Just a few short years ago it seemed as though Jack Swagger was destined for superstardom. Poor booking and a lack of proper character development derailed him, but he has a new-found edge since his return to WWE programming.
The presence of new manager Zeb Colter will pay big dividends as well.
Very few people have ever doubted Swagger's technical wrestling ability. He was a star grappler at the University of Oklahoma and that skill has translated to the professional ranks. He also has prototypical size and a main-event look, so the only thing missing from his arsenal is charisma. Swagger has shown it in spurts, but he can't compete with the CM Punks and John Cenas of the world.
Because of that, many fans have been calling for the WWE to give him a mouthpiece for quite some time. The WWE tried Vickie Guerrero initially, but that partnership ultimately fizzled out and didn't further Swagger one bit. Vickie simply didn't jive with Swagger's gimmick; however, it's safe to say that Colter is the perfect fit.
When Swagger made his return to SmackDown after a five-month hiatus a couple weeks ago, it didn't seem like much changed. Swagger didn't come back as a face like many anticipated and pretty much everything else was the same aside from a new beard and haircut.
Since that night, though, it has become apparent that Swagger is evolving.
The mere fact that Swagger is now winning matches is a huge step up to begin with. Swagger had gone on a three-month losing streak prior to his leave of absence and he had basically degenerated into a jobber. It was quite a fall from grace for a guy who is a former ECW, United States and World Heavyweight Champion, as well as a former Money in the Bank winner.
Swagger was once thought to be the future of the company, but his future couldn't have been more uncertain until recently.
If the WWE didn't have confidence in Swagger turning things around, then there is no way that it would have invested in Colter. Most wrestling fans know Colter as Dutch Mantel. Colter achieved great success as a wrestler in several Southern promotions and he also went on to become a commentator, manager and creative writer.
Colter has done everything possible in the wrestling business, so there is no downside to pairing him with Swagger. When it comes to wrestling fundamentals, Swagger is among the best in the business. However, he struggles with the entertainment aspect and the little nuances that make a professional wrestler great.
That is where a wily veteran like Colter comes into play. Colter knows how to further talent and Swagger has more raw talent than most guys on the current roster.
I also like the fact that Colter has a very clear character and is acting as a mentor of sorts to Swagger. Colter is essentially a Southern conservative who voiced his displeasure with the United States and, in particular, its immigration policy. It fits perfectly with Swagger's new "real American" persona as opposed to his former All-American one.
An expectation that I and many other fans had was that Swagger would return to the WWE as a pro-American face and he would then feud with Antonio Cesaro over the United States Championship.
The creative team actually went in the complete opposite direction, though. Some would have preferred a face turn, but I actually like what the WWE is trying to do here.
Since Swagger has been a heel for his entire career, the obvious and easy fix would be a face turn, but the WWE has already turned both Alberto Del Rio and The Miz recently. The results have been mixed with Del Rio getting over and Miz struggling to find his comfort zone, but a lot of that has to do with how the creative team decides to utilize them.
Rather than a cookie-cutter face turn, the writers are taking the time to add depth to Swagger's character by giving him purpose and giving him a manager who fits his new persona. I truly believe that Swagger's gimmick will resonate with people because there are a lot of people in the United States who are disenchanted with certain things.
Everyone seems to believe that they know how things should be run and the combination of Swagger and Colter appears to be drawing from that.
If the WWE continues down the path it is currently navigating with Swagger and Colter, they are likely to garner some mega heat. The WWE is a global entity and it has tons of fans across the world. I can't imagine that many of those fans will respond well to Swagger and Colter's criticisms of immigrants, and that could potentially make Swagger one of the most hated men in the WWE.
Provided Alberto Del Rio drops the World Heavyweight Championship to Dolph Ziggler at Elimination Chamber as I expect him to, Del Rio will be looking for someone to feud with heading into WrestleMania. Since the WWE is molding Del Rio into a Latino icon and Swagger is anti-immigration, that feud writes itself and it could be the kick start that Swagger needs.
The best part about it is that Swagger can focus on his in-ring work and on refining his character while Colter does the bulk of the mic work throughout the potential feud. Colter may be a good person in real life, but he doesn't come across as one on screen, so allowing him to cut an anti-immigration promo on a weekly basis will create a lot of heat for both himself and Swagger.
Had Swagger turned face like many were calling for, it's unlikely that he would have gotten a manager, and he may not have had the mic skills necessary to sustain momentum. Swagger and Colter appear to be a match made in heaven, though, and I'm quite confident that Swagger will settle in as a top mid-carder, and perhaps even a main-eventer if all goes well.