Ready, willing and Gable: Chad Gable's road to NXT
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. It’s a phrase that has become a staple of society, applicable to those both young and old. However, the statement has also become a rallying cry for one of NXT’s newest faces, Chad Gable. After months of trying to convince Jason Jordan that both men could form a highly successful tag team, Jordan finally agreed. The team hasn’t looked back since.
“Even though it took some convincing for him to give me a chance, I couldn’t be happier with the results,” Gable told WWE.com. “We just clicked from the moment the bell rang. It’s not very often that a team has chemistry from the very first moment. Beyond our chemistry, we have enough credentials between us to make any team jealous.”
The collegiate exploits of Jason Jordan have been well-documented. But what was it about Gable that qualifies him as such a credible partner? For starters, try two decades of wrestling experience, with Olympic success.
“I amateur wrestled for 20 years,” Gable revealed. “Most people identify amateur wrestling as folkstyle wrestling (i.e., collegiate style), but my focus was on Greco-Roman wrestling. I trained and competed in all three styles of wrestling — folkstyle, freestyle, Greco-Roman — growing up, but nothing felt as natural or enjoyable to me as Greco-Roman did.”
After winning state high school and individual championships in folkstyle, Gable went on to capture seven national championships in Greco-Roman wrestling. Following his exceptional success, Gable then made a decision that would change his life.
“I chose not to pursue collegiate wrestling in college but instead to train at the United States Olympic Education Center at Northern Michigan University,” Gable remembered. “We basically took on a full Olympic training schedule while receiving a scholarship to NMU.”
After more than five years of training at NMU, Gable took another risk and relocated to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“I got married in June of 2011 but lived across the country from my wife who stayed in Minnesota with a great job opportunity,” Gable said. “I took what I consider a drastic risk in my final summer training camp leading to the 2012 season by deciding to travel to Europe and train with different countries’ national teams in order to get a different perspective on their training and preparation leading in to the World Championships.
“I have trained and competed in over 30 countries with my teammates before, but I was essentially alone on this trip,” he added. “I stayed in Budapest, Hungary, followed by a month in Istanbul and Turkey during Ramadan. I credit this trip and experience with giving me the confidence to reach my ultimate goal.”
Gable’s ultimate goal would bring the ultimate honor: representing the United States in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
“In April of 2012, after eight years of training and competing all over the planet, I qualified for the United States Olympic Wrestling Team by winning the Olympic Trials in Iowa City, Iowa,” he said. “I competed at the London Olympics in August 2012 and ended up in ninth place.”
Though one might consider the Olympics to be the pinnacle of an athlete’s career, there was one more accomplishment that Gable harbored: a career in sports-entertainment.
“A lot of people don’t realize that my dream was to wrestle for WWE long before I ever had visions of the Olympics in my head,” Gable said. “During my junior year of high school, a wrestling school near my house hosted their own version of ‘Tough Enough,’ which I won. I got the rest of my training there for free as my reward. The training mostly consisted of myself and my friend Kurt Pope going there by ourselves and rolling around after school and just trying to teach ourselves. I had a few matches, but had to stop when the high school wrestling season came around.”
After setting the dream aside to pursue his Olympic aspirations, Gable returned to goal No. 1. During a WWE tryout in June 2013, Gable’s performance impressed WWE officials enough to earn him a contract. Three months later, the onetime Olympian began training at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla.
First inspired by the WrestleMania VII match between WWE Hall of Famers Ultimate Warrior and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Gable has made improving his craft the focal point of his life.
“I always loved watching guys like Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko and essentially the entire WCW Cruiserweight division,” Gable said. “As my friends and I got older, I would dig a little further and find matches from these guys in Japan, which, in turn, led me to discovering guys like Jushin Liger, Kenta Kobashi and Mitsuharu Misawa.
“It got to the point where I had custom singlets made with similar colors and designs as these guys and I would wear them at my amateur wrestling tournaments,” he admitted. “I remember getting a tape of a British wrestler named Johnny Saint and it blew my mind. He was doing all these fancy tricks and things I envisioned myself doing if I ever became a wrestler. It opened my eyes to how someone can really individualize a style and make themselves stand out.”
Coincidentally, it is now Gable’s opportunity to stand out. Though his relationship with Jordan is tumultuous at best, the team’s early successes have shown glimpses of greatness. According to Gable, it’s only a sign of what their future truly holds.
“I want to get involved in the NXT Tag Team Championship scene immediately, and when I say ‘get involved,’ I mean take the championships,” he said. “I have never said I’m going to do something and not done it. This will be no different. Ready, willing and Gable.”
Follow Chad Gable on Twitter @WWEGable.
Olympic photography courtesy of John Sachs/Tech-Fall.com