Tis the season to bring good tidings; so Mick Foley will be very happy to learn Chad Gable’s favorite Christmas gift ever.
“Favorite Christmas gift. Well, let’s see. I got Mick Foley’s book [Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks] when I was in eighth grade,” noted Gable, one half of American Alpha on the WWE SmackDown Live brand.
“I hate reading, but I must have read that book 15 times, cover to cover. I just loved it. It was my first experience reading a little bit of the backstage stuff and different stories about pro wrestling. So I really liked that, and I always kind of look back on that fondly.”
Foley responded: “That just made me smile from ear to ear. I’m a big fan of Chad’s but had no idea that he was a fan of mine. That type of comment never gets old.”
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Gable, a 2012 U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler from Minnesota, grew up a pro wrestling fan.
“I always loved pro wrestling,” he said. “I always loved WWE. I loved WCW. I wanted to be a pro wrestler longer than I ever dreamed about being in the Olympics or anything like that. Just so happened that I really excelled in amateur wrestling, and I chose that path for college reasons. I ended up training for a long time and made it to the Olympics, but when that was over, I had to decide what I wanted to do, and the opportunity was there to take a shot at this dream that I had since I was a little kid. I thought why not try to turn this into something, and luckily [WWE] had me down for a tryout, gave me a shot, and it went very well..and it all worked out.”
Gable, a graduate of Northern Michigan University, signed with WWE in late 2013, assigned to the state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center in Orlando.
“Some of my favorites growing up, when I was 11, 12-years-old, I loved the guys in the cruiserweight division in WCW. Eddy Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho. As it evolved, I grew to appreciate guys who had a lot of technical abilities. Bret Hart, Owen Hart. Eddy Guerrero always stayed a favorite of mine through the years. He was a smaller guy, but he never wrestled like a smaller guy. He wrestled like he was just as big as anyone he was going up against, which I thought was awesome.”
Gable, 30, can relate to that size. He stands 5-8 and weighs a solid 200 pounds. He is an agile, technically sound, smoothly skilled pro wrestler who can take to the air.
Raised in the St. Michael, Minn. area around Albertville -- between Minneapolis and St. Cloud -- he attended some WCW Nitros as a sixth and seventh grader. He also went to some WWE shows. As a high school student athlete, he began frequenting indie shows and Ring of Honor.
“I saw a lot of [pro] wrestling,” he said. “I tried to go as much as possible. I loved that.”
On the mat at a very young age, Gable became a top notch amateur wrestler. As a very accomplished amateur wrestler, it seemed the next step for him would be MMA.
He replied: “No. A lot of people ask that and think it would have made sense, considering my background, but MMA was something I...and still to this day...was not very interested in. I don’t really watch it. A lot of people assume that I do, but I don’t. For whatever reason, it just didn’t grab me like it did a lot of people in my [amateur wrestling] field. For me, it was just amateur wrestling and pro wrestling that I fell in love with.”
How did Gable get discovered by WWE?
“I got in touch with [WWE Hall of Famer] Jerry Brisco, who does a lot of the amateur wrestling recruiting for WWE,” Gable said. “He was very honest with me and told me, ‘We’re not typically looking for guys your size.’ He’s usually out there scouting heavyweights, which is understandable. All I did was ask him for a shot, and he helped me out.
“I went down there [WWE Performance Center in Orlando] for the tryout, and luckily I impressed them enough or gave them enough of a reason to think that I could help the company, and they signed me.”
Gable trained hard, something he’s been accustomed to his entire life.
Did he feel amateur wrestling helped in his transition to pro wrestling?
“Definitely with the physical part,” he answered, “body awareness and a lot of the drills that we ran at the [WWE] Performance Center; a lot of it came very natural to me, just because of all the stuff I’ve done in amateur wrestling. It helps you be very aware of your body.
“What amateur wrestling did not prepare me for was the entertainment side of this business, which is very important because if you’re not willing to put yourself out there and let yourself be exposed a little bit and be vulnerable to the crowd, you’re not going to go very far. So it took a long time to learn that. I’m still working on it, and I think it’s going well.
“That’s probably the biggest difference between amateur wrestling and WWE. You really have to allow yourself to be vulnerable and let the crowd interact with you and effect you; where as in amateur wrestling, you would never let the crowd have any effect on you. That would never be a good thing.”
Gable practiced what he preached, and throughout his amateur wrestling career, good things happened.
Gable (as Chas Betts) made the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in Greco-Roman wrestling.
Interview in July 2012 before traveling to London for the 2012 Olympics where he went 1-1.
Click here ChasBettsFeatureInterview
“That was everything,” he said. “That was the culmination of wrestling 20 years.”
That stellar career featured:
- High School
- Minnesota State Wrestling Champion (2004)
- International Medals
- World University Games silver medal (2006)
- Pan-American Championships Gold medal (2012)
- Gedza International silver medal (2012)
- Pan-American Olympic Qualifier silver medal (2012)
- Granma Cup Bronze medal (2012)
- Dave Schultz Memorial International Gold medal (2012)
- Olympic Games
- U.S. Olympic Trials Champion (2012)
“Looking back now; that was such a long time,” said Gable, a graduate of St. Michael-Albertville High School, “but everything went so fast, because I was training and grinding non-stop.”
