American Alpha Interview: WWE NXT Tag Team Sensations
Tag team matches are a regular part of professional wrestling and have been for a lengthy period.
The tag team concept is so different, bringing a different style and endless possibilities to the table as well as giving former Smackdown general manager Teddy Long his prized catchphrase.
Single matches are enjoyable but there is something that gravitates fans to the art of tag-team wrestling because of the psychology and furious action that comes with it.
There was a time in WWE where the scope wasn't on tag team wrestling, but that's not the case today. A strong blend of styles have culminated in some wonderful tag team match-ups, but the best tag team match in recent memory undoubtedly goes to the classic served up by American Alpha and The Revival at NXT Takeover: The End.
Alpha have transcended into one of the hottest acts in NXT, thanks in part to a series of incredible ovations in NXT's UK tour in December. Both members of the team, Chad Gable and Jason Jordan, have impressive amateur wrestling credentials. Gable is a former Olympian, while his partner Jordan is a two-time NCAA Division One qualifier; they are legitimately accomplished athletes.
But in the world of WWE, that's not always enough. It's all about connecting with the audience, so much so that the in-ring skill can sometimes to take a backseat. However the team of American Alpha are in many ways the perfect tag team, combining flawless technique with natural charisma. They are already being touted as the future of the tag-team division in WWE.
I sat down with the dynamic duo before a NXT live show in Liverpool and was left with no doubt that these two talented and grounded individuals are destined for big things.
TheSPORTbible: Chad Gable, Jason Jordan, thanks for taking the time out to speak with us. Second UK tour for the NXT guys, how are you enjoying it so far?
Chad Gable: Loving it, it's been great. We've been looking forward to come back ever since we had to leave the last time. We've been waiting for it, so it's been really good.
Jason Jordan: Every time we come it's a great reception - the atmosphere is just different, it's unique.
TheSPORTbible: In December, the crowds were absolutely electric. And I know you guys were overwhelmed with the crowd reaction you received in Blackpool. 15 minutes chanting your name and you hadn't even locked up with Blake and Murphy yet. How surreal was that?
Chad Gable: It's something we weren't really used to. First of all, the crowds in America aren't really like that - they're not that involved at that point, they don't chant like that. It was definitely something we just hadn't experienced up until that point so part of us is thinking "How do we handle this, what do we do?!" and part of us is just living in the moment, taking it in and enjoying it.
Jason Jordan: At that point I was on the apron so literally all I was doing was taking it in. I had the opportunity to move up and down the apron, climb up on the turnbuckle and do everything I wanted to do but I couldn't believe it. Everyone in the place, their hands were going here and I turned around and everyone was on their feet, it was ridiculous. It was deafening; the acoustics in that building: The Winter Gardens in Blackpool I believe, it was like nothing I've ever seen before.
TheSPORTbible: You had another huge moment in Dallas, winning the NXT tag team titles against the Revival. Plenty of emotion from you both at the end. What was that moment like?
Jason Jordan: For me that was another moment that was surreal because I had been here [in NXT] for so long, put in so much time and sacrificed so much. The culmination of all that hard work, it felt like it finally paid off - it was just very gratifying to have the reception, especially afterwards when the crowd started chanting "You deserve it!". I think that was one of the points where I lost it and couldn't keep the emotions in.
Chad Gable: I think part of what made it more emotional for us was we had been going every weekend doing different shows all over. But they [WWE] had us do this sit down and reflect on the journey, the shortcomings we had in our amateur wrestling careers. You don't get much time to think about that a lot because we're so busy, but doing that and reflecting on that saying "Man, we do really have a moment here to kind of redeem ourselves for all that stuff" and then when it happened, we made up for all that.
TheSPORTbible: We have seen you both featured heavily on Breaking Ground, which has given fans a great insight into the hard work you guys put in. How important do you think that show was in telling your stories and getting your personalities across?
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Jason Jordan: At least for me, that was huge because I hadn't really been able to reveal a lot of my personal life. When we got together, a lot of it was just on our amateur backgrounds. My personal life, with my brothers and the things that had happened with them - that was something that I kind of wanted to get out there and let it be known because I always felt like there was other people who could relate to that with their situations. I always feel like you make your own path and you don't have to follow the footsteps of your family, so I wanted to be an inspiration for people who have challenges like that and show that you can overcome them as long as you put in the work and pursue your dreams.
Chad Gable: I think they [WWE] did a great job in showing that about his [Jordan's] history and his family history and stuff like that. For me, the focus was more on our chemistry together and the way that our team came together. I'll fully admit I was annoyed a lot of the times with the show, the cameras being around and wanting to ride with us - I hated it. But when I saw the final finished product I was like "Man, they did such a great job of telling our story and how we've managed to gel without much hard work, it just kind of happened." They did a great job of showing that and I was really happy with it.
