Jack Swagger. Jack, Jack, what have you done?
It seems that being a high-profile, main-event WWE Superstar is just not enough these days, as one of the company’s most talented performers has made a potentially career-threatening error in judgment.
According to TMZ’s website, Swagger was pulled over for speeding on Tuesday night, then arrested for driving under the influence and for possession of marijuana. TMZ was told in a very short statement by WWE that Swagger is responsible for his own actions.
Now, comes the waiting game. Why? Because Vince McMahon has to take some time and make a decision on Swagger’s future in the company. And he needs to get it right.
You don’t have to be a pro wrestling fan to know that WWE has seen its fair share of controversy over the years. McMahon’s company is no different than any other professional sport in this regard, as WWE (like the NFL, NBA and MLB) spotlight some of pop culture’s biggest stars.
And those stars are only human.
Being human means you make mistakes, you drop the ball, and when that happens, you have to face the consequences. This is not an easy task for anyone in everyday life, but it’s especially true for public figures in the media spotlight.
When those men and women screw up, they do it with the whole world watching. Sports stars have an owner, an organization and, most importantly, the fans to answer to. The fans are the most critical piece of the puzzle in my view, as we are the ones who are left feeling cheated and confused.
We are left wondering why someone who seems to have so much to lose would risk it all on something so damaging that, if caught, would turn their life upside down.
But because this is professional wrestling we’re talking about, specifically WWE, the truth is that the public backlash seems to be amplified even more. A major reason for this is the aforementioned controversy that WWE has seen in the past.
There’s also the fact that WWE Superstars are often not really thought of as athletes, but actors. They are playing the part of competitors and are not involved in matches where winning and losing is actually on the line. For these stars, championship gold is not technically earned by accomplishments in the ring.
So when a WWE Superstar’s mug shot hits the net and word of the story begins to spread, the immediate reaction from many people is undoubtedly a very typical one. Because when a WWE Superstar gets in trouble, it’s not really shocking...it’s expected.
After all, WWE is not sports, it’s sports entertainment. The Superstars employed by the McMahon family do not have to worry about their actions affecting “the team” or the fans who pay to see them perform.
It’s all scripted anyway, right? They can do anything they want, and if they make a mistake then they will be taken off TV for a while and then brought back when the heat dies down.
No big deal, right? Wrong.
I am fully aware of how similar incidents like this one have been handled in the past, and the fact that Jack Swagger, like everyone else in WWE’s locker room, is a human being fully capable of self-destructive behavior.
However, that does not mean he should get a pass for what he’s done. He has been back in WWE for less than a month and was receiving the red-carpet treatment with a World Title shot at the upcoming WrestleMania 29 pay-per-view.
He was being trusted with a top spot that so many other WWE Superstars would love to have. Swagger went from being a talented mid-card wrestler to being a red-hot talent that was headed to the main event. Swagger’s time had finally arrived and all he had to do was not blow it.
I have been a pro wrestling fan for 30-plus years and every time a worker makes headlines, I am left disgusted by it all. Professional wrestling by its very nature is a very controversial business that has had some very dark moments and, because of this, likely has more critics than any of the major professional sports leagues.
With each new scandal comes a new critic. And that critic cannot wait to say “I told you so.”
Jack Swagger’s eventual fate in WWE is unknown at this point. The company's wellness policy will surely be adhered to when making the decision on how best to handle the situation. And the policy is very clear in regards to the mess that Jack now finds himself in.
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.
Though Swagger is just like any of us in terms of being fallible, for me that does not excuse his actions. Pro wrestling is an industry that requires hard work, dedication and a true commitment to reach the big time and there are very few spots at the top.
Jack Swagger held one of those spots in the palm of his hand and he threw it away. And in the process, he let down the fans who supported him, those behind the scenes that wanted him there and he endangered the lives of others with his actions behind the wheel.
He made a terrible error in judgment and in addition to whatever punishment he receives from the legal system, he should not receive merely a slap on the wrist from WWE.
Jack, Jack. Just look at what you’ve done.