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Swagger's Last Ride?
February 23, 2013

by PyroFalkon
Master of the PyroFalkon Multimedia Empire, Incorporated
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I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I'm giving Prison Break a shot on Netflix, since I wanted to see it when it originally came out and never had the chance. As I also mentioned, I had heard that it went completely off the rails during Season 2, which is part of the reason it only lasted four seasons total. And... well... man, I cannot think of a better description.
Rick had said in editor's comment that he thought it got pretty stupid during the first season, let alone the second, and I agree. Now, I researched the show (since I'm a lonely 30-year-old and that's the kind of thing I do), and it turns out the original season was intended to only be a half-season, only 13 episodes.

Instead, FOX extended it because it's run by idiots, and it went to a full 26 episodes. If the original jail break was done with around 13 episodes, I think it would have greatly helped. Instead, the show's pace absolutely slogged.

It got much worse and even more ridiculously contrived in Season 2, and that's coming from a guy who generally enjoys professional wrestling storylines. Then Season 3 rolled around, the main character got tossed back into a prison, and suddenly the show became significantly better... when related only to his second prison break. All the ancillary storylines got more stupid, but Season 3 lasted only 13 episodes, so it didn't feel nearly as bad. Was that around the writers' strike? I can't imagine why else they would just stick a half-season in there for no reason.

So now I'm a couple episodes into Season 4, and I'm totally confused. Apparently between Seasons 3 and 4, they showed a bunch of "background" episodes, and since I didn't know that (nor care), there's just a massive plot jump with no discernable continuity. It's somewhat painful, and I'm tempted to "walk away" from the series, but Season 4 is the last one, and I want to get through it.

Still, Prison Break isn't all bad... It's taught me that I really, really like staring at Jodi Lyn O'Keefe. She can break into my prison anytime, or something.

Anyway, enough of hot girls who don't know I exist and would kick my ass if they did. Let's get to SmackDown!

Segment 1: It's Alberto Del Rio, with Ricardo Rodriguez in tow, to open the show with his full non-vehicular entrance. He hits the ring and cuts a promo about how he's totally going to face Jack Swagger, but... well, given that this was taped before Swagger's arrest, we'll see about that.

ADR cuts a promo that's more akin to a liberal speech. Immigrants are awesome! So is America! ...Whatever. It works, but it's just not that exciting or interesting; it doesn't play to ADR's strength. He even concludes with this line: "Swagger, you say we immigrants want a hand-out? Well, come down to the ring so I can lay a hand out all over your face!" Ugh.

But rather than some damn fine epic music, we get "Voices" from Rev Theory, which is still pretty cool. Not cool is Randy Orton, who saunters his way down to the ring, which instantly gives me a bad feeling. Ten bucks says Orton is going to be WWE's Plan B for WrestleMania. [Ed. Note: in all the possibilities I rolled around in my brain, Orton never came up as Swagger's replacement. I figured it'd be Henry or Ziggler. But Orton taking on Zeb as a mentor and doing Swagger's act could really work. Orton would be totally believable as a mental weakling who believes whatever crazy shit an old guy spouts, as long as it means he gets to beat people up. Plus, his main job is to shut up and let somebody else do the talking. I doubt it'll happen, but it's one possibility I wasn't even considering.]

Anyway, Orton gets in the ring, and he says that his chance to go to WrestleMania was so totally taken away at Elimination Chamber by Swagger. And Orton is a vapid petulant brat, so he wants to kick Swagger's ass for winning at the pay-per-view. So he humbly (really!) asks ADR to let him destroy Swagger tonight.

Here comes Booker T, who vetoes that discussion. See, he had a better idea in mind anyway: ADR versus Wade Barrett, since it's champion-versus-champion. And then he goes ahead and books Swagger versus Orton for no damn reason. Alrighty then.

Pre-Segment 2: Sheamus hits the ring for a match, followed soon by Damien Sandow, except Sandow wants to talk first. And... well... it's good, but it's the same thing he's said before, so nothing noteworthy here. We're welcome.

Segment 2 [Singles Match]: Sheamus defeats Damien Sandow by pin. Decent match, nothing special. Sheamus busted out most of his signatures before the break, including the 10 of Clubs. Sandow took over during the commercial, but Sheamus got his hope spot and ended things with White Noise followed by a Brogue Kick. Good night, Sandow.

Segment 3: WWE throws a montage at you for WrestleMania 30, which as you may recall is not the next one, but the one in New Orleans in 2014. Yay, wasting my time!

Segment 4: Another Fandango vignette. It's official: from here on out, this is hereby abbreviated as "AFV."

Segment 5: Montage of The Shield's recent activities.

Pre-Segment 6: Here come Kaitlyn and Layla for a tag match. During their entrances, WWE shows something was at first played on the WWE app. To WWE's credit, they're not calling the clip an "app exclusive" anymore, since it's hardly "exclusive" if you show it on TV three minutes later.

