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 Championship. In 2010, while a member of the Raw brand, he won the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXVI, and two days later at the April 2 SmackDown taping, he cashed in that opportunity and defeated Chris Jericho to become the World Heavyweight Champion. He held the championship until June 2010. In January 2012, Swagger won the WWE United States Championship for the first time.
Early life and amateur wrestling
Hager has been wrestling since the age of five, and wrestled in high school with Danny Hodge's grandson. He is good friends with Hodge, and grew up living two blocks away from him in Perry, Oklahoma.
The University of Oklahoma recruited Hager as a two-sport athlete. He played football and was the second-string defensive tackle behind National Football League players Tommie Harris and Dusty Dvoracek. Due to his high-school wrestling background, he was asked to join the wrestling team as a heavyweight in his sophomore year, and switched over full-time. During his junior year, he met Jim Ross, who was then World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)'s Head of Talent Relations, and Ross encouraged Hager to contact him after graduating. In 2006, as an All-American wrestler, he made 30 pins, setting the record for most pins in a single season.
In 2006, Hager graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor's degree in finance. Following his graduation, he had a job with a firm in Dallas, but was offered a contract with WWE the day he was scheduled to start.
World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE
Developmental territories (2006–2008)
In 2006, Hager had a WWE tryout in Deep South Wrestling (DSW), and in September 2006, under his real name, he made his in-ring debut for DSW, defeating Antonio Mestre in a dark match. He competed mainly in dark matches, before being moved to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) in January 2007. He debuted for the promotion by defeating Atlas DaBone, and in the following months began a feud with K.C. James. Hager began teaming with a multitude of opponents to feud with James and his tag team partner Cassidy James. During his time in the developmental territories, he appeared as a security guard during a brawl between John Cena and Umaga on Raw.
In August 2007, Hager was reassigned to Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), where he began a feud with TJ Wilson. On February 15, 2008, at the Florida State Fair in Tampa, Florida, Hager and Ted DiBiase, Jr. were the final two men remaining in a 23-man battle royal to determine the two contenders for the inaugural FCW Florida Heavyweight Champion. Hager then defeated DiBiase to become champion. On March 22, 2008, Hager went against the FCW Southern Heavyweight Champion Heath Miller in New Port Richey, Florida to determine the true Heavyweight Champion. Both championships were on the line, and Hager defeated Miller to become the undisputed heavyweight champion in FCW. He later defended the championship against Miller, TJ Wilson, James Curtis, and Gabe Tuft.
During this time, Hager had a gimmick of having an undefeated streak in FCW. His first loss came in the form of a Raw dark match, at the TV taping on August 18, 2008, when he lost to William Regal. He also lost to D'Lo Brown in a dark match, before defeating Jamie Noble in a dark match prior to a SmackDown taping on August 29. He then lost the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship to Sheamus O'Shaunessy on September 18, after debuting for the ECW brand.
ECW and RAW (2008–2009)
On September 9, 2008, Hager made his debut on the ECW brand under the ring name Jack Swagger, winning a match against a jobber—a wrestler who consistently loses to make his opponents look stronger. He immediately established himself as a heel (villainous character) by starting a feud with Tommy Dreamer. He attacked Dreamer on the September 23 episode of ECW, when Dreamer attempted to stop Swagger from attacking jobber Chase Stevens. He later defeated Dreamer in a wrestling match and an "Amateur Wrestling Challenge" competition. After weeks of feuding, their rivalry ended in November in an Extreme Rules match, which Swagger won to extend his undefeated streak in ECW.
He then sought to challenge Matt Hardy for the ECW Championship and was named the number one contender on the December 30 episode of ECW. In 2009, on the January 13 episode of ECW, Swagger defeated Hardy to win his first title in WWE, the ECW Championship. His undefeated streak in singles competition ended on the February 3 episode of ECW when he lost to Finlay in a non-title match. After successfully defending his title against Hardy at the Royal Rumble and Finlay at No Way Out, Swagger began a feud with the returning Christian, to whom he lost the ECW Championship at Backlash, which ended his 104-day reign as champion. He attempted to regain the championship title in a triple threat hardcore match at Extreme Rules, but was unsuccessful. His attempt to win the ECW Championship at The Bash in a ECW Championship Scramble also failed.
