Has Baron Corbin Become WWE's Greatest Pure Heel of the Last Few Years?

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2019

Love him or hate him, Baron Corbin is the type of heel WWE needs more of.
Love him or hate him, Baron Corbin is the type of heel WWE needs more of.Credit: WWE.com

Few heels today "get it" quite like Baron Corbin, who has thrived as one of WWE's most despised bad guys for the past three-and-a-half years.

In an age when wrestling villains are more popular than they've ever been, Corbin has consistently been able to not only get under the skin of fans but stay vilified as well. He came into his own as an antagonist while in NXT, and he perfected the craft of generating genuine heat from fans upon his move to the main roster in 2016.

The hate he receives isn't for a lack of talent, either. He may not be an expert technician between the ropes, but he is more than capable of holding his own as a wrestler and especially shines whenever he has a microphone in his hands.

Credit: WWE.com

For someone who had zero wrestling experience before signing with WWE in 2012, it's actually astounding what he's been able to accomplish in such a short span of time as a heel.

Corbin spent years honing his craft down in developmental before becoming a regular on NXT TV in late 2014. Although he initially got over as a dominant babyface through brief Goldberg-type squashes, he eventually found his footing as a bad guy the subsequent summer during his heated rivalry with Samoa Joe.

The Lone Wolf used his football background to his advantage by claiming that all it took for him to ink a deal with WWE was a phone call. He then targeted NXT fan favorites who cut their teeth on the independent scene, including Apollo Crews, Sami Zayn and Austin Aries.

Although WWE altered his character's motives a bit once he joined the main roster soon after, he still managed to cement himself as one of the company's best baddies with his innate ability to anger everyone the audience simply by speaking.

WWE fans absolutely love to hate Baron Corbin, something that can't be said for a majority of the Raw or SmackDown rosters. He doesn't take the cheap route and insult whatever city he's in for any given show, and he backs up his trash talking by winning when fans least want him to.

This year's King of the Ring tournament was a prime example of that. Following a month-long hiatus from WWE programming, Corbin returned to Raw to beat five Superstars (all in clean fashion) to become 2019's King of the Ring, campy crown and all.

Corbin can also forever boast that he ended Kurt Angle's illustrious career at WrestleMania 35. While the match quality was criticized by fans, the impressive victory further solidified his status as WWE's most pure heel.

There were many reasons for WWE to not go with Corbin in that spot, but he arguably benefited from it more than anyone else could have, at least in the sense that he has been able to capitalize off the hatred fans already had for him and use their negative perception of him to his advantage.

No matter how much you loathe him, his in-ring accomplishments speak for themselves and make him one of WWE's more credible heels. There's simply nothing redeeming about the former United States champion, which is how he managed to become the most believable bad guy WWE has had in years.

Credit: WWE.com

WWE has a handful of gifted heels between Raw, SmackDown and NXT, but none do as exceptional of a job as Corbin of riling up the WWE Universe.

Of course, a successful villain is only as good as their adversaries, and Corbin has proved he works well with Superstars smaller than him. His recent string of matches with Chad Gable were terrific and highlighted his strengths as a bully between the ropes.

As the quintessential pro wrestling heel, Corbin must continue to climb the ranks on SmackDown until his efforts are rewarded in the form of a run with the world title. If built up the right way, it will be a major moment when he eventually gets his comeuppance.

     

Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.

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