Remember when Jack Swagger was in the main event scene? It was a place in space and time when the All-American would capture and defend world championships. While not exactly a transcendent champion by any means, there was nothing actually wrong with the man performing in that capacity.
Then, for whatever reason(s), he was relegated to several iffy gimmicks, which led to not so great success.
The “We The People” routine would mostly catch on, but it wasn’t meant to be a face-gimmick. In return, the WWE had to — to avoid having people actively route for xenophobia — job him out to the point of losing nearly all credibility.
Over the course of the last two to three years, Swagger has been used sparingly. Need a patriotic symbol to lose to a foreign wrestler? Call on good old reliable Jack Swagger to eat that L. This would happen time after time.
The latest example of this was on Monday’s edition of Raw, as Swagger fell to Jinder Mahal, who earned his only victory since his return against the former NCAA wrestler.
Despite that, the WWE must still have some hope for the idea of Swagger. With his real-life contract situation apparently up in the relatively near future, he switched brands on Tuesday, joining SmackDown and cutting a promo that would make one think he’s in line for a serious push.
The question remains: Does Swagger have enough credibility, or something as simple as in-ring talent, left to regain the attention of the WWE Universe?
That question goes without an answer. At least not yet, as we haven’t seen enough of Swagger over the last few years to know how much he’s progressed or regressed in the ring, or if he has become a better wordsmith on the microphone.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the idea of Swagger — which originally put him in the main event scene a few years ago to begin with — remains to be alive, kicking, and if that promo he cut on Tuesday is any indication, is an idea Swagger appears ready to jam down our throats.
The next few episodes of SmackDown will obviously be crucial to his WWE career. Will the company have him destroy a few local jobbers, quickly insert him in an engaging feud, or was he just brought in to continue to job?
Those questions should be answered rather quickly. In fact, we can know by the very next episode what role this version of Swagger will be playing.
Oddly, the floor and the ceiling for him are at two incredible extremes. His floor remains what it has been for the better part of two years now, as he can just continue to function as a big man jobber to the stars. His ceiling, however, is crazy high.
We often complain about a guy such as Brock Lesnar. That he is this far too dominant Superstar, which in turn makes it too hard to envision anyone being credible enough to beat him up. Not that I think this is the route the WWE will go, but Swagger — thanks to his NCAA wrestling background and his size — fits that mold.
And, yes, there is a (very) small percentage that this is what the WWE is doing. That, in an effort to rebuild a homegrown talent, Swagger is being repackaged on SmackDown to eventually do scripted violence in the ring with Lesnar — which, win or lose, would be one of the few ways to get someone “credible” enough in the ring with the “Beast Incarnate” for us to believe he might lose.
Regardless, Swagger is a talented guy. There was good reason for him being a world champion earlier in his career. While not perfect, here is to hoping he not only has enough left in the tank to do good in-ring work, but he’s progressed enough as an overall performer to help the SmackDown brand continue to evolve into a must-see program.