Remember that supposedly reinvigorated Jack Swagger who competed for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 29 and looked like he was about to get pushed to the moon?
Yeah, well, he’s gone, and the Swagger of 2011-2012 is back.
That’s the Swagger who became virtually irrelevant, developing into a jobber and complete afterthought only a year after he won the World Heavyweight title in 2010. He was booked incredibly poorly over that two-year span, serving as the jobber to the stars for everyone from Sheamus to Randy Orton and even failing to create much of a buzz when tagging with Dolph Ziggler or holding the United States Championship.
So, Swagger went away for a while and returned earlier this year, with a renewed push that he hadn’t seen the likes of since 2010. He was paired with a superb manager in Zeb Colter and almost instantly thrust into a main-event role as Alberto Del Rio’s World title challenger at WrestleMania 29.
But once again, Swagger has had some major hiccups that have kept him from truly excelling in the WWE. He was, of course, arrested for DUI and marijuana possession not long after his main-event push started, and now, he’s sitting on the sidelines while nursing what appears to be a nasty hand injury.
Different year, same story for Swagger: Disappointment.
Despite having the creative team behind him and an excellent mouthpiece by his side, Swagger’s problems have continued. He’s had the aforementioned outside-the-ring issue, hasn’t gotten over to anywhere near the extent that the WWE wanted him to and is back on the shelf after missing the last five months of 2012.
That’s what makes right now such a critical time for Swagger. He’s either going to have to take a new path in the WWE and succeed at it, or he’s going to be in jeopardy of leaving the company altogether.
It’s a shame to say (or type) that because Swagger’s such a great in-ring talent, but quite simply, the “Real American” shtick that Swagger has been doing with Colter just hasn’t worked for him.
For whatever reason, the vast majority of fans simply haven’t reacted much to Swagger or cared about he and Colter’s xenophobic rants, heelish pro-American stance or Swagger’s major feud with Del Rio. Perhaps because the issues that Swagger’s character revolves around are too confusing for the average wrestling fan to truly understand, his “We the People” gimmick has been a big swing—and a big miss.
Although he’s had a pretty big presence on TV since returning and has had Colter try like hell to help him get over, Swagger has largely generated crickets from the crowd, and hasn’t been able to involve into the top-level heel that the WWE clearly wanted him to become.
Now, there’s only one way to fix that problem: Change things up for Swagger. Yes, again.
One thing Swagger has literally never done in his entire WWE career is perform is a babyface, which is actually pretty baffling when you consider that he largely failed as the jock-like character he portrayed in the beginning of his career and hasn’t had a ton of success as “The Real American,” either.
So, why not give Swagger a shot as a babyface?
Yes, how Swagger would perform as a good guy is a total mystery. But at the same time, he’s got the tools to make it successful: He’s talented, he’s got the size and the look, and perhaps most importantly, he loves his country.
If there’s any type of superstar that pro wrestling fans can get behind, it’s a patriotic one who does everything for the USA. That type of gimmick worked well for Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter and Kurt Angle, and if done right, it could work for Swagger as well.
At the very least, it’s certainly worth a shot.
Though Swagger has had some success in the WWE; he’s never been able to solidify himself as a top guy with the characters he’s portrayed so far throughout his career.
It’s time for a change, and Swagger needs to stop going down the path of being a patriotic heel and start a new path—one where he’s a pro-American babyface and a WWE hero.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!