Many fans may not want to admit it, but it’s a straight fact. Happy Corbin is one of the most talented performers in all of WWE. No matter what the pitch WWE Creative comes to him with, he puts everything he has into the role, and more often than not, he delivers to a chorus of boos from the WWE Universe.
He’s also one of the company’s most trusted performers. Whether it was running Monday Night Raw as Constable Corbin, his feud with Roman Reigns, retiring Kurt Angle, or opening the first ever SmackDown on FOX with The Rock, Corbin has been front and center for many high profile matches and moments in his WWE career. And he has another big opportunity this Saturday at SummerSlam.
But before we dive into that, let’s put his wrestling career on the backburner. I had a chance to catch up with Happy Corbin this week on the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast, and I had to carve out some time to talk about a shared passion of ours – food.
Anyone who follows Corbin on social media knows he is a Kansas City man down to the bone. BBQ is deep in this man’s DNA and his skill level grows with every passing week. Hopefully one day we can see this man throw down with the big boys, because given the chance to take on world renowned Chef Bobby Flay, Corbin sounds like he has a hell of a game plan.
“Anybody to me can cook a filet and butter-baste it, whatever. I don’t like butter on my steaks anyway. I’m gonna cook a hanger steak, which is one of my favorite cuts. It’s a butcher’s cut. Not a lot of people know about it. It’s inexpensive, tastes incredible. I’m gonna put a charcoal rub on that. I’m gonna make a homemade romesco with like a smoky paprika. So it’ll be a smoky romesco sauce. I’m gonna lay the hanger steak right in there. And then I’m gonna do some kind of fun, maybe a little spicy side salad. Like a chili, crisp bean sprout salad. I think that’s what I’m gonna throw down. But that hanger in romesco is kind of my signature right now.”
Right now for Happy Corbin, cooking is an escape. It’s what he likes to do to relax and take a break from the outside world. But he’s also preparing himself for life after WWE. Don’t get your hopes up guys, everyone’s favorite fedora wearing bad guy has plans to stick around for the better part of the next decade. Sorry to break the news to you.
Corbin is a guy who takes pride in his work. And he should. He’s an incredibly smooth and safe working in the ring. His skill set, and maybe more importantly, his mind for the business will keep him in the game for years to come. That said, Corbin wants to walk away from the ring at the right time. When his body can no longer keep up with his mental sharpness. When that day comes, it’ll be time to take off the boots and put on the apron.
“Most definitely. I’ve made some good buddies from the Food Network world and Chef Aaron May is one of my good buddies. He’s always on Guy’s Grocery Games. I want to have another five or 10 years here in WWE but eventually, like all athletes, at some point our body doesn’t keep up with our mind anymore,” Corbin said. “I definitely want to get into that food world. Whether it’s Food Network or it’s my own YouTube stuff. Or my buddy Aaron does a lot of stuff where he does, like guests, where he’s at celebrity spots and cooks. We were talking about doing the Food and Wine Festival together in Connecticut, because we’re gonna go out there for WWE and raise some good money for Connor’s Cure. So I’m gonna cook out there at that. So there’s a lot of really cool opportunities that food will bring when I am done throwing people like Pat McAfee around in the ring.”
I’ve always wanted to see Corbin combines his two loves. How about Happy Corbin’s Tailgate? Let this man roll out some of his authentic Kansas City ‘que to the live crowds every week. Someone tell me why that gimmick wouldn’t completely get him over with the WWE Universe.
There’s a concept for you. Babyface Corbin. No doubt that would be a challenge initially, even if he was giving out free food. That said, I see straight dollar signs. I’m talking Happy Corbin aprons and grill kits on WWE Shop. Maybe some of Corbin’s own homemade bourbon BBQ sauce could make it’s way into your kitchen, for the right price of course. This man has high-end watches he needs to buy after-all.
The BBQ master concept could have been in works for last year’s SummerSlam. Corbin told Bleav in Pro Wrestling that he an idea to challenge San Francisco 49ers TE, and known wrestling fanatic, George Kittle to BBQ cook-off in Las Vegas. The timing, unfortunately, just didn’t work out.
Regardless of whether food is involved or not, I was curious. After a decade of being the bad guy, does Happy Corbin have a goal of getting cheered one day in the near or distant future?
“I’m torn because it would be cool to finish this career and say I was never, ever a good guy. I was never on that side of the game. And to irritate people, really does bring me joy,” Corbin said with glee in his voice. “I think a lot of it stems from everyday life. When I go to the airport and the guy forgets to take the seven water bottles out of his bag and his laptop, and now I’m waiting in TSA behind this idiot. I’m going, ‘Dude, have you never flown before?! You can’t have all that?’
