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If reports are to be believed, Kris Statlander was set to give Jade Cargill her first loss at AEW Grand Slam in Queens, New York in front of her hometown. This would’ve been the type of superstar making moment for Kris Statlander that I had talked about in my article, Kris Statlander Is Ready. Grand Slam was the perfect time. Arthur Ashe was the perfect venue. And Kris Statlander who was in the perfect position as fans were clamouring for Tony Khan to rocket her to the top of the division.
In the aftermath of this abandoned purported booking, I feel some have lost the plot. Whereas Kris Statlander was the perfect woman to end Jade’s streak, I’m seeing people online fantasy booking from the exact wrong end of the equation, asking “Who should beat Jade Cargill at Grand Slam?” As if ending the streak is more important than who is elevated by it.
My brother in Sting; I cannot stress this enough:
Ending Jade Cargill’s streak is the single biggest title in women’s wrestling today. Full stop.
The last thing AEW wants is for people to look back and say, “Man, Jade Cargill really went unbeaten for over 550 days just for [wrestler’s name] to beat her and it meant nothing.” We shouldn’t be putting someone else in that spot just for the sake of it. It’s incredibly special and you only get ONE shot at nailing it. Do. Not. Rush. This.
For me, at the moment, there’s only one woman worthy of beating Jade Cargill. It’s still Statlander. In the coming months someone else could emerge but right now there’s no one who’s in the position that Stat was. But wherever I’ve pushed even the idea of Tony Khan delaying until Kris Statlander returns, it’s usually met with “That’s too far away and Jade’s already beaten everyone!” This isn’t even remotely true.
Of Jade’s 34 singles victories; 22 of them came against un-signed talent. While it may feel as though Jade has conquered the entire division, Tony Khan’s patient booking style as left a lot of feuds still on the table. To cherrypick a few, we haven’t yet seen Jade Cargill face one-on-one:
- Britt Baker
- Hikaru Shida
- Toni Storm
- Serena Deeb
- Nyla Rose
- Jamie Hayter
- Penelope Ford
- Mercedes Martinez
- Emi Sakura
- Julia Hart (since she joined HOB)
- Yuka Sakazaki
There is easily over a year’s worth of programs right there if you wanted them. And running a program isn’t your only option!
A Fun Speed run
How about “The Jade Cargill Open Challenge” for some fun and competitive, albeit predictable, matches? Imagine if an open challenge were answered by a big body like Max The Impaler or Jennacide? Or maybe Allysin Kay comes knocking or Deonna Purrazzo? Or Abadon for a special Halloween episode? Jade hasn’t faced Julia Hart since she joined the House Of Black? Maki Itoh? Jordyn Grace?!! Miyu Yamashita?!?! There’s tons there. Every week it could be a mystery opponent.
Jade vs Existential dread
Of course the big money feud, which in my mind is a prerequisite before Jade can ever be beaten, is a 2-match program against Britt Baker. And I say 2-match for a very specific reason.
In my professional life, I am a marketer. And for better or worse, I tend to slip into analyzing AEW’s fanbase as a marketer. Most attitudes from AEW’s fanbase can be traced back to online sentiment. Even if you want to say that the minority of AEW’s fanbase is on Twitter, Twitter sentiment heavily influences the fan reaction you see on TV which of course goes out to the entire audience. But AEW Twitter isn’t a total monolith. There are segments of different sizes and different influence who inform the aggregate psychology of the group as a whole.
There is a segment of Twitter who would be filled with existential dread at the thought of Britt Baker being “the 1” in Jade’s win-loss record. These folks have their reasons. I do not share them. People are entitled to their own opinion. That’s fine. But from where I sit, there also seems to be a very toxic sub-segment (probably the minority) who infest every single post about Britt Baker trying to throw shade. It should also be mentioned that a lot of these accounts are probably badfaith actors who shit on AEW no matter the topic. People really have too much time on their hands.
Anyway, my belief is that through a coalition of these “Anti-Dentites” and “IWC Baddies” combined with your typical AEW fan who just simply doesn’t want to see AEW suffer “bad vibes”, a strong (if not obstinate) position of “Jade must win” will form. Jade will win. Everyone’s happy. It’s a tidy piece of business.
