Jake Hager on why Vince McMahon named him Jack Swagger, John Cena refused to drop WWE title to him
Chris Jericho welcomed Jake Hager as his guest on last week’s episode of Talk Is Jericho.
Hager talked about what went right and wrong during his last Bellator MMA fight against Brandon Calton, his time in WWE, what he learned from “Zeb Colter” Dutch Mantel, his exit from WWE, working on the independent scene, what led him to join AEW and much more.
Here are some highlights:
Hager talking MMA fighting: “I think it’s a cool opportunity for me. MMA, like pro wrestling, is an industry where it has become very popular. It’s almost peaking. It’s almost at its highest popularity. If you’re a high-level MMA fighter or high-level MMA fighter, you’re almost a household name across the world. The end game for me is for one to help the other. I feel like it’s my opportunity to continue on this training and have one help the other. The Bellator Heavyweight champion is Ryan Bader. Based on my coach’s discussions after the fight, I feel like I am still about 6 months to a year away before I can step in there with Bellator’s finest and protect myself. I’ll have another fight and I will keep improving.”
Hager was asked why he wants to do MMA: “Well, when I started my journey into MMA, I was an ex-professional wrestler from the WWE who had no prior job experience with anything else. For me, there wasn’t much of a choice. It was my opportunity to elevate myself. It was my opportunity to use the last 10 years of my life that I spent on TV away from my family in the same way they used me. This was my way of using my exposure to go into another profession and give me leverage. If I didn’t go into MMA, would I be in the Inner Circle right now Would I be signed with AEW right now? I don’t know.”
Hager said John Cena would not drop the WWE Title to him: Chris Jericho said, “The idea was right after WrestleMania, I can’t remember which one it was, the one where I wrestled Edge that I would beat Edge at WrestleMania and then he would beat me the next week at TV. We showed up in Vegas, Vince called me in his office and said,’“I’m changing my mind. I want to put it on Jack Swagger.’ I said, ‘that’s cool’. My point is there was a point there that Vince wanted you to be the champion and you did beat me for the championship. How did you find out about this?”
Hager responded: “I had a little inclination but I had no idea what was going to happen. The night before, I teased it on RAW where I almost hit Cena with the briefcase. I snuck up on him and then we had one of his brilliant promo segments. Later I found out that he refused to do the job for me for the World Championship. But, we won’t talk about that. So I got a call that night to come to Vegas. We got to the building. I saw Johnny go into the office. Then I see you come in, then Edge comes in. I’m waiting outside. Then I went in there and it was laid out what was going to happen.”
Hager on getting his WWE release: “In 2017, the company had an option in my contract to pick it up and pay me at the same price. I was finishing up my second five-year contract with them. I was a little fed up so I grew some balls and stood up for myself and said, ‘no, we are going to renegotiate now.’ This was December of 2016. By February of 2017, I finally got some straight answers out of them. What they offered me was ridiculous. It was insulting and I knew that’s where I stood with them. It was very clear to me. I was off with a skin rash all over my body. I was home which worked out well because I could talk with my wife and figure out what I wanted to do. Honestly, to substitute that type of income is very scary, especially for a young professional with no other experience besides wrestling on TV. That always kept us close to the fed. But with what they offered us, I didn’t even offer a counter. It was one of those things where I immediately asked for my release. Two days later, they gave it to me. I was really surprised they gave it to me. I think at the time I was still in good standing with Vince and the higher-ups where they let me go. That was March of 2017 that they finally granted me my release right before WrestleMania and I was on the indies for a year and a half.”
Jack Hager on how he got the name Jack Swagger: “It was from WWE creative. It came after I had a meeting with Vince. I was smiling too much I guess. He said, ‘See that smile? It pisses me off.’ I wiped it off immediately being a rookie. He said, ‘No, no, it’s great. It’s going to piss them (the fans) off too.’ So something from that came the name Swagger.”
If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription