Donald Jacob "Jake" Hager, Jr. (born March 24, 1982) is an American professional wrestler and mixed martial artist from Perry, Oklahoma currently signed to All Elite Wrestling. He is best known for his tenure in WWE under the ring name Jack Swagger.
Hager attended the University of Oklahoma as a two sport athlete, participating in both football and wrestling. He switched to wrestling full-time in his sophomore year, and in 2006, set the record for most pins in a season with 30 as an All-American. Following a try-out, Hager signed a WWE contract in mid-2006. He made his debut for the WWE developmental territory Deep South Wrestling in September, and was moved to the Ohio Valley Wrestling territory in January 2007. A few months later, Hager debuted for Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), where he was the final FCW Southern Heavyweight Champion and the inaugural FCW Florida Heavyweight Champion.
In late 2008, he debuted for the ECW brand under the name Jack Swagger, and in January 2009, he won his first World Championship, the ECW Heavyweight Championship defeating Matt Hardy. In March 2010, while a member of the Raw brand, he won the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXVI, and cashed it in later that week on SmackDown, defeating Chris Jericho to become the World Heavyweight Champion. In January 2012, he won the United States Championship, defeating Zack Ryder. He was released from the company in 2016.
He debuted in Season 4 of Lucha Underground under the name Jake Strong as a member of the stable Infamous Incorporated, but quickly split from that stable after a disastrous challenge for the Trios championship. He was later revealed to be affiliated with The Order and won the Lucha Underground championship at the close of the Season.
In 2019, he began an MMA career, fighting for Bellator. Although many wrestlers who transition to the octagon tend to fall short on their careersnote , he made a good impression on his first fight, where he submitted J. W. Kiser on January 27. Hager followed that up by submitting TJ Jones on May 11. His third MMA fight, against Anthony Gordon on October 25, was ruled a no contest when Gordon was rendered unable to continue by unintentional groin strikes from Hager. His next MMA fight did not come until more than a year later, thanks to his pro wrestling commitments and COVID-19. Hager defeated Brandon Colton on a split decision at Bellator 250 on October 29, 2020.
Earlier in October 2019, Hager signed with All Elite Wrestling and made his first AEW appearance on the debut episode of Dynamite, attacking Dustin Rhodes, Cody, and The Elite and siding with Chris Jericho as a heel, subsequently becoming a founding member of the Inner Circle.
"All-American American Tropes":
- All-American Face: Inverted, as he was an all American heel. However, he headed temporarily into this direction after his confrontation with Rusev on the 6/30/2014 edition of RAW.
- Always Someone Better: Swagger seems as of late to have fallen a step or two behind his "Real American" partner Cesaro. When Swagger failed to qualify for the 2014 Elimination Chamber, Cesaro succeeded. And even when Swagger made Colter proud by winning #1 contendership for the IC Title on SmackDown, it paled in comparison to Colter's pride for Cesaro, who shockingly beat the WWE World Champion Randy Orton later that night. Jack can't seem to catch a break.
- When tagging with Dolph Ziggler, Air Boom.
- Singles, Alberto Del Rio and Christian.
- As an All-American Face, Rusev.
- As part of the Inner Circle, The Elite (Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Hangman Page), plus Dustin Rhodes by proxy, and later Jon Moxley. During the Inner Circle's feud with The Pinnacle, Hager zeroed in on their enforcer Wardlow, who he'd had beef with even during the period that MJF and Wardlow had been members of the Circle.
- Badass Boast: Told Randy he should be worried about him because he was "Bigger, Stronger and Younger".
- Beard of Evil: When he returned from his six months of absent he sported one.
- Boisterous Bruiser: He spends a lot of time in his matches yelling, beating his chest and running around with his arms outstretched.
- Brain Washed: The commentators and Jim Ross in particular believe this is the case as Swagger never showed any traces of his "Real American" gimmick before associating himself with Zeb Colter.
- The Brute: As part of the Inner Circle.
- The Bully: Can come off as this very often. Most of his feuds tend to be with wrestlers significantly smaller, older, and/or weaker than he is. He once tried to call out Hornswoggle for a match in ECW. Of course, that was before WWE-ECW's time when a certain someone came out in the middle of Swagger's promo to stop the madness.
