Chair Shots: Turning Jack Swagger into WWE's patriotic babyface

Over the weekend, after watching Smackdown, I started thinking about WWE's lack of a babyface mid-card right now, and how it desperately needs someone to fulfill what I'll call the John Morrison role -- a babyface with excellent in-ring skills who is servicable on the microphone who can be used in the main event in a pinch, but is better suited as a mid-card champion. That guy is Jack Swagger.

Yes, I know, I'm a Jack Swagger mark. But considering the current state of the WWE roster with Randy Orton and others suspended, plus the rift developing between him and tag team partner Dolph Ziggler, I think now is the right time to turn him face.

So, I spent some time thinking about it and came up with what i think is a (couple) brilliant storyline(s) that would mainly focus around turning Jack Swagger face, but also elevate Dolph Ziggler as a main event heel, WWE getting something relevant out of Tensai through SummerSlam, getting the US title off Santino Marella, making some jokes at Jinder Mahal's expense as well as some July 4th comedy, getting Kelly Kelly on my TV screen and eventually leading to Antonio Cesaro's first big feud, which also involves a Kelly Kelly-Aksana catfight. It might even develop an undercard feud in the tag team division.

It all would start tonight on Raw.

Tonight on Raw

Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger are arguing backstage about Swagger's failed attempt to help Ziggler beat Sheamus on Friday.

Dolph: "I had him right where I wanted him, then you stuck your nose in my business."

Jack: "He was about to kick your head off your neck, it's not my fault you couldn't take advantage."

Continues with banter ragging each other while Vickie Guerrero attempts to interrupt them (naturally, by saying "excuse me," incrementally increasing in volume, until she screams at the top of her lungs).

Once she gets their attention, she tells them their best chance to succeed is as a unit, and she's got them booked for another tag team match tonight, and if they win, they'll get another shot at the Tag Team titles at No Way Out. Dolph rolls his eyes, but they eventually convince him to go along.

Their opponents? Zack Ryder and Santino Marella, who in case you missed it on Smackdown, got decimated by the Big Show.

Ziggler and Swagger argue and hard tag each other throughout the match, which they are dominating because of Team Co-Broski selling injuries from Show's attack. At some point, they get into it though and Swagger shoves Ziggler, he turns around to find Ryder running full steam for a Ruff Ryder, he throws him over his head and into Ziggler (a la the WrestleMania spot) Santino strikes Swagger with the Cobra and picks up the win. The faces leave, the heels argue while Vickie tries to separate them and Dolph storms off again.

On Smackdown, we find out both Ziggler and Swagger will be in nontitle matches with the WWE and World champions, CM Punk and Sheamus, respectively, (This could also happen on next week's Raw, doesn't matter) to try to prove who is better. Naturally, they both lose relatively clean, but wrestle good, competitive matches that gives them a bit of shine.

Raw, June 11

It's announced Swagger and Ziggler will face off at the No Way Out pay-per-view to settle their differences on next week's episode of Raw. Vickie is unsure who's corner she'll be in. The two can beat jobbers on this show to build them both up. It's a heel versus heel match, but at this point, Ziggler is being a bit more of the babyface as he seems to be wanting to go on his own.

Meanwhile, John Laurinaitis invites Ryder and Santino into his office. After some awkward sexual tension between Ryder and Eve, "Big Johnny" tells them that even though they sided with Team Teddy at WrestleMania, there are no hard feelings, and in light of their win last week, he's going to give them the opportunity to earn a WWE Tag Team title match, at No Way Out, as long as they win their match tonight. They had out to the ring.

Back from commercial, Team Co-Broski is ready to go. Their opponents, first out is Tensai. Next up? You guessed it -- the Big Show. Any wonder how this match goes? Tensai and Big Show demolish them in short order. After the match, Laurinaitis comes out and says that means that they unfortunately didn't earn a tag title match. However, he realized that Zack Ryder never got his United States Championship rematch, so this Sunday, at No Way Out, Zack Ryder will face Santino Marella for the United States Championship. People power!

No Way Out

On the Smackdown before No Way Out, Darren Young and Titus O'Neill beat the Usos to earn a tag team title shot at the PPV. Actually, that can be the pre-show YouTube match. Good enough for me. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth retain the titles in a decent 6 or 7 minute match. It really doesn't matter, but I'm giving my story layers.

