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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Beginning Or The End Of Christian"
May 24, 2006 by Terry Russell


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This past February at TNA's PPV Against All Odds, Christian Cage defeated Jeff Jarrett to lift his first World Championship. The scenes that followed his victory were something VERY special. The footage and pictures of hundreds of 'Peeps' flooding the ring and raising the new champion up is something this writer won't forget anytime soon. The culmination of a career that started on the low paying Canadian circuit, followed by a successful and well publicised stint for WWF/WWE, and finally a trip to Orlando to start working for TNA, it was apparent from the get-go that TNA had every intention of pushing Christian right to the top.

It had been argued for many months, if not years, that Christian deserved a run with the World/WWE title or at least a high profile shot at the title-holder. His loyal fans, and many wrestling publications claimed that one of wrestling's most talented, charismatic (potential) stars was being held down, though I believe its because 'VM' was never sold on the idea of Christian as his company's figurehead. He, I argue was correct.

For all the hype that has surrounded Christian Cage before his TNA debut and subsequently since, I have been positively under-whelmed. First of all, a 'small' point it may be but one that needs to be addressed, I never realised just how short and skinny he is. He certainly appears to have dropped a bit of weight since his time in Connecticut, strange when you consider he is now the man in the hot seat as NWA World Champion. Secondly, his 'mike' work has been incredibly repetitive, very cliched, and highly predictable. Third point, his heavily hyped shot at Jarrett at A.A.O. drew fewer PPV viewers than Januarys TNA PPV. That must have been of major concern to TNA higher ups. Fourth, his in ring work. For someone who had been dubbed by one respected magazine as 'one of the 2 most underrated talents in the entire business', his wrestling 'skills' have been, quite honestly garbage.

An interesting comparison to make would be Cage and his former 'brother' Edge. As someone who has been one of Edge's biggest critics down the years, I have found myself blown away by the HUGE progress 'the R-rated Superstar' has made. He looks cool, he sounds cool, and he has that most precious of commodities - ring presence. Edge has become one of the most talked about grapplers in the game, his value constantly sky-rocketing, and is a lock for the World title at least one more time this year. Christian however, seems lost. He is struggling. His 'peeps' are no where near as responsive as I am sure he and TNA management had hoped.

It's tough to consider where Cage's future lies. At time of writing this he had just retained the NWA title against Abyss at Lockdown, but he again looked poor. Perhaps a surprise heel turn would work, the only problem is Jeff Jarrett, Scott Steiner, Abyss, AMW, the soon returning Monty Brown, & maybe Samoa Joe already occupy the head table at the heel banquet. I suggest he drop the title as soon as possible, maybe to an established name (i.e. Steiner) or even put over one of the few young guys that gains total respect from the TNA fans, is a huge talent in the ring, &, as a heel would possibly be the perfect opponent for Christian. The name Samoa Joe certainly leaps to mind, though Joe appears to be in the early stages of a face turn.

That is just one idea of course, I'm sure there are plenty more situations that TNA could employ, but that set-up seems logical to me. Feel free to leave feedback, as other viewpoints are always interesting to read.

by Terry Russell ..


Jay Tusch wrote:
I've always liked Christian, but I also see the same shortcomings you see, especially since he joined TNA. I feel his biggest problems are:

1) His ultra-serious babyface persona is bland. One reason fans got behind Christian was his creative promos against John Cena in early 2005. Also, the promo he cut in Canada right before he went to Smackdown! was very good. That promo showed he could be taken seriously by the fans, but he needs be a little more fun with his interviews.

2) Christian hasn't shaken the WWE style. His moveset looks like something you'd see on RAW, with little variety in rest holds and basic moves. One reason he jumped to TNA was so he could wrestle a more relaxed schedule. However, he should be taking some time to wrestle on the indy circuit, which he hasn't done in eight years. Even though he's a vet, he could learn that there are more ways to layout a match than just the WWE style.

3) Most of his feuds so far have been overshadowed by other stories. Sting joined TNA early in Christian's title reign, the time when he should have been establishing himself. Jeff Jarrett, Sting, Scott Steiner, Samoa Joe, Kevin Nash, and even Alex Shelley have taken precedence over Christian. Then again, Christian's opponents leave a lot to be desired. I'm not saying Monty Brown or Abyss are bad, but no one seriously thinks either one of them will dethrone Christian anytime soon. You should have some intrigue of who the winner will be when you buy a PPV.

