Another Wild Theory
This one is vaguely spoilerish for the match
The Wolf Bats didn’t pay off the ref: Amon did.
No, hear me out. When the Wolf Bats were blatantly cheating, you could hear the crowd BOOING. The announcer commented on it several times. They couldn’t have won continuously like this: eventually it would have been brought to the officials and they’d be disqualified.
So while they do probably cheat normally, I have a feeling it’s alot more subtle than it was in this match. After all they usually do knock-outs straight away right? So there’s less chance of them getting caught. Only this time the Fire Ferrets don’t get knocked out, so they lose their cool. Luckily for them the ref seems to be on their side- so they play even dirtier than normal. But they’re not the ones to pay them off, they were just taking advantage of the situation.
The situation that was set up by Amon for several reasons:
1) He’s saving Korra for last. It’s in the plan to make a statement by ‘cleansing’ the winners of the Pro-bending games, but it can’t be the Avatar and her friends, not yet. So someone else has to win.
2) The Wolf-bats make benders look bad. They lie and cheat and abuse their abilities with brutal, violent and underhanded tactics. They’re everything Amon is warning against. The evidence is already there for him to point out, so it’s alot easier to turn people against benders by making an example of nasty, cheating benders instead of those nice, playing fair benders. He didn’t want martyrs.
So a nasty group of benders misuse their powers to reach to the top. He gets rid of them and points out, with a nice metaphor, how nasty they are (like all benders). This is what led me to this conclusion in the first place. Amon’s speech about cheating and abuse of power? That shit was planned. He probably rehearsed it in front of a mirror (not that there was much point with the mask).
It wouldn’t have worked at all as a metaphor if the Fire Ferrets won. So he paid off the ref to make sure the Wolf Bats would cheat even more than usual and win. Gets rid of the ‘nice-guy’ group and just like that he’s got a metaphor. ‘These shitsacks are the best benders in the city and they’re lying toerags. If the best can’t be trusted with their power how can the rest of them be?’ now they’re the bad guys, and he can make an example of them.