Baron Corbin confirms he chose to return to WWE NXT, praises Shawn Michaels & lead writer Johnny Russo

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2023/07/21/baron-corbin-confirms-he-chose-to-return-to-wwe-nxt-praises-shawn-michaels-lead-writer-johnny-russo/

An in-depth discussion about Corbin’s NXT return. 

In late May, Baron Corbin made his return to the NXT brand and took aim at reigning NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes. The two talents had their championship match on week two of Gold Rush on 6/27

Over the past several weeks on NXT TV, vignettes centered around Corbin have aired and they’ve shown that Corbin is searching for his true self. He appeared on the latest WWE After The Bell podcast and spoke highly of collaborating with Shawn Michaels and NXT lead writer Johnny Russo. 

They are letting Corbin guide the ship as far as his on-screen character goes and Corbin said the vignettes were Russo’s idea. 

I was asked about an opportunity to go to NXT and I saw that as a place where I could make some changes in myself and my career and that was the plan going in and I think it’s been a successful execution of that plan so far. I got down there with H.B.K., who is obviously one of the greatest of all time but he also has this unbelievable mind in how to do it but he’s also doing what I love most is he’s kind of hands-off. He is letting me do me in a sense and then sculpting what I bring to him versus handing me, hey, this is what we’re doing, this is where you’re going, this is who we want you to be. He’s going, ‘Hey man, you’ve been around the block. What do you wanna do? Where do you wanna take this? What can we do for you in a sense of creative outlets and opportunities?’ And he’s kind of let me take the ball and run with it a little bit and then obviously, (Johnny) Russo is the head writer down there is unbelievable at his job and unbelievable at what he does and I can bring him a promo that I write or how I feel about a situation or an idea and he puts his mind to it and adds that magic touch of television, of entertainment because you ask a lot of us, so what do you wanna do? I just wanna beat everybody and be world champion and that’s the answer you get from a lot of people but I’m going, ‘No. I wanna make myself real. I wanna make everything I do, who I am and what I’m about’ and he’s like, ‘Alright, so what is that?’ And we have long conversations and he came up with this idea of these vignettes and it’s giving me an opportunity to tap into myself and my creativity.

Baron confirmed that he chose to return to NXT. He said he could have stayed on the main roster and continued to be in the position he was in. 

He went on to say that he wants to make doubters of some NXT talents in a sense, adding that when they get in the ring with him, they ask themselves can they hang on the main roster. 

People look at it sometimes, especially in our social media world, they’re like, ‘Oh, Corbin got downgraded to NXT.’ Hell no, I did not. I did choose to go there. I could’ve said no, I’m not and I could’ve stayed on SmackDown and I could be in the middle doing nothing, still as Happy Corbin music and going out there and competing in the middle where it’s easy to do and it’s comfortable but I wanted to go back and restart because you’re around those guys and you feel that hunger and you feel that drive they have and me, it makes me wanna bury ‘em all in a sense. You can’t hang with the big boys. I’m one of the big boys and I’m gonna show each and every one of you, you’re not on my level. Go in there, training with Fit’s class a couple times and you start doing something and Fit (Finlay) stops the class and goes, ‘This is the difference. Watch the difference. This is a guy who is on the main roster, this is main roster talent, this is main roster emotion, aggression’ and you wanna separate yourself from them and make doubters out of them if you will, a few of them. I wanted Carmelo (Hayes), when I got into the ring with him, I wanted him to go, man, do I have the ability to hang on the main roster? Do I have the ability to be a major WWE superstar? So for me, I’m taking their hunger and using it for myself but I’m also using it against them. I’m going, hey man, this is a level. Step up or kick rocks.

There was a point prior to Corbin’s NXT return when he was paired with J.B.L. (John Bradshaw Layfield) on the main roster. He stated that there was a sense of panic during that time because everything he had done up until that point clicked. 

Corbin said it felt like he was drowning in a sense. Circling back to his NXT comeback, he brought up using the ‘Lone Wolf’ entrance and how special it was. Corbin said he could feel the energy in the building when it was used and as far as the match with Carmelo Hayes, he believes it was the first time in quite some time that he got to show he can go in the ring. 

There was a sense of panic there for me (during the pairing with JBL) because everything I had done up until then had worked. I got one promo in my career where I was in the ring in the middle of it going, there’s nothing that’s gonna make this good. We’re not saving it. It was a segment with multiple people and I felt the crowd just going, dude, this is not good and you feel it in your gut and then when we got to the end of the JBL stuff, we were trying to make it work. I think there were a few things that went against us. Opportunity, timing and a few other things but you could just feel it. I feel like I was in that movie where they’re stuck out in the ocean just waiting to get eaten by sharks. I was drowning in a sense and that’s where we (Corbin & Corey Graves) had that conversation and it was like, okay, ‘Well what do we do?’ And that’s when this NXT opportunity came up and I was like, hell yes, let’s go. Let’s go down there and do this and it’s been a lot of fun because I got to come in the door and run with Carmelo (Hayes) for a little bit and we had that Lone Wolf entrance and that was special. You could feel the energy in the building when that music hit and I had the jean vest on and it was a little nostalgia and I mean, social media numbers were off the charts on that. It was just an entrance and then we had one hell of a match. I mean Melo’s a special competitor in there and I think he’s gonna have a bright career but that was a match where it had been a while since I had gotten to just go. (Seth) Rollins and I have had some amazing matches, Roman (Reigns) and I, Braun (Strowman), Kurt (Angle). I’ve had these long, long matches with guys who are extremely talented; Kevin Owens, Sami (Zayn). It had been a minute since I had that opportunity and I think we tore it down and I reignited a little bit of fire in my gut that says, I’m gonna shove this down everybody’s face that kind of doubted me over the last year or you know, who said negative things in a sense, inside our world and outside our world. It was an opportunity to go out there and go, man no, I can go with the best there is, I can go with anybody. I can run 30 minutes with Seth, I can run 30 minutes with Roman, I can run 30 minutes with Melo down in NXT, it doesn’t matter. When that bell rings, I can go in the ring so now it’s getting that attitude to match that in-ring ability and the emotion because the emotion is back full throttle right now. It reignited something in my gut to burn the ships, let’s take this mother down.

The latest vignette from Corbin was covered on upNXT here on POST Wrestling. To check that podcast out, click here

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit WWE After The Bell with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.