So, in review. Bland promos and moveset + cookie cutter matches that can't compare to X-Division matches + cookie cutter feuds overshadowed by others = a very weak championship reign, so far.
James Watts wrote:
I think you're being a little unfair to Christian. I honestly feel that this is just the beginning for Christian. I think that he has what it takes to headline TNA as the Champ. He is an exciting athlete, with a variety of maneouvres at his disposal (I believe he recently added the Frog Splash to his repertoire), and the TNA fans LOVE the guy.

As for his mike work, well, there was another wrestler who's promos were repetitive, with the same catchphrase over and over again: The Rock. I mean, it was highly predictable at the end of his interviews to hear "If ya smeeeeeeeeeelllll...", but the fans loved him, just as the TNA fans love Christian.

Personally, I've looked forwards to seeing Christian more in the first few months that he's been with TNA than I ever have watching him in the WWE. Why" Because he is a great addition to a roster that for years was headlined by Jeff Jarrett, whose title reigns had become as boring as Triple H's.

Not only is he popular in TNA, but he appeared in Italian promotion NWE (Nu-Wrestling Evolution) for a while before TNA and the Italian fans just went ballistic! He even got a Heavyweight Title match whilst he was there. Under-rated" I don't think so.

He's certainly more exciting than his "brother" Edge. I mean, Edge WAS the future of the WWE, but now they're more focused on Masters, Carlito and Lashley, which means that Edge has been shunted aside. He only held the WWE title for a month before losing it back to John Cena, so what does that tell you about him"
Jeff Anderson wrote:
I totally agree with you about Christian. It's funny cause i was just saying the other day how he's just noy panning out the way he could have. He's lacking at lot of major points, right down to the way that he doesnt even know how a world champ should dress.
M.R. wrote: Short, sweet and to the point, nice.

I understand where you're coming from. I too feel as though Christian performance has been weak and maybe even over hyped. I'm not one to bash Christian, but it looks as though he's trying too hard to get over with the fans. This may be the doing of TNA, but it doesn't feel sincere as much as it does forced.

His in ring performance has also lost some energy. It's as though he's still learning the basics. This may have to do adjusting to new styles of wrestling and younger stars, so I won't hold that against him. The man has talent, but I hope this talent wasn't coming from the environment in the WWE.

Though he was misused in the WWE, his promos and in ring energy were very exciting. Even when used as a jobber his essence was strong and you felt that he hated being used so poorly. He always gave his all, showing the WWE that he had a lot to give. This could be the reason he looks weak in TNA compared to him in the WWE. Back then he had a lot to work for, as oppose to shooting straight up the top in TNA.

Is it the beginning or is it the end" Back in the WWE I would have said the end, but with him in TNA I'll say a work in progress. Give him more time to adjust in TNA and I'm sure we'll see the old comfortable Christian back. The guy who everyone knew deserved a push, but never got it.

He'll be one of many who will keep TNA alive for years to come.
Nick wrote: I have a few arguements with your opinions, however they are your opinions and you are entitled to them.

First, Christian's wrestling skills are great compared to talent in WWE and some of the guys in TNA. I am a John Cena fan, but I know that Christian crushes him when it comes to wrestling skills. I see Christian more on the status of Chris Jericho or Lance Storm, but not as good as Chris Benoit. However, Christian can easily be compared to Jericho and Storm if you ever watched one of his matches against them. Plus, Christian vs. Chris Jericho vs. John Cena was one of the top drawing matches last year.

Second, Christian's microphone skills are great and I can't see anyone denying that, however yes they are repetive. Of course, if you thin of it most of the greats on the microphone are repetive. Examples are Rob Van Dam, John Cena, Sting, Triple H (there is no way you can say he isn't repetive), Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, The Rock, and etc.

