Baron Corbin returned to NXT on May 30, going after NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes. Corbin was a free agent following the 2023 WWE Draft, allowing him to appear on any brand.
Prior to his NXT return, Corbin was finding his footing against after his partnership with JBL fizzled amid a losing streak.
Speaking on WWE After The Bell, Corbin discussed his failed partnership with JBL and returning to NXT.
"There was a sense of panic there for me because everything I had done up until then had worked. I made things work," he said. "I had one promo in my career where I was in the ring, in the middle of it, and I was going, 'there is nothing that is going to make this good. We're not saving it.' It was a segment with multiple people. I felt the crowd going, 'dude, this is not good.' You feel it in your gut. 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, a few other things. You could feel it. I felt like I was in that movie where I was stuck in the middle of the ocean and waiting to be eaten by sharks. I was drowning, in a sense. That's when we had that conversation, 'What do we do?' That's when this NXT opportunity came up and I was like, 'Hell yeah. Let's go. Let's go down there and do this.' It's been a lot of fun because I got to come in the door and run with Carmelo for a little bit, have the Lone Wolf entrance, and that was special. You could feel the energy in the building when that music hit, had the jean vest on, it was a little nostalgia, the social media numbers were off the charts and it was just an entrance. We had one hell of a match, Melo is a special competitor and I think he's going to have a bright career.
"That was a match where I think, it had been awhile since I've gotten to just go -- (Seth) Rollins and I have had some amazing matches, Roman (Reigns) and I, Braun (Strowman), I've had these long matches with guys who are extremely talented, Kevin Owens, Sami (Zayn). It had been a minute since I had gotten that opportunity and we tore it down. I reignited a little fire in my gut that says, 'I'm going to shove this in everybody's face that doubted me over the last year' or who said negative things inside our world and outside our world. It was an opportunity, 'I can hang with the best there is. I can go with anybody. I can run 30 minutes with Seth, Roman, Melo, it doesn't matter. When that bell rings, I can go in the ring.' Now it was getting that attitude to match the in-ring ability and the emotion. The emotion is back full throttle. It reignited something in my gut to 'burn the ships,' let's take this mother down."
Corbin said that Graves gave him the concept and line of "burn the ships."
Corbin came face-to-face with him on the July 18 episode of NXT. You can find highlights from the segment by clicking here.
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