When WWE started the 2019 King of the Ring tournament, most fans would have been hard pressed to choose Baron Corbin as the winner.
When WWE started the 2019 King of the Ring tournament, most fans would have rather eaten broken glass covered in hot sauce and moose urine than choose Baron Corbin as the winner. Yet, here we are. Baron Corbin is your 2019 King of the Ring and there’s nothing you can do about it. But it’s worth mentioning that this was the best possible outcome for the tournament. Seriously.
Baron Corbin made his way to the main roster a few years ago with much fanfare and little success. He’s had some good matches but he’s been best known for losing opportunities like the Money in the Bank contract. He did win the United States Championship, though his reign was short and not particularly memorable. Really, the biggest thing that’s happened to him since leaving NXT in 2016 was shaving that awful mop of hair off his head. He looks way better bald. And that might be the best thing you can say about him at this point.
His biggest offence is that he’s frequently boring. Corbin has been dressing for ring action like a groomsman who’s six drinks deep into the reception. His promos are often quite predictable and banal. The crowds aren’t booing him because he’s a good heel — they’re booing him because they’re bored and are tired of him taking up TV time.
Are you convinced that having him win King of the Ring was a good idea, yet?
The reality is that Baron Corbin is a talented wrestler and a good worker in the ring. He has a great moveset that he not only executes well but also consistently. Any flaws in his onscreen character should probably be chalked up to creative, not him. Keeping in mind that few superstars are allowed to write their own promos in the WWE, Corbin has honestly done quite well with what he’s been given. But what he’s been given is stale, to say the least. King of the Ring was a perfect opportunity to give Baron Corbin’s character a bit of a shakeup.
Fans in general rolled their eyes when they saw him in the tournament. The automatic assumption was that he would once again play the part of the guy who almost succeeded, which is basically his onscreen character’s bio at this point.
As he progressed through the bracket, fans got nervous: what if he actually won? The final was Corbin versus Chad Gable, another superstar who has floundered a bit after moving up from NXT. Since the end of his tag team, American Alpha, Gable has struggled to find something that works despite being a talented in ring performer. Like Corbin, a haircut was his biggest success story in the last couple of years.
The final match of the tournament between Corbin and Gable was unexpectedly brilliant. But it shouldn’t have been a surprise. These are two wrestlers who are good at what they do, and it truly was a hell of a match.
Winning this tournament was important for Corbin as he needed something to make him relevant. Plus, it just makes more sense from a storytelling perspective. Calling yourself the “King of the Ring” is obnoxious and arrogant. It’s kind of like carrying around a “Best in the World” trophy and acting like it matters, even in jest. Previous winners like Ted DiBiase, Owen Hart, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Booker T, William Regal and Bad News Barrett have all played the obnoxious heel angle as king to perfection. Corbin will, too.
The majority of people watching the match seemed to be in favor of Gable winning. In practice, a moniker like “King of the Ring” works better on a heel character like Baron Corbin than a face like Gable. He can still benefit from it, though.
Gable’s career has been in limbo for a long time. No one would have pegged him to make it past the first round of the tournament, let alone be the runner up. Making it that far in the tournament and having the match of his career with Corbin can only raise his stock with fans and management. When was the last time you heard a crowd cheer that loudly for Chad Gable? And what about Corbin’s coronation? Gable got a huge pop from the crowd when he trashed it. He will get way more mileage out of being the underdog nipping at Corbin’s heels than he ever would have as the King of the Ring.
Fans would have forgotten about Gable in a couple of weeks if he had won. The same thing would have happened to Corbin if he lost.
Corbin needed this win and will make the best use of it. Being King of the Ring will elevate him from the mediocrity he was mired in to a proper heel that fans can truly get behind hating. In the end, isn’t that what everyone wants? To be fully and truly hated?
Now, he just needs to find better ring attire. Shinsuke Nakamura has been rocking a cape lately. Maybe Corbin can, too.
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