Anyway, apparently during commercial, as Kaitlyn scurried to gorilla, she ran into Cody Rhodes. After doing that awkward semi-dance where they tried to walk around each other but kept getting in each other's way, Kaitlyn just randomly says she likes the mustache with a little flirty smirk. You may sense some naughty tension there, but then Cody says: "You know, the ladies call it a 'love-stache.'" Kaitlyn doesn't need anymore stalkers in her life, so she cowers slightly so he leaves her alone. Heh.

Oh, and apparently the heels didn't get entrances in the next match. Guess we know who's winning this one.

Segment 6 [Tag Match]: Kaitlyn & Layla defeat Tamina & Aksana by pin. Subpar match that was time-compressed. I wasn't surprised, since it started pretty badly: Layla danced, butt-checked Aksana, tagged out, and Kaitlyn immediately went for a chin lock. Ugh.

Aksana had a weird-as-hell move that Kaitlyn sold well, making it look dangerous despite its awkwardness. Kaitlyn was taken down, so she was flat on her face. Aksana went on all-fours over Kaitlyn, then wedged Kaitlyn's head tightly between her knees. Using only her hands for balance, Aksana proceeded to basically reverse-hump Kaitlyn, which repeatedly drove her face into the canvas. As pervy as I am, even I can't call that hot, because it looked way too weird... and painful for both, since Aksana was also driving her knees into the canvas repeatedly too.

From there, Kaitlyn managed a hot tag, as did Aksana. Layla didn't get too much done, especially not when she went for a double-hop springboard rebound flying crossbody, which apparently is unfortunately named LOL, which stands for "Lots Of Layla." Double ugh.

Anyway, Tamina rolled through LOL, then went put Layla on her shoulders. But Layla flailed and managed to tag Kaitlyn back in. Layla also slipped out and ran away, and as Tamina tried to figure out what was going on, Kaitlyn blasted her with a Spear. Man, I love seeing that... she really does them about as well as Edge at this point, and her opponents have always sold it like champs. Good stuff.

After the match, Layla is the one who first took the Divas Title belt from the stagehand and actually started to lift it in celebration. Kaitlyn took it from her, and Layla looked offended for a split-second, but then was all happy again as the referee held her and Kaitlyn's arms up in victory. As the ref then broke free and started to leave, Kaitlyn and Layla hugged and smiled at each other... and then Layla started gazing at the title as Rick gazes at Kaitlyn. Nice and subtle... Layla is playing this right, and WWE is doing well by not drawing attention to it.

Segment 7: RAW recap of The Rock's title celebration.

Segment 8: Jack Swagger is walking in the back, with Zeb Colter walking beside him and throwing a pep talk his way. They run into Wade Barrett, who gives a soft compliment to the two for having the balls to stand up and complain about the problems about the country, and he can't wait to beat the crap out of Alberto Del Rio tonight on Swagger's behalf.

But Zeb isn't having it. Barrett doesn't talk like him, and sure as hell isn't from around these parts, so Barrett is part of the problem! Hell, Zeb is all for Barrett and ADR tearing each other apart so they both go back to where they're from. Barrett is offended and tries to come up with some retort, but Swagger responds with "We, the people!" and runs off.

Seriously, if WWE decides to depush Swagger due to his arrest, I'll miss him. I won't be surprised, but I'll miss him.

Segment 9 [Singles Match]: Jack Swagger (w/ Zeb Colter) defeats Randy Orton by pin. Good win by Swagger, but the match itself was merely decent and a little too long. Several heavy spots, but nothing noteworthy... and Orton brought back Gavin Stomp, so there's that.

The match ended after Orton hit most of his moves of doom. When he did his standard ring hump and geared up for the RKO, Zeb pulled Swagger under the bottom rope and to the apron. Orton had to abort the RKO, but just went in for some sort of move anyway. Swagger answered with a thumb to the eye (the ref's view was blocked by Orton's body), then guillotined Orton on the top rope. Swagger quickly slid in the ring and kinda-sorta did a rope-assisted leverage pin to take the win.

Segment 10: RAW recap of Vince McMahon's promo on RAW, including the booked "fight" Vince vs. Paul Heyman for some reason.

Segment 11: Another trailer for that movie with Wade Barrett.

Segment 12: Matt Striker wants to interview Barrett in the back, but then Sheamus arrives to once again insult Barrett's acting skill, or lack thereof. Barrett retorts that it's "bloody hilarious" to see Sheamus losing to The Shield two nights in a row. Burn!

Pre-Segment 13: During Cody's entrance, we get a pre-taped to-camera monologue from the guy. He insults everyone who is obsessed with his facial hair (which I agree with), while also reminding us that the ladies call it a "love-stache" (which caused me to vomit hamburgers). So, yeah... that happened.

Segment 13 [Singles Match]: The Miz extends-reverse-squashes Cody Rhodes by submission. Miz's arm is still taped up, so of course that's what Cody targeted for 90% of the match. Then he made a mistake and ate the Figure Four.

