Former WWE World Heavyweight Champion-turned-mixed martial artist Jack Swagger (real name Jake Hager) was recently a guest on Hall Of Famer Jim Ross’ podcast, “The Ross Report.” During the show, Hager discussed All Elite Wrestling, if he has spoken to Cody Rhodes about joining AEW, his WWE release in 2017, and fearing becoming a stereotypical broken-down pro wrestler. Here are the highlights:
All Elite Wrestling: “I could not be more excited about it,” Hager said. “I feel like it’s changing the landscape of professional wrestling. It’s providing competition. I know, Jim, you’re like me. I believe competition makes everyone better. So this is great for pro wrestlers. This is great for the boys in the back – it gives them some place to go, it gives them leverage.
“And it’s great for pro wrestling fans! It gives them different styles and shows the different artistic ways we can tell stories. I can’t put a finger on how guys like Kenny Omega, guys like The Young Bucks, guys like Cody, over the last two years have just become red-hot and just generated so much momentum.
“They’re just doing the right things at the right times and really making it a great time to be a pro wrestler.”
Speaking to Cody Rhodes about All Elite Wrestling: “I’ve kind of had my nose in training camp since September, so I haven’t talked with them about it too much, but here and there, I will talk with Cody and you can’t help but bring it up. I always think back to what [Chris] Jericho and Kenny Omega did for New Japan [Pro-Wrestling] last year for Wrestle Kingdom.
“I really feel like they worked everybody, that angle and it was really refreshing to see… it was 2018 at the time, but to see that in pro wrestling where people can still get hooked, still believe it.” Hager said, “I expect nothing but more of that and great matches from these guys.”
His WWE release in 2017: “Of course now, a year-and-a-half, almost two years since I left the company, I have a different perspective than I did at the time when I was first leaving,” Hager said.
“When I was first leaving, [I was] angry, upset, wanting, want, want, want, and now I look back and there’s a lot that I could have done better to change that outcome. I learned my lesson and I see that and don’t make the same mistake twice.
“And, honestly, Jim, I’m happier than I ever have [been]. I’m home more with my kids and my family. I love being a dad. I love being a family man.”
Fearing becoming a stereotypical broken-down pro wrestler: “Honestly, Jim, going into that industry, it always terrified me to be one of those guys [leaving pro wrestling with no money and no family] after having it all,” Hager said.
“It’s a scary superstar type deal like be careful what you wish for. If you want to roll with the big dogs on the top level, it’s not all glitz and glamor. There [are] a lot of behind-the-scenes decisions that, one bad one could lead you down a path and it’s hard to reverse.”