A Matter of Character - Jack Swagger
In the WWE, sometimes guys just get lost in the shuffle. It’s happened to countless guys over the years and is unavoidable with so much talent on the roster. That being said, how does the WWE so flagrantly lose former Mr. Money in the Bank, ECW Champion, United States Champion, and World Heavyweight Champion Jack Swagger in the shuffle.
Swagger is a relatively young and well decorated superstar in the WWE, that has gone from main eventing PPVs with title’s around his waist, to jobbing to guys like Brodus Clay and Santino. I get that they are pushing a losing streak angle with him, but even before the angle started, I had never seen a superstar with as many accolades as he has amassed in his four years with the WWE, much less his natural talent, fall so quickly own the card, and become an afterthought.
This week’s “A Matter of Character” is going to put the spotlight on none other than the All American American, Jack Swagger. I will analyze his character and point out his strengths and flaws, as I perceive them, while making suggestions for improvement where I see fit. So enough wasting time, Let’s Do This!
At over 6’5 and 260, All American Wrestler Jack Swagger is certainly one of the WWE’s most physically imposing performers. He is an above average athlete with above average ability inside the squared circle. Swagger has had great matches during his time on the WWE roster, usually employing an array power maneuvers as well as displaying the technical prowess attained through years of high level collegiate wrestling. At 30 years of age, has quite a few years left on his legs, and can still improve on what has already proven to be a pretty terrific athletic specimen.
When working on AMOC, I try to look at the performer independent of what is going on with them in their narrative when analyzing their physical make-up. As I’ve detailed above, Jack Swagger’s physicality is easily one of the WWE’s best, but aesthetically, he has some issues. To me he has, and still does look like a big goof. It works I guess for his heel persona, to have him play a big, oafish jock, but if you wanted him to play a heel with a real mean streak, or turn him babyface, the issue of his hair and his endless array of Technicolor Singlets would need to be addressed.
Ever since Jack Swagger jumped onto the scene in the WWE, he has made it abundantly clear that he thinks pretty highly of himself. He isn’t quite narcissistic, but he maintains a constant state of over-confidence, and lacks any and all humility. He also fancies himself a patriot, never failing to mention that he is an All American American. He’s also proven to be a bit goofy outside the ring, while being very formidable inside it.
I really have no issues with his personality, because right now he’s playing a heel jock character. Furthermore, small tweaks to the character could easily alter the WWE’s perception of the character he’s portraying, for example making him less goofy and more vicious and serious makes him a bad ass heel with a mean streak and the talent to back it up. Changing his over-confidence to simply confidence in his own abilities to perform makes him an athletically gifted babyface with something to prove. The character has versatility that has yet to be explored fully by the WWE, though they seem to be heading in a new direction given his current narrative.
Words and Actions
Speaking of Jack Swagger’s narrative, right now it seems that they are going with “The Losing Streak of Redemption”. All his actions in the ring and out are performed to illustrate that he is now a huge loser. Can I say how much I hate this wrestling trope that they trot out, as if it’s brilliant storytelling. The whole idea of it is counterintuitive to me. I don’t want to cheer a loser, especially one as physically gifted as Jack Swagger. Swagger isn’t Rudy, he’s not an underdog, he’s an underachiever based on the standards he’s set for himself. The whole idea that I as a fan of the show will start to feel bad for and thus cheer a Superstar despite the fact that they prove week in and week out that they are a loser is ridiculous. Don’t mistake my dislike of this recurring storyline as me not getting it. I get it; I just think it’s really dumb.
As far as his ability on the microphone goes, he’s slightly above average. His noticeable lisp is good for drawing heat as a dumb jock heel, but if you wanted to turn him into an all business heel or a heroic babyface, it would something that he would need to overcome. It wouldn’t be too difficult, but its something you’d need to consider.
As I’ve said countless times before, motivation is the most important aspect of a character. Heel or babyface, the reason you do what you do is the key to getting people to care. Jack Swagger’s current motivation is a bit vague. He wants to be champion (which everyone wants), but deeper than that he wants what? To stop losing? That’s a temporary motivation, and he needs something that will drive his character emotionally from rivalry to rivalry.
I’m sure that being as athletic as he was growing up, his life has always revolved around sports. Let’s say his coaches and his family always emphasized the importance of winning, instilling a “losing is not an option” mentality. Competing became less about the love of the sport he was playing, and more about using his physical gifts to win. If they use this losing streak angle to establish that his motivation was winning above all else, and that when he’s losing he has nothing. Have him re-discover his love of wrestling, which in turn will take the pressure off and allow him to actually enjoy what he does and not just the results, effectively turning him babyface.
In the situation I’ve briefly outlined above, the main conflict would be the years of programming by his coaches and family, where winning was made the ONLY important thing in athletics. Getting over that kind of pressure and gaining the ability to enjoy what he does for a living, and not just the results of the matches he’s in, won’t be easy, but it’s something that the WWE Universe would root for him to do. It would make him a sympathetic character, with true to life demons of growing up in a sport-oriented family, in a sport centric town.
I think that Jack Swagger is in serious need of a shake-up, and there really isn’t a better way than to turn him babyface. The question is what angle would you take? How do you get the fans behind this big dumb jock? The WWE missed out on an opportunity over a year ago, when Swagger should have turned on Michael Cole, after Cole insulted and humiliated him during the feud with Jerry Lawler. The way that I’d turn him face now, would involve announcer as well.
I’d have The Miz be wrestling in a tag team match, teaming with Swagger, and for reasons I’d come up with later, Jim Ross would be on commentary. When The Miz would cheat to obtain victory, J.R. would make a comment akin to “I guess he didn’t have what it takes to pick up a clean victory on this night”.
Miz would get out of the ring to get his Intercontinental Championship and Michael Cole would repeat what Good Ol’ J.R. said about him. Miz annoyed and angered by the insinuation would verbally accost Jim Ross, saying that he’s a has-been, and that he should stop coming around trying to steal Michael Cole’s spotlight. He would then tell J.R. to apologize, and of course J.R. would refuse. Miz would grab J.R. and threaten him much to Cole’s delight, when Jack Swagger would come to the rescue of his fellow Oklahoman, causing Miz to retreat to the back.
Swagger coming to the aid of Jim Ross would be huge in helping him turn babyface. Not only are he and Jim Ross both Oklahoma Sooner guys, but Jim Ross was also the guy that actually recruited Jack Swagger coming out of college to come to the WWE. They have a great relationship in real life, and bringing that into the narrative would do wonders in getting Swagger over as a babyface. Also, having him feud with Miz would garner sympathy, because let’s face it; The Miz is a huge douchebag that would obviously poke fun at any and all of Swagger’s insecurities, such as his lisp. A rivalry with one of the WWE’s most mean spirited and hated superstars, brought on in defense of undeniable crowd favorite and Hall of Famer Jim Ross; there really isn’t a better way to turn Jack Swagger babyface.
There you have it, but what do you think? Are you a fan of Jack Swagger? Could Swagger as a babyface work? Would you work his relationship with Jim Ross into storylines to help him get over? Should the WWE stop trying to make him a carbon copy of Kurt Angle?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying congratulations to Usain Bolt, who’s easily one of my favorite athletes ever (and not just because we’re both Jamaican). Get em’ in the 200 Bolt! Have a great week everybody!