Baron Corbin made an immediate impact once he was finally called up to the WWE earlier this year. Perhaps not quite as big as Finn Balor’s, who won two matches during his first night on RAW to qualify for a match against Seth Rollins for the newly-created WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam, but an impact nonetheless. Corbin won his first match too: a victory in the third annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania.
Corbin has had plenty of detractors on the way to becoming a WWE superstar. His critics have questioned his experience, his motives, and his motivation. However, at least in his first night on the grand stage, the company felt like they had something in The Lone Wolf.
Corbin’s first words to the WWE Universe upon his promotion were, “For those of you who don’t know who I am, I don’t care.”
Before the WWE Draft, he claimed he didn’t care about being on the red or blue brand — the only color he cared about was green, as in money.
That one statement validated many of those critiques, but it was also a way to portray some of that perception into his on-screen gimmick. Corbin felt like he should have been an NFL star, but he spent three years on the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad before being released. As seen during the first season of WWE’s Breaking Ground, Corbin thought he should have been on the main roster faster than the four years it ended up taking.
All of those expectations developed a chip on the shoulder of Baron Corbin, one that seems to stay there in and out of the ring. Corbin recently granted an interview to the Kansas City Star, where he was asked to differentiate his actual persona (real name Tom Pestock) and the Baron Corbin character he plays on WWE television.
“What you see of me on TV and all of that, that is me — that’s truly how I feel. I’m just multiplying it. It’s that arrogance, that confidence, the belief that I’m the best, and there’s a true attitude that I don’t care what others think… I want to allow myself to display myself to people. The biggest transition is really opening up and letting people into what you’re feeling every moment and multiplying it.”
That multiplication of his personality has rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way, but that’s the point. Baron Corbin is a natural heel who intends to get under your skin with his methodical approach to wrestling and sports entertainment. He acts like he doesn’t care or want to be there, but it’s only because he actually believes he belongs in the main event. That may be a long way off in reality, but the heat in his first four months in WWE is definitely there. To those who don’t believe in Baron Corbin or never thought he should be there in the first place, he thanks you for that fuel.
“I tell them, it’s because I’m that good. … Cry all you want, it’s never going to change where I am.”
After winning the Battle Royal at WrestleMania, Corbin entered his first feud with Dolph Ziggler. The two battled on three consecutive pay-per-views, Payback, Extreme Rules, and Money In The Bank, but twice they were relegated to the kickoff show, and their program never had a meaningful feel. Never has a restart button been hit with such force with Ziggler entering the WWE World Title picture coming off the Corbin feud and not even wrestling on the Battleground show.
Corbin, meanwhile, must find his way on Smackdown Live as well. He was booked in the brand’s first main event in the new era but lost in the six-pack challenge that Ziggler eventually won to become the new number one contender. The following week, he competed in a triple threat match to determine a number one contender to the Intercontinental Championship, but he came out on the short end yet again.
It appears Baron has entered a rivalry with Kalisto for the time being, but there’s a slim chance the match makes the SummerSlam card and the lucha star is likely just a transitional opponent until Smackdown finds a worthy adversary that can actually help elevate Corbin.
[Image via WWE]