Bellator fighter Jake Hager put on a spoof MMA bout against fellow pro wrestler Wardlow in the opening bout of All Elite Wrestling’s “Dynamite” show on Friday night.
The performance saw both athletes mix in regular pro wrestling moves along with a style more familiar in MMA. The fight started early with a feeling out process where they threw jabs and kicks and shot for takedowns.
Hager attempted an ankle lock during the fight, a move which he has used throughout his pro wrestling career, although it was the arm triangle choke that finished the bout in the second round.
Wardlow had his best moments in the choreographed fight in the opening frame, scoring a knockdown and taking Hager down in the latter half of the round.
AEW’s bouts usually take place inside the traditional pro wrestling ring with four sides and three ropes. The opening bout on Friday was held in an MMA cage with six sides to reflect a look synonymous with MMA. It was set to go for up to three rounds, with submission or knockout being the only ways to end the bout. “Pinning” a wrestler, the most frequent way a bout ends in the entertainment form, was not allowed under these rules.
Hager, formerly known in top wrestling promotion WWE as “Jack Swagger,” has been active in the pro wrestling scene since 2006. He has competed in AEW since 2019 and has been a frequent part of their programming.
Hager has experience in MMA, having competed in the Bellator cage four times. He extended his undefeated pro record in October, fighting to a split decision win over Brandon Calton.