Jack Swagger vs. Big E (c)
A challenger promoted out of nowhere has more story behind him that the latest in a line of lame-duck champions. Does The All-American American even want the white and gold strap if it means falling into the creative vacuum that has sucked in the last group of men to hold the once prestigious IC belt?
The road to Elimination Chamber
Big E won the Intercontinental title from Curtis Axel on the November 18, 2013 episode of Raw. What thrilling adventures has he had since?
Go ahead. Think about it. I'll wait.
There was the threat of a unification program with United States champion Dean Ambrose, but outside of a Smackdown bout during the holidays, that never developed into anything other than an internet pipe dream. No, the former Mr. Langston has descended into a group of guys that WWE was allegedly high on at one point for whom they can now find nothing. Axel. Fandango. Damien Sandow.
Swagger, on the other hand, feels as relevant as he has since he was ECW champ. Despite his résumé, he's clearly the red-headed stepchild of The Real Americans. His partner is competing in the main event for pro wrestling's top prize. His manager has taken to slapping him in the face during matches, either as a motivational ploy or because he's incompetent.
His victory in a Fatal 4-way over Rey Mysterio, Mark Henry and Kofi Kingston (the babyface equivalent of Axel, Fandango and Sandow) made him the #1 contender to Big E's title.
What's at stake?
Swagger is a guy that no one really expected to see in a singles match anywhere but Main Event. If he loses, he's still the low man on Zeb Colter's totem poll. If he wins, he has a wedge to drive between he and Cesaro to turn what started as a Tea Party rib into an interesting program.
Win or lose, at least he's a part of a storyline. That's more than I can say for the current champ, whose lackluster reign fits right in with those that preceded him: mid-carders the Intercontinental title turned into announcers like Miz, the designated pin-eater for a tag team like Axel, and...whatever Bad News Barrett is.
Big E needs to prove that he can get over with his physical skills and in-ring charisma, like Daniel Bryan and Swagger's partner have done when Creative gave them $#!+ gimmicks. With the powers-that-be slapping him into random matches and writing sophmoric poop jokes for him to try and get over, he needs to give fans a reason to get behind him.
Otherwise, he may be not only be a victim of the 21st century Intercontinental curse...he'll be the next winner of the memorial Ahmed Johnson "Great African-American Hope" future endeavoring.
Find out who will be the first IC champ of the Network Era, and if they survive the experience, along with all your fellow fans - right here at Cageside Seats!