HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
OWW Wrestler of the Week: Jack Swagger
Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, profiles the new ECW Champ. Jack Swagger surprised almost all the critics when he took the ECW title from Matt Hardy.
The All-American American, Jack Swagger strolled into ECW like he owned the place. Now, he does. Swagger took advantage of an exposed turnbuckle to stun Matt Hardy. Jack then took the strap by nailing his Red, White and Blue Thunder Bomb on Matt. Jack is this week’s OWW: Wrestler of the Week.
Jacob “Jake” Hager grew up near Perry, Oklahoma. He was a standout in high school sports. He was recruited by the University of Oklahoma as a double sports star: football and wrestling. The Jack Swagger tag line of being an All-American American is a truthful nickname. Jake set a college record in amateur wrestling in 2006. He had 30 pins during that season, more than any other athlete in the sport’s history. Agents for the WWE saw Hager in action and approached him about a developmental deal with the WWE.
Working in the developmentals
Hager was sent to Deep South Wrestling for his first round of training. Hager worked in DSW from September of 2006 until January of 2007. He mostly worked dark matches. He did have one televised match against Antonio Mestre. When the WWE cut ties with DSW, Hager was shifted over to OVW.
Once he hit OVW, Hager found himself pitted against Atlas DaBone (Ricky Ortiz). Hager beat Atlas in his debut match. Hager also ended up feuding with the Jameses (K.C. and Cassidy). Hager teamed with just about everyone on the OVW roster to battle K.C and Cassidy. Once again, Hager found himself shifted out of OVW in August of 2007, when WWE cut ties with OVW.
Hager’s next stop came in Florida Championship Wrestling. Hager’s first major feud in FCW was against T.J. Wilson, the adopted member of the Hart Family. After the run against Wilson, Hager set his sights on the Florida Championship. He defeated Ted DiBiase, Jr. to capture the gold on February 15, 2008. Five weeks later, on March 22, 2008, Hager battled Heath Miller (Sebastian Slater) to unify the Florida title and the Southern title. Hager won the match and became the first unified heavyweight champion in FCW.
Hager went on an amazing win streak, similar to Bill Goldberg‘s run in WCW. Hager went 62-0, finally losing a dark match to William Regal at a Raw taping. Hager’s performance against Regal, as well as his performances in the three developmental territories earned Hager a call-up to the big dance. He was assigned to ECW and given a new identity.
The All-American American
On September 9, 2008, Hager was rechristened Jack Swagger. The slang term Swagger Jack means to imitate someone else. Jack Swagger’s look and ring work are almost a dead-on imitation of the original All-American, Bob Backlund. Jack came onto ECW with a solid amateur style. He drew upon his actual amateur wrestling knowledge to keep opponents off-guard.
Swagger did vary from Backlund in one major way. Swagger came into the brand as a heel. He pushed his heelness to the extreme (pun fully intended) when he ridiculed ECW Legend, Tommy Dreamer. Swagger dominated in both a classic and a Extreme Rules match. Swagger then ended the unbeaten streak of Ricky Ortiz.
As Swagger’s win streak continued to grow, he made it clear that he wanted the ECW championship. Swagger attacked Matt Hardy to send a message that he was taking the platinum and leather belt home to Perry, Oklahoma. He would accomplish his goal on January 13, 2009. Swagger worked over the arm of Hardy for most of the match. During the battle, the top turnbuckle was exposed. Swagger used a Hot Shot to drop Hardy across the exposed turnbuckle. Hardy was then nailed with the SwaggerBomb/Jacked Up (Gut Wrench Powerbomb) to take the strap from Hardy. Swagger is set to defend the belt at the Royal Rumble.
Jack Swagger has all the skills needed to become a future Hall of Famer. He has the right attitude. His ring skills are beyond equal. Swagger needs a little work on the stick but that will come with time. Swagger is facing stiff competition from Ricky Ortiz, Finlay, Matt Hardy, and Tommy Dreamer. Swagger has the potential to be the longest-reigning ECW Champion of the new era. Jack Swagger has what it takes to be a WWE Superstar. This week, he had what it took to be named the OWW: Wrestler of the Week