Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio Brings a New Focus on the World Championship

Tom ClarkFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2013

photo by wwe.com
photo by wwe.com

Jack Swagger is headed to WrestleMania 29, where he will face Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship.

Swagger’s victory at WWE’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view set him on this course, and the controversy surrounding his and Zeb Colter’s views on immigration are causing this feud to become very hot very quickly.  

This is turning into a must-see rivalry and that is only elevating the importance of WWE’s commonly recognized “secondary” championship.

And that is a good thing.

This is what the World title needs.  Drama, controversy, all layered between two solid talents like Del Rio and Swagger who will attempt to do justice to the belt next to the massive WWE Championship main event of The Rock vs. John Cena.

No pressure, right?

But WWE needs the World Title to be as important, as relevant, as possible.  While it may not hold quite as much prestige as the WWE Championship, it is still a very important title and has seen its fair share of great champions.

Triple H, Edge, Randy Orton, The Undertaker, CM Punk and Chris Jericho all held the World Title and each man brought his own unique talents to the main-event scene in WWE.  

Despite who the WWE Champion was during these particular title reigns, none of these Superstars likely felt they were merely a “No. 2” in Vince McMahon’s company.

Therein lies a major point about the big gold belt that some fans may tend to forget.  As with any other championship in the company, the belt is only as good, only as valuable, as the guy holding it.

It may be an impressive replica of Ric Flair’s old NWA championship, but the belt itself is meaningless unless the man wearing it can add something to it.  If he can make it a little better, a little more interesting and important than when he won it, then I believe that’s all anyone can ask.  

The main objective for any Superstar who gets the World Championship should be to carry it as if it’s the only title in the company.

But while the attitude has to be right, the fact is it will not do much good if the champion is not booked properly.

He has to look strong.  He has to be tough and he cannot be put into situations that could leave him looking like anything less than the champion he is.  

At any given point, whether he’s working on Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown or a pay-per-view, he has to look as credible and as important as the WWE Champion.

This has to be the case every time, or the World title will lose its luster.  To see the World champion losing in non-title matches, or even getting pinned in tag matches, simply cannot happen unless it is to build a rivalry with a title contender.

Anything less and suddenly the notion that the World Title just does not mean as much will suddenly hit the front burner once again.  And when that happens, it becomes increasingly hard to convince fans that they should care about the championship at all.

When Sheamus was World Champion, a lot was made of how the guy just could not lose. This perhaps stemmed from the fact that before he defeated Daniel Bryan last year to win the belt, he was enduring a pretty major losing streak.

The former WWE Champion could not seem to get it together and at times fans were likely wondering if he was on his way out of the company.

So when he became the unstoppable, unbeatable World Champion, there was likely some serious head shaking among the WWE faithful.  

But, the more Sheamus defended the championship, the stronger he looked.  He began turning in one hard-fought match after another, and was booked on TV nearly every time WWE was on the air.  And most importantly, he rarely ever lost.

Being World champion called for Sheamus character to up his game and for WWE to book him in the most positive light possible.  And Sheamus the man responded by becoming the tough, hard nosed hooligan that he had always been billed as in the past.

We have now seen a very similar situation with Alberto Del Rio, who went on his own losing streak before becoming World Champion.  Now that he has the belt, its up to him to bring everything he has in the ring each night he works and it’s up to WWE to book him in the right way.

Pairing him with a red-hot Jack Swagger who happens to believe that Del Rio and the majority of his people should all be rounded up and deported to Mexico?  That is definitely a step in the right direction for WWE.

Again, it’s controversial, it gets heat with the crowd, and it makes the fate of the World Championship more important now than it arguably has been in a very long time.  

Love or hate Swagger, the fact is that he would bring a lot of spotlight and focus to the World championship.  He may even gain some new fans as a result.

Let’s face it, The Rock vs. John Cena, while it will be the bout that WrestleMania 29 is built around, has already happened.  We saw it all last year and if Cena goes over for the WWE Title, as many fans expect he will, then his title reign could just turn into more of the same that we have seen in the past.

Move along, nothing to see here.

But Jack Swagger as World Champion?  With Zeb Colter holding the gold over one shoulder and the American flag over the other, proclaiming the two to be as equally important?  

That is new, fresh, territory.  That will bring the kind of attention to the World Title that it needs to be relevant.  At the end of the day, it just needs to be booked properly.  And I believe that’s exactly what WWE is doing.

Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio will wage war at WrestleMania and the shots fired before then should make the match worth the fans’ time.

When it’s all over, the champ will be standing tall and despite which man that is, it will mean that the championship has reached another level of importance.

And that is definitely a good thing.