He’s a former WWE United States Champion, a Money in the Bank holder and he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on his first night graduating from NXT but this week, ahead of probably the biggest opportunity of his career as he competes in a six-pack challenge for the WWE Championship at WWE Fast Lane, we had an opportunity to sit down for a chat with Baron Corbin. We covered his love of Metal, his favourite Wrestlemania memories and his thoughts on one Rob ‘The Gronk’ Gronkowski…
Is Fast Lane the biggest opportunity of your young career?
Definitely, so far, when you put a title on the line but also a Wrestlemania main event on the line, it’s a big deal and there’s a lot of pressure but I thrive under pressure and I look forward to the trainwreck that the six-pack challenge will be.
What is your match strategy for Fast Lane?
There are five guys in the match, I’ve beat AJ for the US title before, I’ve beat Dolph Ziggler, I beat Kevin three weeks ago and I beat Sami last week so I owe John Cena a beating but I think a lot of people’s focus is going to be on Cena so I’m hoping that while Styles and Kevin are focussing on Cena, I’ll take Sami’s head off with a 1,2,3 and while none of them are looking, I’m the new champion so it’s one of those things where my head has to be on a swivel constantly and I take my opportunity where I can see it.
What can we expect from you at WrestleMania 34?
Well hopefully I walk in WWE champion, I know John Cena put out a challenge to make it a triple threat but I can tell you if I’m WWE champion, Cena’s not welcome with me and Nakamura. Cena’s smart, he knows his strategies and that’s how he’s a 16-time champ, so I’m going to do everything I can to keep him away as I think I can take Nakamura one-on-one so I’m going to walk in and out WWE champion.
If you lose at Fast Lane, do you have a Plan B for Wrestlemania?
If I somehow lose, it’s going to be bad news for everybody. I don’t have a plan B right now but rest assured, I’ll make one. I mean I don’t care much for Bobby Roode so I wouldn’t mind taking my United States Championship back from him.
Growing Up, What was your favourite Wrestlemania moment?
Oh, man.Watching Stone Cold and Bret Hart, just bleeding like crazy was pretty surreal but I also loved Eddie Guerrero vs Angle and Undertaker v Shawn Michaels in Houston, one of the best matches I’ve ever seen and of course, Taker vs Edge. There’s so many, it’s hard to pick.
Post-Mania, would you want to stay on Smackdown or move to RAW?
I think about this a lot and some of the guys on RAW: Reigns, Rollins, Lesnar, Strowman, those guys are running shop over there and I want to see what they’re made of. It would be pretty awesome to get on RAW and shake things up for myself as well as the roster.
Your entrance theme is the last to be recorded by Jim Johnston before he parted ways with the company, how does it feel entering each night to a piece of history?
It’s amazing. He’s the best and the conversations I’ve had on the phone with him, hearing his passion for the music he creates, I remember standing in a little grocery store in Tennesse when I was on a vacation with my wife, doing some hiking and here I was in a store next to a gas station talking for 45 minutes to him about how the music comes to him and he has to feel it and dissappear into it and it made me feel good because he was going to creating my music and my good friend Tommy Vext sang on it and Jim actually met Tommy and said “this guy is perfect for it” and everything was clicking. I think they truly came out with a masterpiece, it’s his final mark on WWE and it’s amazing to think this is the last one he’s doing for a WWE superstar and I hope people hear it for twenty years to come and I think I need to live up to that music. It’s powerful and it has grit and sand and emotion. It’s amazing and if I’m ever not in the zone before a match, it clicks me in right away.
How much creative influence did you have on your entrance theme?
I suggested a couple of people I know like Corey Taylor and Tommy and after talking with Jim, he thought Tommy’s voice was great and we had a really cool conversation about what the possiblities are and he had an idea and he would send it to me and say ‘what do you think of this?’ and I’d tell him and Jim is amazing at what he does and I really feel that everything that the song takes you on, as a ride, it’s just the perfect fit for me aswell and I love it.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Tommy Vext who sang on my theme, his band did a cover of Zombie (by The Cranberries) that’s great, I think they’re killing it. I’ve been listening to the new Gojira & Trivium, those are two of my go-to’s, their new stuff is still great, there’s a lot of good stuff out there, I found a band called Royal Thunder the other day and they’re pretty awesome, the stuff The Fever 33 is doing is awesome, I’m always searching for new stuff and if anyone’s reading this wants to shoot me a band recommendation, any kind of music, I’m always up for hearing new stuff.
Which person from NXT would you like to see on the main roster?
I think Aleister Black is doing a lot of great things down there, he’s a force to be reconed with and we kinda walk a similar path, we both have tatoos and love our metal, we have that alternative attitude, I wouldn’t mind find out if he’s the real deal, seeing what he’s made of, how far we could push each other and many guys go to war and become friends and I think we go to the same concerts so I wouldn’t mind beating him up, then we could go to a concert together.
You may be the Lone Wolf, but did anyone help you in your transition from NXT to Main Roster?
NXT itself does give you all the tools you need to succeed and with a guy like Triple H in your corner, giving you advice and every single night when I’m out on SD: Live, I want to know what Triple H thought because he’s an icon and he’s created this avenue for superstars to become successful and I am always learning about things like how to present myself and to do things differently to look better and there are always guys like Billy Gunn who was one of my coaches, Corey Graves and Finn Balor who is a master and played a role in who I am and Norman Smiley, Terry Taylor, these guys have all helped mould me but it’s all about finding out who you are, what you’re about, what you do and don’t stand for.
What are your thoughts regarding Velveteen Dream’s comments on Indie Darlings getting preferential treatment over home-grown, Performance Centre talents?
Anybody can make excuses all they want, whether anyone else gets preferential treatment, I’m still going to earn my path and if you want to be the best, I think you can’t measure your success on anyone else’s, on what they’re getting, only on what you’ve got and what you’ve earnt. If I get preferential treatment, I’d ask anyone else, what are they going to do to stand out to get ahead of me, I was in NXT at the same time as Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Nakamura, Zayn, Owens and now I’m fighting on the same stage as them, they can have all the preferential treatment they want but I’m going to step-up and make sure I’m seen just as much as them.
What do you think to the rumours of Rob Gronkowski considering a move to the squared circle?
I’m more than up for anyone giving it a shot but it’s not for everyone and after last year, I’d love him to step in just so I could show him he doesn’t belong. I’ve learnt quickly that a name gets you in the door but that’s it. A lot of the time, WWE fans don’t care what you did before you came here, they only care how you do here but I’ve love to see if he could do it especially after one of our security guards dealt with him pretty easily last year.
How did the reality of coming into WWE compare to your expectations?
Honestly, I was arrogant, I thought “it’ll be easy, I’ll be on tv in a year, no problem” and then you realise how much it takes to become a successful superstar, it’s a rude awakening. Three and a half years later I got called up and I pride myself on being a quick learner but there are things like promos that are not easy, I’ve done a million interviews and I thought it would be easy but it’s so much more difficult getting an audience of thousands to believe you, even if you believe yourself and there are other adjustments, the physical side of things I’ve never had a problem with but promos, videos, that side of things, I never realised how much went into it and it was very humbling and that’s important as everyone needs to humbled occasionally.