So I take all of those things that irritate me through every day and I just put it right back on everybody else. So that it’s like a release for me, if you will, to really irritate grown men to little children. And I mean, I’ve had 80 something year old women threaten to stab me in Mississippi. So, I don’t discriminate on who I want to irritate, but I think it’d be cool.”
It’s almost impossible to imagine WWE’s most hated man ever fully turning babyface, but if you remember back to this time last year, it almost happened. Pat McAfee may use the name “Bum Ass Corbin” in a derogatory fashion to pop a crowd these days, but before he struck it big at the casino, the man now called Happy was starting to get on the audience’s good side – when he was a bum. And that’s the only way Corbin thinks a face turn for himself could work. It has to be organic.
“When I was broke and down on my luck, people were starting to cheer. And people were trying to literally hand me 20 dollar bills when I would walk down the aisles of the arenas. And I think that was really flirting with the line of switching sides. And if I ever do do that, I want it to be as natural as that, because then the reactions are just 10 times better.”
One thing is for certain, Happy Corbin is not going to get over with the fanbase come Saturday. At SummerSlamhe goes one-on-one with his old friend and teammate Pat McAfee.
On-screen, these two guys hate one another. Off-screen, it’s a different story. Corbin had nothing but glowing praise for what McAfee has brought to the table in WWE. His personality is infectious and it’s something Corbin picked up on during their brief time together with the Indianapolis Colts.
“I was only there six months before I went to Arizona, but we played golf every day. We roomed together. We were good buddies. And so I’ve known his personality and how he draws people in. He’s entertaining. He is funny. He’s an unbelievable talker. And he has emotion when he’s telling you things. And you watch him at the announce table when he’s standing up and announcing matches or yelling about Brock Lesner or whatever it is. There’s full commitment, full passion to everything he does and says.”
It didn’t take long for McAfee to win over the hearts of the WWE Universe. I remember being in attendance for Extreme Rules last year in Columbus. With the exception of maybe Good Ol’ JR, I’ve never seen a commentator get the kind of live crowd reaction that McAfee did when he was introduced ahead of the show going live.
His entrance at WrestleMania 38 in Dallas was an absolute spectacle. You could feel the electricity in the air when “7 Nation Army” blared across the loud speakers at AT&T Stadium, and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders proudly marched out to help introduce the former NFL star. Or what I should say, is current WWE Superstar. Because that’s what he is through and through.
Seemingly everything McAfee touches turns to gold. The man is the definition of success. And it was the success he had in the NFL that delayed his WWE goals a few more years down the road. Goals that Corbin and McAfee were supposed to accomplish together.
“We were gonna go down and learn how to be Superstars so that we could go to WWE together,” Corbin said. “He had an amazing football career. He was a Pro-Bowl punter. He did amazing things, but he’s found success in all of these things. And I just got my head start in WWE. I always expected him to come around at some point. I didn’t think that we would ever be butting heads as much as we do now.”
Saturday’s match poses an interesting challenge for Happy Corbin. As talented and naturally athletic as Pat McAfee is, he’s still relatively inexperienced in the ring.
Granted, no one in the history of the sport has had as many big matches, on huge stages, to start their career than McAfee. NXT Take Over XXX against Adam Cole, WarGames, two matches at WrestleMania 38and Pat answered the bell every single time.
WWE is obviously very confident that McAfee will once again deliver on the big stage this Saturday. Happy Corbin’s job at SummerSlam is going to be one he has done time and again. Keeping his old buddy safe, but still doling out a punishment that looks as painful as possible.
“I’m gonna go to my roots. My roots as a nasty, salty, offensive lineman, ex-golden gloves boxer, and I’m gonna try to take his head off. That’s my challenge. My challenge is to try to put his head about 12 rows back in the audience, and leave his body where it stands. I think it’s one of those things where I’m coming full tilt at Pat McAfee in this match. And I wanna show him that his place is behind the commenting desk.”
Check out my full conversation with Happy Corbin in the video above where he talks more about his love of food, Theory possibly usurping him as the most hated man in WWE, whether go-away heat is a real thing and so much more. You can also listen to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcastavailable wherever you get your podcasts.
Rick Ucchino can be reached at Rick.Bleav@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @RickUcchino and make sure to subscribe to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling YouTube Channel.