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Wile E. Corbin was booked to look like a complete idiot last night

Tuesday’s biggest decision harmed one, and benefited none.

Let me get this straight. Five days before SummerSlam, following a RAW go-home show that featured two matches we’ll see again in Brooklyn, WWE felt it necessary to extinguish one of its Money in the Bank briefcases. The cash-in is the easiest pop in WWE, because even if a particular fan doesn’t love the man or woman holding the contract, everyone loves seeing history.

I remember attending Survivor Series two years ago in Atlanta when Roman Reigns won Seth Rollins’ vacated WWE Championship, only to see the gold slip through his fingers when Sheamus cashed in and pinned him in a ring covered in confetti. If you’ve seen a briefcase cashed live, you’ve seen one of the rarest things in pro wrestling. Unlike going to a WrestleMania, where the date is known, what makes the cash-in such an enticing experience is its unpredictability.

Last night on SmackDown Live, Baron Corbin handed his briefcase to the referee, feeling Jinder Mahal was a beaten man following the second rope Attitude Adjustment he just took from John Cena. It wasn’t a terrible calculation, but virtually everything Corbin did, from the moment he walked down that ramp, made him come across as the biggest buffoon in WWE history.

If Corbin wished to cash, he needed to do so immediately. But, he was out there to attack his opponent for Sunday, and after giving Mahal well over two minutes to recover, he THEN decided to sprint back to the ring and hand the briefcase to the striped shirt. That was the first mistake. He should have looked back down to the ring, realized he screwed up and his priorities were off, stomped his feet, and waited for a better opportunity.

Worse than the delay was not ensuring Cena was down for the count before going after Mahal. Baron hit him once with the briefcase, but John was stirring even before the bell made the cash-in attempt official and binding. From a working perspective, Corbin couldn’t possibly have done a poorer job at not telegraphing what was to come. The camera did him no favors, but he continually glanced back to see where Cena was, not because he was a savvy competitor aware of his surroundings, but because he needed to know when and where to break concentration and turn away from Jinder.

His shoulder might have been up, but that’s 2017 WWE, and the roll-up was abrupt, as it should have been to generate the surprise finish. What resulted from this creative choice is Corbin loses to Mahal, the briefcase vanishes, and Baron is left angry after an ACME anvil landed on his head. Now, Baron Corbin has precisely squat going for him. I wrote just before the end of the year that he was primed for a huge year, and I predicted he would be Champion sooner, rather than later.

He hasn’t regressed, but he also hasn’t gotten any better since that point. The one thing he had going for him as a character, that kept him remotely compelling, was the briefcase. It enabled WWE to shoehorn him into the main event at any moment, without him having to work a long Championship program he’s unequipped to have at this point. Now that the Samsonite is no longer in his possession, there’s no reason to watch him.

We won’t even get into the logic fallacy of Cena stopping the American, Corbin, from going after the Indian Champion that has badmouthed the United States since before he won the gold from Randy Orton. Don’t forget the fact that both Mahal and Corbin are both heels, and while Cena has more of a personal problem with Baron right now, he also benefits if Corbin becomes Champion. He would be in a title match at one of the biggest shows of the year. Yes, Baron may have cost him the match, but Cena is the one babyface WWE never portrays as an imbecile.

What the cash last night means is Carmella isn’t coming after Naomi or Natalya on Sunday. They’re not doing both briefcase maneuvers in the same seven day span. What it also means is Baron Corbin just became the boring, uninteresting, forgettable star his critics claim him to be. Holding that contract gave him purpose. It gave him a reason to exist. Just as I believe Jorah is done for this coming Sunday beyond the wall because he already had his Khaleesi reunion, Corbin is headed back to the shallow end. He isn’t dead, but he’s outlived his current usefulness as anything bigger than a midcard performer.

Baron certainly isn’t going anywhere, but this kills any chance that his appearances have anything past a basic, surface meaning. He just comes out and has matches now. He’s just a bully again. Even if he beats Cena, who gives a damn? This is the only thing people will be thinking about. It undercuts anything else he could do in the short term.

He cashed in on another heel, which is a complete waste, and he did so in the most asinine, ridiculous way imaginable.

WWE could have made this work for me had the announce team been on the ball, but no one told them how to play this scenario to everyone’s benefit. Baron Corbin is one thing above all else: Inexperienced. The story should have been that he made several mistakes, even with the advantage of being the fresh man picking the bones of an exhausted Champion. All the points mentioned above could have been made BY THE BOOTH to explain why the cash-in was doomed.

Instead, the announcers reacted with shock, but didn’t throw a life preserver to Corbin. If there’s one refreshing development from last night, it’s that for once, the prick antagonist looked like a fool again. That’s more of the old style of wrestling, where the heel had to cheat because he couldn’t win an honest fight, whether mental or physical. He had to take the low road, or he would lose. These days, perhaps dating back to much of the nWo and Attitude Era, the heels are the cool kids.

Corbin was a dumb ass, and that’s what he looked like as he threw a tantrum after his boneheadery cost him a sure thing. In the grand scheme of his career, it may well be a blip. But, it’s a setback, and for it to happen five days prior to the biggest match of his career in terms of opponent shows he’s anything but protected.

The cash-in is always exciting, and it was last night. But, if the goal of this week’s TV was to make me want to see SummerSlam, it missed the mark. There wasn’t much reason to want Cena/Corbin before this fiasco, but now there’s none. In fact, there’s now officially no reason to want Baron Corbin on television at all.

He needed to be handled with care. Instead, he was handled like an already-broken toy. It did nothing for SummerSlam. It did nothing for Cena. It did nothing for Corbin. It was a very WCW in 2000 kind of loser shock value move.

No, that’s not a compliment.

This was a totally unnecessary decision, and it harmed a youngster still trying to find his way. The end game escapes me. Why would you do something like this right now? If the answer is simply to add more fuel to Cena vs. Corbin, that’s nowhere near good enough.

Pro wrestling is a pre-determined business, and I’m not “mad.” I’m disappointed in the same way I was at the end of the How I Met Your Mother series finale. The writing, which had been shaky for a while, completely crapped the bed, outthought itself, and bombed.

I feel a little sorry for Baron Corbin, who needed that briefcase for current relevance. This was really stupid, poorly timed, and hideously executed.

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