Jack Swagger vs Matt Riddle
“Bro” vs “We The People”, wrestling or MMA? Jack Swagger transitioned to MMA while Matt Riddle transitioned to wrestling from MMA. While Jack Swagger is making his name in Bellator, Matt Riddle is making his name in WWE NXT. What would an encounter between the two look like? Could it happen and who would come out on top after it all? This is “The Real American” vs “The Original Bro”.
Jake Hager (Jack Swagger) started wrestling at the age of five. He wrestled in high school with Danny Hodge‘s grandson and was a two-sport athlete, competing in wrestling and American football. He was also class president as a sophomore and junior. Hager was the No. 5-ranked 215-pounder by Wrestling USA in 1999. He won the 215-pound division of the state wrestling championship as a junior after being a runner-up as a sophomore. Hager then joined the Junior National USA wrestling team as a heavyweight during the summer of 2000. His junior year, while playing football, he recorded 45 tackles and 6 sacks in 3 games before breaking his ankle. He recorded 75 tackles and 3 fumble recoveries as a senior, helping Perry post a 10–3 mark. The University of Oklahoma recruited Hager as a two-sport athlete in football and wrestling. He was the second-string defensive tackle behind eventual National Football League players Tommie Harris and Dusty Dvoracek. He stopped playing football and concentrated fully on wrestling his sophomore year. During his junior year, he was introduced to Jim Ross, who was World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)’s Head of Talent Relations at the time, through former OU defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek, Hager’s close friend and college roommate. Ross encouraged Hager to contact him after graduating to see about a career in professional wrestling. At the 2005 NCAA Division I championships, he lost to University of Pennsylvania‘s Matt Feast in the second round, and did not place. As a senior in 2006, Hager had a seventh-place finish in the NCAA championships and also defeated the future national champion, Dustin Fox from Northwestern University. Hager was named an All-American at season’s end while setting the Oklahoma record for most pins in a single season with 30. In 2006, Hager graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s degree in finance. Following his graduation, he was going to work with a firm in Dallas, Texas, but signed with WWE after they offered a contract the day he was scheduled to start.
Matt Riddle was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania but later moved to Saratoga Springs, New York, where he attended Saratoga Springs High School and was a state wrestling champion in 2004. During his high school career, Riddle pinned future UFC champion Jon Jones. Riddle later attended East Stroudsburg University, where he was a member of the wrestling team for two years and won many championships. After his head coach was fired, Riddle lost his wrestling scholarship and started his transition into MMA.
Hager: 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, competing mainly in dark matches before being moved to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) in January 2007. In August 2007, Hager was reassigned to Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), where he began a feud with TJ Wilson. In 2008, Hager and Ted DiBiase Jr. were the final two men remaining in a 23-man battle royal to determine the two contenders for the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship. Hager was victorious and 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. During this time, Hager had a gimmick of having an undefeated streak in FCW. He then lost the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship to Sheamus O’Shaunessy (Sheamus), after debuting for the ECW brand.
Riddle: 2006-2008: TUF Riddle is 1-0 in amateur MMA. During his amateur career, he worked as a roofer and trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the evenings. Riddle credits BJ Penn’s book, Mixed Martial Arts: The Book of Knowledge, in helping him learn during his early years in MMA. Riddle fought Dan Simmler, an understudy of Matt Serra, to get into The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) house. Riddle knocked out Simmler in the opening seconds of the second round and struck him three times in the jaw after he had lost consciousness, breaking Simmler’s jaw in two places. It was called the biggest knockout in TUF history by Dana White and the knock out of the century by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Riddle was picked second overall for Team Rampage. During his involvement on show, Riddle was given the nickname Chipper after Rampage noticed him always smiling.
