John Cena, a professional wrestler, bodybuilder, rapper, and actor associated with the WWE. Photo via Shutterstock
Pro wrestling is fake. Sad, but true. Hulk Hogan didn't grow 24-inch biceps by taking vitamins, and Andre the Giant wasn't really a 500-pound giant. Regardless of the fixed nature of the sport, between January and April each year, referred to as “The Road to WrestleMania," thousands of wrestling fans forfeit their hard-earned dollars and place online bets on fixed WWE pay-per-view matches. Sure, betting happens year-round, but during these four months, the action is hot on a "sport" as predetermined as an Arnold Rothstein poker game.
Several online sports books, including 5Dimes and Bodog, have been accepting bets on pro wrestling for years, and lately pro wrestling insiders have begun to notice an unsettling trend. You see, unlike boxing or MMA, the odds for pro wrestling matches (favorites vs. underdogs), flip in such a manner that pro wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, who has been covering the business for nearly 30 years, is convinced insiders are pulling the strings. "If you're smart and you know people," says Meltzer, "you can make money because you'll know what the results are."
For example, during the WWE's "Tables, Ladders, and Chairs" pay-per-view last December, just hours before the main event between John Cena and Randy Orton, something unusual happened. John Cena, the WWE's biggest star and the "good guy" was a clear favorite going into the show. But just hours before the match, Randy Orton, the "bad guy," shifted into a 750-point favorite. In the real world, this sort of movement on the lines would never happen without one of the competitors breaking a leg, literally.
"Smart money," which is betting with insider knowledge of the outcomes, shifted the balance in Orton's favor. And the experts, including watchdog blogs like WWE Leaks, all seem to think that WWE employees, or moles within the organization, are responsible for the shift in the odds. Not only does "smart money" manipulate the odds on the various online sports books, it also makes for a shitty experience of watching a show where the script gets leaked every single time.
It actually took the WWE them nearly six months to realize, via a Deadspin article that raised a few eyebrows last year, that their storyline results were being leaked. Nobody knows for sure who's responsible, but a mysterious Reddit user, who the WWE referred to as a "modern day Nostradamus," seems to have a good idea. Going by the nonsensical alias Dolphins1925, the account has been able to predict the results of every single WWE pay-per-view match since February of last year with near 100% accuracy.
According to Dolphins1925, who even went as far as posting his own manifesto to justify his spoilers, someone within the WWE is leaking the results directly to him through a connection. His results are posted in Reddit's popular Squared Circle Prediction Series. Meltzer, who claims to have a good idea who Dolphins1925 really is, seems confident that the Reddit user is the real thing. "He absolutely has a connection, " says Meltzer, who also tells VICE that the WWE would fire the leaker, assuming they discover the mole.
But that's just it—the WWE doesn't seem to care about match results being leaked. No action has been taken, publicly that is, and when asked for a comment, the WWE refused to acknowledge the issue with any seriousness.
Pro wrestling fans.
During the recent Royal Rumble pay-per-view, where 30 wrestlers throw each other over the top rope for a chance at championship match at WrestleMania XXX, the "Animal" Batista was the favorite, and to nobody's surprise, the subsequent winner of the match. As for Dolphins1925, the Reddit user once again selected the winners correctly, and this time, he took his spoilers to Twitter. It's also worth noting that Dolphins1925 always bets in line with the betting odds—meaning he always picks the favorites.
With WrestleMania XXX, the WWE's "Super Bowl," coming up on April, it should be interesting to see if Dolphins1925 will be able spoil the WWE's biggest show of the year. WWE doesn't seem to be too concerned, and their email to VICE required the following thought-provoking clarification from their PR rep: "Since WWE is scripted entertainment and the outcomes are pre-determined, why are people gambling on it?"
More and more, it seems the old days of pro wrestling, when the match results were protected like nuclear launch codes, have been replaced with corporate sponsorships, reality TV storylines, a new WWE Network, and confused fans willing to place bets on predetermined outcomes that are clearly being manipulated by insider money.
Speaking of the WWE Network, the reported deal to make WWE the Netflix of pro wrestling includes a partnership with MLB, which recently announced their inductees into the 2014 Hall of Fame, sans Pete Rose, again. Ironically, Rose, who was banned from Major League Baseball in 1989 for gambling, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004 as part of his silly rivalry with WWE Superstar Kane—who wears a mask and sets the ring on fire (really). But while Pete Rose will not be involved in the launch of the WWE Network, his second favorite pastime, gambling, will most certainly be a part of the upcoming WrestleMania XXX pay-per-view—which is expected to have millions of fans tune-in online or through pay-per-view to watch the WWE's "showcase of the immortals."
Dolphins1925, who was 38-38 between February and July of last year, could certainly spoil the whole thing and send subscribers of the new WWE Network into a panic once they realize everything they watch could potentially be spoiled by some random Reddit geek. With rumors floating around that Hulk Hogan could return for a match with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper at WrestleMania XXX, picking a winner between the two legends might be tough call. Unless of course you're Dolphins1925, or the CEO and Chairman himself. "In wrestling, there are no surprises," says Meltzer, "at least no surprises for Vince McMahon." No surprises, right… as long as you're not betting against the house.