On June 29, 2009, Swagger was traded to the Raw brand, making his debut as part of a three-on-one gauntlet match against WWE Champion Randy Orton, in which he got himself purposely counted out in order to make an impression on Orton. On the July 13 episode of Raw, he won his first match on the brand by defeating Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP). He then feuded with MVP for several weeks, culminating at SummerSlam, in a match that MVP won. After his short feud with MVP ended, Swagger began pursuing the WWE United States Championship. He had his first singles match for the championship on September 21 against Kofi Kingston, but lost the match by countout after stealing the championship and leaving the arena with it, although Kingston later took it back while Swagger was in a physical confrontation with The Miz. Swagger made another unsuccessful attempt at the championship at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view.
Mr. Money in the Bank and World Heavyweight Champion (2010)
On the March 1, 2010 episode of Raw, Swagger defeated Santino Marella to qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXVI, where he won, earning a contract for any WWE world championship over the following year. On the first episode of Raw following WrestleMania, Swagger tried to cash in his Money in the Bank contract against the WWE Champion John Cena, but changed his mind when he realized that Cena was not incapacitated enough to be defeated easily. As the match had never started, Swagger retained the contract for use at a future date.
Swagger cashed in the contract during the SmackDown taping on March 30, 2010, after the World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho had been speared by Edge. Swagger went on to defeat Jericho to win the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time. Following his championship win, Swagger began to develop a more serious persona: previously he had been known for doing pushups and beating his chest during his ring entrance. He successfully defended his championship against Edge and Jericho in a triple threat match on the April 16 episode of SmackDown, and against Randy Orton in an Extreme Rules match at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view. At Over the Limit, Swagger retained the title against The Big Show by intentionally disqualifying himself.
At the Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view on June 20, he lost the championship to Rey Mysterio in a fatal four-way match, also involving CM Punk and The Big Show. In a rematch at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in July, he failed to regain the championship.
Various storylines (2010-2011)
In late 2010, Swagger began being accompanied to the ring by his mascot, the Swagger Soaring Eagle, who was portrayed by Chavo Guerrero. At the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs PPV, Swagger competed in a triple threat ladder match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship against Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler, in which the latter went on to win the match.
On the February 28 episode of Raw Swagger was announced as Michael Cole's trainer for his match at WrestleMania XXVII against Jerry Lawler. On the March 28 episode of Raw, Swagger faced Lawler in a singles match, which he won by disqualification after Lawler attacked him with a steel chair. At WrestleMania, Swagger receive a 'Stone Cold Stunner' from the guest referee Stone Cold Steve Austin when attempting to withdraw Cole from the match. Cole went on to win the match via disqualification. On April 26, Swagger was drafted to the Raw brand as part of the 2011 supplemental draft. On May 1 at Extreme Rules, Swagger teamed with Cole to defeat Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross in a Country Whipping match. Swagger ended his partnership with Cole on the May 16 episode of Raw, after Cole insulted Swagger.
Beginning on May 23, Swagger feuded with Evan Bourne, with both men trading victories on several episodes of Raw. At WWE Capitol Punishment, Bourne defeated Swagger to end the feud. Swagger competed in his second Money in the Bank ladder match at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, which was won by Alberto Del Rio.