Riddle: 2008-2013: UFC At The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale held on June 21, 2008, Riddle made his UFC and professional debut defeating fellow Ultimate Fighter castmate, Dante Rivera, via unanimous decision (29–28, 30–27, 30–27). During the course of The Ultimate Fighter 7, Riddle was shown multiple times arguing with the older and more experienced Rivera. Dante, on more than one occasion, stated that he would retire if Riddle defeated him. Riddle was then scheduled to fight Ryan Thomas at UFC 91, but a knee injury had forced Riddle out of the fight. Recovery for the knee injury was scheduled to take 6–8 weeks. After recovering, Riddle fought and defeated Steve Bruno via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) at UFC Fight Night: Lauzon vs. Stephens. In his third UFC bout, Riddle defeated another one of his former Ultimate Fighter 7 cast mates, Dan Cramer via unanimous decision on the undercard of UFC 101. He next faced The Ultimate Fighter 9 alumnus Nick Osipczak on November 14, 2009 at UFC 105. The fight was held in Osipczak’s home country of England. Riddle lost the fight by TKO in the third round. After his loss to Osipczack, Riddle faced UFC newcomer Greg Soto on March 27, 2010 at UFC 111. After a dominant first two rounds for Riddle, Soto landed an illegal upkick to Riddle’s head in the third round which rendered him unable to continue, giving Riddle the victory by disqualification. Riddle faced DaMarques Johnson on August 1, 2010 at UFC on Versus 2. The fight was a catchweight bout after Johnson weighed in at 172 lbs and Riddle would go on to win the fight via TKO due to punches near the end of round 2. Riddle was expected to face TJ Waldburger on December 11, 2010 at UFC 124. However, Waldburger was forced from the card with an injury and replaced by promotional newcomer Sean Pierson. Pierson defeated Riddle via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) and the bout was dubbed by UFC president Dana White as the real Fight of the Night. Riddle was expected to face Ultimate Fighter castmate, Matt Brown, on March 3, 2011 at UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann, replacing an injured Mark Scanlon. However, Riddle was also injured, resulting in the Brown fight being scrapped from the card altogether. Riddle was expected to face TJ Grant on June 26, 2011 at UFC on Versus 4. However, Riddle was forced from the bout with an injury and replaced by Charlie Brenneman. Riddle faced undefeated welterweight prospect Lance Benoist who was making his Octagon debut on September 17, 2011 at UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger. He lost the fight via unanimous decision in a bout that earned Fight of the Night honors. Riddle was expected to fight Luis Ramos on December 30, 2011 at UFC 141. However the fight was called off as Riddle became ill and had to pull out just moments before the fight took place. Riddle was expected to face Jorge Lopez on February 4, 2012 at UFC 143, replacing an injured Amir Sadollah. However, Lopez was also forced out of the bout and replaced by promotional newcomer Henry Martinez. Riddle won the fight via split decision. The bout between Riddle and Ramos was rescheduled for June 22, 2012 at UFC on FX 4. However, Riddle was forced from the bout with another injury and replaced by Matt Brown. Riddle stepped in for Siyar Bahadurzada on short notice to fight Chris Clements at UFC 149. Riddle won the fight after catching Clements in a standing arm-triangle choke, forcing him to submit at 2:02 in the third round. Riddle won a $65,000 Submission of the Night bonus; this also marked the first submission win of his professional career. On October 20, 2012, it was announced that Riddle had failed his post fight drug test, testing positive for marijuana. Riddle was subsequently fined and suspended for 90 days, retroactive to July 21, 2012. His win over Clements was changed to a No Contest. Riddle was originally expected to face Besam Yousef on November 17, 2012 at UFC 154, replacing an injured Stephen Thompson. However, Yousef was forced out with injury and replaced by John Maguire. Riddle defeated Maguire via unanimous decision. Riddle faced Che Mills on February 16, 2013 at UFC on Fuel TV: Barao vs. McDonald. Riddle defeated Mills via split decision. On February 26, 2013, Riddle revealed that he had tested positive for marijuana. This was his second failed drug test within a year, and Riddle was subsequently released from the promotion. He finished his UFC career ranked 3rd in UFC history for takedown defense (89.3%) and 8th for total strikes landed (1350), and without positive marijuana tests would have held an octagon record of 9-3 with a streak of four consecutive victories.
Swagger: 2008-2013: Champion On September 9, 2008, Hager made his debut on the ECW brand under the ring name Jack Swagger. He immediately established himself as a heel by starting a feud with Tommy Dreamer. He then sought to challenge Matt Hardy for the ECW Championship and was named the #1 contender on the December 30 episode of ECW. Swagger won his first title in WWE, the ECW Championship. He had an undefeated streak and would then feud with Finlay, Christian, and Dreamer. 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. He feuded with MVP and then began pursuing the United States Championship held by Kofi Kingston. He then defeated Santino Marella to qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXVI (2010), 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 then 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 competed with Edge, Jericho, Randy Orton, Big Show, Rey Mysterio, and CM Punk. By 2011 jack Swagger would pursue the United States Championship. Swagger would team with Dolph Ziggler managed by Vickie Guerrero. Jack Swagger then took time off to return in 2013 as The Real American managed by Zeb Colter with the now well known slogan “We The People“. Cesaro would then join the cause and the two would battle through the tag team division.
