Nearly one month after being arrested for DUI and marijuana possession, Jack Swagger has yet to face any consequences for his actions.
In fact, not only has the WWE failed to punish Swagger, but he’s been “rewarded” with a sizable push, consistent TV victories and a World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania 29.
Swagger getting off so easily so far has many fans thinking he’s now in the clear. What’s done is done, and he will move full steam ahead as a world title contender and main-event performer.
But despite what appear to be plans to push Swagger as a top guy going forward, his future in the WWE isn’t exactly clear.
What’s saving Swagger from punishment right now is his new gimmick and recent alignment with Zeb Colter. Swagger is, of course, a very talented dude, but he’s still headed for a world title match at WrestleMania not because he’s an irreplaceable talent—but because of his character.
If Swagger was just Swagger, the same cocky jock he’s been for most of his career, we wouldn’t even be talking about him right now. He would likely be jobbing, off of TV or even gone from the company altogether.
But the fact he has a relevant and timely gimmick is keeping him on TV and in his WrestleMania spot. Vince McMahon is probably enjoying the character (even though he's reportedly concerned about it according to F4WOnline.com, via Wrestlezone.com), and it’s safe to say that if he didn’t, we likely wouldn’t be seeing it on TV.
The problem is, Swagger’s character is one that—and no disrespect intended here—is simply too smart for wrestling fans.
Wrestling fans enjoy simple stories of good vs. evil: the guy who stabs his best friend in the back, David vs. Goliath, the cheater vs. the man who does everything the right way, etc. Get too complicated, and the fans often can’t help but lose interest, often because they’re too confused by what’s going on.
That’s the main issue with what is otherwise a great gimmick for Swagger. What he and Colter are preaching is certainly controversial and current, but the issues that they are addressing are not thoroughly understood by the vast majority of WWE fans.
Do you honestly think that every fan in attendance at Raw/SmackDown tapings and watching at home on TV is fully aware of what Swagger and Colter are even talking about? Of course not.
Especially when you consider that the WWE is a PG-rated program that is largely geared toward kids (a big chunk of the viewing audience), most of what Swagger and Colter are saying gets either lost in translation or totally misunderstood. As a result, this makes what should be a very over gimmick suffer because it’s too difficult for so many to comprehend.
Ultimately, that—not his arrest or any type of behavioral problems—is what makes Swagger’s future in the WWE so uncertain.
Yeah, immigration is a big issue today, but we live in a society where problems are forgotten and new ones take their place every day. Remember when no one could stop talking about Kony? Notice how gun control is such a hot button issue these days?
Those things are important to the masses right now, but just like almost anything in life, they have a shelf life. So does Swagger.
McMahon likes Swagger’s gimmick today, and that gimmick is relevant today. But when other issues come to the forefront, immigration will be put on the backburner, and so will Swagger.
That’s the problem with having a gimmick that is, well, almost too gimmicky.
Zack Ryder struck gold with his Jersey Shore-type gimmick because that was such a hit show at the time, but now that the Jersey Shore craze had completely died down, no one’s raving over Ryder anymore. They’re saying that he needs a gimmick change.
Swagger’s xenophobic character will have the same fate.
Yeah, Swagger’s gimmick is a welcome change from a characterless WWE and brings considerably more educational value than any other TV characters. But that’s a double-edged sword—the catch-22 that ultimately will prove to be his downfall.
The gimmick is already losing steam, and whenever it runs out of it, a career that once looked so promising suddenly won’t.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!