The second time the charm.
“I tried to make the [U.S.] Olympic team in 2008, but I missed it,” he said. “So I decided to give it another go, and thankfully my wife...She was living in Minnesota and I was living in Colorado; we were living apart halfway across the country just so I could train for the Olympics. So that’s a lot of sacrifice not just for me but for her, too, and my family in Minnesota.
“So it meant everything for me to represent the country -- what an honor -- and also just to validate that all those choices and all that sacrifice was worth it for me, my wife and my family as well.”
After the 2012 Olympics, he hung up those wrestling shoes.
“I didn’t want to think about that until after the Olympics,” he said, “and I really didn’t, but once I was done at the Olympics, I took a vacation with my wife, my family. We kind of bounced around Europe for a little bit, and it was really nice -- a couple of weeks off. When I got home, I sat and relaxed a little bit..and I just knew.
“I knew it was time to move on. I knew I was done. I was happy with my career in amateur wrestling. I knew.”
And happy with the way his next career started.
A Minnesota kid getting acclimated to the Sunshine State, Chas Betts set up shop in Central Florida at his new home away from home -- the state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center in Orlando. The center has birthed so many pro wrestlers/sports entertainers including Chad Gable.
“The Performance Center. That place is incredible. I’ve trained all over the world for amateur wrestling. I’ve been to 30 countries, different training centers in every country,” he said. “As far as having everything under one roof, the Performance Center is literally the best building in the world that I’ve ever trained in. It’s incredible. It has everything you need.”
He continued: “The most unique part of it and my favorite part of it, every coach at the Performance Center has something different for you. I’ve learned so much from guys like Norman Smiley, Robbie Brookside, Billy Gunn when he was there, Nick Dinsmore when he was there. He was my first coach, who I credit for really getting me started, teaching me from the get-go a lot of the stuff and basics that I needed to know. He was very good. Terry Taylor was very helpful in the finishing class. Before Jason [Jordan] and I actually got drafted [to SmackDown Live], he was a big, instrumental part of teaching us the final things you need to know.
“Everybody there has something to offer you, and it’s just a great environment to learn.”
American Alpha Theme Music - “Elite”
Gable and Jordan learned well. Collectively, they became American Alpha, helping redefine tag team wrestling in an exciting NXT tag team division. NXT tag team champs, they connected with the audience.
Becoming Chad Gable
“I wish I could take credit for it, but I didn’t come up with the name,” he said. “They asked me for a list of names when I got there. I submitted terrible names -- probably a list of 20 or 30 of the worst names you’ve ever heard. None of them were Gable. They turned them all down, and a couple of weeks after that, they came back with the Gable name -- Chad Gable. As soon as I saw it, it just clicked, and it sounded right, and it just made sense. Obviously it’s in homage to the great Dan Gable, who in America is, if not the most, one of the most recognizable amateur wrestling names...an Olympic champion, an iconic amateur wrestling figure in America. So it’s an honor to have that name and have his stamp of approval, because he’s kind of supported me and given me that approval, which is very nice to know.”
Ready, Willing & Gable
“I’ll take half credit for that one,” he said. “I remember seeing a sign of it at one of our small live event NXT shows in my early days there. It stuck with me, and about a year later, for whatever reason, it just popped in my head at the right moment, and I spit it out. So I have to give half credit to whoever it was that had that sign that night.”
Gable is the latest of established amateur wrestlers who transitioned through to WWE main roster appeal. Kurt Angle, Shelton Benjamin, Bobby Lashley, Dolph Ziggler and of course The Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar to name a few.
WWE SmackDown in Miami
WWE returns to Miami for the holidays with a super SmackDown house show (no TV) on Friday, Dec. 30 at the AmericanAirlines Arena, home of the three-time NBA champion Miami Heat. American Alpha will be there.
“It’s going to be great,” Gable said. “The live events are incredible. They are a super intimate experience -- something you wouldn’t normally get from being at a SmackDown TV or Monday Night Raw TV [show]. With TV, everything is going so fast. These [house] shows [no TV] give fans more of a chance to interact with the superstars. It’s a lot of fun. You get up-close and personal. Everybody puts their 100 percent effort in...leaves it all out there every night...especially on this holiday tour, which is really fun. The crowds are so into it.
“We’re all looking forward to it. I’m putting my best foot forward for sure, because my wife and daughter are going to be in Miami for that show, and we’re going to take a little vacation after that. So they’re gonna be there to pump me up, so I might throw a little bit extra out there that night.”
Also in Miami, WWE World Champ AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena in a triple threat match main event for the title. Guest timekeeper James Ellsworth.
Plus: SmackDown Women’s Champ Alexa Bliss, Randy Orton, Kane, Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz w/Maryse, and more.
Talent subject to change.
Get your tickets and your holiday popcorn tin.
Ticket Prices: $119, $94, $69, $49, $34, $24 (additional fees apply). Save when purchasing a Me+3 bundle.
This show offers a WWE VIP Experience ticket which includes meeting WWE Superstars.
Tickets available at the AmericanAirlines Arena Ticket Office, www.ticketmaster.com; or charge-by-phone 800-745-3000.
- WWE SmackDown Live
WWE SmackDown Live is 8 p.m. Tuesdays on USA Network.
- Pro Wrestling On The Web
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