Let’s get this straight from the beginning – I like Jack Swagger. He has the athleticism and the all round in-ring skills to make him a perfect wrestling champion. For better or worse, the addition of Zeb Colter as a mouthpiece successfully camouflages the one “weakness” in his arsenal, namely his verbal skills. Hell, he even seems a decent bloke on Twitter and his wife is as hot a sin! As such I should be thrilled that such a talent will be up against Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania, battling for the World Heavyweight Title.
And yet, in a funny way, I’m not.
I understand that in itself this is not a match that needs to “sell” the card. It’s designed to be a solid mid-card attraction. (That’s another rant entirely, but we’ll move on). The likelihood is that it will be a good match as long as it is awarded the respect it deserves from management and they are given the time on the card to produce something special.
Yet what on earth has prepared Jack Swagger to battle for the second most prestigious title on the WWE roster at the biggest show of the year? One win at Elimination Chamber? That might have worked for a legend, or top level superstar on his way back from injury. But this is Jack Swagger, the forgotten man of the WWE.
His last pay-per-view match was last May’s Over The Limit where he teamed with Dolph Ziggler to lose to Kofi Kingston and R-Truth. His last singles win on PPV was last year’s Elimination Chamber, in a match with Justin Gabriel which was so important to the WWE that it wasn’t even announced in advance.
Over the past twelve months or so he’s been a mid-carder, an out and out jobber and off the roster completely. And yet now, with one victory and a new mouthpiece he’s deemed ready for a title match. It just doesn’t make sense and smacks of the short-term thinking that does the WWE no favours.
Rock Vs Cena II was obviously decided on a year out. There was at least six months anticipation for Rock Vs CM Punk at the Royal Rumble. These two bouts pulled/will pull monster buy-rates. I’m not for one second suggesting that Swagger is at that mainstream level but given six months of build up, he could have been a much more serious contender for the title.
We could have seen the “disintegration” of Jack Swagger’s character and we could have seen the effect that his losses in the first half of 2012 had on him. His absence from the promotion could have been highlighted (rather than him just telling AJ he was taking some time off and never being seen again) and his name could have been kept alive. There could have been anticipation for his comeback, which would have been hyped as a reason to tune in when he did return. Swagger could have made a big point about his few months away from Wrestling had shown him the way forward and that he had a new way of thinking. Most importantly, pairing him with Colter just one week before the Elimination Chamber show would not have smacked of a desperate attempt to contrive a reason for us to believe in this feud. We would have been conditioned that Swagger was chasing Del Rio and was serious in his intentions. For all that some people have claimed Colter’s debut interview was offensive, I thought it was daring (for this era) and even seemed fresh despite me knowing that JBL & Eddy Guerrero were doing this nine years ago.
But instead we’ve got a hot-shotted angle that seems thrown together and one that will no doubt be lost in the pack at WrestleMania 29. And yet with just a little forward planning and execution it could have meant so much more. The feud might succeed and both Del Rio and Jack Swagger may come out of it as bigger stars than they were going in. But if that happens, it’s almost as if it will come about by mistake, rather than by design. And there’s just no excuse for that.
– By Matthew Roberts