It’s no secret that NXT has been heavily focused on youth since the relaunch of the brand in September 2021, and these are two talents that will unquestionably be a big part of WWE’s women’s division for years to come.
Their rivalry runs deep. Their former friendship is well-documented. At Halloween Havoc, after months of heated exchanges both in the ring and on the mic, their bad blood will come to a head in a Weapons Wild match.
For Jade, this grudge match is all about proving why she’s been a breakout star of NXT’s women’s division from the moment she arrived on the scene and solidifying her superiority over Perez.
It will also serve as the culmination of what has been the biggest week of her career to date.
The Chicago native made her Raw debut in a backstage segment on Monday night, recruiting Rhea Ripley to be Perez’s “poison” for a match on Tuesday’s NXT. She then beat SmackDown’s Raquel Rodriguez by disqualification the next night.
“I grew up a fan, so to be at Raw is absolutely incredible,” Jade told Daily DDT. “I watched Rhea for a while before I got here and I think she’s incredible and that’s why I chose her [to face Perez]. I got to see Mustafa Ali, I haven’t seen in a while. He and I trained together back in Chicago before all this. It was great to see him and it was a great experience overall just to be able to sit in the back and watch everybody who is levels above me right now, just to see how it works on a bigger scale and hopefully one day I’ll be right there with them.”
Jade admits she always had a vision of what she wanted her journey to look like. Amazingly, she’s been able to follow the blueprint she laid out for herself to a tee and in record time to boot.
Being a believer in the law of attraction and manifestation, she had no doubts about eventually ending up in WWE.
“I worked very hard and a lot of people helped me along the way, but this is kind of exactly how I envisioned my career going just because I was so passionate about it from such a young age,” Jade said. “You never know when you’ll get your time to shine. I definitely didn’t expect it to be so soon, but I’m incredibly grateful that it is and I’m learning so much.
“WWE was always my goal,” she continued. “Growing up, I always wanted to be at WWE. I knew that no matter what, to get there I’d have to work my way up through different companies or wherever, but WWE was always the end goal. I started training around 15/16 and had my first match at 17, coming up on four years in December. It’s been a crazy ride.”
The former Elanya Black’s career didn’t start picking up steam until the summer of 2020 when multiple independent wrestling companies began booking her and she made the most of every opportunity. She also appeared on AEW Dark a time or two before getting an email for her WWE tryout that October.
This Halloween will mark the two-year anniversary of the said tryout, making this match with Perez at Halloween Havoc all the more meaningful to her.
She called it “the craziest experience of my life” and noted she only had two weeks to prepare. She was far from the only younger athlete WWE brought on board, which gave her a sense of belonging off the bat.
“I think it’s great they’re bringing in younger athletes,” Jade said. “It gives so much time for everyone to grow. It is cool to see so many newer, younger talent coming in. It’s intimidating first coming in when there’s a lot of people who have been doing this a lot longer than you and all of these people I looked up to, so it’s cool and scary at the same time, but I think I’ve always been confident in my abilities no matter my age.”
It helps to have fellow fans of the business around her at the Performance Center and having up-and-comers who aren’t as experienced forces her to grow both as a performer and a leader.
It was around the age of 8 that she was first enamored by the business, with the first big match she remembers watching being Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 25. That iconic classic remains one of her favorites to this day, and now life has come full circle for her being able to call The Heartbreak Kid a boss and a mentor on a daily basis at NXT.
That means she’s also well aware of how divisive “wrestling Twitter” can be at times and is prepared for any backlash that may come her way for anything she does on TV. At this point as a performer, she also understands being on both ends of it.
“Fans can be really wishy-washy for any business, but it’s very fun to experiment with what people like and what they don’t like,” she said. “Seeing all the reactions and feedback… sometimes it’s tough criticism, but I obviously was a wrestling fan and there were things I’d watch and say, ‘Oh, I really like that,” or, ‘I really don’t like that.’ I think it’s cool to be on the other side of it and you understand why certain things the way that they are and how they operate.
“It’s crazy, I was running an AJ Lee fan page and Shield fan page on Twitter when I was in middle school,” she added. “It’s funny when people bring that up and I see younger girls doing that same thing now and I’m on the other end of it. I don’t feel any different; I still feel like that kid that still loves wrestling and I’m still a fan and I hope I never lose that.”
As far as her current character arc goes and betraying her best friend Roxanne Perez, Jade mentions that being a babyface was closer to who she actually is in reality. She genuinely is happy to be a WWE Superstar, but at the same time, this edgier version of her on-air persona forces her to be better.
“I feel like sometimes in wrestling, it works differently: what you’re closest to can be uncomfortable and you have to step out of your comfort zone,” Jade said. “Maybe I don’t speak for everybody, but for myself and all of my friends, we come from quiet, introverted, nerdy vibes and we’re into the same stuff and we’re all little introverted weirdos. To be larger than life on a different stage, you have to be something bigger than yourself.
“To be on the other end of it, I feel like I’m more creative in this role because I have to force myself to be more out of the box and dig deeper and find those feelings that make me this version of Cora Jade,” she continued. “There’s definitely aspects of the real me in both.”
With the momentum she now has as a heel, nothing is stopping her from bringing the Generation of Jade to NXT in a major way.
NXT Halloween Havoc airs live this Saturday, October 22 at 8/7c on Peacock.