I was let down by the big announcement that Tony Khan and Paul Wight had. It was narrowed down between a handful of wrestlers, and Christian made the most sense. But of course, the wrestling fan in me hoped it would be some bigger name like CM Punk. I don’t even like CM Punk. But I know that kind of news would cause huge waves in the industry and would like spike viewership even if for a brief period of time.
No offense, Christian is a good “hand.” He always has been. But I grew up watching Christian as the weakest member of The Brood, Edge’s goofy little buddy, and later a mid-card talent primarily for the remainder of his career. The casual wrestling fan which makes up the primary base of wrestling fans simply does not care about 4 and 5 star matches. The technicality of the wrestling just simply does not matter. Pro Wrestling is about being entertained, whether it is in the ring, backstage or in some vignette conducted anywhere else.
Kurt Angle said it best when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The fans aren’t going to remember all of your matches. Sure, they may remember a few of the great matches. What fans remember most more than anything else is the “moments.” Kurt then poured milk all over himself and splashed it everywhere essentially paying homage to the “milk truck” incident in WWE he was part of years before. When I think of Kurt Angle, I think of his ridiculous promos about intensity, integrity and intelligence. I also remember him wearing the cowboy hat to small for his head and playing “Jimmy Crack Corn” on a guitar for Stone Cold Steve Austin.
So when you think of Christian, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Right. Not too much. Maybe you thought of the TLC matches involving Edge, the Hardys and the Dudleys. Maybe you thought of his “Five Second Pose” segments with Edge during their heyday as a tag team. Maybe you thought about his entrance with the rest of the Brood, that being Edge and Gangrel. Or it could possibly be the Edge and Christian Show that Totally Reeks of Awesomeness on the WWE Network. It could even be the now defunct E&C Podcast that you could listen to on Westwood One where you got to hear the real Adam Copeland (Edge) and Jay Reso (Christian) discuss the current state of wrestling.
Do you see the common denominator here?
Christian only matters when Edge is close by.
I hate to say it, but it’s true. Everything Christian has accomplished in wrestling with the exception of his brief run in the TNA of yesteryear as World Champ can be greatly attributed to Edge being by his side. Please IWC marks, tell me what Christian truly accomplished on his own without Edge’s influence?
I’m waiting for someone to bring up Christian’s World title runs in WWE. Come on folks, it was a feel good story. The only reason Christian had those runs is because the WWE was capitalizing on the pure emotion of Edge retiring the night after Wrestlemania. From a storyline perspective, it made sense to do that. The story was built in and everyone wanted to see it. And yes, Christian did have some good matches with Randy Orton during his brief runs. But were they that memorable? Were those his greatest singles matches of all time? Because quite frankly, I don’t remember any other singles matches Christian has had that have mattered that much. If Edge had retired, would Christian have even had another opportunity as World Champion? The only thing I could possibly see happening is having him and Edge face off for the World title one day because it would have been a great story. But again, it takes Edge to make that happen.
Let me ask you this. Do you really think that Christian’s surprise return in the Royal Rumble earlier this year would have mattered nearly as much if Edge was not in it? It would not have. Very few people would have cared or even made a big deal about it. Again, professional wrestling is about the moments. The moment that Christian’s music hit, we were all anticipating the moment. The moment that Edge and Christian reunited again in the ring. As a fan of the Attitude Era, I loved it. It was a touching moment and brought me back to when I was 14 years old watching on a Monday night again. But that moment was fleeting. Because realistically speaking, I knew that the tag team of Edge and Christian were not coming back. It was a nostalgia pop that would eventually feed into Edge’s comeback story.
Here’s the thing. I like Jay Reso. But I don’t get Christian. Jay Reso who is himself on the E&C Show that Totally Reeks of Awesomeness and the E&C Podcast is probably one of the most deadpan funny individuals in the wrestling business. While I’m sure it was his personality with the volume turned up a bit, Jay Reso being himself in both of these programs is a much more likable character than Christian. If AEW can find a way to tap into letting Christian Cage be Jay Reso, they may have a shot at making some memorable moments, because the guy can connect with the audience if he just acts like himself and not this “Out. work. Everybody.” persona. His new shirt scares me. It tells me that he is going to be pushed as a hard working technical wrestler. That sounds utterly boring. We have enough guys in AEW trying to “get their shit in.” I’m not saying that Christian is selfish, but posturing him as this hard working wrestling with good work rate in 2021 is not going to help him. Ask Apollo Crews how that same gimmick of smiling and being a great technical wrestler has worked for him over the past five or six years. Good work rate is great, but it’s not going to put asses in the seats. Don’t get me wrong, there is a certain percentage of wrestling fans out there that would love to see Christian return because of his “work rate.” But that the bottom line is, that will not be enough to grow AEW’s viewership long term.
Simply put, Christian Cage will not move the needle in viewership for AEW. But if Jay Reso gets a chance to shine, he may attract a newfound audience for this glorified indy promotion.