Alliance with Dolph Ziggler and United States Champion (2011–2012)
On the August 15 episode of Raw, after defeating Alex Riley, Swagger suggested to Vickie Guerrero that she should manage multiple clients, in the vein of managers like Bobby Heenan and Freddie Blassie. The following week, Swagger had a "tryout" match, but was distracted by Guerrero arguing with Dolph Ziggler at ringside, and lost the match. Swagger and Ziggler would continue to fight over Guerrero over the next few weeks, which led to a match being for Ziggler's United States Championship at Night of Champions, also involving Riley and John Morrison. At the pay-per-view, Swagger was unsuccessful in winning the title. On the September 19 episode of Raw, Guerrero agreed to manage Swagger. As a result, Swagger and Ziggler formed an alliance, with Swagger helping Ziggler retain his championship. At both the Hell in a Cell and Vengeance pay-per-views, Swagger and Ziggler unsuccessfully challenged Air Boom (Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston) for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
On the January 16, 2012, episode of Raw, Swagger won the WWE United States Championship by defeating Zack Ryder. At the Royal Rumble, Swagger competed in the Rumble match, entering at number 25, before being eliminated by Big Show. At Elimination Chamber (2012), Swagger successfully defended the title against Justin Gabriel. On the February 27 edition of Raw, Swagger and Ziggler unsuccessfully challenge Primo & Epico for the WWE Tag Team Championship in a triple threat tag team match alson involving Kofi Kingston & R-truth. On the March 5 episode of Raw, Swagger lost the United States Championship to Santino Marella. On the following edition os Smackdown, Swagger failed to regain the United States Championship in a Steel Cage Match after Marella escaped through the cage door. On the March 19 edition of Raw, Swagger announced himself as a member of Team Johnny at WrestleMania XXVIII. On the April 2 edition of Raw, Swagger & Ziggler unsuccessfully challenged Marella for the United States Championship in a triple threat match. In May, Swagger & ziggler unsuccessfully challenged Kofi Kingston & R-truth for the WWE Tag Team Championship, first at Over the Limit (2012) and second on the May 28 edition of Raw. On the June 11 edition of Raw, Swagger & Ziggle competed in a fatal four way match to determine the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship, however he was eliminated when Ziggler pinned him. The following week, Guerrero, finally tired of the bickering between Swagger & ziggler arranged for a match between them; Ziggler won the match, thus ending their partnership.
On the June 25 episode of Raw, Swagger unsuccessfully challenged Santino Marella for the United States Championship. Following this loss, Swagger would go on to a three-month losing streak against the likes of Tyson Kidd, Sheamus, Brodus Clay and Ryback. After again losing to sheamus, Swagger told Raw General Manager AJ Lee that he would be taking time off.
Real American (2013–2014)
On the February 1, 2013 episode of SmackDown, Swagger returned, and demanded that SmackDown General Manager Booker T put him in the Elimination Chamber match at Elimination Chamber. Later on that night, Swagger made his in-ring return by defeating Kofi Kingston. On the February 11 episode of Raw, Swagger's character was repackaged as that of a xenophobic heel, now accompanied by Zeb Colter as his manager. Swagger defeated Zack Ryder to qualify for the Elimination Chamber match to determine the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship, which he won after pinning Randy Orton.
On February 19, Fox News and various right-wing commentators including Glenn Beck claimed that Swagger and Colter's characters were a mockery of the Tea Party movement meant to "demonize" the Tea Party. WWE responded to the criticism by stating that they were incorporating "current events into [their] storylines" to "create compelling and relevant content for [their] audience" and that "this storyline in no way represents WWE’s political point of view". WWE followed by having Swagger and Colter break character during a video to invite Beck to appear on Raw while justifying that the storyline was designed to illicit a crowd response for the protagonist, Alberto Del Rio, and the antagonists, Swagger and Colter. Beck rejected the invitation.
During the months of March, April and May, Swagger continued his feud with Del Rio, including injuring Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez on different occasions. Eventually the rivalry between Swagger and Del Rio expanded into a three-way storyline involving Dolph Ziggler who joined the feud after his surprise cash-in of his Money-in-the-Bank contract during a title defense match between Swagger and Del Rio. The three went on to involve themselves in each other's wrestling affairs, leading towards the pay-per-view Extreme Rules in a triple-threat match for Del Rio's World Heavyweight Championship. Before the weekend of the Extreme Rules, the match stipulations for the triple-threat would be decided by the winner of a triple-threat match between the managers and allies of the respective competitors. Zeb Colter represented Swagger in a losing effort against Big E. Langston (for Ziggler) and Ricardo Rodriguez (for Del Rio), with Rodriguez being the winner. On the May 10 edition of Friday Night Smackdown, Swagger wrestled Big E. Langston in a match that eventually broke down into a chaotic brawl between Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler who both entered the ring at various stages. Swagger was armed with a ladder and assaulted both his rivals and inadvertedly injured Ziggler causing him to sustain a concussion. After Ziggler's concussion forced him out of his pay-per-view match, the championship match for Extreme Rules was changed to an "I Quit Match" between Del Rio and Swagger.
