American Alpha was the most popular tag team in NXT during the height of its popularity.
It’s not quite there yet on SmackDown, though. American Alpha still deserves more than what they’ve been given so far. Unless you’re an NXT fan, there’s no real reason to get behind them. There’s not much of a backstory other than the brief mentions of their time on NXT.
The pairing of former Olympian Chad Gable and Indiana University star Jason Jordan ascended both competitors into superstardom. But it was all part of a process.
Jordan spent weeks looking for a tag team partner after failed past attempts. Eventually, he gave into Gable’s pleading and reluctantly joined the former Olympian.
The duo quickly displayed chemistry both in-ring and during promos. As time passed, American Alpha went from having Jordan went from putting up with Gable’s catchphrases to becoming a full-on buddy act. But more than anything, the two were outstanding workers.
The NXT crowd quickly got behind Jordan and Gable and that popularity grew with several standout matches against Baron Corbin and Rhyno, Enzo and Cass and The Revival. At TakeOver: Dallas, American Alpha solidified themselves as the brand’s team by winning the NXT Tag Team Championship.
Shortly after, Jordan and Gable dropped the titles to The Revival. That led to speculation that they’d soon be promoted to the main roster, especially with several draft picks coming from NXT. The duo was, in fact, drafted by SmackDown and assumed to be the face of its tag team division.
Early on, AA competed in squash matches and were routinely mentioned as NXT standouts. SmackDown announcers told fans why Jordan and Gable were great, but they were never actually shown in a way that made fans care.
Fast forward to present day and the duo is just another babyface team.
Many expected AA to win the inaugural SmackDown Tag Team Championship tournament. Instead, Heath Slater and Rhyno were victorious over The Usos, who attacked and injured Gable after losing to American Alpha.
In fairness, Slater’s storyline was one of the most intriguing in all of WWE, not just SmackDown. And American Alpha never actually lost, so perhaps the company wanted to give Slater and Rhyno a babyface push without ruining the up-and-coming team’s momentum. Plus, it’s still too early to say American Alpha is being buried just because they haven’t been handed the titles after three months appearing on the main roster. If anything, that would kill fan support and forced the fickle IWC to turn on the popular tag team.
Those of us who watched NXT know that American Alpha are great, but we also witnessed their proper buildup in their early stages. That’s something that they need on the main roster.
Look at what WWE has done with Bayley recently. Instead of continuing her dominant push from the tail end of her NXT career, the company is booking her as an underdog looking to prove her worthiness of challenging the likes of Charlotte and Sasha Banks. That’s WWE going back to her early character development on NXT TV and reintroducing her to the main audience.
Why can’t that be the case with American Alpha? Why not reintroduce them or at the very least give them the proper time to cut backstage vignettes like they did in NXT. The wrestling itself will get Jordan and Gable over, but only after fans have a reason to care.
That’s where WWE has already failed American Alpha in their main roster run. Jordan and Gable are far too talented to be just another act in the tag team division. They need to be the centerpiece like many expected. But to do so, WWE needs to give them the proper buildups and make fans actually care about them as characters.