Also on the preshow, the Big Show knocks out Zack Ryder. Why? Why not. We'll figure out the story later. It's really to A. Remind people Big Show is a big nasty heel and B. to screw Ryder out of his US title rematch. On the actual PPV, it's revealed that Ryder is not medically cleared to wrestle because he has a concussion. Are you serious bro?

John Laurinaitis says Santino will still have to defend the United States Championship tonight.

Santino hits the ring. His mystery opponent? Tensai. In a fun spot, Tensai spits green mist at Santino and the Cobra while Sakamoto provides a distraction. Tensai then wins the United States Championship.

Later in the show, Swagger and Ziggler go back and forth for about 15 minutes until Swagger hits an big power throw and hooks in the ankle lock. It seems he's about to win when Vickie, who has seemingly been siding with Swagger, since Ziggler walked out on both of them Monday, gets on the apron and provides a distraction. Jack lets go of the hold, and screams at Vickie, "What are you doing?" She gets down, which is a long enough distraction for Ziggler to recover and hit the Zig Zag for the 1-2-3.

Vickie gets in the ring laughing and raises Ziggler's hand. Swagger gets angry and chases them out of the ring. He's against Vickie, that's enough to turn him face. She can cut a promo backstage later making fun of Swagger while saying that Ziggler is going to be a future World Champion and she's going to take him to the top, or something like that.

Raw, June 18

The team of Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero will face Jack Swagger and a mystery Diva in a mixed tag team match, Michael Cole announces for later that night.

Meanwhile, the new United States Champion Tensai is out to defend his title against Zack Ryder, who is now medically cleared. (Nevermind he just had a concussion the night before, Ryder returned from a broken back in like 3 weeks.) As you may expect, Tensai makes relatively short work out of Ryder, although he gets in a few hope spots.

Afterward, Tensai cuts a promo about how he left the United States because it made him weak, and went to Japan where he learned how to be disciplined and became a better warrior. Basically, he plays up how awesome Japan is and how much the United States sucks, and uses Ryder as an example of a typical American and isn't any match for him. Basic foreign heel, cheap heat stuff. He beats up Ryder some more after the promo, and Sakamoto waves around a Japanese flag.

Later, Dolph and Vickie come out for their tag match. Swagger is out and makes a comment about how he used to be in a tag team with one blonde Diva -- Ziggler (watch the latest WWE fallout where he calls Ziggler a Diva) -- and he's replaced him with another, only his partner is one of the hottest women in the world (plug the Maxim 100 list) Kelly Kelly! Cheap face heat for Swagger by associating himself with Kelly. Lawler can make lots of All-American girl jokes from the announce table.

Despite the good karma (no pun intended) from teaming with Kelly, the All-American blondes are beaten when Swagger gets a chance to corner Vickie (more cheap face heat), only for Ziggler to roll him up with a handful of trunks for the win.

Raw, June 25

With Money in the Bank just a few weeks away, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler will go one-on-one in a Money in the Bank qualifying match. Also, Santino Marella will get his United States Championship rematch against Tensai.

Swagger-Ziggler is the first match after the opening promo. Another good 10- to 12-minute match or so. At some point Vickie gets involved in the match and ends up in the ring. As she tries to scramble out, Swagger grabs her leg and puts her in the ankle lock to a face pop while Vickie shrieks. Ziggler makes the save and once against gets the better of Swagger, qualifying for Money in the Bank, with some sort of roll-up. While Ziggler bails, Vickie is left behind and can't really go anywhere because of her now injured ankle. Swagger does something to humiliate her -- but no physical violence -- something like pouring water on her and making her make-up run everywhere or something. Essentially, this ends the feud between Ziggler and Swagger.

Ziggler, by the way, will ultimately go on to win the Money in the Bank briefcase, moving up the card. Swagger now has his revenge on Vickie, though, and because Dolph abandoned her, you could use that as an out to separate them and move Ziggler up the card without her or with her.

In the second hour, Tensai cuts another anti-American promo before his title defense. Santino, despite being from Italy (and really, Canada) talks about how the United States is wonderful and starts a U-S-A chant. He also has a hope spot and actually hits the Cobra on Sakamoto, who tries to interfere, but gets dropped by Tensai.

Tensai continues the attack post-match again. Ryder runs out to make the save, but also gets beaten down. Finally, Swagger runs to the ring and takes down Tensai with a amateur wrestling throw. Tensai and Sakamoto bail as the All-American American defends the honor of his country, and makes a few new friends in former rivals Ryder and Marella.

