Never before has a World title match on WWE’s grandest stage ever had the topical interest that this year’s match will generate.
It’s not just the title that will be challenged. So will basic American principles on which this country was founded and defended for 237 years.
At least that is what Jack “A Real American” Swagger and his new manager, Zeb Colter, will want you to think when they try to wrest the WHC title away from Mexico-born Alberto Del Rio on April 7 at WrestleMania 29 in New Jersey.
That’s why WWE got it right when they decided that Swagger would win the Elimination Chamber match Sunday night and become the top contender for the World title. It’s WWE’s attempt to put the “must-see” label back on a match that has become the opening act for so many recent pay-per-views.
This year's match has so many subplots:
“A Real American” vs.”The Mexican Aristocrat.”
“America for Americans” vs. “Ellis Island.”
“Faces Like Mine” vs. “The Melting Pot.”
“Closed Borders” vs. “Open Arms.”
“We, The People” vs. “La Familia.”
It’s a debate on the U.S. immigration policy, WWE style.
In addition to American pride, this match could potentially provide both Del Rio and Swagger with the type of push that so many young wrestlers covet.
Granted, Del Rio is a monster babyface right now, but defeating a force as xenophobic as Swagger and Colter could launch him into stratospheric heights. Never mind that Dolph Ziggler could come in and ruin things by cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase. For one shining moment, Del Rio would be an international hero.
For Swagger, this is the heat he has been needing for so long now. His first World title reign was pedestrian and the push he received after that reign was lackluster. Being a World champion is one thing, but being a controversial World champion is something else—and much more fun for the fans to boo.
Should the topical interest of the World title match at WrestleMania make that much of a difference in booking?
Del Rio actually laid the foundation for this match several weeks ago. He basically renounced his mega-rich lifestyle storyline in favor of being a champion of the working people. Where he used to look down on the common man, Del Rio now embraces him as part of “La Familia.”
The storyline intensified last week when Colter was introduced as Swagger’s new manager, a jaded Vietnam veteran and southern conservative who said he would encourage Swagger to fight for real Americans. They announced they would represent “We, The People.”
Finally, at Sunday’s Elimination Chamber, the storyline was officially launched when Swagger came out victorious.
Since WWE launched this storyline relatively quickly, it is obvious they have big plans for it to come to a head at WrestleMania 29, now only seven weeks away. The WWE publicity machine will be working overtime to generate buzz and buys around this match. After all, it’s going to be a match where American pride is as much on the line as the World title.
Hopefully that will mean giving the match its rightful place on the card.
Not first, second or even third. Get the midcard titles and the smaller WrestleMania-driven feuds out of the way first. Then concentrate on why people will be tuning in.
There is no way that a Del Rio vs. Swagger match will replace the top match on the card, The Rock vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship. But the match could easily go in front of an expected Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar match or even the Undertaker defending his WrestleMania winning streak.
In this case, second to last is much better than being first.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.