The real rub comes in the form of a rematch. For those of us still suffering from “WWE Brain” a rematch would immediately scan as an opportunity for “50/50 booking” and place Britt Baker as the favourite. You’ll see declarations of “if Britt wins I’m done with AEW” and the like. This would legitimately be a stressful situation for a lot of fans because whether you’re an athlete, a fan or even a coach (and I’ve been all three) the fear of losing weighs heavier than the jubilation of victory. So a second Jade victory over Britt Baker would probably feel transcendent. I think this feud would be big enough to run at two straight pay-per-views. Or, even hotter, line up the rematch for a show in Pittsburgh!
So while Grand Slam seemed like the perfect place and perfect time for Kris Statlander’s big moment. I’m going to propose that Grand Slam is the perfect place and perfect time for Jade Cargill to make a huge statement. Figuratively and literally.
I would book a rematch between Jade and Athena for Grand Slam. To justify it, Athena can claim that if not for The Baddies, she would’ve beat Jade at All Out. Athena would then accuse Jade of caring more about her streak than actually being good. Jade would want to prove her wrong.
I believe fans would expect Athena to win for a multitude of reasons:
- Expectation of 50/50 booking
- Thinking Athena “can’t afford the loss”
- Fans thinking Athena is functionally “subbing in” for Kris Statlander
- It’s a big moment and Grand Slam is a big stage
- The misguided belief that “it’s time” to end Jade’s streak
Here’s the thing about all that: When wrestling fans think they’ve figured out a booking pattern, they tend to feel very smart and pat themselves on the back for figuring it out and anoint their own fantasy booking as the only logical outcome at which point, ironically, they become very emotionally attached to their “logical outcome”. I’m including, not just fans, but podcasters, journalists and other “influencers” online. So a Jade win here could trigger a backlash. But I think a great post-match promo can quash all of that.
So imagine the worst case scenario: The people in the crowd on the night in Arthur Ashe Stadium want to be the fans “who were there” for this big moment of the TBS Title changing hands and Jade’s streak ending. They’re anticipating celebrating that. And then Jade wins. And the fans aren’t happy. It’s not heat, it’s resentment. Again, I’m not saying it’s justified but it is what happens sometimes.
Chants of “BULL SHIT” reign down as a graphic showing 38-0 is on the tron. Angry thumbs are already composing their Tweets when Jade grabs a mic…
“Cut my music! And cut the shit, New York! I got something to say! A couple weeks ago, the greatest of all time, Serena Williams, stood in this very spot here in Arthur Ashe Stadium and said good-bye to the sport she dominated. Today, another strong black woman picks up the mantle to start a new legacy! Today I’m ‘That Bitch’ but tomorrow you’ll call me ‘That GOAT’! And this is the absolute last call to get on the Baddie Bandwagon. So either get on board or get run over.” *mic drop*
From there, I would book Jade Cargill to remain undefeated until at least Revolution. Simultaneously, I’d have a shortlist of women who I’d also be booking very strongly but keeping away from Jade. My hope would be to heat someone up enough that the fans are practically begging for them to have a title, like they were with Statlander.
My own shortlist (besides Statlander) includes:
- Jamie Hayter (number one with a bullet!)
- Athena (ironically, since I’m having Jade beat her twice)
- And (Drumroll) Willow Nightingale! That’s right! It’s just a hunch!
Your top 3 may be different from mine but regardless, a lot can happen to sideline one’s plans. Injuries, as we’re well aware, can happen. Fan sentiment can be a nebulous property where someone who was hot before now feels tired. Timing is crucial and you only get one chance at nailing this.
That’s why, as a contingency plan, if no one gets as hot as needed to supplant ‘That Bitch’, I pencil in Kris Statlander to defeat Jade Cargill at Grand Slam 2023 (if not sooner). And if that ended up being how it goes down, imagine how much bigger of a star Jade Cargill would be at that time and how much more it would give Kris Statlander to be “the 1”.
I’ve actually fantasy booked my own year long Jade Cargill undefeated run to take her to Kris Statlander at the next Grand Slam but that is entirely too long to post here and probably only interesting to me. So with that, let me know what you think about Jade’s streak in the comments below or find me on Twitter at @AEW_ONE. Thanks for reading and, as always, make sure you let the women in your life know how much you appreciate them.