Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Hidden Gems series. This week, our destination is an episode of RAW in 2009. Our targets are John Cena and Jack Swagger. Our goal? To watch a great match, of course. It’s the World Heavyweight Champion John Cena, vs. the ECW Champion Jack Swagger. It’s a battle about respect, and it’s happening tonight on the Hidden Gems series.
WrestleMania XXV was an eventful night for WWE’s history. It saw CM Punk become the first ever two-time Money in the Bank Ladder Match winner, it saw JBL’s in-ring career come to a permanent end, and it saw the beginning of the end of Shawn Michaels’ WWE career. That show also saw John Cena win the World Heavyweight Championship from Edge in a Triple Threat match that also featured Big Show. It was one of many WrestleMania moments for the franchise, and it setup the main event for the Backlash PPV the following month, where Cena would put his title on the line against The Rated R Superstar in a Last Man Standing match. Before he could get to that show though, he encountered a roadblock. That roadblock’s name? Jack Swagger.
The All American American Jack Swagger debuted in late 2008 on the ECW brand, showing himself to be a masterful technician in the ring. He quickly rose to prominence on the 3rd brand, claiming the ECW Championship from then-champion Matt Hardy on the January 13, 2009, edition of ECW. Jack Swagger then successfully defended his title against Hardy at the Royal Rumble, before being left off of the next two PPVs altogether. That’s right, the ECW Champion didn’t even make it onto the card for WrestleMania. It was a real eye-opener for how the WWE viewed that brand, as well as its main champion. Swagger was new to WWE and thus had yet to truly impress. However, this match against John Cena would be his chance. Champion vs. Champion. Put up or shut up for young Jack Swagger. Now, without further ado, let’s get into it.
John Cena makes his way out first tonight, looking as John Cena-like as ever. Carrying with him that fabulous World Heavyweight Championship. It’s a shame he never got a true run with it. Two month reigns here and there don’t really count in my opinion. Nonetheless, Swagger is out next, with his awesome ‘On Your Knees’ theme song. It’s so strange seeing young Jack Swagger before he had his soul sucked out of him. We’re greeted by Matt Striker and Josh Mathews at ringside on commentary, which may just be the worst commentary team ever produced. Goodness, gracious. They, as well as Michael Cole, make sure to mention that this match is all about respect. It’s about teaching that whippersnapper Swagger a lesson. The bell rings, and now off we go. Swagger is aggressive early on, grabbing the leg of John Cena, and then holding onto it while Cena begs to be let go (not really). He then uses it to trip up Cena, and now Johnny Boy sees what he’s in for tonight. It’s so real, my dudes. My boy Swagbags is no joke.
After a brief stare-down and moment of contemplation by John Cena, we see Jack Swagger once again go for some technical offense, grabbing at Cena’s legs, picking him up, and then slamming him down with force. The All American American then engages in a Gator Roll! Holy crap, that’s two Hidden Gems in a row where a Gator Roll has happened. Consider me one happy guy right now. Swagger rolls around for a bit with Cena in his clutches before ultimately letting go. Cena pops back to his feet and nails Swagger with a big right hand, before hitting a running shoulder block. Oh no, time for Cena’s signature combo already?… Uh…. Apparently not, as Jack Swagger wisely rolls to the outside of the ring to recoup. That doesn’t last long, however, as John Cena meets the guy out there and hits a running clothesline. Cena rolls Swagbags back into the ring and covers, but only gets one count. The Champ then gets Swagger onto his feet and shoots him off the ropes for a who-knows-what. We’ll never find out as Swagger kicks a ducking Cena in the chest. Way to go, John. Jack hits a clothesline to the back of John Cena, then goes in for a cover, only to get a two count.
Swagger bullies John Cena in the corner of the ring, holding him in a front face lock. He eventually breaks at the ref’s four count, then nails a big right hand to the face of the franchise. Swagbags sends Cena’s face into one of the top turnbuckles and then shoots him off with a hard Irish whip, which sends Cena crashing into the opposite buckles, and then down to the mat. Cena lay on the mat dead while Swagger celebrates what he’s done. The big man stalks Cena as the latter gets back to his feet, then strikes with a quick clothesline, the likes of which has been seen in the 2K games many times before. Swagger once again celebrates before going for the cover, which yields yet another two count. Jack continues his assault by choking out The Champ in the corner with a knee, before Cena begins a comeback, striking with right fists. He charges at Swagger in the corner, however, Swag Swag Money is able to move out of the way just in time, then lock in a Masterlock for good measure. Ah-ha! This was a sign. They were practically telling us that Chris Masters was going to return later in the year. John Cena fades in the grip of The All American American, occasionally gaining enough strength to attempt a break, but ultimately being unable to do so. After a seemingly endless amount of time, Super Cena breaks the hold and launches into his familiar combo.
Johnny Boy hits em with a ‘YOU CAN’T SEE ME’ and then a Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena then predictably goes for the FU (or AA, whichever you prefer), however, Swagger is able to hold onto the ropes, and then free himself in order to hit a big boot to the face of John Cena. Swagger sloppily attempts a cover and only gets a two count. Swagger then sends Cena shoulder first into the ring post, which is bad news for good ‘ol Johnny Boy. John falls to the apron, and then we head to commercial right as we see Swagger running towards him to knock him off. What a badly placed ad break. We see John Cena executing a backdrop once we return from a commercial break. Both men then double clothesline each other as WWE show a replay of the apron spot that we missed. At least they thought to do that, so. Well done, I guess. Referee Scott Armstrong gets up to an eight count before both guys get back to their feet. This launches a striking sequence, which Swagger is able to take advantage of, with a nearly botched float over DDT.
We get a pinfall attempt from Jack Swagger, who only manages to net a two count. Swagger hits a high knee to a groggy John Cena who was standing out on the apron. That gets Swagger yet another two count. From there, Swagbags lifts Cena onto his shoulder, however, Cena manages to escape. It doesn’t last long, however, as Jack Swagger catches a running John Cena with a big powerslam, for a two count. Cena then conveniently gets himself into position for a Swagger Bomb, however, The Champ catches The All American American in mid-air, and lays him out with an FU. He follows that up with an STFU for the tap victory in this fantastic match.
Match Rating: 3 and a half gems
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. John Cena takes out the ECW Champion in a short, but sweet match. I really felt this was Jack Swagger’s coming out party of sorts. He was really only starting to be introduced to the WWE Universe, and this fantastic showing against John Cena definitely helped him get noticed. I recommend checking this one out to see what Jack Swagger is truly capable of when he and the WWE both care. 2009 wasn’t the best year, but it did have its bright spots, and Jack Swagger was certainly one of those bright spots.
Until next week, I am JeriKane, and this is the Hidden Gems series.