- The Chew Toy: While it's pretty much been because of his own doing, Swagger just hasn't caught a break in his pursuit of the World Title since returning. Original penned to win it at WM 29? Changed due to his marijuana bust. Originally scheduled for a triple threat World Title match at Extreme Rules? Changed to a #1 Contender's "I Quit" match against Alberto Del Rio, which he lost, because he legitimately concussed World Champion Dolph Ziggler the week before. Haven't seen bad juju like this surrounding the World Title since late 2005-2007.
- Darker and Edgier: His 2013 return, featuring a borderline racist manager, a more aggressive in-ring style, the utter removal of the comedy goofball side of his gimmick, a scruffier hairstyle and beard, and the renaming of his ankle lock submission finisher to the Patriot Act. (This was eventually downplayed, with the "Patriot Act" being called the "Patriot Lock", for example.)
- Demoted to Extra: And it's reportedly a consequence of his having been caught smoking marijuana several times, as well as attitude/behavior issues.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Played for Laughs as a way to underline his 'All-American American' persona's dim-witted bigotry.
- Dirty Coward
- Sometimes actually getting him in the ring can be a problem. He's usually not so bad once he gets in but once refused to get in and wrestle Randy Orton, the excuse being he always liked Randy. This was immediately mocked by Mark Henry who said he also always liked Randy, then went in the ring and destroyed him.
- Ray Gonzalez was not pleased to see the big burly enforcer Dutch Mantel promised him bailing from the ring. Mantel had to actively coach Swagger and Gonzalez to get Swagger back in the match. It didn't help that Carly could go hold for hold with Jack, making his usual tactics fail.
- Dumb Muscle: Zigzagged. Even though his Real Life persona errs much closer to that of a Genius Bruiser (he was a two-sport athlete at Oklahoma, where he also earned a degree in finance and was set to start a career in that field before WWE called him), he almost invariably comes off as this in storyline if he's aligned with someone else. It may be the lisp that has something to do with it, or his more-than-passing resemblance to Quasimodo.
- Eagleland: Type 2 during his time with Zeb Colter and the Real Americans Power Stable, given that they were created as a satire of obnoxious, foreigner-hating American exceptionalists.
- An arrogant but talented athlete who brags about his accomplishments in amateur wrestling while wearing the traditional wrestling singlet and using an ankle lock as a finisher? How about making him an American Patriot, complete with the Stars and Stripes motif? Never seen that before in WWE.
- They have been playing it up more in 2014, during his feud with Rusev, that he can cinch in the Patriot Lock from anywhere; much like Angle could pretty much be flat on his back one second, then wrenching your ankle off the next.
- Informed Attribute: He never quite leaned into the flavor-2 Eagleland that one would expect from a patriotic heel until 2013 when he became "A Real American"... which actually turned out to make him somewhat an Expy of John "Bradshaw" Layfield... in his feud against Eddie Guerrero, in particular.
- Finishing Move:
- His first finisher was a gutwrench powerbomb (initially named the Swagger Bomb, although it never caught; the name was later applied to his corner slingshot splash). He later added the ankle lock, renamed as Patriot Act and then as Patriot Lock post 2013.
- Before using the gutwrench powerbomb, he had a spin-out powerbomb named Red, White and Blue Thunder Bomb (a pun with the popular name of the move, Blue Thunder Bomb).
- Back when he wrestled in developmental territories under his true name Jake Hager, he also had the Hager-Meister, which was a tilt-a-whirl slam in FCW and a swinging cradle suplex in OVW.
- In AEW, he started using an arm triangle choke, a hold which earned him his first 2 victories in Bellator.
- Foreign Wrestling Heel: Inverted with the Real American thing. Sure, it was a textbook obnoxious jingoistic American gimmick designed to invoke heel heat by drawing attention to an ugly side of American politics, but since it was an American company hosting it, it was reminding American viewers of a thing they didn't like about their own country.
- HeelFace Turn: On the June 30th 2014 episode of RAW, when he and Zeb came out and stood up to Rusev.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Jack Swagger lost the ECW Championship to Christian when he ran into an exposed turnbuckle pad. A turnbuckle that had been exposed by Swagger himself.
