With two days to go before Independence Day, we have something special to be thankful for coming off of Monday Night Raw. After Monday, we can all now live free from the evil that was Jack Swagger.
Flash back with me to February of 2013. Jack Swagger hadn’t been seen on WWE television since the previous September, having told then Raw general manager AJ Lee that he was taking time off. Swagger returned on Feb. 1, 2013 with a bearded man named Zeb Colter at his side. Colter would explain that he had served with Swagger’s father in the Vietnam War and had turned Swagger into a Real American. This meant Swagger didn’t like foreigners and wanted to deport all immigrants who were taking jobs from Americans.
As you can imagine, this gimmick stirred up some controversy, but WWE gave Swagger one heck of a push anyway. Later in February Swagger won the Elimination Chamber match and earned a right to challenge Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship at “Wrestlemania XXIX.” Around this same time though, Swagger was arrested for drunk driving and marijuana possession after a “Smackdown” taping in Mississippi. This allegedly caused a change in the result of the title match and Swagger lost his title shot.
After this, Swagger’s WWE stock rapidly declined and he was right back to being a jobber to the stars as he had been for years. Now things were even worse though as his manager was getting all of the heat instead of Swagger himself. Gaining Cesaro as a partner took even more focus away from Swagger, as he was seen as dragging down a hot act like Cesaro instead of rising up the card with his help. To give you an idea of how bad things were for Swagger, after losing his rematch with Del Rio at “Extreme Rules” in May, Swagger would win only three singles matches for the rest of the year.
It was becoming a chore to watch Jack Swagger wrestle because you knew that he was hardly ever going to win. Colter would try to literally slap some sense into him a few times to make him more aggressive, but he would usually be losing again by the end of the week. Ever since he debuted in WWE back in 2007, people had said that Swagger was a talented guy but he desperately needed something new because his character was more stale than a fourteen-year-old loaf of bread.
And on Monday, June 30, we finally got that change.
For months, the evil Russian monster Rusev and his gorgeous handler Lana have been dominating the WWE. In the months that he’s been around, only Roman Reigns has been able to slow Rusev down, let alone actually defeat him. With Lana spending a few moments every week running down America and praising the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the question became who could possibly stop this monster. Jim Duggan tried and had his legendary 2×4 snapped in half. Big E. tried but was dispatched with ease on multiple occasions. We needed someone new. We needed someone willing to fight. We needed a Real American.
That’s exactly what we got on Monday. With Lana and Rusev in the ring for their usual running down of America, Colter and Swagger interrupted with Colter going on a blistering tirade against Lana for running down the United States while taking advantage of its Freedom of Speech. Swagger stood toe to toe with Rusev and sent him out to the floor. For the first time in his WWE career, the fans were literally on their feet and cheering for Jack Swagger. In other news that day, cows came home, pigs flew through the air, and I began to wonder why these sayings always involve animals.
It was an amazing sight and it happened due to the WWE writers going back to a tried and true idea: American wrestling fans are xenophobes with very short attention spans that will cheer anything if it sings the praises of the good old USA. Think back to the 1980s when the biggest face in the wrestling world was the Real American Hulk Hogan. He fought off every evil foreign monster that threatened to take away what Americans hold dear (main Hogan being WWF Champion). Jim Duggan was the same way. The guy was as dumb as a box of hammers but he waved an American flag and was one of the most beloved wrestlers of all time.
The idea showed it would still work like a charm this past Monday. Swagger’s past sins were forgiven, people could overlook that he was just a step ahead of a white supremacist, and the literally mustache twirling villain Zeb Colter’s call for everyone to stand up with their hand over their hearts and declare in a loud clear voice WE THE PEOPLE was as welcome as opening presents on Christmas morning.
That’s what I want to get to here: the old booking ideas can still work. We don’t need some over complicated booking strategy with tweeners and a bunch of swerves. We need good talkers telling basic stories that we can get into. It’s fine to go the complicated route every now and then, but at the end of the day fans often want to see something simple where they see heroes standing up to villains and having a wrestling match to decide their differences. The line you often hear is that ideas like those won’t work anymore because fans have gotten past them. In response to that, I present you with the following:
“SWAGGER! SWAGGER! SWAGGER!”
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