That's all I have to say.
Jack MacLaine wrote:
Christian Cage, IMO, has been a below decent champion. When he first won the champion I was skeptical but gave him a chance. His 1st title defense was agansit Monty Brown and I knew after that match that it was going to be down-hill for Christian. He proved in that he coudn't carry the match and the whole match was a kick, punch fest. Not only that, he is a boring champion, just like Jarrett. Everything is repetitive. Promos, wrestling, gimmick, you name it. Sure, he had a couple of good matches with Abyss but please, Abyss carried both of those matches while Christain looked like a slug. The blame can't be on christian alone though. Most of it goes to TNA management for this endless Sting/Jarrett storyline that there obsessing over.
Justin Vannest wrote:
Do I agree that Christian got the belt to soon & do I agree a heel turn would be the best case situation for Cage (better heel than babyface), well my answer is yes. The one thing I do have to say on Cage's behalf is that he was just in a downward spiral in the WWE I thought the move to smackdown would benifit his career but he started losing to Booker T. Christian is a great wrestler and deserves to be noticed and I also think he was underated and under used in the WWE. I don't think this is "The End Of Christian" I think it's more of a "New Christian".
Dirk Mason wrote:
I feel there are a lot of holes in the TNA storyline, I want to say first that I hate TNA with a passion. I watch every show anyway hoping it will get better. Christian needs to be more like a heel, not a full heel just act like one sometimes. I would like to see him wrestle those like AJ Styles and Daniels he could do that because he would act like a heel sometimes but at the same time wrestle guys like Abyss and Samoa Joe (now with Sting he is a face). If he could pull this off he will have some of his best matches, he will shine. I think he is capable because he could put on a good promo. I hope to see a lot of good things fom him in the near future. He may become better if he drops his belt to one of these men as well.
IRQ wrote:
I agree with you on most points here. I don't know if he's gotten smaller, but he is definately small. While i realize most of the "big guys" on TNA are much smaller than most of the giants in WWE, Christian is certainly on even the small end of the small TNA roster (sidenote - it seems the X division is the majority, is Kevin Nash about to get beaten down by most of TNA with his crap").

I have never been a big Christian fan, at least since the split with Edge. I know now as i continue to watch, and read OWW articles, that Vince doesn't really like tag-team wrestling. I for one think every show should have at least two good tag matches, where the stars actually work together more than just during a hot tag. ANyway, i liked christian and edge, but since going on his own, I have never been impressed with him.

I agree his mic work is cliche. i liked it enough at first (especially captain charisma with a cape), but it has gotten old. I think wrestlers need to refresh their gimmick every so often, and he has not done that in a long time. I will commend him on the Abyss/Mitchell attack on his home angle, as i really believed his hatred and anger in retaliation, but that seems to be a fluke incident.

I think the belt would better serve JJ (though i hate him too), Steiner, or definately monte brown. Abyss, nah, i don't like a champ that can't talk. It would be great for Sting to lose to Steiner in the qual. matches on right now, then Christian to give Sting a shot (since he's the new face of TNA i think) and Sting to go in and beat all four guys at the next PPV. ANway, point is, CHristian needs to be wrestling X, or tagging to get AMW some real competition.
Jose Aguirre wrote:
I have to congratulate you on your article. When Christian went to TNA I thought it would be a good thing for his career and TNA, but the complete opposite has happened. Sure he has worked hard for the "world title" a term I am using very loosely, but his stuff has gotten stale, and unlike John Cena he isn't really controversial, so whether he is good or not doesn't matter because ratings are down.

Now Edge, is a good wrestler. He is balanced all around he can be a mat technician, even though that isn't his strong point, he can be a high flyer, or he can be a brawler, which is my personal favorite. Edge is starting to change, gimmick wise. He might remain a heel but he isn't crazy, just edgy. If you saw WWE.com unlimited during S.N.M.E. back in March, which was the day of my birthday, you could of seen how he insulted the fans by saying, "you dumb asses are going to give me the respect I deserve," now that was hilarious and reminds me of Edge before his injury. I think I should write a column on Edge or modern day announcers, I haven't decided yet.
Lynch wrote:
While I agree that Christians' TNA use has not been the best, I think the problem is they brought him in as a face. A guy like Christian is a heel that people cheer, ala The Rock, Austin, HBK, Angle etc. If you take away his smart ass comments and arrogance, he loses his edge, plus, his wrestling style is based on making his opponents look good, which he excels at. Face champs that bump left and right do not look good. Let him be what is, eventually some face will come along that people will want to see him get beat by, and Christian will make him look like gold. Turn him heel, yesterday.
Cam Garza wrote:
There are some points in your atricle I agree about and some I dont. Such as I agree with "peeps" not sticking with Christian as much as what TNA had hoped for, but what can you expect out of an organization with such low profile" Christian makes for a great champion. His mic skills are very good. We only get to hear them every so often and its only for 5 or so minutes due to TNA not being a long show. Granted they are just startiing to build into something but you cant honestly say that he has no ability to carry that title he so rightfully deserved. Its hard to turn him into a heel since he has all that charisma that the fans love. That is one of the reasons why he left WWE. Vince couldnt risk him being cheered over that poster boy rapper John Cena. There was alot of money starting to be posted for in my eyes a great fued between them but it was John Cena getting booed which caused everything to turn south. But that is for another column. Its all just opinion based and in my opinion I think Christian is doing a great job if he could get more time than this stupid Sting mystery contest crap. Now thats a joke in its self. I guess thats all from what I got to say.
Justin Vannest wrote:
Do I agree that Christian got the belt to soon & do I agree a heel turn would be the best case situation for Cage (better heel than babyface), well my answer is yes. The one thing I do have to say on Cage's behalf is that he was just in a downward spiral in the WWE I thought the move to SmackDown! would benifit his career but he started losing to Booker T. Christian is a great wrestler and deserves to be noticed and I also think he was underated and under used in the WWE. I don't think this is "The End Of Christian" I think it's more of a "New Christian".
Reality Check wrote:
The main problem I can see with Christian's title reign is the matches he's being put in aren't building him up as a dominant champion, just someone who can pip the opponent at the post. For example:

