I have only seen one Chad Gable match in my life and it took place at NXT Takeover: Respect. In the semi-finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, Chad Gable and Jason Jordan teamed up against Baron Corbin and Rhyno. All I can say about Gable is one word: wow.
Okay, I can say more than one word. Because even though I’d only known Gable by name and by a few promos I’d watched on YouTube, my interest in the man has gone from zero to 100 after watching him wrestle that one match.
It should be no surprise that Gable can go in the ring. He is a wrestler in the classic sense of the term, given his background as an accomplished amateur wrestler in high school and later on as a member of Team USA in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
(Fun fact: His ring name Gable is a reference to Dan Gable, considered by many to be the greatest amateur wrestler to ever grace the sport.)
But just because someone is an excellent amateur wrestler doesn’t mean that they will make a great professional wrestler. A pro wrestler has to find a way to captivate the audience, to pull them in. Some wrestlers do this with their wrestling ability; some do it on the microphone; and some just naturally exude charisma no matter what they’re doing.
Chad Gable has that natural charisma. His promo work is remarkable for a guy who only started training to be a professional wrestler just a few years ago. He also knows how to get the audience in the palm of his hand while wrestling; the entire Full Sail Arena chanting “Gable! Gable!” during his match is proof of that. His stature might have something to do with it. Smaller guys tend to play the underdogs that fans can naturally get behind. But whatever the case may be, Gable’s charisma, coupled with his wrestling ability, can only help him in his career.
That said, his journey will not be easy. His aforementioned stature—5’8”, 202 lbs.—is not exactly high on Vince McMahon’s Christmas wishlist. Unless he magically grows four or five inches, Gable is gonna have as good a time on the main roster as Neville and Kalisto.
And NXT is no picnic either. Indie darlings are dominating the landscape: Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, Hideo Itami, Samoa Joe, Apollo Crews. With other indie stars like Biff Busick and Rich Swann coming in, the opportunity for homegrown talent to stand out at the top of the card seems limited.
These are just concerns, of course; nothing is set in stone. Anything can happen in pro wrestling, so it will be interesting to see how far Gable goes, both as a tag team with Jordan and as a singles competitor.
One more thing about Gable that is bound to be brought up are his similarities with Kurt Angle (of which there are a few). Angle, like Gable, came to WWE with an acclaimed Olympic background, even more so because Kurt actually won a gold medal (with a broken freakin’ neck, no less). He brought with him a source of natural talent—in the ring and on the mic—that only grew as he got older. The fans took to him rather quickly. And let’s not forget the singlet. The NXT fans have certainly picked up on these similarities. When they chanted “Gable! Gable!” during his match at Takeover, it was to the tune of Kurt’s WWE entrance music.
Are these comparisons fair to a guy like Gable? I’m leaning towards no. To call a guy “the next Kurt Angle” is an immense amount of pressure because Kurt was such a phenomenal pro wrestler. He was a true total package that is very rare to come by. We could be holding Gable up to a standard that is too high for him to ever reach. Also something to point out is that Kurt shot up the card at a much higher pace than Gable. Within four months of his debut on the main roster, he was Intercontinental and European Champion at the same time. Within nine months he was main eventing SummerSlam with The Rock and Triple H.
Within a year he was WWE Champion. Gable’s route is remarkably slower, to say the least. He is in a team with Jason Jordan, a team that doesn’t look like it’s going to be breaking up anytime soon. As talented as Gable may be, there is no way that the WWE is going to strap the rocket on him as quickly as they did Kurt when he graduates from NXT to the main roster. I think it’s best that we see Gable play out over the next few years before we draw any comparisons.
I urge you all to keep an eye on Chad Gable if you haven’t already. He’s a great prospect for NXT to have, especially in terms of homegrown talent. Besides, the man got a great match out of Baron Corbin. If that isn’t a good omen for Gable’s wrestling future, I don’t know what is.