After Extreme Rules, Swagger disappeared from the storyline, reportedly injured. This prompted an impromptu alliance between Zeb Colter and Antonio Cesaro, whom Swagger had partnered with in the past and received positive remarks from Colter during his commentary at ringside. Cesaro essentially filled in the role of Swagger, even using the phrase "We the People", which has become a villainous catch-phrase for Swagger. Colter would later go on to name the group "Coltersmilitia". On July 3, during the second half-hour of WWE Main Event, Swagger returned to in-ring action after nearly two months recovering from injury. He faced Sin Cara in a squash match, preparing for his participation in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at the July 14 pay-per-view of the same name. At Money in the Bank, Swagger faced fellow heel wrestlers, Dean Ambrose, Fandango, Wade Barrett, Antonio Cesaro, Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes in the ladder match eventually won by Sandow. The following night on Raw, Swagger and Cesaro, now billed as The Real Americans, teamed together for the first time, but ended up being defeated by The Usos. During the Night of Champions pre-show, the Real Americans competed in a number one contender Tag Team Turmoil match for the WWE Tag Team Championship, in which they were the last team eliminated by The Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O'Neil). Simultaneously, the Real Americans began a feud with the returning Santino Marella after he defeated both of them in singles competition. On October 6 at WWE Battleground, the Real Americans defeated Marella and The Great Khali in a tag team match. The Real Americans moved onto feuding with Los Matadores, culminating in a tag team match on October 27 at Hell in a Cell, which Los Matadores won. The following night on Raw, The Real Americans defeated WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust in a non-title match. On the February 14th episode of SmackDown, Swagger became the #1 Contender for the Intercontinental Championship after winning a Fatal 4-Way match, defeating Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio and Mark Henry. However, Swagger would advance to Elimination Chamber, where he would face the current Intercontinental Champion, Big E, and would lose the match.
Singles career (2014-2017)
During the pre-show of WrestleMania XXX, the Real Americans were the final team eliminated during a fatal-four-way match for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Swagger blamed Cesaro for the loss and put Cesaro in the Patriot Lock before Colter demanded that the duo shake hands. Cesaro instead retaliated with a Cesaro Swing on Swagger. Later during the pay-per-view, Cesaro was a surprise entrant in the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, which he won by last eliminating Big Show by body slamming him out of the ring, which mirrored Hulk Hogan's momentous body slam of Andre. Swagger retaliated by attacking Cesaro on the following RAW and then destroying the trophy, thus ending the stable. Swagger would feud with Cesaro, which also involved Rob Van Dam, resulting in the three men competing in a triple threat elimination match at Extreme Rules, which Cesaro won.
The next night after Raw, Colter and Swagger would rant about foreign superstars in the WWE, when Adam Rose would make his WWE debut and interrupted the two men. The next night on Main Event, Swagger would lose to Dolph Ziggler with the distraction by Rose. Six days later on Raw, Swagger would lose to Rob Van Dam with another distraction by Rose. Six days later on Raw, Swagger would lose to Rob Van Dam with another distraction by Rose. Their feud would culminate on the June 2nd episode of RAW where Rose defeated Swagger.
On the June 23 episode of Raw Swagger would be named to compete in the Money in the Bank ladder at Money in the Bank 2014. Swagger would not win the match, but would lose it to Seth Rollins. On the June 30 episode of Raw, Swagger would turn Face for the first time since debuting in the WWE after he and Zeb Colter confronted Rusev and Lana stating their actions of taking advantage of America's freedom which led to Swagger attacking Rusev.
On March 1, 2017, Hager announced that he had requested and received his release from WWE.
Hager married Catalina White in December 2010. The couple had their first child on October 17, 2011, a son named Knox Stribling Hager.
On February 19, 2013, Swagger was arrested in Gulfport, Mississippi after a SmackDown taping. He was charged with driving under the influence, marijuana possession, and speeding. Swagger was released after the arrest, and scheduled to appear in court on March 12, 2013.
- Patriot Lock/Patriot Act (Ankle Lock) - 2010–present
- Swagger Bomb (Gutwrench powerbomb) - 2008–2013
- Corner slingshot splash - 2013–present
- Abdominal stretch
- "The All-American American"
- "Mr Money In The Bank" (2010)
- "A Real American"
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments
- Florida Championship Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #18 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2009
- World Wrestling Entertainment