Despite a full-fledged effort to get the feud between World Heavyweight champion Alberto Del Rio and No. 1 contender Jack Swagger over with the casual fans, there are reports surfacing that the WWE is seriously questioning the long-term outlook of the angle.
Who knew a xenophobic old man wouldn’t be a hit immediately?
According to F4WOnline (h/t Wrestling Inc.), the feeling inside the company is that the storyline is not getting over with the television viewers the way WWE officials had hoped:
Vince McMahon has been a fan of the Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter storyline but word at RAW last night was that there's a lot of concern about the angle and its future. The program was originally designed to be a long-term feud to help get Del Rio as a babyface but those plans may be changing. There's a feeling that the angle is not getting over on WWE TV but Zeb and Swagger are getting heat at live events.
The WWE must realize that there is still an element of shock to this angle—it’s not every day that the company takes on such a serious and heated political topic like illegal immigration—and the WWE Universe needs time to develop an opinion on these deep characters.
This isn’t Doink the Clown; this is an angle that forces the fans to think.
Swagger, with his manager Zeb Colter, are touching on some very sensitive mainstream debates, and the inclusion of Del Rio as the duo’s protagonist has brought the uncomfortable level to all-new heights.
There will be a time when the crowd isn’t uncomfortable around the subject matter any longer and that will open the door for unwavering Del Rio support in this feud.
Whether the fans care about Del Rio’s face character or not, Swagger’s heel gimmick is detestable enough to get anyone over with the proper time. This is what the WWE must do to save what they view as a faltering Swagger vs. Del Rio storyline.
Trust In Zeb Colter
One of the easiest ways the WWE can have success with this storyline is continuing to do what the company has done more and more each and every week: Give the mic to Zeb Colter.
Colter is a seasoned wrestling veteran with decades of experience behind the scenes and on the microphone. Of all the members of this main event storyline (Jack Swagger, Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriquez), Colter is by far the best speaker and should be doing almost all of the heavy lifting in this battle on the mic.
It’s not just because the other participants in this story are limited in their ability to speak—that fact is true, though—but the realization that Colter knows exactly what works and what doesn’t when cutting a promo.
The old-school manager also knows how to improvise and feed off the live crowd, something few stars have the ability or willingness to do. Instead of ignoring the crowd’s reaction to what he says, Colter feeds off it and uses that energy in his promos.
And it’s not like McMahon has to worry about what Colter says on the mic each time he steps into the ring. The manager has danced the decency line to perfection thus far, and it’s obvious that Colter has developed his character to perfection.
WWE trusts Colter to handle some very difficult topics in a very public forum, and the wrestling veteran has done nothing but excel in his role.
That’s why each of the segments has come off as well as they have so far; the crowd just needs adequate time to care about the cast of characters and understand the plot.
Have Some Patience!
While the reports of officials backstage growing concerned about an angle come early and often for almost every storyline in the WWE, someone in the back has to show a little patience.
It has only been six weeks since Jack Swagger returned to WWE television!
There is always a chance that the DUI arrest of Swagger (h/t TMZ.com) has caused the creative team to scrap the long-term plans for this story, but that would be a shame to throw all the hard work away developing this character.
The only way to ensure that both Swagger and Del Rio get over with the crowd from this angle would be allowing it to play out for several months.
With three possible PPV matches—at least continuing past WrestleMania and into Extreme Rules (h/t Wrestling Inc.)—and the eight additional weeks of storyline development after WrestleMania, this feud could be booked with so many twists and turns that fans couldn’t help but be enthralled.
This feud could be the defining moment of each man’s WWE career.
In order for both Swagger and Del Rio to use this angle as a way to become popular with the crowd, the WWE must give this angle a chance to start getting a serious reaction from the entire WWE Universe.
The company knows it’s not just the people in the stands or the hardcore fans watching at home that will start caring about the storyline the longer it goes on; casual fans will start tune in to see what will happen next as well.
As the topics continue to be politically based and edgy, the WWE is likely hoping to draw more pundits like Glenn Beck out of the woodwork, thus resulting in the mainstream-media attention the company craves.
Certain fans will never like this storyline, but as long as the WWE gives the story a chance to develop and doesn’t stifle Colter or the topics both he and Swagger cover, the angle will outperform expectations.