Emma Shoplifting, Jack Swagger, Bo Dallas and More from the Stolen Mailbag

Alfred KonuwaFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2014

Credit: WWE.com

Emma's nightmarish run while a part of the WWE main roster has spilled outside the ring in the form of a shoplifting scandal. According to TMZ, the Diva was arrested prior to Monday's Raw on suspicion of shoplifting an iPad case. 

Naturally, her release and subsequent reinstatement has the Internet talking: 

@ThisIsNasty and what's with the release and reinstatement (with a punishment) of Emma? Too quick of a turnaround.

— adam ∇ (@AdamHEEL) July 2, 2014

Emma couldn't have picked a worse time to pop up on TMZ in the same paragraph as words like "larceny," "shoplifting" and "the sixth degree."

This was evidenced by WWE quickly cutting ties with the Diva, according to F4WOnline.com (h/t WrestlingInc.com). WWE continues to undergo drastic changes in accordance with cost-cutting measures and hardly needed an excuse to let go of a struggling rookie Diva. 

On the other hand, Emma could not have picked a better time to pop up on TMZ for her indiscretions, as she's certainly not the first. The TMZ generation has given us Swagger-gate, Cameron-gate, Jericho-gate, Riley-gate and Uso-gate, and all Superstars involved remain employed by WWE.    

According to F4WOnline.com (h/t WrestlingInc.com), potential backlash from fans, who would have been quick to point out the hypocrisy of WWE firing a talent for legal troubles that are minor compared to the aforementioned "gates," could have played a role in WWE's decision to reinstate Emma. 

If this is true, it speaks to the continued influence of the voice of the fan in today's landscape. Despite what you may read on a message board, there are just as many instances of WWE listening to its fanbase as ignoring it outright.

The latter has become less common since the Information Age led to more access to backstage gossip. This means "smart" fans who attend live shows are liable to hijack WWE programming at will. 

If potential fan outrage played a role in a rare WWE reinstatement shortly after a release, it's further evidence of changing times.

@ThisIsNasty RAW of the year so far? So many twists, turns, shocks and returns! #rawreview

— Niall Thomas. (@NiallThomasNew) July 1, 2014

Following Raw, I had to check to make sure this was the Raw after Money in the Bank and not the Raw after WrestleMania. The show had all the ingredients: hot crowd, major swerves, big returns. The only difference was the month of June. 

Money in the Bank has surpassed Survivor Series in importance given the success rate of its winners. At this point, Money in the Bank is the true big fourth pay-per-view, with Survivor Series—once on the verge of cancellation according to PWTorch.com—more of a figurehead. 

WWE is gearing up for a loaded pay-per-view run to feature SummerSlam and a WWE Night of Champions show, with the mission statement of baiting WWE Network subscribers into renewing. 

In between all that is WWE Battleground, which is currently advertising an underwhelming (and predictable) Fatal 4-Way main event. 

With Battleground in danger of slowing WWE's momentum, the promotion may have felt pressure to load the deck and keep fans interested heading into a pivotal string of pay-per-views in the third quarter. 

This explains the returns of Chris Jericho, AJ Lee, the Miz and, of course, the Great Khali.

@RealJackSwagger needs to be the one who breaks the undefeated streak of Rusev @ThisIsNasty

— Justin Smallwood (@MagicMelody92) July 1, 2014

The Jack Swagger babyface turn is confusing. Swagger is one of a very select few group of heels who can still draw legitimate heel heat. Even with the cool-heel "We the People" chant, Swagger's look, size and the lack of an edgy Internet appeal make him an antagonist to all. 

Having said that, the feud actually makes sense. Who better to challenge the anti-American monster heel than a man who fancies himself a Real American?

Fans seemed surprisingly ready for Swagger to turn face after he has spent his entire career as a villain. Loud "Let's go, Swagger" chants filled the arena in Hartford as Swagger stood tall opposite Rusev. 

Coming off a competitive string of matches against Big E, another solid feud against Swagger will elevate Rusev as a potential challenger once the seemingly inevitable reign of Reigns beings, as per Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingInc.com) begins. 

At the same time, this could be Swagger's ticket out of WWE purgatory. If it all ended today, Swagger would arguably be more infamous for being linked to two serious injuries of his peers than he would be famous for winning a World Championship. 

Swagger's sudden change of heart, despite little advance notice, was refreshing and is actually consistent with fan participation in the "We the People" chant:

@ThisIsNasty Bo Dallas's current gimmick, yay or nay?

— Joe (@Pupdogs) June 30, 2014

Oh hell yay. Bo Dallas gains more steam with every intentionally cheesy inspirational quote. The gimmick is the model of irony in the WWE.

The gimmick is layered in complexity. Bo Dallas is a character played by Taylor Rotunda. Rotunda plays a self-unaware heel who thinks he's a babyface. Dallas is no different than a sincere babyface of the '80s, but he's a heel because WWE (in all its self-awareness) realizes that a cookie-cutter babyface with no edge will get a negative reaction.

Dallas has excelled in his role, however. And in this era of jaded fans who cheer effective heels, the heel who thinks he is a babyface is beginning to be cheered.

So which one is he? Does it really matter? 

Dallas may be on to something with his moment of silence, which can be this era's version of Edge's and Christian's five-second pose.

WWE has positioned Dallas to antagonize recent WWE World Heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan as well as a surging Bad News Barrett. It's clear one month into the Bo Dallas experiment that the experiment has succeeded.