Get used to seeing Baron Corbin cockily carrying around the WWE United States Championship. It's going to be in his grip for a long time as he comes into his own as a marquee star.
Battles with AJ Styles, the steady supply of opportunity that comes with a U.S. title run on SmackDown and the confidence that comes with being a champ will add up to big-time success for The Lone Wolf.
Shaking off a poor showing at SummerSlam against John Cena and an ill-advised story surrounding his Money in the Bank contract, Corbin snatched up the U.S. title at Sunday's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view.
His performance in the Triple Threat match against Styles and Tye Dillinger was one of this best to date. He followed that with a rematch against The Phenomenal One on Tuesday's SmackDown where he stepped up again.
Corbin looked crisp in both contests.
He was a compelling, big, barking bruiser. His ring work has improved since his NXT days. He was able to hang in there with WWE's No. 1 in-ring performer in Styles.
And he looks extra motivated now that he's been called upon to be champion. The title being his says the company believes in him. That's far removed from being asked to be the bumbling fool who cost himself a shot at gold when he failed to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Memories of his disappointing summer are already fading.
Daily DDT is hesitantly jumping on the Corbin bandwagon:
Beyond his ring work, Corbin has excelled in playing his character. He's been an increasingly convincing condescending jerk with a Buick-sized chip on his shoulder.
Former WWE Creative member Kevin Eck has liked what he's seen from The Lone Wolf of late.
"He deserves credit for making the most of the opportunity," he wrote of Corbin on PressBox. "Moreover, Corbin carries himself like a star."
Corbin's promo work is uneven, but he's shown enough flashes of being an effective, nasty villain who looks down on the fans and on wrestlers who came up through the independent circuit.
He already has the "shoving your title in people's faces" part of the equation down pat:
And as champ, he'll face top-notch talent in the ring and on the mic. To kick off his reign, Styles will likely be his main foil. That's great news considering how excellent The Phenomenal One is at making everyone around him look better.
Names like Randy Orton, John Cena and perhaps Chris Jericho when he returns will want a crack at his gold. That's going to push him to keep improving and keep delivering as he's done this past week.
And judging by the progress Corbin has made since starting out as an NXT prospect with zero wrestling experience, he's sure to do just that.
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