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DETROIT — Technically, Baron Corbin didn’t take any shortcuts to become the new United States Champion. He pinned a Superstar, clean as a whistle, 1-2-3, to earn his first title in WWE. He just didn’t pin the United States Champion.
After SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan added Tye Dillinger to what had originally been a battle between Corbin and reigning titleholder AJ Styles, Corbin found himself outnumbered and targeted by two Superstars who were very open about their mutual respect for one another. And given that Dillinger had finagled his way into the match off the strength of a pinfall win over Corbin this past week on SmackDown LIVE, he posed just as significant a challenge to The Lone Wolf’s championship aspirations as The Phenomenal One.
Yet the former Mr. Money in the Bank played the situation right from the beginning, sitting back and letting Styles and Dillinger tee off on each other before picking the bones of whomever was left standing. In one particularly genius sequence, Corbin even launched Styles into Dillinger, then slid The Phenomenal One face-first into the ring post. The Lone Wolf focused the most intense of his efforts on Styles in order to isolate Dillinger, but The Phenomenal One brawled his way back into the match for a one-on-one throwdown.
While Styles got a little too ambitious with an attempt at a Styles Clash, he was still able to clock Corbin with a knee to the head on the outside. Dillinger immediately threw himself into the fray and found himself trapped in a Calf Crusher, though Corbin pulled him to the outside to prevent a tapout. A three-way brawl followed, and Styles seemed to have the final upper hand after connecting with a Phenomenal Forearm on The Perfect 10. Before AJ could cover Dillinger, however, Corbin viciously booted him out of the ring and covered Tye for the pin.
As Corbin himself mentioned on Talking Smack, that’s a win that won’t sit well with the WWE Universe. And perhaps it shouldn’t. Styles losing his title without getting pinned does seem like something of an injustice. But as Baron Corbin knows better than anyone, life can be unfair, and sometimes respect must be taken.