Wrestling God? More like a Wrestling Goof!
This Real Rasslin special feature discusses yet another wretched character switch for WWE Superstar Baron Corbin and JBL's role in it all
by Mark Mahler - 02.17.2023
Last week on Raw, we saw the end of Happy Corbin - the future wrestling God. Along with him was JBL, the self-proclaimed Wrestling God.
In one line, JBL buried his protege: “You can’t polish a turd; I tried.”
Thus, bringing an end to this brutal relationship from hell. JBL buried Corbin on Raw, let’s not sugarcoat anything. This was a massacre of sorts to a character that just can’t find his footing. But there are more chemistry issues with this pairing than meets the eye (nod to the Transformers: Rise of the Beasts).
The timeline for Corbin is plain disturbing, to be honest. Since his debut on the WWE’s main roster, he’s been: The Lone Wolf (2016-2018), Constable Corbin (2018-2019), King Corbin (2019-2021), Sad Corbin (2021), Happy Corbin (2021-2022), Modern-Day Wrestling God (2022-2023).
Six different personas in Eight years of wrestling on the main roster. That’s way too much. All have been heels, and not one announcement of their being a babyface in any of the characters. Heel to heel - and none of them stick.
You can’t blame the performer if he is doing what’s being asked of him or if the character just isn’t catching on with the fans. Most of the time, when someone overgoes this many gimmick changes, it's because they go from being a heel to a face (or vice versa).
Very rarely do we see, heel-to-heel, but that is exactly what Baron has had to deal with. Almost like creative quit on him and any character. Heel with power, heel with allies, heel-gone-broke, heel wins money and then laughs, heel with a former WWE champ. All seem way too similar, except for his character in NXT, who was a loner. And by the way? Also a heel.
Let’s look at JBL’s timeline for a moment, shall we?
John Hawk/Johnny Hawk/Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw (1995-1997), Bradshaw with The New Blackjacks (1997-1998), Bradshaw with the Acolytes Protection Agency (1998-2002), Singles Bradshaw after the brand split (2002-2003), APA return (2003-2004), JBL the Wrestling God (2004-2008). Six variations in 10 years of in-ring competition.
JBL with Ron Simmons was arguably the best version of Bradshaw until the JBL character. There was more depth for him to go from face to heel, something Corbin hasn’t been able to experience yet. One of the biggest differences between JBL and Corbin is that Baron has been a heel the entire time, whereas JBL went heel, face, heel, face, face, and back-to-heel. There's more flexibility in the JBL/Bradshaw character over the one-dimensional Corbin character.
A one-dimensional character in the WWE normally doesn’t last more than a cup of tea, so either the WWE sees something in Corbin, or Corbin has naked pictures of someone in the front office to constantly stick around.
However, JBL is a natural asshole. Yes, I said that out loud. JBL is a natural heel that fans hated especially when he was the champ. Corbin on the other hand has fallen into this abyss of being boring, being a bum ass, no matter what you call him, he’s got X-Pac heat or go away heat and it’s not natural, people just don’t like him or any of his characters and that makes it easy for fans to make a beer run or take a bathroom break every time he’s on TV.
In his parting shots, JBL called Corbin a “Channel-Changer”. This isn’t untrue at all. But, it’s funny coming from a guy that is a right-wing clown himself. He’s a corporate puppet in real life. He used it in his gimmicks to get heat and it worked. So, in other words, just being himself worked because he’s truly a self-centered asshat in real life. Corbin is lost. He's never had the chance to turn into a babyface or get the 'good guy' push. I can’t tell you if that is of his own making, or if WWE creative just doesn’t see money in him in that role.
But, how would they know if they've never pushed him that way? Is Corbin that unmarketable, or do they just see him as unlikeable to the point they can't come up with a gimmick that will get him over? The questions start to filter in: Is there a way to save Corbin at this point?
In my opinion, maybe he needs to return to NXT and work with Shawn Michaels, Matt Bloom, and others on his character. I’m not sure what they can get out of it. Or, possibly start grooming him as a manager. He obviously has something that the WWE brass sees, or he wouldn’t have lasted this long in gimmick purgatory.
I’m not at all disappointed in reading all over the internet JBL won't be on my TV again (unless I get possessed and put on Fox political shows). He does nothing for me. All these skits, backstage segments with him, and even his in-ring promos have sucked since his return. And he has the gall to worry about his “wrestling legacy”? His legacy went out the window blocking fans on Twitter that didn’t have the same political views as he did. He's also tainted by his out-of-the-ring bullying of everyone under the sun. His image will always be one of a royal asshole to the fans who put money in his pocket.
As for Baron Corbin, his biggest achievements right now are being the Andre the Giant battle royal champ, being a King for a while, being a one-time US Title holder, a Money in the Bank winner, and a Cash-In loser. It’s almost sad that his biggest achievement is from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter which rated him with the Worst Gimmick 2018 and Most Overrated 2018. A double achievement of futility.
At this point, the WWE might have him stay away for a while. The biggest problem with this is, how do you introduce him back to the fans without having them change the channel on him? I mean... JBL’s burial will show to be impactful because he put it in the fans' heads that Corbin is nothing more than a channel-changing element of the show.
What fans might not see, as much as I’ve dissed Corbin in the past, he was at Wrigley Field this past year doing promotional material for the WWE. Little kids were walking up to him, and he was professional. He broke character to sign autographs and mingle.
Guess what? He left a big impression on several people that saw this. It makes you wonder, does Corbin have a good character hiding in him? Only time will tell. Part of me is really rooting for the guy we saw at Wrigley Field with people that threw out the first pitch.
As far as JBL being off WWE TV? All I can say is “Good Riddance, you jackass! Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!" The current WWE product doesn’t need him, and never will. In my opinion, he will never be anything more than a wrestling goof... never a wrestling God.