One of the biggest surprises during AEW’s first televised episode on TNT was the debut of former WWE wrestler Jake Hager (then Jack Swagger). I remember watching him between between 2009 and 2011 and thinking, “Boy, he seems under-utilized.” When he left the company in 2017, I didn’t think I’d be seeing much from him in the future, but surprise, he showed up in Bellator and is creating a huge name for himself in MMA. He currently holds a 2-0 record, with both opponents being submitted early in the first round by arm-triangle choke.
Competing in Bellator’s heavyweight division, Jake is calculated, aggressive and talented beyond his years. If he can keep his sportsmanship in check, he has the potential to become a champion in the future. This is, of course, a reference to his last fight verses T.J. Jones, when Jones was tapping out for quite a while before Hager let go. I’m willing to chalk it up to adrenaline, though, and the fact that maybe Hager was unable to feel the taps, or think it was a weak-willed attempt on T.J.’s part to escape the submission.
That was then, and this is now. Jake is a part of the power faction The Inner Circle comprised of AEW champion and wrestling legend Chris Jericho as well as Santana & Ortiz and Sammy Guevara. Although Hager has yet to have his debut match in AEW, it’s quite possible that this group of men is going to steamroll the competition in the new wrestling promotion. But the big question is: Will AEW paint Jake Hager as their version of Brock Lesnar? The parallels are certainly there, although Lesnar has a longer and more accomplished resume in MMA.
Will Jake Hager be able to do both, compete in Bellator and perform in AEW? It’s a hard question to answer, especially because he’s currently preparing for his next fight on October 25 2019 against Anthony Garrett at Bellator 231. It takes more dedication, meditation and training than most men can muster, so it stands to reason that Hager hasn’t wrestled on AEW due to his efforts in preparing for his next Bellator match. When that’s over, perhaps we’ll see him in his debut match on AEW. It’s going to be difficult for Jake to do both, and I’d hate to see his commitments to AEW get in the way of his MMA career. But if he pulls off both, he’ll certainly make a big fan out of me!