Riddle: 2013-2014: MMA Injuries Matt Riddle was expected to compete in the Bellator‘s welterweight tournament during their ninth season which begins in the Fall of 2013. However Riddle cracked his rib and had to pull out of the tournament, and subsequently retired from MMA fighting due to financial reasons. A few weeks later Riddle came out of retirement and was expected to fight at Bellator 109. Once again Riddle pulled out of that fight and has been released from Bellator in total. Riddle fought fellow former UFC fighter Michael Kuiper in the co-main event of Titan FC 27 on February 28, 2014. Riddle won by second round guillotine choke. Riddle was expected to face MMA legend Jose Landi-Jons for the vacant Welterweight Championship at Titan FC 29 on August 22, 2014. However, Riddle was forced out of the bout due to injury.
Riddle: 2014-2018: Wrestling Transition On October 29, 2014, it was reported that Riddle was training for a career in professional wrestling. Riddle made his professional wrestling debut on February 7, 2015, at the Monster Factory in Paulsboro, New Jersey. In July 2015, Riddle won the Monster Factory Heavyweight Championship. On September 15, 2015, it was announced that Riddle had signed with the World Wrestling Network (WWN) to work the October Evolve events. Riddle later confirmed that he had taken part in a WWE tryout, which led to them setting up the booking with Evolve. On January 24, 2016, Riddle won Evolve’s Style Battle tournament. On April 8, it was reported that Riddle had signed a contract with Evolve’s parent company WWN. On September 3, Riddle made his debut for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), entering the 2016 Battle of Los Angeles tournament, from which he was eliminated in his first round match by Kyle O’Reilly. In October 2016, Riddle took on Cody Rhodes at New York promotion House of Glory’s show titled Unbreakable in a losing effort. On January 15, 2017, Riddle defeated Rampage Brown to win the Progress Atlas Championship. Riddle debuted for Revolution Pro Wrestling on January 21, unsuccessfully challenging Katsuyori Shibata for the British Heavyweight Championship. On February 11 at CZW 18, Riddle faced David Starr in an inter-promotional champion vs champion match, with Riddle defending Progress Wrestling’s Atlas Championship and Starr defending wXw’s Shotgun Championship. The match ended in a double disqualification, and neither championship changed hands. On April 1, Riddle defeated five other men to become the inaugural WWN Champion. On August 5th Riddle won The Scenic City Invitational Tournament. On October 20, Riddle and Jeff Cobb, known collectively as “The Chosen Bros“, defeated the Lucha Brothers (Rey Fenix and Penta el Zero M) for the PWG World Tag Team Championship. They retained the titles until April 20, 2018, when they lost them against The Rascalz (Zachary Wentz and Dezmond Xavier). On April 5, 2018, Riddle defeated Zack Sabre Jr. at Evolve 102 to win the Evolve Championship. On August 4, Riddle lost the Evolve Championship to Shane Strickland at Evolve 108.
2017-2018 By 2017, Jack Swagger had not gone further than his past accomplishments and had requested his release. He appeared on the indie scene including challenging Nick Aldis for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleCade: SuperShow. Swagger also joined Lucha Underground under the name “The Savage” Jake Strong, and he went on to win the Gift of the Gods Championship, and also the Lucha Underground Championship.
Meanwhile, on July 31, 2018, it was reported that Matt Riddle had signed a contract with WWE. On August 18, Riddle appeared at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV and was identified by the event’s commentators as WWE’s newest signing. Riddle’s NXT debut was on the October 31 edition when he successfully defeated Luke Menzies. On November 17, 2018 on the Preshow of NXT TakeOver: WarGames II, Kassius Ohno interrupted a Riddle interview. When NXT TakeOver: WarGames II started, Riddle challenged Ohno to a match and knocked him out in 6 seconds winning one of the fastest matches in NXT history. Riddle and Ohno had a rematch at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix, where Riddle made Ohno tap out to an Arm Trap.
2019 “Jake Hager” made his Bellator MMA debut on January 26, 2019 against J.W. Kiser.
Tale of the tape:
|WWE, Bellator||Known In||UFC, NXT|
|Deep South Wrestling||Trained by||Monster Factory|
|Patriot Lock/Patriot Act (Ankle Lock), Swagger Bomb (Gutwrench powerbomb), Corner slingshot splash||Signature Move||Bromission (Twister), The Final Flash (Jumping Knee), Arm-Trapped Elbow Strikes|
|“We The People”, “A Real American”||Slogans||“King of Bros”, “The Original Bro”|
Who would win this rivalry?
Can it happen?
As of 2019, Swagger has a 6 fight/3 year contract with Bellator, while Matt Riddle is at the top of NXT. WHile Matt Riddle is highly unlikely to get back into MMA, Jack Swagger is also unlikely to leave his new dream of pursuing MMA. Jack Swagger has a good relationship with the WWE leaving the door very well open for a return at any time. Could it happen? Absolutely! Can it happen at this time?