Alberto Del Rio's 1st US Champion Contender Must Be Jack Swagger

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2015

Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger come face-to-face on the Nov. 5 SmackDown.
Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger come face-to-face on the Nov. 5 SmackDown.Credit: WWE.com

At Hell in a Cell 2015, Alberto Del Rio made a shocking return to WWE following a one-year absence to defeat John Cena for the United States Championship.

With Cena taking a hiatus through the remainder of 2015, Del Rio needs a challenger to his championship, and Jack Swagger currently fits the bill to perfection.

Since resurfacing on WWE programming, Del Rio has found success in his partnership with former foe Zeb Colter. They have promised to lead "MexAmerica" to prominence, with the star-spangled prize serving as the glue holding their faction together.

Instead of joining the dynamic duo, Jack Swagger took exception to the alliance and decided to take a stand. He confronted Del Rio backstage on the Nov. 2 edition of Raw, then prevented him from inflicting further damage on Neville days later on SmackDown.

These series of events seem to indicate that Swagger will be Del Rio's first feud as champion. Swagger is undoubtedly a step down from Cena, but he's a logical choice for Del Rio to be feuding with right now.

As Del Rio's title reign gets underway, it's imperative that he maintain his momentum coming off his hot win against Cena. Swagger, while no longer a main event-caliber competitor, is the perfect Superstar for Del Rio to beat to re-establish his credibility with the WWE Universe.

Credit: WWE.com
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Swagger has been largely absent from WWE programming for the past year after Colter was removed from his act in late 2014. He has floundered in WWE Superstars purgatory, often losing to the likes of King Barrett and Bo Dallas.

That's not to say, however, that he doesn't still have value on the roster. He may not mean as much as he did several years ago, but he's a solid hand in the ring and is capable of wrestling competent matches with the right opponent.

Del Rio and Swagger first clashed on the road to WrestleMania 29 in a rivalry over the World Heavyweight Championship. Needless to say, it was a match that had no place on the WrestleMania card, but to their credit they produced a good matchup, considering what they were working with at the time.

The biggest problem the program faced was that both were not clicking in their respective roles in early 2013. Swagger, despite being built up over a short span of time, was no threat to the prestigious prize.

Meanwhile, Del Rio's abrupt face turn was far from organic, which is why he never once resonated with the audience as a babyface. With the roles reversed two years later, the feud feels more natural.

At the midcard level, Del Rio and Swagger are exactly where they need to be and should be. Despite their in-ring talent, they don't have the same star power that names such as Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt have and are better off right where they are.

It remains to be seen how Del Rio will be able to carry over the prestige of the U.S. title that Cena helped instill, but it will be sometime before he starts facing credible competition in the form of Cesaro, Dean Ambrose and others.

In the meantime, he will benefit from working his way back up the WWE ladder, first by rekindling his rivalry with Swagger. Not only could they contest quality matches, but the angle makes sense from a storyline standpoint, too, given the history among Swagger, Colter and Del Rio.

Although Del Rio finds himself in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament and Swagger doesn't, look for The Real American to get involved in Del Rio's business somehow, whether it be costing him one of his upcoming matches or challenging him to a title match at Survivor Series.

Granted, the feud isn't anything we haven't seen before, but Del Rio needs an challenger against whom he can come out looking strong. Unlike Cesaro and Ambrose, Swagger can afford to take a loss, making a championship clash between them at the pending pay-per-view a solid addition to an already stacked card.

Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.

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