If you watched RAW last night, you might have been thinking "who is THAT guy with Jack Swagger?" as Swagger made his way to the ring accompanied by an older guy who wasn't exactly dressed like your common WWE Superstar. As the camera zoomed in, might first words were "is that Dutch Mantell?!" Indeed it was wrestling veteran Dutch Mantell who was also known as "Uncle Zebakiah" in WWE in the mid 90's as he managed the "Blu Brothers" and Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw who of course we now know as JBL.
Many WWE fans probably don't know that Dutch Mantell has worked around the world both as a wrestler, and one of the most renowned creative minds behind the scenes. It's been widely reported and even confirmed by Steve Austin that Dutch Mantell is the person that named him "Steve Austin" after Steve needed to change his last name of "Williams" since "Dr. Death" Steve Williams was already a star in wrestling. Mantell also groomed guys like Kane and even The Undertaker early in their careers. Mantell has seen much success creatively in Puerto Rico, and was a huge factor of the success of the TNA Knockouts division about 5 years ago when it was red hot.
So my first thought as I saw Dutch coming down the ring with Swagger was, "Well they re 'in Nashville which was one of Dutch's stomping grounds, this must be some sort of 1 shot special deal." After all it looked like Dutch was dressed in pretty regular clothing and didn't do much at first. My second thought was "I wonder if they will acknowledge him as Dutch Mantell or "Uncle Zebakiah" and acknowledge his WWE past. After Swagger demolished Zack Ryder, he grabbed the mic and announced his good friend "Zeb Colter." I liked that they halfway used Dutch's old gimmick but made it a little more real than the mountain man gimmick this time around. What followed was "Zeb" explaining that he was an angry Vietnam veteran that is pretty anti-American now, and in my opinion gave us a great old school promo that can really be built on with Swagger. The character seemed like a throwback to the days when wrestling actually featured characters that played off current events or something you might actually see in everyday life. An angry army veteran that wants to speak his piece? I like it.
I couldn't help but feel this one was of the best parts of RAW. Sure younger fans may be wondering what the hell it was all about, but seeing a veteran that knows how to groom talent behind a guy that's been lost in the shuffle for years was a perfect match to me. If you remember I included Swagger on my list of 5 wrestlers WWE should sent to Japan, and that was because he has such talent but had no direction whatsoever. Putting him with Dutch Mantel could be just what he needs, as he is already showing more of a mean streak as evident last night. Giving him an actual story and pairing him with a guy that knows how to pull it off is just what the doctor ordered. Of course WWE could screw this up and drop it by next week, but I'm really hoping not.
It was a real shock to see such a journeyman type like Dutch Mantell pop up again on RAW, and it really has me wondering if Triple H once again is behind bringing in veteran talent coming in to help in areas that badly need it. For more on Dutch Mantell/Zeb Colter, check out his official blog at The World According to Dutch which features some great stories spanning his entire career.