HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
OWW Wrestler of the Week: Christian
Our resident philosopher profiles the current ECW Champion, who survived a brutal Extreme Rules match to retain his title.
Christian faced off against Tommy Dreamer for the ECW title, this week. Despite being in the middle of Tommy’s World, Christian managed to overcome all obstacles to retain his title. Christian is this week’s OWW Wrestler of the Week.
William Jason “Jay” Reso was born in Kitchner, Ontario, Canada on November 30, 1973. After high school, Reso decided to try his hand at professional wrestling. It was something he loved since he was a child. He and friend Adam Copeland enrolled at Sully’s Gym to train under Canadian legend, Ron Hutchinson. Reso played around with several names, early on, to find his identity. According to some sources, Reso looked to two actors for his main character. He looked at action stars Christian Slater and Nicolas Cage to come up with the name…Christian Cage.
Cage had his first match in June of 1995, against another Sully’s Gym grad, Zakk Wyld (not to be confused with the guitarist). Cage would continue to train for the next two years in the Toronto area. His first big storyline came when he joined Wyld, Rhino (Richards), Joe E. Legend and Sexton Hardcastle (Adam “Edge” Copeland) to form the group known as THUG Life. Over time, Cage and Hardcastle would team exclusively. They initially used the team name “High Impact” but later converted to the Suicide Blondes. After a year of touring the US, Canada and Japan, Copeland was scouted for a WWE Tryout. He brought Christian along with him. They won the dark match used as Copeland’s tryout. Copeland went into the developmental system, while Christian went back to the indy circuit.
After several months in the developmental system, Adam Copeland was called up. Once he impressed the right people, Adam, now known as Edge, put in a good name for his old friend, Christian. Christian was accepted into the developmental system and sent to Dory Funk, Jr. for further training.
Christian came into the WWE as a pseudo-vampiric character, working with Gangrel aka the Vampire Warrior. Christian would take gold in his very first WWF/E match. He defeated Taka Michinoku for the Light Heavyweight title. The fans really didn’t take to Christian as a singles act, so Christian was partnered with Edge and Gangrel to form the stable known as The Brood. The trio had a successful run, especially once they joined the Ministry of Darkness, headed by The Undertaker. The alliance with the Undertaker came when Christian revealed where Undertaker had hidden Stephanie McMahon. Christian had been severely beaten, by Ken Shamrock, to get the information. When Undertaker chose to punish Christian for his betrayal, Edge and Gangrel made the save and brutalized Undertaker.
During their relationship with Gangrel, it was suggested that Edge and Christian were related. When they split with Gangrel, they were pushed as siblings. The two brothers faced another brother duo, The Hardyz (Matt and Jeff), who had left Michael Hayes to align themselves with Gangrel as the New Brood. The two teams began one of the wildest rivalries in wrestling history. Their first “gimmick” match was a Ladder Match for the managerial services of Terri (Runnels), Edge and Christian won but their relationship with Terri wouldn’t last long.
Edge and Christian morphed from the vampiric/goth duo into a more light-hearted set of comedic characters, loosely based on the Jeff Spicoli character from Fast Times at Ridgmont High.During 2000 and 2001, Edge and Christian would win the tag titles an amazing eight times. The titles switched back and forth between E&C, the Hardyz and the Dudley Boyz. The trio would compete in a variety of matches, including the infamous TLC (Tables, Ladders and Chairs) match.
By 2001, the two “brothers” began to have issues. The problems started when Edge and Christian dropped the tag belts. Edge then won the Intercontinental title and the 2001 KKing of the Ring tourney. Christian came back to battle Edge for the I-C title. It switched hands, several times, between the two. Christian would eventually turn his attention to the European title, which he won. Christian remained a solid heel, while Edge flirted with turning face.
Christian would drop the title to Diamond Dallas Page. Christian went through a major slump and threatened to quit the business. Page stepped in and mentored the crest-fallen Christian. Christian would eventually turn on Page just before Wrestlemania X-8. The two would square off for the Euro-title, which Page would retain.
After finishing the program with Page, Christian began teaming with Lance Storm. They pushed a strong anti-American storyline, adopting the team name, the Un-Americans. Andrew “Test” Martin would also be recruited for the team. They garnered some of the strongest heat in WWE’s history. In fact, the team raised so much heat that they were quietly disbanded, due to complaints. Christian was then shifted into a tag team with Chris Jericho. The two would still push the Canadian v U.S. storyline, only not quite as strong. Christian and Jericho would win the tag team titles, only to lose them a mere few weeks later. After the loss, Christian looked for a new direction.
The Birth of the Peep-u-lation
Christian cut his long, blond locks shortly after losing the tag belts. He began to mimic The Rock, one of the most popular stars, at that time. Rock always referred to his fans as “The People”. Christian started calling his fans “His Peeps”, a slang term for people. Christian would ride the wave of this new gimmick all the way to the Intercontinental title. He would drop the title to Booker T, only to regain it, when Booker T was injured.
Christian and Chris Jericho began a friendly little rivalry over the affections of Trish Stratus and Lita. They pretended to be madly in love with the two women, basically to try and seduce them. The two men placed a bet to see which would score first. Jericho went after Trish, while Christian tried to get up close and personal with Lita. Neither succeeded. All Hell broke loose when it came to light that the two men had only wagered 1 Canadian dollar over the intimacy bet. Christian and Jericho would eventually feud, leading to Trish turning on Jericho at Wrestlemania XX. During their brief feud, Christian injured his back and had to take four months off to heal.
