Jade Cargill. Screengrab via AEW YouTube.

WWE made a major splash on Tuesday with the signing of former AEW women’s star Jade Cargill.

But perhaps more interesting than the move itself — which had been rumored for weeks — was how WWE announced it, with ESPN’s Marc Raimondi first announcing the news.

Raimondi’s story notes that he was given the news by “promotion officials” and there are certainly aspects of it that read more like a press release than an actual news story. This wouldn’t be the first time that WWE has coordinated a news release with a mainstream outlet, which has become a common practice for the promotion to announce its annual Hall of Fame inductees. It’s also worth noting that WWE credited ESPN for breaking the story while making its own official announcement — even though Fightful Select‘s Sean Ross Sapp had reported on the prospect of Cargill leaving AEW for WWE earlier this month, which Raimondi acknowledged on the social media platform X (but not his actual story).

Regardless of who actually deserves the credit for breaking the story, it’s notable that WWE opted for what appears to be a coordinated release with ESPN. While the 31-year-old Cargill is relatively raw (or in wrestling lingo: green) as a wrestler, there’s no denying her mainstream appeal, which was also apparent during her three-year run in AEW, where she made her debut as Shaquille O’Neal’s tag team partner and appeared on the cover of the company’s first video game.

In a business where debuts often double as surprises on shows, WWE opted for a more mainstream, sports-like approach. It’s clear the company has big plans for Cargill, as it has spent Tuesday morning continuing to drum up interest in her signing on social media.

It’s also significant that while several wrestlers have defected from WWE to AEW in the four years since the latter launched, Cargill is just the second big name wrestler to leave AEW for WWE — the first being Cody Rhodes. While Rhodes’ return to WWE came as a surprise opponent at WrestleMania in 2022, he was someone who was already familiar to the company’s audience, as opposed to Cargill who, to this point, has only been seen on AEW television.

In that sense, WWE leveraging its ESPN connections to announce Cargill’s signing serves two purposes. For one, it helps familiarize her with an audience that otherwise might be unfamiliar — or in some cases, even unaware — of her work. It also immediately establishes her as a major star, worthy of mainstream coverage beyond the wrestling world.

At this point, it’s unclear when the first-ever AEW TBS Champion will make her on-screen WWE debut. But what is certain is that whenever she does, she’ll have the full WWE machine behind her. In fact, she already does.


About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.