On Smackdown later that week, Swagger, Ryder and Santino team up to beat Tensai, Darren Young and Titus O'Neill when Swagger makes D-Young tap out. Co-Broski and the Prime Time Players will end up feuding over the next few weeks as that undercard tag team program I was talking about. Mainly so tag team champions Kofi and R-Truth can compete in the Money in the Bank ladder match. (This could just as easily be Primo and Epico teaming with Tensai, but I assume something is coming with them).

Raw, July 2

Ready for some Independence Day shenanigans? During a segment in the second hour, the ring is set up like a July 4 picnic, with tables of food and red, white and blue themes. But who's out next? It's ... Jinder Mahal?

Mahal comes to the ring and starts cutting an anti-American promo about how Americans are gluttons and out-of-shape, etc., and that's why other countries hate them. He goes on for a few minutes, stating he can beat an American at anything, before he's interrupted by Jack Swagger. He defends America as the greatest country in the world and says its the best because it's people are the best, to lots of cheers.

Since Mahal said he could beat anyone at anything, Swagger issues him an All-American Challenge, which Mahal accepts. The first challenge? Swagger looks at the spread on the table. A hot-dog eating contest, he decides, whoever can eat the most hot dogs in a minute. They start the clock and both start chopping on hot dogs. At about the 40 second mark, Mahal takes a whole bunch of dogs and shoves them in his mouth at once. Swagger stops eating and just watches him as time expires. Mahal raises his hands in victory as time expires to a chorus of boos.

"OK, I'll give you that one," Swagger says. "Congratulations, you're better at stuffing a bunch of wieners in your mouth than I am." Cheap face pop for the double entendre.

"But, with all due respect to the Rock," Swagger says, "The next challenge is a pie-eating contest, because there's nothing more American than apple pie."

So they engage in a pie eating contest, which Swagger wins easily.

Mahal gets angry and says Swagger is just proving his point, that all Americans do is eat and they are out of shape. He demands the next challenge be a physical contest. No problem, Swagger says, and challenges Mahal to a push-up contest. Most push-ups in a minute wins. They each go separately. Mahal goes first as the crowd counts along. About 30 seconds in, Mahal gets tired and starts struggling, doing half push-ups, etc. He ends up with something like 30.

Now it's Swagger's turn. He starts banging out push-ups with perfect form each time. He hits Mahal's mark with time to spare, then Mahal attacks him and puts him in the Camel Clutch before the time expires. But Swagger powers out, backs up and puts him through the picnic table.

Mahal rolls out of the ring and staggers to the back while Swagger starts a U-S-A chant in the ring and drops to give a few more push-ups to rub it in.

On the special live July 3 edition of Smackdown, Swagger and Mahal wrestle in a flag match. I don't need to tell you how this goes. Has an American ever lost a flag match? Afterward, Swagger brings out two great Americans, Sgt. Slaughter and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, to lead a round of the Pledge of Allegiance after the match, and another U-S-A chant.

Raw, July 9

Clearly established as a patriotic babyface, Swagger is out to do commentary while Tensai has another match, this one against Alex Riley. During the match, it's announced that Swagger will face Tensai at No Way Out for the United States Championship. Swagger talks about how the U.S. Champion should be fighting for America, not spitting in the face of it like Tensai is doing (like what I did there? That's a green mist joke).

Riley puts up a fight, but is beaten by Tensai. Post-match, Tensai sprays his hand with green mist and goes to lock the claw on Riley, but Swagger gets in the ring and makes the save. He power throws Tensai, but Sakamoto gets in the ring and gives him a few stiff kicks. Swagger turns his attention to him, but Tensai gets to his fit and hits him with green mist then the claw.

Money in the Bank, July 15

Swagger gets his United States Championship match, and wins ... by disqualification. He takes a beating but comes back, hitting what is now becoming a signature move, an amateur power throw and spinning into the ankle lock. Sakamoto gets in the ring and attacks Swagger to save the championship and Tensai again hits Swagger with green mist. The two are beating him down with Riley, Ryder and Santino run to the ring to even the odds.

Raw, July 16

Swagger and Riley team up to defeat Tensai and Jinder Mahal. Nothing too fancy here, the heels work over Riley until he gets the hot tag to Swagger, who gets Mahal after he fails to make a tag to Tensai. Swagger knocks Tensai off the apron and gets Mahal to tap out to the ankle lock to win for his team.

From here on out, expect to see Swagger and Riley as occasional tag team partners or at least having a friendly association. I think there is potential for a tag team there down the road.

