WWE’s Creative Team has gotten it right.
Usually, they are subjected to scorn from wrestling pundits and the WWE Universe for less-than-stellar storylines and character non-development. But as quickly as they are criticized, they also should be congratulated when a story idea immediately clicks.
That is exactly what has happened with Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger. This gimmick has clicked faster than a driver’s seat belt when a cop is in sight.
Several months ago, Swagger was way past dead on arrival. His character, which had shown so much promise, was almost non-existent.
So, he went away for a few months, then returned a couple of weeks ago sporting a new look and a new attitude.
And a new manager. Meet Zeb Colter, Swagger’s manager and storyline uncle.
Colter is a character not seen around WWE parts for a long, long time. He is a conservative, jaded Vietnam veteran who has taken a good hard look at the country he defended and does not like what he is seeing…and he is speaking his mind about it.
In short, Colter hates, but he is not acting hateful. He speaks slowly and deliberately about the U.S. immigration policy, but he does not insult any specific group. He is an “America for Americans” type of character, but he definitely is staying within the PG rating that WWE covets.
In short, Zeb Colter is someone to whom everyone can relate. Everyone knows or has come in contact with characters like him…a strange neighbor, a weird uncle, the distant cousin everyone talks about and is afraid to be around.
And that is what makes the gimmick so brilliant.
Colter has taken Swagger under his wing, transforming the “All-American American” into a “real American.” Swagger seems to be absorbing the new direction his character has taken, tapping into the rage that Colter is espousing and channeling it toward his opponent.
The gimmick will work because Colter’s character is American, as opposed to someone like Antonio Cesaro who boasts that Americans are inferior to those from other lands. He is critical of his own country. He does not like how America has become a melting pot of many cultures, so he is speaking up.
But what makes this gimmick even more brilliant is the talent of Wayne Keown as the Zeb Colter character.
Keown is a 63-year-old semi-retired pro wrestler better known by his other alter ego, “Dirty” Dutch Mantel. The 40-year veteran of the industry is a master of handling storylines and putting other wrestlers over with the crowd. If anyone can pull off the Zeb Colter character as believable, it is Keown.
The direction that WWE takes with Colter and Swagger is going to be restricted somewhat by the company’s PG rating. That means they will have to develop ways to let Colter get his points across without crossing the line of offensive behavior.
And that is where the brilliance of Keown will come in handy. He knows exactly which buttons to push to whip the crowd into a frenzy while keeping everything within the parameters set for him.
This is going to be a fun storyline to watch develop. With Colter’s help, Swagger should finally reach the potential WWE felt he always had.
Anytime you can get a Superstar to reach or exceed his potential, there is only one word you can use to describe what went down to get him there.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.