Segment 14: Replay of the first Zeb Colter/Jack Swagger YouTube video first shown on RAW. Good stuff as satire; woe to the people who are taking it seriously and aren't in on the joke. We the people!

Segment 15: AFV.

Pre-Segment 16: Time for the main event. After ADR and Barrett make their entrances, Swagger and Colter pop out again and just watch from the stage.

Segment 16 [Singles Match]: Alberto Del Rio (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) defeats Wade Barrett by submission. Above-average match, but still nothing noteworthy. Entertaining enough, a nice, rough, stiff brawl, which lets ADR show off his range. Formulaic otherwise.

Swagger came down near the end just screaming "We the people!" over and over for no reason. The distraction almost caused ADR to take a schoolboy pin loss, but he kicked out at 2.9. After an exchange, Wade went for the Bullhammer Elbow, but ADR ducked it and quickly transitioned to a Cross Arm Breaker. Wade tapped, and that's it.

After the match, Swagger put his hand on his heart and just screamed "We the people!" over and over still. ADR looked... annoyed.

Final Thoughts: Average, safe night. Honestly, the real-life drama about Swagger is more intriguing than anything that happened on-screen. There were mumblings in the OO Forums about how heavily WWE would edit SmackDown, but given how prominently Swagger was on display, I'm not surprised they didn't; they simply couldn't without a re-shoot, which of course isn't possible with an industry like professional wrestling.

What will be more interesting is next week. WWE will have had several days to figure out what to do with him, even if it's "nothing." The Internet has changed the game, and with people more knowledgable about this kind of thing (and with many people pretending to be intolerant of celebrity screw-ups), WWE can't simply ignore it. Well, I suppose they could, but Swagger will be a laughing stock if WWE simply sweeps this under the rug and everything goes on as planned. It just doesn't seem likely. [Ed. Note: it wouldn't be unprecedented. Marijuana is treated differently by the Wellness Policy than hard drugs and PEDs (subject only to a fine than to the escalating suspensions). And the DUI aspect is more a PR issue than a Wellness issue, with the punishment entirely at WWE's discretion (the last WWE star to suffer a DUI was Funkadactyl Cameron, who was given a 2 week suspension). There is nothing, policy-wise, that makes it a guarantee that Swagger's getting the total kibosh. It'll come down to WWE trying to figure out what percentage of their audience will even know about Swagger's arrest, and then, what percent even gives a crap. I know, for me, the DUI is more disappointing than finding out Jack likes the pot, but that may not be universal. WWE's response will end up being 1 part discouraging stupid behavior by their talents, and 2 parts public relations.]

I figure we're going to start seeing a depush here. Wade Barrett now has direct issues with ADR, and hell, maybe he's a Plan B. Or you can have Wade assault Swagger, slowly phase Swagger out of it, or even make it a triple threat match and keep him minimized during WrestleMania.

If nothing else, you can safely interject Mark Henry into the title match at WrestleMania, and he's got all the credibility in the world now to sell it and take his title back. All he has to do is hit Ricardo with a couple World's Strongest Slams for literally any reason you can think of, and the fans will be into seeing ADR get some revenge.

This all said, I'm not personally advocating for Swagger's total removal. I can't divorce myself from my political views, and I think any serious long-term career punishment for what Swagger did would be overkill. But WWE is always under a microscope, and to do nothing seems overly risky and stupid. Still, a depush seems more logical... maybe write him out of WrestleMania (or minimize him) and give him another chance for SummerSlam? Who knows. All I do know is that my WrestleMania preview column draft for the "one sure match" is now useless, pending another week or two of seeing how this will shake out.

Honestly, if I was on the WWE Creative Team and given carte blanche, I would have Jack address this, maybe even blame ADR for planting the drugs in his car or something. Anything it takes to deflect blame (on-screen) and minimize his personal responsibility while maximizing his sainthood. It allows him to even further mock the political extremists he's satirizing, as he becomes a hypocrite and shows a "do as I say, not as I do" mentality that'll make him even more hated. And then I'd book My Rosa Mendes in a topless match, but that's neither here nor there.

Anyway... enough fantasy booking. At the risk of losing more of Rick's oft-desired Patriot Points, I bought FIFA 13 over the weekend and plan on playing the shit out of it. You can tell how little most Americans care about soccer since Electronic Arts didn't bother to get the licenses for the proper names of the MLS teams' stadiums, but they did give me the ability to name the stadiums myself, so that's my project for tonight. [Ed. Note: if "realism" is important, I can only hope the game has a Corrupt Match Fixing Mode. ZING~!]

So that's it for me. Thanks for reading, take care over the weekend, and come on back for my RAW Recap on Tuesday. WWE is getting more exciting as we near WrestleMania, and nothing is yet as set in stone as we thought it would be.

Episode Grade: C


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