As a general rule, there is a formula in WWE when it comes to the company's desired championship material. It is no secret that Vince McMahon likes to adhere to a set standard, and has pushed large, muscled wrestlers at the expense of beloved indie underdogs, much to fans' chagrin.
Some times though, the will of the fans has won out. It is a remarkable moment in wrestling when a wrestler who nobody expected to succeed wins the coveted title. Here are five least likely candidates who won the WWE Championship and five who thrived with Vince McMahon's backing.
10 Underdog: Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan is arguably the biggest underdog in WWE history who had the most inspiring, meteoric rise to the top. When the Bearded One defeated Batista and Randy Orton in the main event of WrestleMania XXX to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, it signified a new era in WWE as well as Vince McMahon finally backing down to the will of the crowd.
The fans' reaction to Batista's win in the 2014 Royal Rumble match left WWE no other option but to rewrite the WrestleMania narrative to include Bryan.
9 Vince's Chosen One: Roman Reigns
WWE did not learn their lesson from 2014's Royal Rumble. Despite Daniel Bryan having made a triumphant return from injury before the event, the company went with their original plan by having Roman Reigns win the marquee match to cash in a ticket to WrestleMania.
The Big Dog has been dubbed the next John Cena due to his persistent push. Despite fans calling for a heel turn in the past, WWE adamantly maintained Reigns as the face of the company.
8 Underdog: CM Punk
The controversial Superstar altered the course of wrestling thanks to his decorated career in WWE. The former Ring Of Honor star represented a new type of wrestler unrestricted by WWE norms, clashing with Vince and co in the ring and behind the scenes.
Despite speaking out against the company and diverting from the champion prototype, CM Punk had a historic reign with the WWE Championship that immortalized his name in the history books. Fans continue to chant his name despite Punk having made it clear that he will never return to WWE.
7 Vince's Chosen One: The Rock
Much like his cousin Roman Reigns, The Rock was another Superstar handpicked by Vince McMahon for greatness. The Brahma Bull was one of the biggest stars during the Attitude Era, becoming a 10-time world champion and has since gone on to have a successful career outside of WWE.
The Rock fit the mold of what Vince wanted in a champion, from his muscled physique to his undeniable skill on the mic, and remains one of WWE's most recognizable stars.
6 Underdog: Kofi Kingston
Nobody expected Kofi Kingston to win the WWE Championship. Despite having a lengthy tenure with the company, the peak of Kingston's career appeared to be his record-breaking run with the tag team championships alongside New Day members Big E and Xavier Woods.
Kingston's superb skill in the ring, as well as his sheer determination and tenacity, was enough for fans to get behind him quickly. When he defeated Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 35 to win his first world title, it was an emotional moment of triumph.
5 Vince's Chosen One: Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan was the pinnacle of WWF during the 1980s. The Real American represented the fun, vibrant and patriotic vibe that dominated the company pre-Attitude Era, and his reign as champion is now legendary.
Vince handpicked Hulk Hogan as he was a family-friendly face easy to root for, who brought WWF and the wrestling industry into mainstream popular culture.
4 Underdog: Eddie Guerrero
Eddie Guerrero was one of WWE's most successful underdogs who captured a world title to the adoration of fans everywhere. Guerrero's match against Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at No Way Out 2004 is a legendary moment that is made even sweeter thanks to Latino Heat's victory.
Guerrero's wrestling ability was unparalleled, and despite losing the title later in the year he remained in the main event scene until his death in 2005.
3 Vince's Chosen One: John Cena
John Cena has been accused of following in Hulk Hogan's footsteps throughout his career. As well as being handpicked by Vince McMahon to be the face of the company, Cena's inspiring, family-friendly gimmick is another guarantee that he will never turn heel as he sells too much merchandise to adoring children who look up to the Champ as a role model.
Cena's push has often come at the expense of other Superstars, who have had their careers derailed by the company's hesitance to have him put over younger talent.
2 Underdog: Mick Foley
Mick Foley has had several wrestling personas throughout his career, but he won his first WWF Championship as Mankind in 1998. Fans were initially lukewarm to Mankind's gimmick, though came round thanks to his portrayal as an underdog and performance in Hell In A Cell matches.
Foley is a wrestler who has certainly put his body on the line, sacrificing much for his craft in the same vein as other competitors such as Daniel Bryan. Foley deviated from Vince McMahon's preferred prototype, which made his altercations with handpicked hero The Rock that much more entertaining.
1 Vince's Chosen One: Jinder Mahal
Jinder Mahal had a sudden and rapid acceleration from the lower mid-card to the main event. When the Modern Day Maharaja defeated Randy Orton for the WWE Championship at Backlash 2017, fans raised an eyebrow at the motivations for this decision as he had been built up with any previous credibility.
Due to his bulky physique, Mahal fit the desired specifications for championship material and ultimately endeared Indian audiences to WWE, soothing the company's transition to the East.