* His first defense against Monty Brown was playing the old "injured ribs" shtick, so the story of the match was whether or not he could take that much punishment.

* His match with Abyss at Lockdown, although improved, at times seemed like a rehash of the AJ Styles/Abyss match at the same event the year before - right down to the sunset flip from the cage onto the thumbtacks spot. (I haven't seen Sacrifice yet, as it hasn't been on The Wrestling Channel - pity us poor Brits!)

In short, they aren't building him up as a dominant champ, or even close to one - which is strange, considering they regularly build up X Division champs as dominant forces (Joe, Styles and Daniels all have). Then again, only one TNA champ has ever been portrayed as truly dominant over everyone else, and you don't need three guesses who that is, do you"
Mike Adams wrote:
The bottom line with Christian is that he is 10X the heel that he is a baby face. When I look at Christian I don't see a guy who can succeed in that role. He is ok as a face but more of a secondary one, not someone who is a carry the company type of guy. I think the thing is that TNA pretty much had to place Christian in a face roll coming out of WWE, they just had to given that he made the Jump, plus there would have been no real way to get the title on him as a Heel. TNA giving Christian the title so fast was a way to slap WWE in the face and say Hahaha, everyone knows you underused Christian. I am willing to bet that Christian will not be a Face at the end of 2006, not when Sting has been brought in at such a hefty price. With TNA fans not wanting Jarrett to continue to occupy the #1 Heel spot all the time ,I think the perfect way for a Christian Heel turn would be against Sting.

Since their arrival they have both been pseudo allies. There is no way that Sting turns heel, therefore the logical solution is to turn Christian heel in some way and have him and Sting feud. A good Start would be King of the Mountain. Its quite obvious that Both Sting and Cage will be at KOM, therefore they can build some kind of growing annimosity. Christian as a heel, certainly has the ability to be a top heel in any company with his ultra cocky persona and dirty trickery. Add him a big flunky stooge as a sidekick and he is golden, cheating his way to victory. This would open up some possiblities for some very entertaining feuds, such as Christian vs Sting(that I already mentioned) Christian versus, Raven, AJ, Ron the Truth Killings or even *gasp* Dare I say Christopher Daniels(if TNA will ever use him in the Heavyweight picture). It all remains to be seen if this is the path that TNA will choose, however I have faith that they will, considering they wanted Christian and they obviously made that observation based on Captain Charisma's heel work.
Fraser Allen (Hertfordshire, UK) wrote:
Being a WWE fan, I was very disappointed that Christian left. If he had decided to sign another 3-year deal, I believe that they would have used him better. Irony is a strange thing, but with all of the injuries and Orton's suspension, they would have had to push Christian as a top-heel and he could be now challenging Rey Misterio for the title.

However, Christian chose to leave, because he could afford to (like Jericho) and chose TNA cause of the easy schedule. As he wrestles less, he probably isn't as sharp as he was, which is why he hasn't been that good. I think the politics will stop him turning heel as Jarrett, Steiner etc.. have a lot of clout, he is much better as a cocky heel, his promos were excellent in WWE whereas in TNA there is far more emphasis on wrestling hence the lack of quality in his mic skills.

I still believe that he will return to the WWE in a couple of years, once his TNA contract runs out and will challenge Edge. A break away from the WWE will up his stock, so a prediction for Wrestlemania 25, Edge v's Christian (WWE Title).
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