Raw 1000, July 23

The 1000th episode of Raw comes from St. Louis, the home of Randy Orton and Budweiser. But since Orton will still be on suspension for another week, we'll have to get a heel some cheap heat by knocking Budweiser. Who better than to rip on the Great American Lager than Canadian Chris Jericho, who will be back from his suspension by now. Jericho can come out to cut a promo about how Canadian beer is better and some other stuff to get cheap heat (just don't kick an American flag, OK Chris?) which leads to Swagger interrupting.

After proclaiming he's such an All-American American that he bleeds Budweiser (see Swagger's tweeter account) he challenges Jericho to a match. Hey, this is the first 3-hour Raw, we've gotta fill it with some good wrestling, right? Jericho and Swagger never actually had a one-on-one match, but you might remember that's who Swagger cashed in against to win his only World Championship. Jericho was willing to put him over then, and I'm sure he will be again.

This part might be a pipe dream, but ... as long as we're talking beer and wrestling and the 1000th episode of Raw, I think we need to have an appearance by none other than Stone Cold Steve Austin to drink some beers with Swagger and give a Stone Cold Stunner or two to Jericho for old time's sake. How much of a ringing endorsement would that be for Swagger.

Raw, July 30 to Aug. 13

The Swagger-Tensai feud will get back on track with a United States Championship rematch announced for SummerSlam, but with the angle basically established, it's just a matter of putting over both guys heading into the match. So while WWE creative will surely be focusing on storylines higher on the card here, it's time to just showcase both guys with squash matches the next few weeks.

Ryder, Santino and Riley all make sense as opponents for Tensai, since they've been part of this angle for so long. Meanwhile, Swagger gets to beat up on others who can briefly play the foreign heel role. Guys like Hunico and Camacho, Drew McIntyre and his house show rival, Jinder Mahal.

SummerSlam, Aug. 19

Simply stated, Jack Swagger defeats Tensai in an 8-minute match when Sakamoto's interference backfires. Swagger has Tensai locked in the ankle lock when Sakamoto gets up on the apron, Swagger lets Tensai go and goes after Sakamoto. Tensai loads up green mist, but Swagger moves and he sprays Sakamoto instead. Amateur power throw, spin into the ankle lock in the center of the ring and Tensai taps out, his first official loss by pin or submission.

The All-American American babyface is the United States Champion again. He grabs a large American flag he brought to the ring with him and waves it in the center of the ring. Cheap face pop and chants of U-S-A!

The future ...

A rematch with Tensai is obviously in the cards for Swagger and, assuming Dolph Ziggler wins the World Championship down the road, there's probably a champion vs. champion match on TV, where he can again put Ziggler over. Swagger's role should be that of the highest mid-card babyface, not unlike what John Morrison was doing a few years ago. He can work the main event, but his job there should be to put the top heels over. If he catches fire, great, he can move up the card.

Eventually, the uber-patriotism of the gimmick should die down, but by that point he'll be established as solid mid-card face. In the mean time, he can work matches with other foreign heels like Alberto Del Rio and Wade Barrett. Either would be fine choices to feud with over the U.S. title, unless they move up the card. I assume Del Rio, after jobbing to Sheamus, is going to move down the card a bit, so a U.S. title feud would make sense for him. Barrett, I think, will find a place near the top of the card once he returns.

However, I think the best possible feud for Swagger by the end of the year will be against Antonio Cesaro. From Switzerland, we could again dig back into the foreign heel gimmick and play that up to get some cheap heat. It helps that his storyline girlfriend, Aksana, is from Lithuania. Bringing Kelly Kelly back into the fold for some mixed tag team matches could be a way to get the Divas involved as well. Anyone against Kelly and Aksana getting into a catfight? Didn't think so.

Ultimately, I think Cesaro would be the man to take the title off Swagger, sometime in late 2012 or early next year. At that point, Swagger will clearly be entrenched as a babyface and it can be decided what to do with him moving forward. If it works, and more wrinkles can be developed to his character, he could move into a more prominent role on Smackdown near the top of the card.

The patriotic babyface is an easy gimmick to do, and usually gets over pretty quickly, especially with the right heel. Tensai should fit that role. The problem is that patriotic babyface is a mid-card act in 2012 WWE unless you can do something more with it. Swagger might be able to take it to the next level, but this should at least establish him as a babyface worth caring about. Right now, he's a heel that no one can seem to get into.