On today's episode of the Talk Is Jericho podcast, Chris Jericho had on his fellow Inner Circle member Jake Hager where they discussed Hager's recent Bellator victory as well as his run in WWE. Hager said that he does not view his run in WWE negatively noting the high backing he had when he first debuted on TV.
"When I first debuted on television, I felt like I had a lot of the office behind me, Jim Ross [and] of course, Gerry Brisco were big supporters of me in why I got signed there, and then just slowly as that went on, there's just certain battles I feel like that went on that as a 26-year-old young professional, I didn't handle correctly," Hager admitted. "[There were] definitely times where I can look at and say, 'hey, you need to stand up for yourself,' and I didn't do it.
"Those are things that you learn and you go throughout life, and you hope, 'I don't want to do that again.' Honestly, I look back at my career very thankful. A lot of bulls--t we had to put up with to do it. I'm thankful for the career because it led me to all these opportunities I have, so I won't look back and be bitter because that just takes up too much energy, but it just seems like there's certain people that wanted to keep their thumbs on certain people and then certain people were always green-lighted to do whatever they wanted."
Hager's biggest career highlight in WWE was not only winning the Money In The Bank briefcase at WrestleMania 26 but also cashing in soon after on then World Heavyweight Champion Jericho. Jericho recalled the original plan during that time where he would defeat Edge at WrestleMania, and Edge would win on SmackDown the week after, but Vince McMahon changed plans to have Hager win the world title.
"The ideas was, right after WrestleMania, the one where I wrestled Edge, I would beat beat Edge at WrestleMania and then he would beat me the next week on TV, but we showed up in Vegas, and Vince calls me his office," Jericho recalled. "And he says, 'I'm changing my mind. I want to put it on Jack Swagger,' and I was like, 'that's cool,' but my point was there was a point where Vince wanted you to be the champion."
Hager recalled teasing a cash-in on WWE Champion John Cena but revealed that Cena did not want to put Hager over. He also recalled the meeting during that time and vividly remembers Jericho telling him to "not f--k this up."
"I had a little inclination, but I had no idea what was going to happen," Hager admitted. "The night before, I teased it on RAW where I would almost hit Cena with the briefcase. I snuck up on him and then we had one of his brilliant promo segments. Later come find out he refused to do the job for me for the world championship, but we won't talk about that. That was in Phoenix. I get a call that night saying, 'hey come to Vegas.' Catalina and I were already planning on coming there to kind of celebrate in Vegas and whatnot. We get to the building.
"Of course, I get there 30 minutes earlier than I'm supposed to, so I'm waiting out in the hallway. And then I see Johnny (John Lauranitis) go in the office. Here you come [and] Edge comes, and I'm like, 'okay, this is my turn. I'll come in right behind you guys,' and then the door shuts. It was about five minutes out there and who knows, you guys were probably just all in there laughing and joking like, 'hey, this rookie's out here sweating his ass off,' and then I go in there. And honestly Chris, this is why I always look to you as someone I could trust, someone that actually cared is because when we sat in there, and it was laid out what was going to happen, you turn to me and very stoically, you told me, 'you better not f--k this up.' And you were dead serious, and you were very sincere with it.
"And it was one of those things, it always reminded me of my best wrestling coach. He would always yell at us. He'd always kick our ass. He was like, 'guys, if I'm not yelling at you, I don't care,' and so immediately once you said that, I already looked at you very fondly. We were friends [and] had a good relationship, but from that moment on, I looked up to you. I knew that I could almost trust you. It was one of those moments of my career that I will always always remember."
Jericho said that it was an old-school mentality to let Hager know how important this moment was. As they were discussing the cash-in, Jericho revealed that he had a spot planned for a segment with Goldberg where his shoes would fly off upon receiving a spear. While that moment did not happen, he said he wanted to do that with Hager during the cash-in.
"What I remember was I had an idea years earlier when I was supposed to do something with Goldberg where I wanted him to spear me, and I had dress shoes on," Jericho recalled. "I would pull my dress shoe off so it's kind of above my heel when he speared me. I'd kick my heel out, and the shoe would fly off. And it never got to that point. So with you, because it was a [gutwrench powerbomb], I kicked my shoe off, and it went right into the Las Vegas crowd."
Hager discussed his short reign as World Heavyweight Champion. He called the run a learning curve and pointed out that his name will forever be entrenched with some of the greatest in the business.
"I first went with Big Show and then I went with Randy. I thought it was fine," Hager said. "I know looking back, I needed to do a lot more as champion. It's one of those things where it was a learning curve. Everyone kind of sees that championship run as short, but to me, I look at it as one of those things it's like, my name is on the list with some greatest of the greatest, so you're not going to take that away from me."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.