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Road to WrestleMania 29: Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger for the world heavyweight championship

In the lead up to WrestleMania 29 on Sun., April 7, 2013, we'll break down each match on the card. Today we look at the world heavyweight championship match: Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger.


The world heavyweight championship, for better or worse, has become a curtain jerker title. At both Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber this year, it was the first bout on the card. It was actually the opening match at WrestleMania 28 last year when Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan in just 18 seconds. The placement of that match, but mostly the way it was booked, helped turn Bryan into a big star.

WWE is no doubt hoping for something similar this year.

It's actually quite fitting that the Big Gold Belt has been curtain jerking because the two men feuding over it, reigning champ Alberto Del Rio and challenger Jack Swagger, are the two most underwhelming main event level players on the entire roster.

That's not a knock against their talent or a commentary on their lack thereof, it's simply the reality of the situation WWE finds itself in. Del Rio was turned babyface when the company started panicking at the prospect of Rey Mysterio's old broken down body getting put out to pasture without anyone having stepped up to fill the void with the always important Latino market. Sin Cara has been a bust thanks to poor health, a bad attitude, and a general lack of popularity on par with Mysterio, so Del Rio was chosen as the next best thing.

Although it wasn't necessarily a choice so much as a lack of options.

In fairness, "ADR" has been much better as a hero than he was as a villain, though fans have struggled to connect to his character. But perhaps he just needed a strong heel to oppose him.

Enter a re-packaged Jack Swagger.

With his size and legitimate athletic background, Swagger has long been earmarked for success in pro wrestling. Indeed, he's been given every opportunity to get over and even held the world heavyweight championship for a time. None of it worked, of course, because he's always had trouble with being, shall we say, bland. Simply put, he was uninteresting and worse still, he was stiff in the ring.

And not in the "he's got believable offense" sense. More like "that guy is going to seriously injure someone" sense.

The great thing about pro wrestling, though, is a performer can be written off television, spend a couple months honing their skills, and come back as a totally different character without fans making a big stink about it. In fact, if the new character is good, all will be forgiven and, best of all, forgotten.

Such was the case when Swagger returned with a manager named Zeb Colter pushing a xenophobic and slightly racist message: that America is a beautiful place that has no room for illegal immigrants/Spanish speaking people/anyone who isn't American and doesn't bring anything to the table.

It's all nonsense, of course, and Del Rio is the man tasked with giving Swagger his comeuppance while showing that America is the best country on Earth because it affords everyone opportunity and is far more tolerant than Swagger and Colter act or would have us believe.

The only problem with all this, which looks good enough on paper, is the execution has been mediocre and, really, no one cares. Del Rio, the wrestler WWE hopes will be its new hot Latino star, is holding up the values of America against an American idiot who can't say more than three words -- "WE THE PEOPLE" -- that don't really make sense each time he uses them.

The good news for this program is that it doesn't need to be doing big business, at least not for the time being. Like last year, it's entirely possible this match opens the PPV portion of the card and that's just fine.

These two are, after all, the lowest of the high profile stars.

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