So a thing happened in the wrestling world. Recently, “the All-American American” Jack Swagger came back from hiatus with a new gimmick of being “the Real American” and ranting about immigrants and lazy people and all that. Then he got a manager in the form of old-school wrestling personality Dutch Mantel (now known as Zeb Colter), who acted as a mouthpiece, ranting his Tea Party-like views for the sake of getting the crowd’s ire. Weeks into his return, Swagger won a big multi-man match to gain a title shot for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania against Alberto Del Rio, a Mexican aristocrat with a love for the downtrodden. It’s a feud that makes sense and sounds like it would give us an entertaining story with a great payoff.
But that’s the thing about the unpredictable world of professional wrestling. It’s so many factors planned out and the best laid plans of mice and men have a tendency to go astray. With WWE, they aren’t even the BEST laid plans to begin with. No, a huge wrench came into this situation in the form of Jack Swagger being arrested for speeding and driving under the influence of marijuana.
This is one of those times where the behind-the-scenes story will trump the scripted stuff in front of the cameras, even if heroic immigrant vs. bad guy who hates immigrants has so much potential. So what’s so interesting about this Kurt Angle/Biff Tannen hybrid getting pulled over?
1) Jack Swagger continues to be the epitome of dropping the ball. Let’s take a quick look at Swagger’s WWE career. The deceptively-tall Swagger showed up on WWE’s ECW in late 2008, immediately shooting to the top with his easily-hateable goofball heel charisma and a power grappler style that made him look like he had a serious future in the company. He enjoyed some time as champ, although the ECW brand was so third tier at this point that he didn’t even get a match in the four-hour Wrestlemania 25. He got called up to the Raw roster and proceeded to do a big pile of nothing.
WWE did nothing of note with Swagger and he quickly faded into the background as just another midcarder. In 2010, he won the multi-man Money in the Bank match at Wrestlemania 26, which was a major surprise, as this development came out of nowhere. After all, he hadn’t really done anything to suggest he’d suddenly get any major push, yet here he was. Days later, he cashed in his automatic title shot on a beaten-down Chris Jericho (also a heel, which was weird) and became World Heavyweight Champion. This is part of one of WWE’s more recent problems of cheapening their titles by sticking them onto random people in hopes that it would make the wrestlers seem like a big deal instead of the other way around.
Swagger would go on to have one of the worst title runs of actual length in the company’s history, up there with Rey Mysterio and Jeff Hardy. Other than a clean win over Randy Orton at a PPV, he was made to look like a joke who in no way deserved to be considered on the championship level. Just as bad, they removed his full-of-himself jock personality and replaced it with a serious, suit-wearing character that they kept using for all heels around the time based on Chris Jericho’s success using the same gimmick. He ended up losing the title to Rey Mysterio and fell right out of the title picture.