MMA and pro wrestling have had an interesting history. They have been viewed by some as rivals, fighting for the almighty pay-per-view dollar. However, the athletes have found common ground between the two. There are those that left MMA for wrestling, wrestling for MMA and then left wrestling for MMA and then back to wrestling.
Despite Jake Hager (f.k.a. Jack Swagger) being under contract with Bellator MMA, he is a free agent in wrestling. This week it was announced that AEW will be televised on TNT later this year. For someone who is also training for MMA, it could provide ultimate opportunity to work a reduced schedule and a different style of pro wrestling. Hager admitted there has been contact with AEW and is impressed with their progress.
"Those guys are awesome, it is really impressive what they are doing," Hager admitted. "It is something I can relate to. Cody and The Young Bucks they invested and took a gamble on themselves and they bet big. Now, it shows they were right. They knew something that was going to fall to the curve and be ahead of the game. Something fun to be a part of how they are doing their storytelling and moving the needle for the first time in decades.
"We have spoken and I think that's something that will be addressed in the future," said Hager. "As of now, I can't tell you (regarding an offer from AEW)."
Hager noted that he does not plan on debuting for AEW at Double or Nothing next weekend, suggesting that the former Dean Ambrose will be making an appearance instead. Ambrose officially became a free agent ealier this month, and released a post-WWE promo as his former persona, Jon Moxley.
"I don't want to step in Jon Moxley's shadow," Hager explained. "That's going to be a great debut for him hopefully, I have my fingers crossed that is where we see him at.
"I think anything is possible, it is awesome to be a part of this. That is why I left in 2017 because I knew pro wrestling was going to have such big opportunities, new platforms for young businessmen that are trying to provide for their families and excel the way you want to and build the brand the way you want to. Whether you are a pro wrestler or pro fighter, you want leverage. This gives me the opportunity to leverage myself. I want to be a part of it. I have been busy with training camp, so talks have not reached that point yet. Because I'm a really slow heavyweight that needs to work on his footwork."
For the time being, Hager intends to train MMA full-time.
"Full-time MMA right now is just easier," said Hager. "Being in there six days a week and not having to worry about any soreness from airplane rides or bumps and bruises. I will have one to two wrestling events a month in the summertime but other than that it is going to be focused on getting better, improving that ground game, taking out all the holes, getting this footwork moving and getting rid of this 'second left foot' I have. Increase my speed, increase my agility, increase my strength. I weighed in at 239 and I want to gain another 10 pounds to be in at 249-255 range. And keep my motion, conditioning and still keep this great head of hair."
You can listen to the interview in the video above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Ariel Helwani's MMA Show with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.