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Jack Swagger

Jack Swagger at WrestleMania Fax Axxess in 2009. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea

REAL NAME: Jacob Hager
NICKNAMES: Jake Hager, Jack Swagger
SIZE: 6-foot-5, 260-pounds
BORN: March 24, 1982 in Perry, Oklahoma

People might look at Jack Swagger and wonder how a newcomer rose so fast to main event status. But what they may be forgetting, or never knew, is that Swagger has been wrestling since he was around five or six years old.

Born Jacob Hager, the Oklahoman grew up living near Danny Hodge and his grandsons, the latter whom were in the same grade and wrestled with Hager. He would turn into an outstanding amateur, becoming a two-time high school Heavyweight State Champion. He earned a full scholarship to a Division I School in both wrestling and football.

His athleticism was undeniable, as he played defensive tackle for the Oklahoma Sooners, and then joined the wrestling team full-time in his sophomore year. In his junior year, he attracted the attention of the WWE, getting recruited by Jerry Brisco and Talent Relations chief Jim Ross, who told him to stay in touch after he graduated. In 2006, the All-American set the single season record for most pins at 30, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Finance. That year also saw the beginning of Hager's pro wrestling career.

His tryout with Deep South Wrestling was a success, and he began wrestling there, mostly in dark matches, before being reassigned to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) in January 2007. By August, Hager moved on to Florida Championship Wrestling, where he started gaining notice. In February 2008, he beat Ted DiBiase Jr. for the FCW Heavyweight championship, and a month later, unified the title with the FCW Southern Heavyweight belt.

In mid-August, "The All American" Jake Hager he had a dark match against William Regal, and would have a few more dark matches until becoming a regular on ECW in September as "The All-American American" Jack Swagger.

"WWE Creative came up with the name, it's definitely awesome," Swagger told the Ottawa Sun's Tim Baines. "My late grandfather's name was Jack. It's funny, when my old college buddies from the football team heard the name, they were like: 'Yep, that's him, that's the perfect name.' What I do, the smiling, that's me. And the cockiness, the sarcasm ... I'm sarcastic (in real life), I like to mess with people. And calling myself the All-American American, that just pisses everybody off."

With the decision to keep him up on one of the main rosters, he returned to FCW to drop his belt to Sheamus. Back in ECW, Swagger feuded with Tommy Dreamer and in January 2009, he defeated Matt Hardy to win the brand's heavyweight championship. He'd hold the belt for several months until a returning Christian defeated him at Backlash.

Swagger tried to regain his prized possession, but was defeated again by Christian at Judgment Day, and then came up short at Extreme Rules when Dreamer DDT'd him to take the duke in a hardcore three-way match that also included Christian. He had one more chance at The Bash, but Dreamer retained in a Championship Scramble.

With a trade by Donald Trump, Swagger arrived to the main show, Monday Night Raw, at the end of June 2009. There, he'd feud with Montel Vontavious Porter and U.S. Champion Kofi Kingston. The latter was able to hold Swagger off from winning his title, although Swagger would steal it and wear it for a short while anyway.

His next big push would begin during the Money in the Bank qualifying matches. Then, at WrestleMania 26, Swagger defeated the other nine wrestlers from SmackDown and Raw to take the MITB and thereby force one of the champions to face him at any time he chose. He nearly cashed it in the next night on Raw when he inserted himself in a scuffle between WWE Champion John Cena and Batista by crunching Cena with the MITB briefcase. But with Cena down but clearly not out, Swagger jumped out of the ring and waved off the match before it officially began. He would bide his time.

Swagger ended up waiting almost no time at all -- the same week's SmackDown -- when he pounced on the prone World Heavyweight champion Chris Jericho, who had just been felled by an Edgecution DDT and spear by Edge. Swagger came running out and would hit Jericho with a gut-wrench powerbomb for the duke and the belt.

His title reign got off to a rocky start, as he got cleanly pinned on TV in non-title matches against Randy Orton, Undertaker, and John Morrison. But he'd make up for those losses at Extreme Rules, defeating Orton with his gut-wrench powerbomb finisher.

---Compiled by Richard Kamchen

JACK SWAGGER STORIES

  • Feb. 20, 2013: Jack Swagger arrested for DUI
  • June 26, 2010: A little less (Jack) Swagger?
  • Apr. 20, 2010: Mat Matters: Swagger still hasn't been given a chance
  • May 16, 2009: Plenty of Swagger in former champ