When Christian returned to action, he worked the heel side of the business. He was still incredibly popular in his native Canada, as well as many parts of Europe. He began to call himself “Captain Charisma”. Christian also brought in Tyson Tomko to play the Diesel to his Shawn Michaels. Jericho actually got a great reaction from the crowds when he forced Christian to don cape and cowl and wrestle as his alter-ego, Captain Charisma. The name has remained with him to this day. Christian would also work, one night, with The Hurricane in a super-hero based tag team. It was just something that the WWE was toying with and when it got only marginal positive response from the crowds, the cape and cowl were discarded. The nickname, on the other hand, was not.
Christian’s last big feud in the WWE was against John Cena. Christian dissed Cena’s rap career, calling him a Poser and saying that he (Christian) was a better rapper than Cena. The two had a few battles before Christian’s contract reached it’s end. While he was offered a decent re-sign, Christian decided to leave the WWE. He would work the indies for a few months, before ending up on the WWE’s biggest contender…TNA.
Bringing back the Cage
After leaving the WWE, Christian worked the European circuit. He also took bookings with Ring of Honor. While there, he reunited with an old friend, Scott D’Amore. Scott, along with Christopher Daniels, persuaded Christian to join TNA. Since Christian could not use only the Christian name, he reverted back to one of his earliest identities, Christian Cage. Cage teased that he was going to create a new UnAmericans alliance with Team Canada. Instead, he helped Team 3D to upset Jeff Jarrett. In the process, he delivered the Unprettier/KillSwitch to Scott D’Amore.
Around the time of his TNA debut, long-time friend, Eddie Guerrero, passed away. As a tribute to his dear friend, Christian adopted the Frog Splash as an alternate finisher. Cage would feud with Monty Brown (Marcus CorVon) and Team Canada, while climbing the ranks of TNA. At Against All Odds ’06, Cage would defeat Jeff Jarrett to take the NWA World title. Cage would defend the title against numerous contenders until a controversial decision at Slammiversary gave the belt back to Jeff Jarrett. Larry Zbyszko and Earl Hebner assisted Jarrett in getting the strap. While Jim Cornette initially held up the belt, Jarrett would eventually be granted the belt.
Becoming the Instant Classic
Cage began a heel turn, following a guitar shot to Sting‘s head, during a title match. That led to a confrontation between Cage and his old friend, Rhino. Cage was offended that Rhino would dare to question his motives. The two battled, several times, with Cage taking almost every major match.
Cage also feuded with Sting, during this same time frame. Cage brought out his old “Problem Solver”, Tomko. Tomko aided Cage during one of his battles against Sting. Around this time, Cage began to promote himself as the “Instant Classic”. At Final Resolution, Cage would defeat Sting and Abyss to begin his second reign as champion. To help him keep his World title, Cage enlisted both Tomko and Scott Steiner to form the Christian’s Coalition. The Coalition would expand to include A.J. Styles. Abyss also worked with the unit, on occasion. Christian would be the final, official NWA World champion in TNA. TNA broke ties with NWA during Christian’s reign. His title run came to an end with a submission/pin mix-up. Sting tapped out to Kurt Angle, while pinning Cage. Jim Cornette held up the title and set a future match for the new TNA World title.
Christian’s next feud was against “Wildcat” Chris Harris. Harris cost Cage the TNA World title during the King of the Mountain match at Slammiversary. Their feud was short-lived, as Harris left for the WWE. Christian then reformed his Christian’s Coalition, with Styles and Tomko. They feuded with Sting and Abyss, who had formed a friendship. Sting would also enlist the help of Andrew Martin, now known as The Punisher. That would begin the first fracturing of Christian’s Coalition.
A.J. Styles became enamored with Kurt Angle’s then-wife, Karen. Kurt used that to bring Styles, along with Tomko, into his own group. Cage would eventually lose both men, completely to Angle. Christian would join forces with Kevin Nash and Samoa Joe, as the Unlikely Alliance, to battle Angle’s forces. Christian would finish out his TNA run with a feud with Kurt Angle’s Main Event Mafia. When Cage’s contract ran out and he chose not to renew, the Mafia (storywise) beat him so badly that he left TNA, forever..
Christian returned to the WWE on February 10, 2009. He was sent to ECW. In addition to changing his name, again, Christian also changed the name of his finisher. The move, long called the Unprettier, was given a more hip name of the KillSwitch. It was still the same lame finisher. Christian was embraced as a face from day one. Christian was instantly thrown into the title hunt, against then-champ Jack Swagger. Christian would compete in the Money in the Bank match at Wrestlemania XXV, losing to C.M. Punk.
Christian would rebound from the loss to take his first ECW title, from Swagger, at Backlash. Christian would drop the title to Tommy Dreamer in a Three Way Dance at Extreme Rules, when Dreamer pinned Jack Swagger. Christian and Dreamer began a minor feud over the title, with Christian regaining the platinum and leather belt at Night of Champions. Dreamer then challenged Christian to an Extreme Rules match for his title rematch. After a vicious battle, Christian detonated the KillSwitch, sending Dreamer’s face plunging into a metal car door that Christian had brought to the battle.
Many fans felt that Christian always languished in the shadow of his “brother”, Edge. In reality, Christian (Cage) has been a solid performer for almost 15 years. He has held numerous titles, both as a singles competitor and as a tag team specialist. His retention of his ECW title, against Tommy Dreamer, in Dreamer’s specialty match, was a thing of beauty. It proved Christian deserved to be champion. It also earned him this week’s OWW Wrestler of the Week award.