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How WWE Should Handle Jack Swagger's Storyline Following Controversial Arrest

Photo courtesy of WWE.com
Photo courtesy of WWE.com
Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2013

Jack Swagger screwed up big time this week after being arrested for possession of marijuana and DUI (h/t TMZ.com), and the superstar has put the WWE creative team in a tough position.

Despite the arrest, Swagger should still fight Alberto Del Rio for the title at WrestleMania 29.

According to the Wrestling Observer newsletter (h/t Wrestling Inc.), the plan was for the No. 1 contender to win the World Heavyweight Championship on the biggest stage of them all. But those plans have likely changed:

The Wrestling Observer reports that WWE sources note that Jack Swagger was scheduled to win the World Heavyweight Title from Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania 29. No word yet on what his arrest means for booking plans but WWE creative was working late on Wednesday night to come up with ideas, which doesn't sound good for Swagger and Zeb Colter.

This is a huge mistake on Swagger’s part—the company took the chance pushing the returning heel to the top of the WHC scene—but the WWE has already gone all-in on his controversial character. The angle has created a serious mainstream buzz (h/t Hollywood Reporter), and the fallout resulted in comments from political commentator Glenn Beck, who was called out via an invitation to Raw.

This commitment to Swagger’s character indicates the company likely won’t abort the angle immediately without a kayfabe reason established. That should indicate the No. 1 contender gets his title shot at WrestleMania 29 despite the arrest.

As untimely as this situation is for the WWE and Swagger, there is an actual precedent for how the company has handled the same issues in the past.

In July of 2006, then-reigning WWE Champion and ECW Champion Rob Van Dam was arrested in Hanging Rock, Ohio, for possession of Marijuana (h/t Ironton Tribune). He was suspended 30 days (h/t WWE.com) after losing his titles on the subsequent Raw and episode of ECW.

The key in that situation was that the WWE allowed the former champion to finish the storyline before serving his suspension. With Swagger never being arrested before and the case having similar circumstances, allowing the No. 1 contender to participate in WrestleMania is a viable option.

Between the promos on Raw and SmackDown, as well as the huge win at the Elimination Chamber PPV, it’s clear that the WWE had huge plans for the 30-year-old star and his conservative gimmick. But those plans are likely seriously in question.

Swagger must be punished by the WWE for his arrest, but the suspension he likely faces could start after WrestleMania and be tied into the storyline.

If the company does not address the arrest over the coming weeks and still lets him participate in WrestleMania, the WWE will likely begin to distance itself from the star after his suspension until he can earn his way back into the good graces of the powers that be.

The idea that Swagger was even being considered for a title run shows how much Vince McMahon and company think of the talented in-ring worker and how much he lost by getting arrested.

Despite the biggest mistake of the No. 1 contender's life, the company is too committed to the controversial storyline now to remove Swagger from the booking.

 

For more wrestling talk, listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot topics or check out their exclusive interview with wrestling legend Chris Jericho “Y2J” (some language NSFW).

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