Entering the 2017 Money in the Bank ladder match, only a few things seemed certain. All six combatants were going to put their bodies through hell as they competed for the WWE's version of a golden ticket, and any of them could have realistically emerged as the 19th holder of the Money in the Bank briefcase.
"It's an amazing moment," Corbin said in an interview conducted just moments after the match concluded. "I'm here to leave my mark in WWE history. I started that on Day 1 when I walked in and won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and now tonight, being Mr. Money in the Bank, pulling that briefcase down."
After emerging from what could easily be described as one of the most unpredictable Money in the Bank ladder matches in the format's history, Corbin's eyes have immediately turned toward the future. It's a major move forward for Corbin, to be sure, and not a moment too soon. Despite numerous memorable beatdowns and physical confrontations since winning that Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32, including a memorable stretch at the end of 2016 that included his first WWE title shot, it hasn't all been rosy for Corbin.
Despite some promise, rivalries with Kalisto and Dean Ambrose ultimately fell somewhat flat toward the tail end of each confrontation. But now, briefcase in hand, Corbin is once again one of the biggest focal points on SmackDown Live. He's a three-count away from the WWE championship, and whether he cashes in on Jinder Mahal or whomever succeeds the Modern Day Maharaja, Corbin is all but a champion waiting, if previous results are any indication.
"History shows that anybody who gets their hands on the briefcase becomes WWE champion, and so I have no doubts in my mind that that's next for me. That's the next step in my career, and this briefcase is going to help achieve that, and nobody's going to take that away from me."
Corbin more than held his own in a match against five guys with lengthy records of sacrificing anything and everything in their matches, especially platforms with as much carnage as Money in the Bank.
As to his condition after the match, Corbin, who took a springboard moonsault, Helluva Kick and a Zigzag off of a ladder, to name just a few moves he was on the wrong end on, the adrenaline and excitement were still enough to carry him through, despite a visible black eye.
"Right now, I'm not feeling much. Tomorrow morning, I'm probably going to feel broken and beaten and sore, and find some bruises I didn't know I had. But in this moment, with this excitement, my body is numb to any sort of pain that I'll be feeling all day tomorrow."Baron Corbin
It was certainly a badge of honor for Corbin to take the kind of licking that a match like this typically entails, and even steal the spotlight from the high flyers and risk-takers, including catching Dolph Ziggler flying off the apron and turning it into a picture-perfect deep six, along with a devastating choke slam on Styles onto a bridged ladder.
"Yeah, I mean, these guys have been doing it a long time, and they live on the edge," Corbin said. "They sacrifice their bodies. I knew I was going to have my hands full, there's no joking about that, but I'm a big, physical cat. I aim to bring a little pain, and a little roughness to what I do. Just like when I was in the NFL, you've got to find those smaller dudes -- and when you get your hands on them it's bad news, all day."
Pressed as to how he imagines his cash-in will go, Corbin foresaw a prolonged and well-thought out approach to cashing in his shot at the WWE championship.
"I'm going to be calculated," Corbin said. "I'm pretty good with being calculated in what I do, when I'm going to make my mark on somebody. Unfortunately for him, Shinsuke felt that tonight. I saw an opportunity and took it. I'll watch very closely and I'll take my chance and I'll walk away successful."
Corbin even got a little bit philosophical, in trying to put this particular achievement into words. At 32 years of age, with a look and style unlike anyone else on SmackDown Live, Corbin's future looks bright. While he started in NXT as a raw, unshaped talent, he has been able to fight, scrap and improve a little bit every week.
It may not come for a while, or it could happen this coming Tuesday, but whenever Corbin eventually cashes in his Money in the Bank privilege, he'll be as prepared as he can possibly be for the potentially responsibility of being WWE champion.
"It's about climbing that ladder, so to speak. Each rung is another goal, another opportunity, and I'm taking every one of them as they come to me," Corbin said. "That's been my plan this whole time, since I walked in that door. I want to keep growing, and keep getting better every day. I may not do certain things as people see fit ... or whatever it may be.
"But everything I do is part of my plan, and I've continued to grow for the past year -- through WrestleMania, and now, by becoming Mr. Money in the Bank."