Chad Gable certainly saw the irony.
Gable made short work of Curtis Axel in their match last Friday on SmackDown, and was then handed one of the most prized commodities in all of pro wrestling—television time with a live mic in hand—to reveal that his new name in WWE is Shorty G.
Here stood a world-class athlete, a former Olympian, finally getting his break in WWE, albeit with a nickname more storyline than reality. But the biggest proponent of the new gimmick is Gable, eager to show that his on-air character can match his in-ring ability.
“A lot of people look at WWE as a wrestling company, but at the end of the day, it’s an entertainment company,” said Gable. “I had to learn that, too. I’m one of the people who fell in love with wrestling because of the athleticism, but that’s not the only part of what we do here. WWE entertains.”
Gable—33-year-old Chas Betts—first signed with WWE in 2013. He competed for the United States Wrestling team in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, finishing ninth in the Greco-Roman 185-pound division. The accomplishment still serves as the centerpiece of his amateur wrestling career, which transformed from an interest into a passion during his time on the wrestling team at St. Michael-Albertville High School in Minnesota.
The former amateur, who was chosen as USA Wrestling’s Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year in 2012, does not stand out on first glance in WWE. Surrounded by athletic marvels and imposing figures like Brock Lesnar, Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman, the 5'8" Betts has worked nonstop behind the scenes to get noticed. Last Friday, as he cut his Shorty G promo on SmackDown, he knew the enormity of the opportunity.
“The key is to take advantage when given the opportunity,” said Betts, who is in the midst of his biggest push to date in WWE. “Right before I went out last week to do the Shorty G promo, Bruce Prichard told me to make it my own and feel it.
“That promo, I felt it very deeply. The height thing is a message about overcoming whatever people believe are your shortcomings. Everybody can identify with that. That’s an area Chad Gable, up to this point, had been missing. Now you know what he stands for and what he means. Last Friday was the very first step in that process, and it’s only going to get bigger.”
Betts chose his in-ring name, Chad Gable, as a way to honor the legendary Dan Gable, a gold medalist and wrestling legend. Considering he is carrying his name, the question of “What would Dan Gable think?” did enter his mind when making the move to the new Shorty G character.
“Dan’s just a complete bad ass, and he understood that whole entertainment aspect long before I did,” said Betts. “He’s been a supporter of wrestling for a long time. I was nervous at first, but I’m happy to say I have his blessing and he is fully supportive.”
The best part of Betts’ new Shorty G character, besides a more consistent chance to watch him wrestle, is that people can now identify and invest in him as an athlete, underdog, and entertainer.
“Vince is someone who has helped me a lot,” said Betts. “He started giving me ideas and explained why a lot of my really serious ideas weren’t working. I started to understand his vision, and now I’m off and running with this new character. I’m going to have a great time with it and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it.”
Regardless of character, Betts has an ace up his sleeve knowing that his wrestling holds up as some of the best in the company. And he has strengths from his time in amateur wrestling that have helped him immensely in the world of professional wrestling.
“Amateur wrestling taught me how to overcome setbacks,” said Betts. “I made the Olympic team, but that didn’t happen in a day. It took me eight years and I lost a lot of matches on the way, but I learned that tenacious ability not to quit. Wrestling taught me to never allow the dark times to ever get too dark, and it helped me realize that great times don’t last forever so you need to continually work to make good things happen.”
The tenacity and persistence honed on the wrestling mat dividends as Betts waited in line to pitch ideas to WWE CEO Vince McMahon.
“Vince finally realized, after me coming into his office over and over, listening to vignettes I created at home and reading pitches I wrote, that I’m not going away,” said a smiling Betts, who has been seeking a consistent spot on the card since American Alpha was split up in 2017. “I hated splitting up with Jason Jordan. He was my best friend in the world and we were having great matches.
“That was the point where I could have rolled over and died or waited for them to come up with something for me, but I didn’t do that—I came up with a new idea and pitched it every week. They didn’t necessarily run with a lot of those ideas, but it showed them they’ve got a guy who is hungry and ready to make an impact.”
Teaming as American Alpha, Betts and Jordan starred in NXT and formed a genuine friendship. Jordan, who has not wrestled since the beginning of 2018 after sustaining a neck injury, flourished in the team, and Betts looks back with great pride on their two years together.
“I was just getting my start in NXT when we met, and Jason had already tried all this different stuff, with different partners and in singles, but nothing seemed to work,” said Betts. “So they put us together, and Jason and I clicked together—and I know why. We are from such a similar mindset. We both come from amateur wrestling, and we’re both so competitive.
“You can’t outwork us, and that led to this awesome competitive nature where we were constantly trying to outdo each other. We became the best of friends, we trained together, we’d ride together when we got to the main roster, and really just became brothers. I’m very lucky to have worked with Jason.”
Betts also teamed briefly with Shelton Benjamin and Bobby Roode, but both pairings felt forced. His matches finally felt organic again in his run in the King of the Ring tournament this summer that saw him defeat Benajmin, Andrade and Shane McMahon before falling in the finals to Baron Corbin. Despite the loss, his career prospects in WWE have been significantly elevated following the tourney.
“I know it’s cliché to say that the King of the Ring tournament is a chance for people to break out and reveal themselves, but that’s exactly what it did for me,” said Betts. “I got to have an awesome match with Andrade and the finals against Corbin, and then a follow-up series with Corbin. It’s allowed me to show I’m more than what people believed.”
Next up for Shorty G is the Crown Jewel show in Saudi Arabia, where he will represent Team Hogan in a 10-man tag team match against Team Flair. Though the trips to Saudi Arabia are a source of controversy, they also represent a chance for the performers to stand out in front of a new audience.
“This match is going to be a special part of my career,” said Betts. “I always think about the battle royals at these big shows, and I’ve always been in those matches. It’s an honor to be part of these shows, but what I’ve really wanted is a marquee match. I am grateful that I am gaining some momentum and WWE put their stamp of approval on me by making me a part of this show. It’s confirmation that I’m doing things right.”
After the Crown Jewel show, Betts has a number of goals in mind for Shorty G, which include a singles program with Daniel Bryan.
“There are so many guys on our wrestler I’d like to wrestle, but I’ve always looked to Daniel Bryan as my dream opponent,” said Betts. “We have a similarity in size and style, and I’ve always admired him and looked up to his style of wrestling. I would love to tear it up with him.”
Betts noted that he doesn’t mind if people call him Chad Gable or Shorty G. He is grateful that all his persistence is finally paying off, and that he has earned the chance for a legitimate opportunity on WWE programming.
“I’m working my hardest to deliver on their vision and my vision, and right now, we’re coming to the same point,” said Betts. “It’s a pretty special time for me in my career right now, and I’m going to continue to work to be someone they can invest in.”