The more things change; the more things stay the same. Even during my lifetime wrestling has changed dramatically. I’ve seen the Hulk Hogan era, the Attitude Era and the PG era in my 20 plus years as a wrestling fan. I’ve seen social media become a phenomenon, the demise of any real competition to the
One thing that has never changed is the fondness for the WWE and fans alike for a feud between an all-American hero and a foreign heel. Now such a tact is being used as another throw of the dice to make the fans care about Jack Swagger.
Swagger is a difficult one. Stories abound of him falling asleep during creative meetings and last year saw him win Elimination Chamber before being arrested for DUI. Unsurprisingly, that arres t kicked away his momentum and saw Alberto Del Rio retain the World Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania 29.
That’s not to say all is lost for the former wrestling all-American. He’s a talented in-ring worker, has a good look and, at 32, still has age on his side. When you add in the fact he’s got someone as talented as Dutch ‘Zeb Colter’ Mantel as his manager then surely the sky is the limit.
However, it’s not really worked out well for Jacob Hager. The DUI certainly didn’t help cause. His pairing with Cesaro had potential but out of the duo it was always going to be the Swiss superstar that was going to be the break out star. Perhaps best exemplified by the fact Cesaro won the inaugural Andre the Giant trophy at Wrestlemania 30 while Swagger only featured in the opening bout – teaming with Cesaro – before destroying his former partner’s trophy the night after on Raw.
A spell of mid-card obscurity seemed likely for the 2010 Money in the Bank winner. Then came along Rusev. A classic foreign heel. Physically intimidating, limited in the ring and accompanied by a spokesperson. A dominant streak followed his debut and it was a matter of time before he was feuding with an pro-American face.
The only surprise being that it was Swagger that fulfilled that role. It’s a tried and tested formula pitting an American face against a foreign bad guy but is that enough to change the fortunes of Swagger?
I can’t help but think it is, certainly short term. Swagger is a very impressive worker and if he can be kept on the straight and narrow – a big if – then he has every chance to succeed and this current role, despite it’s obvious limitations, will play a part.
In hindsight the face turn didn’t seem that much of a curveball. The ‘we the people’ chants had always been over with the WWE fanbase so a faceturn had the air of inevitability about it.
But is it enough to turn Swagger into a real main eventer? Quite possibly not.
On his daily members only podcast, Wade Keller at PW Torch suggested Ric Flair managing Swagger in a ‘chosen one’ style. The premise being that if Flair was into the concept it would help Swagger to the top. With that notion, I disagree. I don’t think they are a good fit for each other. I sense that, due to their well documented issues, that they would both benefit from being around a level headed performer – that’s not something that either bring to the mix.
Short term I think the USA v foreign heel shtick is good enough. It gives Swagger a proper programme for the short term. Rusev is fairly limited in the ring so Swagger will have to do a lot of the work. If he succeeds in helping get Rusev over then I have no doubt that Swagger will be rewarded accordingly.
Time will tell but it’s clear that the WWE are willing to give him another chance. It’s a chance he can’t afford to not take this time.