Baron Corbin is a week away from his second WrestleMania where he is scheduled to face Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship. Corbin’s WrestleMania debut also happened to be his WWE debut, where he won the third annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Unlike the first two winners, the trophy was not a major part of Corbin’s storylines moving forward as it was only displayed at ringside during Baron’s matches for a few weeks before going away without explanation.
Trophy or not, Baron Corbin’s win last April inside AT&T Stadium was designed as a significant introduction to the main roster. Corbin’s promotion was more successful than that of several of his peers, including Apollo Crews, Tyler Breeze and The Vaudevillains and that still appears to be the case. Crews will be in this year’s ATGMBR, but is not considered to be among the short-list of potential winners.
As noted, Baron Corbin will take on Dean Ambrose for the IC title at WrestleMania next Sunday, considered the fourth biggest feud on the SmackDown Live brand leading into the inter-promotional extravaganza. Ahead of them on the pecking order would be the WWE Championship program between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton, the rivalry between AJ Styles and Shane McMahon, and the mainstream mixed tag match between John Cena & Nikki Bella and The Miz & Maryse.
It should certainly be considered a feather in his cap to be in a featured WrestleMania match for Baron Corbin, but it also represents somewhat of a fall from grace for Ambrose. The Lunatic Fringe was in a marquee match with Brock Lesnar last year and finds himself in the mid-card this time around. Ambrose’s requests to make his match with Lesnar as hardcore as possible were denied this year, but it appears as if he’ll get his wish with Baron Corbin next Sunday.
It’s expected that Daniel Bryan will add a stipulation to the Baron Corbin-Dean Ambrose match this coming Tuesday on SmackDown as a forklift has been prominently featured in two of the last three weeks. From there, Corbin is currently penciled-in as the favorite to defeat Ambrose, become the new Intercontinental Champion and experience back-to-back WrestleMania coronations, regardless the level.
We’ve noted in the past how WWE officials have been unimpressed with Ambrose’s run as IC Champion, hence the reason for the quick change. It’ll mark the second time since the brand extension that the company halted a Dean Ambrose title reign before they had originally planned. Dean was supposed to be WWE Champion longer, but Vince McMahon was enamored with AJ Styles and wanted to elevate him instead.
The Miz had elevated the Intercontinental Championship coming off his extremely compelling storyline with Dolph Ziggler, and WWE officials haven’t felt that Ambrose has extended its prestige. It’s ironic considering Ambrose had the longest reign as United States Champion since 1991, when he held it through 2013 into 2014. But Ambrose’s loss is Baron Corbin’s gain.
And apparently, it won’t stop with the IC strap. According to a new report, while Baron Corbin is expected to walk out of WrestleMania as a champion, WWE officials have bigger plans for him down the line. Corbin’s push will continue to intensify through the remainder of 2017 and into the main event picture as a top heel. It’s unclear whether Baron will be drafted to RAW at this time, but it’s been clear that he has benefited from the split, especially on a SmackDown roster that dealt with depth issues early on.
If you recall, Baron Corbin had the honors of eliminating Braun Strowman during this year’s Royal Rumble. Strowman enters ‘Mania as the odds-on favorite to win this year’s Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, but store the Royal Rumble moment away for later. WWE officials see a Braun Strowman-Baron Corbin match as a major draw at some point in the future. Corbin has been in one pay-per-view main event already in 2017 (Elimination Chamber) and could see more time in the spotlight later this summer and fall.
[Featured Image by WWE]