While the strength of the match card is reason enough to be excited for AEW Dynamite, wrestling fans will be going into the show expecting some surprise names to appear. CM Punk is the hottest free agent in the world right now and the man who fans want to see more than anyone, but another former WWE-Champion-turned-MMA-star could be a part of the historic event.
Citing Sports Illustrated, Ringside News reports that Jake Hager — who most WWE fans know as Jack Swagger — is expected to make an appearance on the first episode of the company’s weekly show on TNT. Given that Hager has remained active on the independent circuit since leaving WWE, it’s unsurprising to learn that he could be interested in joining AEW, and having another ex-WWE star on the roster will get people talking.
AEW plans on adopting a sports-centric approach to pro wrestling, and Hager joining will certainly bring more authenticity to the company in that regard. In addition to pro wrestling, he’s an accomplished amateur wrestler and mixed martial artist who currently competes in Bellator MMA. At the time of this writing, he’s still undefeated in the promotion.
Hager being allowed to compete in AEW and Bellator could be beneficial to both companies in terms of crossover appeal. The worlds of sports entertainment and legitimate combat sports are different in many ways, but they share enough common characteristics for fans of either to find something to enjoy in the other. Hager can be a bridge that connects both brands.
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) September 21, 2019
As the Sports Illustrated article notes, Hager would also be a controversial addition to a company that’s pushing progressive values. He’s a vocal Donald Trump supporter whose WWE catchphrase “We the People” — as popularized mainly by his onetime manager Zeb Colter (aka Dutch Mantell) — has populist connotations. Controversy creates cash in pro wrestling, though, and Hager’s conservative beliefs will likely make him a polarizing figure among the AEW base. Whether they love or hate him, there’s a good chance he can spur a strong reaction from fans.
Unfortunately for fans hoping to see CM Punk make his long-awaited return to wrestling and help an upstart promotion generate some buzz, it probably isn’t happening. As The Inquisitr reported last week, he looks set to return to WWE as an analyst for Fox’s WWE Backstage.
The relationship between Punk and AEW isn’t the strongest either, as the company is apparently upset with him for making them look unprofessional during an ESPN interview earlier this year. At the same time, Cody Rhodes did state that the door will always be open for him, should his passion for wrestling ever return.