- Homage: The Swagger Bomb (a corner slingshot splash) is one of these to Vader.
- Irony: The Gadsden flag that flies in the background of Swagger's entrance video and YouTube vids symbolizes the American spirit ("Don't Tread On Me") and unity of the original thirteen colonies. Swagger's first major victory coming back to WWE? Defeating "The Viper" Randy Orton in the Elimination Chamber to face the World Champion at Wrestlemania.
- Jerkass: See The Bully above.
- Jerk Jock: Downplayed. Yes he wears a wrestling singlet where it really just gives people more material to grab onto, brags about his amateur record and disrespectfully slaps the heads of those not as good on the mat as him but he is also proud of the fact he was an academic all American.
- Large Ham: As is a prerequisite of most wrestlers nowadays.
- Lightning Bruiser: Weighs north of 260, but doesn't seem to give up a lot of speed to smaller opponents. And scarily enough, after his recent return (aside from his style being much more stiff) he seems to have gotten faster.
- Messy Hair: In stark contrast to his conservative hairstyle of old, when he came back in early 2013, his hair seemed to be all over the place.
- Mythology Gag: His manager for much of his WWE run, Zeb Colter, is played by Dutch Mantel. Mantel had earlier been in WWE as Uncle Zebekiah in the 90s, managing the Blu Brothersnote and Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw.
- Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Jack Swagger did not look especially physically imposing in WWE, aka the "Land of the Giants"; but in AEW, whose roster skews shorter and lighter, Jake Hager looks like a behemoth. He had a similar advantage in Lucha Underground.
- Out-of-Character Moment: During one vignette, he and Zeb were letting out some "Real American" rhetoric...and then break character completely, address the camera with their real names, and then explain to Glenn Beck (who had criticized the product very publicly) what Professional Wrestling by the WWE is supposed to be. They then segued right back into character.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Swagger's new "Real American" gimmick in 2013, standing against immigration.
- Put on a Bus: After an long losing streak in 2012, he took an extended leave of absence.
- The Bus Came Back: He came back six months later, on the February 1st edition of SmackDown.
- Red Baron: "The All-American American"
- Small Name, Big Ego: WHO AM I?
- Thpeech Impedient: Hith notitheable lithp ith mocked by hith opponenth.
- The Stoner: It could be argued very strongly that Swagger hasn't quite reached his potential in WWE in no small part because of his fixation with the cannabis plant. He's been caught with marijuana as recently as February 2013. The timing could not have possibly been worse, as Swagger was in the middle of the biggest push of his career. It ended up costing him winning the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: After over a year of trying and failing, finally won one over Rusev at Tribute To The Troops 2015, making him tap out to the Patriot Lock, no less.
- Took a Level in Badass: Jack Swagger . . . World Heavyweight Champion?!
- Also seems to have gotten back that level and then some upon his early 2013 return.
- His run in AEW as Jake Hager has successfully gotten him over as the kind of brutal Wrestling Monster a man of his size and skill should be off the back of his successful MMA career. When the AEW crowd began to chant "WE THE PEOPLE!" at him during Chris Jericho's promo introducing the Inner Circle, Jericho successfully shut that down by declaring "'We the people' sucks and it's dead and buried", and ever since then Hager has been taken very seriously in AEW.
- Villain Team-Up: In WWC Dutch Mantel insisted Swagger team up with Ray Gonzalez against Carlito and Eddie Colon. This made a bit of sense, as Dutch Mantel claimed to have nothing against Gonzalez and claimed he was unhappy with the way his previous client, El Patron Alberto, had treated Gonzalez's son. However, the whole premise of it all, including Mantel and Alberto's brief partnership in WWE, all but flew in the face of decades where Mantel made his disdain of Puerto Ricans, presumably-illegal Mexican immigrants, and the Spanish language clear to anyone who would listen.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Several of his promos during his World Heavyweight Champion reign made it clear that his dad held him to extremely high standards and always expected him to become a champion.
- Wrestling Monster: As Jake Hager in AEW, he's a near-silent, incredibly tough and brutally strong enforcer for the Inner Circle.