After Kurt Angle's departure from WWE, they tried to recreate their patriotic success with Jack Swagger, but this failed experiment has finally ended.
An accomplished Amateur Wrestler from the University of Oklahoma, Jacob Hager had the liberty of two options once he earned that diploma. The first was a career in finance using his degree as he was already scheduled to start working in a firm in Texas and second was a career as a professional wrestler using his athletic background. Hager chose the latter.
It was 2008 when Hager finally made his WWE debut as Jack Swagger for the ECW brand and was instantly pushed to the top of the card and feuded with legends such as Tommy Dreamer, Matt Hardy, Fit Finlay and Christian which added more to the promise of his career's potential. The only problem though is that youth was still evident in a young Swagger during that time as he literally looked and talked like that bully jock in high school that isn't even the star on the team with his spiky blonde hair and clean shaven face.
Pressure started to increase for Swagger as he was traded to Monday Night RAW, WWE's premiere flagship show where he got a run at the mid card but even more when he won Money In The Bank at Wrestlemania 26 and flew over to SmackDown to cash in his guaranteed title shot.
During his run as World Heavyweight Champion, he was indeed put over by top stars such as Chris Jericho, Edge, and even Randy Orton. Swagger still was in close distance to mid card gold after his lone world title run and even had a promising alliance with Cesaro and Zeb Colter as The Real Americans.
It was after The Real Americans that Swagger suddenly became forgotten…
Lack of Passion?
WWE was gearing towards building Swagger up to be the next Kurt Angle, but he happened to falter. Why so? If we see in his promos or his matches, he did not invest that much of himself in his work rather treating it more like just another job that pays.
Kurt Angle happened to be naturally charismatic and had the image of someone who chases more glory than basking on the good old days. With Swagger, he acted like a jock living on temporary glory, and it cost him later in his career.
He had all the chances to redeem himself as he was still put in various feuds, but those too were lackluster and treated as another job rather than an opportunity. Sure he did not get over in those feuds and even jobbed on some of those matches but at least he could have stepped up.
In the feud he had with Alberto Del Rio over the United States Championship, he didn't even look like he was competition for Del Rio as the outcome of the feud was indeed predictable regardless of the number of chairs involved in their TLC showdown. Baron Corbin looked like a promising storyline for Swagger as he jumped over to SmackDown Live, but even in that it was only Corbin who treated it as a push.
Along with Swagger's career, his physical condition also was on a downward path as the weight he gained through the years was insignificant and hampered his agility. Unlike Angle who is still in good shape at 48, Swagger just got fat.
Swagger had the facial look (latter part of his career) and the in-ring ability to make it big in the sport. Top stars saw a lot of potential; that is why they were convinced to put him over, but he just happened to coast through instead of soaring across.
Had Swagger become a little more motivated and hardworking, he sure could have been the next Kurt Angle, but right now they might just hand it by default to Jason Jordan.
News broke out just a few days ago that Swagger asked for his release from the WWE as he stated in Chael Sonnen's Beyond The Fight Podcast. Some sources say he was already granted his release while some say he hasn't.
Just yesterday, WAW British Wrestling announced that Swagger is scheduled to appear and face former rival Alberto Del Rio this weekend. As to the implications of this appearance, we'll never now as WWE usually has this non-compete clauses they hand out to their talents upon release preventing them to take bookings within a certain timeframe.
WWE has history of breach of contracts with their former talents often taking bookings earlier than they are supposed to so with that said, this will keep Swagger on the sidelines for 90 days upon release thus rendering him unable to appear elsewhere. Despite that, this could be a sign of change if WWE is veering away from their usual non-compete clause.
Whether it becomes a fresh start or plainly just another job, it's safe to say that whatever name or gimmick change Jake Hager undergoes, it would be hard at this point to create another Kurt Angle. Let's just stay tuned for the latest regarding his current status with the WWE.