Last month at WWE NXT The Great American Bash, Baron Corbin took on Olympic Gold Medalist Gable Steveson in a match that ended in a double count-out. While the finish may not have been definitive, the same could not be said for how the fans in attendance felt about each man. While many expected the long-running WWE heel, Corbin, to take the lion’s share of the heat compared to the white-meat babyface Olympian, Gable, things do not always go as expected in sports entertainment.
Corbin has been on a run of quality matches in NXT, including a critically acclaimed bout with Carmelo Hayes, and has begun winning over many of his hardcore detractors. With Gable a relatively unknown character to the fans, they decided to share their love for Corbin that night instead. In an exclusive Haus of Wrestling interview conducted during WWE SummerSlam week, I had the chance to ask Corbin about the NXT faithful cheering him over Gable.
“You know, it was wild when my music hit, and I got new music. And I think because a lot of people wanted that, for me, a lot of people wanted the new music, they wanted the new character. A lot of people who are here seeing what I do are tied all the way back to the Lone Wolf. They want to see that again, and they’re gonna get that attitude for sure. It’s just going to be presented how I would present it.
“And when my music hit, I got that kind of 50/50-like, we’re booing you because we boo you but also got like a good cheer, but by the time the match had started, it was 100% for me, and 100% not into what he was doing,” he recalled. “I thought I had a chance to be able to turn it back the other way, and I just got to the point it was like, I can’t fight it. I mean, otherwise, they’re just gonna hate this. So let’s just go and let them have fun, and they were definitely behind me; it was awesome.”
It was certainly quite the scene watching the WWE NXT fans reject the Olympic gold medalist in favor of the traditionally hated Corbin. I pressed Corbin about the reaction he received from management after the bout was over.
“I have no idea what they’re thinking main roster-wise; what they see, what they want to do,” he said. “But I think in NXT that the greatest thing about being around Shawn and Russo (not Vince Russo), who’s the head writer there. They’re not going to fight anything; they’re gonna just let me do me, and if people love it, they’re gonna love it. I’m not going to change and go, Okay, hey, look, I’m a good guy now; cheer for me. I’m gonna do me, and the crowd is gonna decide, and I think they’re starting too, and it is weird.”
Baron Corbin was last seen on WWE NXT last night getting physical with Von Wagner, who were pulled apart by security. The two men will face off next Wednesday on a special Heatwave edition of WWE NXT. It will air at 8/7 on USA.
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