TheSPORTbible: Most top level tag teams tend to work so well because each individual wrestler brings something different to the table. Obviously you two both have amateur wrestling credentials but do you feel as though you work so well together partly because you have different specialities?
Jason Jordan: Oh absolutely. I get lost watching him [Gable] wrestle, sitting on the apron. I've never seen someone move like he does in the ring. In my opinion, he's going to be one of the best technical wrestlers, period and it's a joy to be part of that. Obviously we're different statures but it's nice that we bring something different to the table, I just think that dynamic is fun to play with.
Chad Gable: A question I get asked all the time is like "do you think your size is going to be a factor in WWE?" Where we work it's obviously an issue but luckily I don't really have to worry about that so much because now I've got him [Jordan] and he kind of covers that base for me. If we're wrestling a team of two monsters, the size difference isn't that big of a deal because I can use my strengths to play against them and if I'm in trouble, he's there. It's worked out really well.
TheSPORTbible: An incredible second bout with the Revival at Takeover: The End, where you unfortunately lost the NXT tag team titles. It seems at the moment there is a real good crop of tag teams at the moment in NXT. How healthy do you think the tag team division is at the moment?
Jason Jordan: I think it's very strong, we have a lot of guys, a lot of talent at the performance centre who are working hard and just trying to hone their craft. I think there's going to be new guys that are either in a tag team right now that are starting to hit stride and then there's other guys I feel are leaning towards that tag division now with the rebuilding of tag team wrestling. It's not a fall-back for some people, it's like "No, I want to be in that tag division." I think for some guys, that's what they're looking for. We just got a couple new tag teams who just formed or came in and I think our tag division is going to be just fine.
Chad Gable: We went through a period over the last summer and up to right now where we had so many good tag teams: Enzo and Cass, the Vaudevillains, Blake and Murphy, us, the Revival. It's almost like a renascence for tag team wrestling and everyone was so competitive with each other - wanting to have a better match than these guys but also wanting to steal the show. When you get that mentality in enough groups of people it creates magic because all of a sudden everyone's working so hard to make tag wrestling the best wrestling on the card every night and before you know it you get matches like we had with the Revival.
TheSPORTbible: What was the thinking behind having 'American Alpha' as a tag team name? Did you just feel as though you needed that change to solidify yourselves as a tag team?
Jason Jordan: I think there was always just that missing piece and it was just lacking a name. We always felt eventually it will happen and when it happens it'll just click and be right - we didn't want to force anything but at the same time I felt like it was suiting for us. We consider ourselves Alphas of NXT, we truly do - we just feel that no-one's going to out-work us, nobody's going to outperform us and that's just a mindset and mentality. I felt like it was the right fit for us.
TheSPORTbible: Following that wonderful match with The Revival at the last Takeover event, you were be ambushed unexpectedly by a tag team calling themselves 'The Authors of Pain', who appear to now have Paul Ellering as their manager. If you could pick one person to be your manager, who would it be?
Chad Gable: Let me see here... I don't know how much managerial work he's done but I wouldn't mind having Scott Steiner managing us, what do you think?
Jason Jordan: I wouldn't mind that.
Chad Gable: We're obviously heavily influenced by the Steiners among others but I would love to get someone like that who has a lifetime of tag team experience and knows the deal, much like Paul Ellering. What a way for those guys [The Authors of Pain] to get brought in, not only did they make an impact by attacking us, having him as their manager - I don't think it gets much better than that.
TheSPORTbible: The ultimate goal for someone in NXT is to get to the main roster and there's talk of NXT being raided somewhat in the upcoming brand split. Are you in any rush to get to the main roster?
Jason Jordan: I'm open to anything that happens. I absolutely love being in NXT, I enjoy my time here and the talent that we have and everybody that we work with so it wouldn't bother me if we weren't on Raw and Smackdown in the near future. We still get to travel just as much, it feels almost like every week or at least every other week that we are in a different state or leaving the country to come the UK and Ireland, I don't think we are missing out. I feel like we have taken over the tag division and we have a personal connection so there's not any rush.
Chad Gable: I'm in no hurry, I'm learning to stop wishing away time and wanting to move on all the time because I'm enjoying what we're doing now. I'm very content but whatever happens, happens. But if you look where NXT was before I got here, which was in 2013, it's just skyrocketed to the level it is now where we're travelling pretty much every weekend. It's a pretty sweet spot we've got right now.
As our conversation draws to a close, the two discuss their admiration for tag teams like the Steiners, Rock and Roll Express and the Midnight Express. But there's still time for both Gable and Jordan to talk about listening to Kings of Leon on the road, having a "Cheeky Nandos" and what they would be doing if they weren't both wrestlers. For the record, Gable envisages doing something linked with motion graphics, while originally Jordan went to school to become a dentist.
Thankfully these two have entered the wrestling business and despite their immense body of work so far, they've only scratched the surface.
Words by Josh Lawless
Featured Image Credit: WWE
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