WWE is always looking for mainstream press leading up to Wrestlemania, and boy, they’ve got it now. For the last few days, WWE has been getting press about Jack Swagger and his manager (or whatever his title is) Zeb Colter in a very anti-immigration, anti-ethnic storyline building up to a title shot against Latino face champ Alberto Del Rio. But now, as you probably know, they’ve got to deal with more Jack Swagger mainstream media – he was arrested in Mississippi on Tuesday night for marijuana possession, DUI (not alcohol) and speeding.
It’s obvious Swagger made a bone-headed mistake, but this post isn’t about Jack. It’s about WWE, and how they should handle this incredibly delicate situation.
WWE has two things to consider:
1. WWE needs to project the proper corporate image in this situation. The marijuana possession charge, although a misdemeanor, means trouble for the WWE. Their wellness policy states:
“Any WWE Talent, who is arrested, convicted or who admits to a violation of law relating to use, possession, purchase, sale or distribution of drugs will be in material breach of his/her contract with WWE and subject to immediate dismissal.”
The letter of their law is the problem with which WWE must now contend; Jack’s been “arrested”, so he qualifies for the punishment associated with the charge. However, it gets especially dicey for WWE at this point, because they used the phrase “subject to immediate dismissal”. This phrase means the WWE actually allows itself the choice to dismiss Swagger…or keep him. They’ve put themselves between a rock and a hard place; if they fire him, they’ve lost one half of the World Heavyweight Championship match for their biggest PPV of the year. However, if WWE keeps Swagger, they look like they’re willing to back down from their own policy because of the inconvenience it would cause them. Either way, WWE loses; at this point, they need to figure out which is the smaller, less costly loss.
2. WWE needs to correct an egregious error they’ve made. I understand they needed to quickly build heat for a heel that Alberto Del Rio would face and defeat @ WM29. Using racism, however, has to be the worst way to build heat for a guy ever. Racism is a deep, nasty devil to dance with, and WWE should remain a leader in promoting cultural diversity. Even on a character/storyline level, this should be an off-limits subject…like child abuse, rape, and domestic violence. Swagger’s arrest has provided a perfect opportunity for WWE to dig its way out of this mess quickly, and with little negative PR.
THE STIFF WORKER SOLUTION
WWE must fire Swagger immediately. They need to save face and prove they’re a conscientious corporation. Furthermore, they need to offer Swagger a rehab stint, driving home the message that, “yes, you broke the rules, you must suffer the consequences, but we still care about you as a person.” WWE can come out of this looking great, and they don’t have to suffer on the storyline side of things either, because they’ve got an ace in the hole: Dolph Ziggler and the MITB briefcase. In Ziggler, they’ve got a higher-quality heel to replace Swagger, the briefcase cash-in makes the storyline plausible, and they can still count on a quality World Championship match at WM29.
UPDATE: I’ve put my creative brain to work and come up with three booking options WWE could use to come out of this smelling like a rose as they roll into Wrestlemania 29. Check them out, and let me know which one you think is best!
- Jack Swagger Arrested for Pot Possession, DUI (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- Conservatives Accuse WWE Of Attacking Tea Party With New Angle (connecticut.cbslocal.com)
- JC’s Top Rope Report: Thoughts On Jack Swagger (creativelyendeavored.com)
- TMZ: ‘Tea Party’ wrestler Jack Swagger arrested for pot possession (twitchy.com)