WWE Superstar Jack Swagger's DUI arrest this week could have major implications for the WWE's biggest event, Wrestlemania 29, on April 7. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
Wrestling fans were stunned this week when they learned that WWE superstar Jack Swagger was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, just weeks before he was to headline a Wrestlemania title match.
Swagger, 30, whose real name is Jake Hager, was charged with speeding, misdemeanor marijuana possession and DUI after he left a WWE "Smackdown" taping at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Miss., TMZ reports.
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Law enforcement officials said that the officer who pulled Hager over-after traveling 55 mph in a 45 mph zone--determined that the former NCAA wrestling standout from the University of Oklahoma was driving under the influence, and that a search revealed Hager had marijuana in the car.
Where the real complications begin for WWE, however, is that Hager has returned to WWE television with tremendous momentum last month and is scheduled to compete with Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 29 on April 7 in New Orleans.
That was one of the big matches on a card that will be featuring movie star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar and WWE superstars John Cena, CM Punk, Sheamus, Randy Orton, AJ Lee and more.
Gulfport city prosecutor Kirk Clark tells Biloxi newspaper The Sun Herald that Hager's DUI charge will require him to return to Biloxi to face the charges.
The Examiner cites a Wrestle Zone report that Hager was pulled from live events for this weekend, and it is unclear if he will make it for the scheduled tapings of RAW and Smackdown in the coming week.
WWE has a tough Talent Wellness Policy that deals out suspensions and disciplinary action against wrestlers who test positive for drug use. The policy was instituted in part due to the November 2005 death of Eddie Guerrero, a former WWE Champion and one of the company's biggest superstars at the time. Guerrero struggled with addiction to painkillers and alcoholism throughout his career.
Under Section 14 of the policy, wrestlers who are caught with drugs for intent of use, possession, purchase, sale or distribution could be fired. Positive testing would result in suspension.
If Hager is unable to make it to WrestleMania--which drew a record 1,217,000 Pay-Per-View buys for the WWE last year--for his high-profile world title match, this leaves the company with a large hole to fill in their biggest card of the year, meaning that the company will have to look at other stars to fill it, such as Sheamus or Orton or up-and-comer Dolph Ziggler.
Ziggler has been expected by fans to cash in his Money In the Bank briefcase that gives him a shot at the world title at some point soon. However, the WWE could opt to go with higher profile stars to fill the card. Sheamus could fit that bill, as he is one of Smackdown's biggest stars at the moment and won the World Heavyweight Championship at last year's WrestleMania. However, Orton, a nine-time world champion who has headlined multiple WrestleManias in the past, would also be a safe bet.
Either way, all eyes of wrestling fans will be glued to RAW this Monday to get a clue as to what the company will do now.