to be sticking around and making more appearances than he had the last time he was a part-time champion. But so it was that Rollins pulled off the upset at +150. Not a huge payout, but if you took the underdog, you stood to make a few bucks.

Becky Lynch vs Natalya had the Man -300 over her challenger. And yes, SummerSlam was in Toronto, which is likely the reason the lone female Hart wrestler was in the match. Lynch was not losing her title. Still at the height of her newfound popularity, Lynch was meant to be the standard-bearer for Raw, not just among the men but among the whole locker room. Better odds would have been a prop on if there would have been a Montreal Screwjob redux in the match. There wasn’t, but that’s how much of a lock Lynch was to retain her championship.

Randy Orton vs Kofi Kingston had the champ favored -200. But much like Rollins/Lesnar, the odds were close. From a kayfabe standpoint, this was probably the toughest to call as either man had a story had they walked away as the champion. It would have been easy to see WWE putting the championship back on Orton at the same venue where he had first won it 15 years prior. But there was also Kingston’s story. 10 years prior, an in-ring mistake, led to an irate Orton using his influence to push Kingston down the card in the midst of what may have been a championship push. Instead, Kingston moved from the midcard to the tag division as he finally worked his way back to the top of the company. But standing in his way again, was Orton, who was ready to reclaim the top spot. Kingston had a good reign but he needed the statement win over Orton to really give it a big moment. Such happened at SummerSlam and those betting the favorite were rewarded thusly.

Lastly, among the top title matches, Bayley had -200 odds over Ember Moon to retain her championship. There wasn’t much to this one. No real heat, no real story and it kind of felt like Moon was just put into this match because there was no one else. The match was simply built upon respect. Bayley chose Moon as her challenger. The odds told the rest. There wasn’t much reason to think that Bayley would lose and she didn’t.

So, to recap, three of the four favorites who were also the champions, retained their titles. Only Lesnar didn’t. In wrestling, this can often be the case in betting odds. Often, your champion is going to have the better odds and while it’s not completely unlikely to see a title change, they are rarer than not. But don’t forget, this is wrestling. And if you’ve ever heard of a bad beat in betting, those can happen here too if a champ loses by disqualification. Because often you won’t find odds worded that the champion will retain his/her title, simply that they will win the match.

So, definitely consider the characters, consider the story. Consider the kayfabe the next time you place your wrestling betting odds.

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