Baron Corbin is a loser.
There’s no denying it at this point; every opportunity he’s had, he’s squandered.
Okay, sure, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in Memory of Andre the Giant is a bit of a crapshoot, maybe we can’t count not capitalizing on that one against him, but certainly since being drafted to SmackDown, the Lone Wolf has done nothing but fail when it counts the most. He’s had victories here and there, hell, you can argue he ran Jack Swagger out of the company, but let’s take a look at a few major opportunities he’s blown, shall we?
A shot in a triple threat match to challenge for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam? Apollo Crews won that one.
Got a spot on Team SmackDown at Survivor Series? Injured out of by Kalisto.
In the Royal Rumble, having eliminated Braun Strowman with a real chance to win the deal? Eliminated by an Undertaker so worn down by age he’d end up retired by WWE’s other large canine mere months later.
Another shot at the IC title, this time held by Dean Ambrose, a man he nearly murdered with a forklift? Couldn’t get the job done.
Won Money in the Bank? Cashed it in late with John Cena (who disposed of him handily at SummerSlam, I might add) mere feet away, practically guaranteeing his own failure.
And so we get to the present day, with Baron on a quixotic quest to take the United States Championship away from AJ Styles, only to find himself made the butt of the joke at every turn, routinely humiliated by Tye Dillinger to boot.
We’re not so different, you and I
But... has AJ really had that much better a time of it, lately?
Oh sure, he puts up a strong front, reminding us that SmackDown is the House That AJ Styles Built and whatnot, but frankly, he started the year as WWE Champion locked in an all-time feud with John Cena. His WrestleMania feud against Shane McMahon can be regarded as a lateral move to at least some extent, but since then he’s been kicked down the card.
Not that the venerable United States Championship is without merits, of course, the aforementioned Face That Runs the Place (Original Flavor) held court with it for a good long while back in 2015. It’s what Styles has done on the road to and with the title that paint the picture of a Phenomenal Slump.
The man failed in his first opportunity at the title because his foot got caught in some furniture, of all things. After an unsuccessful detour to try and reclaim the WWE Championship by winning Money in the Bank (which, you’ll note, is the only time AJ has come within sniffing distance of that title since becoming #1 contender to the United States Championship), he finally won the title from Kevin Owens...
Only to immediately lose it back at Battleground when the match fell apart. Sure, he won it back two days later, but the entire Owens feud saw Styles bogged down by referee controversy and a general feeling like he couldn’t get out of second gear. And once he was free of that, his noble attempt to hearken back to the glory of Cena’s United States Open Challenge immediately got derailed by Corbin trying to make up for his own shortcomings.
One shot at glory
Okay, so Baron’s floor might be a little lower than your average briefcase dork, but we’ve established that it’s not like AJ’s having a banner year here. What about the actual match? Well... things don’t look good for the Lone Wolf. Slump or no, AJ Styles is called the Phenomenal One for a reason. He’s been, by almost any criteria you care to name, one of the best in the world for more years of his nineteen-year career than he hasn’t.
The two times these men have met in televised singles action previously, Styles won both. Granted, one by count-out, but that’s a meaningless distinction since, as reigning champion, either outcome would leave him with gold still around his waist. That champion’s advantage naturally leads us to consider the specter of Tye Dillinger— if the Perfect Ten decides to stick his nose into this one, Baron could see the title slip right through his fingers again.
But even considering all this, you’d be foolish to write Corbin off in the ring entirely. He’s seven years younger than AJ, and he’s got nine inches and nearly sixty pounds on him besides. Add in the sheer success rate of End of Days when it hits and the odds are closer to even than they seem at first glance.
Will the Phenomenal One finally be able to move on with the United States Open Challenge or will the Lone Wolf have his day?
Who will win?
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