Over the past decade, Jack Swagger was in rare company on the WWE roster. He is a former World Champion. There was a period, as a Real American, when his merchandise sold well. He was also a top college athlete, a rare All-American among WWE superstars. So when Jack Swagger asked for his release last month, a lot of critics of WWE took notice.
Jack Swagger is not the only former champion to ask for their release in recent memory. Cody Rhodes did so, and has since thrived in Ring Of Honor, Impact Wrestling and New Japan. Comparably, Albert Del Rio is also in-demand and working everywhere. Ryback let his contract run out and is now reportedly thriving between indie bookings, hosting a podcast and starting up a nutritional supplement company. Bad News Barrett also opted not to re-sign, and is reportedly focusing on his acting career while still fielding booking inquiries.
It must be assumed that as a father and husband that Jack Swagger did not want to continue with the heavy WWE travel schedule. But it also must be assumed that Swagger being kept away from substantial storylines wouldn’t be appealing to him. It’s presumably nice to collect an assumed six-figure salary from the WWE, although perhaps not so fulfilling when your likeness is not being featured regularly on merchandise or weekly television.
So was he wrong to leave WWE? This writer says absolutely not. The guy was underutilized for more of his WWE tenure than not. He made it known on Chael Sonnen’s podcast that feels he has a lot more to offer. The aforementioned Cody has proven that working the indie circuit is totally feasible, as have Rey Mysterio, The Young Bucks, The Hardys and Colt Cabana.
Looking a bit further to the spectacle that is Wrestlemania, had Jack Swagger not asked for his release from WWE, where on the card do you think he would be on April 2nd? My money would be within the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, if even that. He would be in a battle royal that will most likely be won by a giant. Right alongside Breezango, Kalisto and Mojo Rawley. And so far none of the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royals have resulted in any sort of high-profile storyline or title chase.
As Swagger is subject to the same 90-day non-compete clause that nearly all WWE performers are — which does not forbid them from wrestling for other companies but does prevent them from appearing on-air in that period of time — it is too soon for us to know whether he is going to ROH, Impact, New Japan or another one of today’s prominent promotions. Or if he is aiming to be a free agent that floats between promotions. Or if he has Hollywood aspirations. Or if MMA is something he is interested in. We simply don’t know what he has planned aside from appearing at WrestleCon.
However, in seeing how many bridges WWE has rebuilt within the past few years — Jim Ross, Jim Cornette, Ultimate Warrior and Goldberg being just a few examples — a talent’s initial departure from WWE is rarely the last time we will see them. Friday night’s Hall Of Fame broadcast had Eve Torres, Kelly Kelly, Molly Holly and Candice Michelle showing on camera. Alberto Del Rio left WWE on very bad terms, yet was back for another run within two years. Kassius Ohno is back in NXT. Brian Kendrick is one of the key cruiserweights on 205 Live. Jinder Mahal was gone for a few years, as was Curt Hawkins. So all in all, if Jack Swagger builds a name for himself outside of WWE, it would not be surprising to see him back on Raw in just a few years.