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I actually feel bad for Baron Corbin

I’ve always seen the value in Baron Corbin. The guy is smooth if not flashy in the ring, and by all accounts a very safe worker. WWE could stand to use more people in roles like the main event gatekeeper one he’s occupied for a while. For kayfabe and meta reasons, he came across as properly hateable.

But for reasons both outside his control (overexposure, bad storylines) and ones seemingly related to his own abilities (his portrayal of a heel has never been terrible entertaining or interesting, at least in my opinion), he’s never been someone I’d tout or demand more of.

That’s changing with the angle playing out on SmackDown over the past several weeks.

Corbin’s feud with Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs has some of the same flaws we’ve seen in many other WWE programs, including ones featuring the former King. It’s not dog food dumb, but it’s kind of dumb. There have been a lot of rematches already, with screwy finishes. The babyfaces are acting like jerks.

Nak & Boogs being a-holes is part of what made what happened on SmackDown last night (July 2) successful, though. I’m not gonna hold out hope WWE will do a story where the crown corrupts those holding it like the One Ring, or even that they’ll officially turn the new King and his guitar-slinging herald. But their d-baggery is part of what’s making sad sack Corbin interesting and entertaining for the first time in a long time.

Shout out to my man Pat McAfee for adding to all this by clowning on Baron’s appearance, and mocking his car’s “KING-CR-BN” vanity plate by saying “Who has a King Crabbin’ license plate?”

All this on top of losing his crown wasn’t enough. Corbin had to hawk his watch to Dolph Ziggler so he can get his car out of repo before the missus finds out!

Poor dude.

Not sure where this is headed (which is a good thing), or how it ties into rumors WWE’s trademarked the name “Happy Corbin”. The part of my brain that can be convinced everything is a work also wonders if the recently leaked reports that Baron is “beloved” backstage weren’t done as part of a push to help Corbin make the Miz-like leap from loathed to respected, but I’m not sure WWE could coordinate that plan.

All the ingredients in this cocktail are working. A couple months ago, I didn’t think much about Baron Corbin - and when I did, I didn’t think much of Baron Corbin. Now I feel bad for the guy, and I want to see what happens to his character on Friday nights.

That’s the magic of WWE’s never-ending story.

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