Jack Swagger is miraculously still alive in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture.
Even though he was soundly defeated by Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania 29 and once again the next night on Raw, Swagger has managed to weasel his way back into the world title mix. He defeated new world champion Dolph Ziggler on this week’s Raw, and it was revealed later in the show that Ziggler would have to defend his title against both ADR and Swagger in a Triple Threat match down the road.
It’s been quite surprising to see Swagger remain afloat in the world title scene post-WrestleMania, too. The fans still haven’t really reacted to him as a serious threat, and after he lost two straight matches to ADR in clean fashion, we can see certainly why hardly anyone is viewing him as a legitimate main eventer right now.
For some reason or another, the WWE has decided to keep Swagger as one of the top challengers for the world heavyweight title—even having him beat Ziggler in what was a very questionable booking move on this week’s Raw.
But the fact that Swagger is currently being pushed at the top of the card doesn’t mean it will ultimately end up doing much for him. In fact, his chase for the world title figures to leave him with nothing once it’s over and done with.
Though Swagger has had a big presence on TV since returning earlier this year, he’s been doomed ever since he was arrested on charges of DUI and marijuana possession back in February. It’s like the WWE pigeonholed itself into “pushing” Swagger and his WrestleMania program with Del Rio, even though the company knew it didn’t really want to push him.
After all, Swagger’s push has been more of a mirage than anything else.
The WWE has kinda sorta tried to build him up as a top heel, but because the world heavyweight title doesn’t mean quite what it used to, he has really been below several other heels on the company’s pecking order. CM Punk, Big Show, Brock Lesnar and some of the WWE’s other villains have generated considerably more heat than Swagger and positioned themselves above him—at least in terms of importance.
Although the WWE has stuck with Swagger in part because of his great mouthpiece, Zeb Colter, the creative team hasn’t built him up quite as well as it would have liked to. That’s partially because his gimmick may be too confusing for the masses but also because he was booked so badly last year prior to returning earlier this year that he’s not taken seriously as a main event performer.
Regardless, Swagger’s push has been one that was doomed from the start because he was never going to become the world heavyweight champion so soon after embarrassing the WWE with his arrest. Ultimately, his feud with ADR has always been (and continues to be) all about building up Del Rio as the next top Hispanic superstar in pro wrestling.
Things aren’t going to change now that WrestleMania is over, either.
While Swagger did pick up a pretty shocking and major win over Ziggler on this week’s Raw, he still finds himself as a pawn in the game that is Ziggler’s run as world champion. I have no idea why the WWE chose to keep Swagger in the World title picture even after he lost cleanly at WrestleMania, but I feel pretty confident in saying that it ultimately won’t lead to much for him.
Quite simply, the WWE is trying to get what little life it can out of Swagger’s gimmick before it completely runs out of gas.
By most accounts, Swagger’s xenophobic “Real American” gimmick hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations or the buzz it initially generated. Even though Swagger has performed well in the ring, and his gimmick is entertaining to some, it just hasn’t quite caught on with the masses.
It seems like his continued presence in the world title scene is a last-ditch effort to save his career. If he continues to struggle to get over like he has been, this might very well be the last big break he’ll ever get—at least in the WWE.
Still, things don’t look good for Swagger right now.
Del Rio has the creative team behind him as it looks to build up another major Hispanic star, and Ziggler just won the world title and figures to get a reasonably big push over the coming months. Swagger, on the other hand, is sort of just there without a whole lot of momentum behind him.
Regardless of how talented Swagger is or how well he performs, he’s stuck in a very odd spot—with the WWE partly behind him and partly not.
Until that changes, Swagger won’t leave the world title picture with the belt or anything else. He’ll continue to be a pawn in the main event scene but will never actually be a major player in the game.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!