Despite a tremendous debut in which he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, Baron Corbin has found it quite difficult to hit his stride since being drafted to SmackDown.
He’s been flung around from feud to feud – first taking out Kalisto on a weekly basis, then being used as a mere prop in the AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose rivalry heading into Backlash, and for the last month he’s been locked in a program with the newest acquisition to the blue brand: Jack Swagger.
Taking on a former world champion isn’t typically something an up-and-coming star will suffer from, but it’s safe to say the transition of the “All-American American” to Tuesday nights could have been handled better. Whatever buzz, if any, that accumulated following his first face-to-face encounter with “The Lone Wolf” has long since subsided due to poor, risk-free booking that arguably resulted in one of SmackDown’s most boring storylines since the brand extension began.
It’s a disappointing development for Swagger. Sure, the man’s career has been in need of a jump-start for over three years at this rate, but Baron Corbin in particular has been in dire need of something concrete to take him in the right direction towards being a major player on the SmackDown roster.
His potential to be one of the brand’s top heels knows no bounds, considering his great look and no-nonsense dominant approach to in-ring competition. As such, he needs something to take him one rung higher on the ladder to success within WWE, and after seeing a brand new fire in him on this past week’s broadcast, he might just be on the verge of a breakthrough.
Not only did his match with Jack Swagger – which thankfully had rivalry-endpoint written all over it – make Corbin look strong in victory, but it brought out a hugely aggressive side in the man that had been hinted at but never showcased on the main roster.
Having taken action to the ringside area, Baron Corbin rested Swagger’s head on the barricade and proceeded to drive into his opponent’s skull with a barrage of brutal forearms and elbows that would typically be associated with an MMA brawl, not your run-of-the-mill WWE match.
After very clearly shaking Swagger to his very core with his brutal assault, Corbin quickly took advantage by nailing the End of Days and pinning his adversary to walk away with his hand raised. It’s amazing to think something so simple could be so impactful, but seeing Corbin’s ringside assault was a sickeningly brilliant way of painting the man as a force to be reckoned with.
The key to success here, however, is continuity.
You simply can’t expose us to this side of Baron Corbin and expect the fans not to ask for more.
Naturally, WWE’s PG rating makes it very difficult to incorporate obscene levels of implied violence into its product, particularly when it seemingly throws all concussion-related concerns out the window for a moment of pure devastation. But should they get the go-ahead to move forward with this new tool in Corbin’s arsenal, it could be what takes the man to that desired next level and makes his matches some of the most highly-anticipated segments on the weekly show.
Think back to Randy Orton’s punt kick, which “The Viper” used regularly to put big names on the shelf and pave his own way to the top of the card so many years ago. Guys like CM Punk, Shawn Michaels, Batista and Vince McMahon himself all got taken out at the receiving end of Randy Orton’s boot, and it added a seriously ferocious quality to Orton’s repertoire going forward.
Treated similarly, if Baron Corbin continues to use his forearm frenzy with the barricade for leverage in order to lay waste to everyone who stands in his way, it could potentially boost this guy’s star quality and make him a serious contender for the Holy Grail in sports entertainment.
Corbin often appears as a man with little care for the wrestling industry itself, and much more concern for making money and decimating his competition in the process.
His confrontation with Daniel Bryan on this week’s Talking Smack gave a clear indication that he’s tired of being overlooked and wants to be awarded the opportunities he’s earned for himself through sheer domination, and he’s not going to stop until he gets it.
There are very few better scenarios in which to kick-start a lengthy run of Baron Corbin beating the holy hell out of some of SmackDown’s stars – and even some local enhancement talent if needs be – in order to prove he’s not going to stop until he gets what he deserves.
This could be akin to Samoa Joe’s short stint on NXT in which he interrupted several segments and laid waste to those in the ring at the time in order to demand a championship rematch against Shinsuke Nakamura. In a similar vein, Corbin could easily hold his own in a storyline that sees him crushing superstar’s heads against the barricade as a way to demand a future title opportunity for himself – even if it’s against Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Title.
It’s better than what he’s had going on so far, and it would be hard to argue otherwise that this kind of character development would be a huge turning point in the career of Baron Corbin.