Jade Cargill played for two basketball teams in high school and was instrumental in them winning both county championships.
In her senior year, the Vero Beach, FL girl was recruited to the Atlantic Sun Preseason First Team and also has a certified master's degree in child psychology. Still, Cargill is also known to millions of pro wrestling fans around the world as "The Next Big Thing" in All Elite Wrestling and is the first woman to hold the TBS Championship in this newly formed but rapidly growing organization.
The ruler of the ring and mother of 4-year-old daughter Bailey Quinn recently sat down with M&F to discuss her transition from basketball to pro wrestling, the pressures of being touted as a superstar and her unwavering dedication to being the best. to speak . We also took home a sample workout from the champions' grueling schedule.
"I've been in the sport my whole life, so I've always been drawn to bodybuilding," says the 29-year-old, who has one of the most incredible physiques in all of pro wrestling. "I observe [WWE female legend] Chyna growing up and I was muscular growing up. I was teased for being the way I was built and seeing her embody her presence made me love myself and be like, 'You know what? I love my body and I want to get stronger.'”
Jade Cargill is the perfect combination of brains and brawn
This fit Florida girl was first introduced to pro wrestling in the late '90s when she was mesmerized by the larger-than-life characters on WWE's monster hit Attitude Era, but in college the idea of becoming a fighter caught on , as a fantasy focused on improving their strength and conditioning for other athletic pursuits like basketball. "I had a crazy conditioning coach named Todd Moyer, I mean, he was ridiculous," laughs Cargill. "And what do you do when you get in trouble and play basketball? They run! So I just changed my mindset to love running, running and training, and he said to me from the first day he met me, 'I love your body and I'm going to shape it into something incredible.'" More basketball success soon followed and included overseas tours, but eventually she had to face the reality that women's basketball didn't offer much financial support. "Unfortunately, there wasn't enough money to keep us interested," Cargill recalls. “I have my degree in Child Psychology, I have a background in Sport Psychology and Sport Physics. I think if women made a lot more money [in basketball]I would be on the court by today, but wrestling found me and here I am."
Perfection takes practice
Cargill spent much time studying a range of child psychological issues, such as autism and difficult family situations, and looks back on those times as very formative. "I was able to see so many different perspectives on life and appreciate the life I live," she says. "It's something I'll definitely revisit later in life."
But that career path was put on hold when a mutual friend introduced her to famed strongman and pro-wrestling icon Mark Henry. A WWE tryout was arranged for her in 2019 and her earlier Chyna-inspired fantasy soon became a harsh reality. A natural at sports, Cargill wondered how hard "sports entertainment" could be, but she was in for a rude awakening. "[Henry] told me how serious it was,” Cargill recalls. "He told me about the time management I needed to do, the dedication to being on the go all the time." Still undeterred, Cargill took the plunge. “When I went there, I saw that it wasn't as easy as I thought [but] I love a challenge and that was something I picked up and didn't want to put down.”
While Cargill impressed WWE officials during her tryout, she didn't sign a contract. Instead, she attended wrestling schools to further hone her craft and was coached by some of the best in the business including Heath (Slater) Miller, QT Marshall and Dustin Rhodes. Incredibly, Cargill made her professional wrestling debut a little over a year after the WWE tryout when I did a promo for an episode of AEW Dynamite. Then, after signing a multi-year deal with AEW, Cargill was thrown in the deep end again when it teamed with NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal in its very first game.
Jade Cargill is working hard to be wrestling's Next Big Thing
Thanks to her commanding presence and impressive winning streak, some fans have been quick to label Cargill a star of the future, while others have been overly critical of the aspects of pro wrestling she is still trying to master. But one of the many veterans who see a lot of potential in Cargill's future is one of the most respected pro wrestlers of all time, Bryan Danielson. The "Marathon Man" invests a lot of time behind the scenes to help Cargill climb to the top. "I'm learning a very different style of wrestling," says Cargill of Danielson's coaching skills. "Grapbling and stuff like that. I'm used to the "big man" style of just throwing people. He is such an intelligent man, he has so much knowledge. I'm actually getting more used to British wrestling at the moment and before that I didn't have a lot of knowledge about it and how different the style is, but also how technical it is, so I'm learning all of that right now and trying to incorporate it into my form of wrestling integrate. It's a blessing, I'm very grateful."
Speaking of blessings, Cargill further stamped her ticket to success when she won the AEW TBS Women's Championship in vember 2021. On Sunday, she will defend the gold against Taya Conti in her first competitive AEW PPV, Revolution, and can't wait to show the world that she's a worthy champion again. "I'm the first black champion to wear the TBS belt, so I'm very excited, I'm very grateful, and it's all uphill from here guys," she says.
For Jade Cargill, there is no stronger bond than family
With her mentor Mark Henry now also working for AEW, winning the TBS title with him in the same arena made this milestone even more special. "When I won my championship game, he came up to me and hugged me and told me he was proud of me," Cargill shares. "That was a great moment for me."
So how does this super athlete keep her cool when so much pressure, praise and expectations are aimed at her? "Can it be nerve wracking? It can be,” Cargill said. "Being compared to people who have been doing this for five years and 10 years, but people are experiencing something raw right now, and not only am I on a journey myself, but everyone is on a journey with me and they, like me, will continue to grow." … I look forward to showing people tools they've never seen before.”
Of course, no one is prouder of this achievement than her daughter: "She thinks I'm a superhero, but don't tell her otherwise," laughs the champion, who also sees the X-MEN character Storm as an influence on her presentation. "I tell her mommy wants to save the world."
Jade Cargill is able to bring her daughter to AEW shows thanks to which it is culture to welcome the family members of talent into the workplace and this allows mother and daughter to balance their schedules and spend quality time together, instead of the champion traveling longer periods of time. "I want her to understand that everything I do is for her," says the AEW star. Jade Cargill is married to former Cincinnati Reds infielder Brandon Phillips, the first player in MLB history to hit two triple homers, seven RBIs and two stolen bases in a single game. The close-knit family travels together as much as possible and hires a tutor to ensure young Bailey Quinn, who is not yet in kindergarten, gets all the attention she needs. “Every day I wake up looking forward to going to work,” says Cargill. "It is fun!"
Jade Cargill's championship training
Abs (2 rounds)
- 50 crunches
- 50 side crunches
- 50 bike crunches
- 65 Russian phrases
- 1 Minute Plank x2
- 1 minute climber
- 10 burpees
- 50 squats
- 30 leg outs
- 15 lunges (each side)
- 25 ground donkey kicks (each side)
- 25 hydrants (each side)
- 20 jump squats
- 1 minute pulse squat
- 25 glute bridges (2 sets)
- 80 jumping jacks
- 1-2 minute wall sit
- 50 High Knees
- 25 lateral leg raises (each side)
- 15 side lunges (each side)
- 25 wall squats
- 20 leg raises on the bench
- walk 1 mile