Earlier this year, there was a lot of talk about how Baron Corbin was in line for a big push going forward. And with his win at the Money In The Bank pay-per-view back in June 2017, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri those rumors seemed to be coming true.
Only two men had ever failed to cash in the Money In The Bank contract to become champion, so everything seemed to be pointing to Corbin becoming champion within the year.
But instead, he became the third man to fail at cashing in the MITB contract when on SmackDown, with help from a distracting John Cena, Jinder Mahal was able to pin Corbin and retain the belt! So, what happened? Why was Corbin's push halted almost as soon as it began?
There has been a lot of speculation surrounding that, and one common theory was that the recent heat and slowed push came as a result of Corbin insulting an American military member on Twitter. But according to PWInsider, that is not the case.
The WWE saw those tweets as Corbin playing the heel role and they, in fact, want their talent to be more active on social media. So, that was not a problem. The problem has to do with something that happened backstage away from the public eye.
Back in the first week of August, the company brought in Dr. Joseph Maroon to discuss concussion-related injuries with the talent and tell them why they need to report such injuries to management right away. Maroon heads the WWE's Wellness Policy.
Some of you might recognize the name Dr. Maroon from the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith. In the movie, Maroon is portrayed as a doctor on the side of the NFL who attempts to deny any relationship between CTE and football concussions.
So, during this talent meeting back in August, Maroon brought up a study about deceased NFL players and CTE. And he brought it up in a way that reportedly it downplayed any concrete proof that people playing football would develop CTE.
Well, Baron Corbin—an ex-football player himself—was none too happy about that and he made his feelings heard. He expressed his opinion and challenged Maroon right there during the meeting and in front of everyone.
PWInsider reports it was an "awkward" scene that "led to awkward laughter." And another source pointed out that Corbin wasn't being belligerent, nor was he yelling, but that maybe it was "the wrong time and the wrong place" for that discussion. And that doing it in front of the entire assemblage of talent, many people felt hurt the flow of the meeting and took the focus away from the reason for the meeting which was the wrestler's health—and it instead became about Maroon's past comments on the issue.
If that really is the reason, we hope that the WWE recognizes that while it may not have been the best time and place, Corbin's reaction does seem to have come from a place of concern for athlete safety. And the halted push should resume sooner than later.