Jack Swagger has been said to have an attitude backstage, but on the other hand, he has a lot of talent and a great look to back up his time in front of the camera. Sometimes a slightly arrogant attitude can be worked around if everything in front of the camera is stellar, but with Swagger it hasn't been. He carried the (WWE) ECW Championship for 104 days, but it's not what I'd call a top championship in the grand scheme of things.
Many people have compared Jack Swagger to Kurt Angle, and rightly so. They both have an amateur wrestling background that few in professional wrestling can claim. Their ring work is similar in a lot of ways, and they both seem to have a solid drive. And we can't forget that they both wear a singlet, that's hugely important.
But that's where the similarities end. Angle can cut a great promo. I won't say he's one of the best in the industry, but I will say that he can more than hold his own as either a face, or a heel. Swagger, on the other hand, has a terrible time on mic. Quite a few wrestlers have proven that they can work the mic with a speech impediment, off the top of my head I think of Dusty and Cody Rhodes, and Sheamus. They all make it work, and do so beautifully, but Swagger has failed over and over. For Swagger it's more than his speech impediment, it's a lack of confidence, personality and charisma that ruins his time on mic.
Swagger went on to hold the World Heavyweight Championship for 82 days, and in that time showed just how much his attitude and ego could run away with him. It's interesting to note that he's not been anywhere near challenging for the World Heavyweight Championship since then. He did have a US Title reign early in 2012, but the US Title isn't what it once was. Between, and sometimes during these title reigns Swagger has been a background wrestler who never seems to be able to get past his poor mic skills and lack of charisma.
For the first time in a long time I really thought that Swagger might have a shot to be bigger than ever before. Not only did he come back from his five and a half month hiatus looking more focused, he also seemed much more ruthless and willing to go the extra mile in the ring. Just as good was that he returned with a mouthpiece who was solely dedicated to Swagger. While Vickie Guerrero might be the most over heel in the WWE, the fact that she was splitting her time between Swagger and Dolph Ziggler hurt Swagger more than helped him. Ziggler has mic skills and the charisma to work without a manager, but Swagger doesn't seem to be able to function on his own. While I'm not going to get into politics, I have to say that I'm not sure Vince McMahon got the mainstream media he was after with Zeb Colter's character, but he sure got the WWE noticed.
I stated in the 2/19 RIB that this is Swagger's push to either run with, or destroy, meaning I felt this was the last big push that I thought the WWE was willing to give him. I also felt that the WWE had an out at the end of it all. If Alberto Del Rio didn't work out as a face carrying the World Heavyweight Championship, they could strap Swagger at WrestleMania, and if that didn't work, Ziggler could cash in his MITB. I wasn't at all worried about Swagger and his track record with attitude problems backstage as he had only been back for a week, not really enough time to get up a head of steam and upset people in the locker room. Boy was I wrong!
Because I don't really know the truth, I don't want to be guessing, but I really wondered if Swagger was stoned during the Smackdown taping, or if he lit up right after the show, hot boxing in his rental car. It's impossible to tell from his mic work whether he had already lit up, and the same can be said for those YouTube videos that have been released, but I have the feeling those were all taped prior to Smackdown. One might look at Swagger's pupils during his match with Randy Orton and say they were quite dilated, compared to Orton's, but that's not very telling either. There's no way from the outside looking in that we will know what the true story there is, but I wonder how Orton will feel about it as he's the one who was in the ring with Swagger on Smackdown.
Since the story broke that Swagger had been arrested, and the reasons behind it, there's been much speculation about Swagger's push, and even his job. Since Smackdown had already been taped, and Swagger was in quite a number of segments, they ran with what they had and continued to release Zeb and Swagger videos on YouTube, including inviting Glenn Beck to RAW next week. Does that mean that they're going to continue with Swagger's push and not change anything they had already planned? The only people who really know the plan are in the WWE, and they're not talking. Some might say that releasing new Zeb videos and inviting Beck to RAW is proof that they're going to continue on with Swagger, his push and World Heavyweight Championship Match at WrestleMania. I don't have any grand ideas about where they're going. I'm willing to bet that Vince McMahon, Paul Levesque, Stephanie McMahon-Levesque, and possibly Zeb and Swagger, are still trying to make decisions as to which direction to go with all this. I think this could have been fairly quietly brushed under the mat if it wasn't for all the mainstream media the WWE has received over the direction of Swagger and Zeb. I'm wondering if McMahon is wishing he'd stuck with strapping The Rock and kept the lid on Zeb and Swagger.
The one thing I do know, and that is that Swagger has made one of the dumbest moves the WWE has seen in five years. It makes absolutely no sense to me why anyone would take such a great opportunity and throw it away by doing such a truly stupid thing. A speeding ticket alone would have annoyed McMahon, but the fact that Swagger got a DUI, it wasn't for alcohol, and that marijuana was found on Swagger is what takes this to a whole new level. The last time anything like this happened was when Rob Van Dam, as the WWE Champion and the ECW Champion, was pulled over for speeding and arrested for possession of marijuana and five Vicodin pills. According to the WWE Wellness Policy, RVD could have been fired for his drug-related arrest. The WWE stated they would pursue their own investigation. RVD dropped the WWE Championship on the following live RAW, and then the ECW Championship the next night on the ECW taping. RVD was later suspended for 30 days without pay, and never got the push he had been working on before his arrest.
The Wellness Policy actually states:
14. DISCIPLINE FOR VIOLATION OF LAW
Any WWE Talent, who is arrested, convicted or who admits to a violation of law relating to use, possession, purchase, sale or distribution of drugs will be in material breach of his/her contract with WWE and subject to immediate dismissal.
In addition to the penalties that may be imposed pursuant to his/her contract with WWE, a violation of this Section 14 may also be treated as a positive test for drugs prohibited by this Policy and therefore, subject to the penalties set forth in Section 15 of this Policy.
That means that the WWE could easily fire him for this infraction, but also hit him with a Wellness Policy violation which would be on his record if he was ever to return to the company. Personally I think McMahon would be daft to keep Swagger around, and the original plans on the books, after all this, but maybe there's a plan worked out. Being that it's so close to WrestleMania, and Swagger is scheduled to be in one of the main event matches, the WWE is in quite a spot, and I don't see McMahon ever letting Swagger forget this. Only time will tell the final plan, but Monday Night RAW will be the first step in all our questions being answered.
EDIT – I just have to mention the newest video put out by Zeb and Swagger. I'm blown away that McMahon was willing to have Keown and Hagar break kayfabe, but I think it was the right thing to do with this whole Glenn Beck thing going on. That doesn't mean anyone has forgotten what happened Tuesday night, or that I think it should be swept under the rug, but I do think it was a great way to handle Beck at this point. And while I'm sure Beck has numerous scheduled 'events' he cannot miss, and, of course he doesn't have the time to tape a five minute response and send it to the WWE. He was offered the time, why not use it? I thought no media was bad media.