Christian Cage: Father of Mine

Christian Cage: Father of Mine

It’s one thing to have venomous promo segments, but it’s another to shape that into the in-ring moments themselves – where the most important part of wrestling storytelling takes place – the wrestling. Christian has translated the same person ripping apart his victim on the microphone to someone who will stop at nothing to stay where he feels he always should have been. 

An unfortunate part of life: being so good at something that you exceed all expectations, but for some reason or another, the person in charge of what you do does not see that. 

You climb and you climb, but the mountaintop moved further away. Sure, you have the stamina to keep climbing, but it’s a Sisyphian effort. Do you just give up, or find a different mountain?

This was the dilemma that Christian Cage faced a few times in his career – once in 2006 and again in 2021.

For the sake of brevity, I will not recount the history of Captain Charisma’s career pre-AEW, but instead, focus on what’s making his current run so damn entertaining. 

Early on in his All Elite  tenure, Christian had a side of him that was so savage, even as a babyface. This man had the capacity and audacity to be a menace on the microphone. Dismantling Don Callis and The Elite while they were on the top of the cards in 2021, Christian more than held his own and was unforgiving. This is where I knew his run was going to be special.

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Seeing him win the Impact and TNA belts off of Kenny on the inaugural episode of AEW Rampage, he was trusted from the get-go to be and do something special. While Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, and Bryan Danielson get the credit for being genuine locker room leaders, Christian has been working his ass off to make up for the lost time. Now, he’s eliciting boos from crowds just as loud as Don Callis, if not louder.

Later, after seemingly adopting Jack Perry and Luchasaurus, Christian was the father who stepped up, at least until the then-Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus lost the AEW Tag Team Titles to the Young Bucks at the AEW Dynamite Road Rager special. 

Cage assaulted Perry with every fiber of his being with a chair, and continued to do so. For the fans, the signs were there, building to this inevitable betrayal. Still, it was a bitter pill to swallow as it played out.

After disappointments and victories through his career, Christian’s face was etched with a subtle ire; he was once again in the shadow of someone else. No, not again. He’s the driver now.

Following this tragedy, Christian’s now trademark scowl was present, cocky and uncaring to the world. 

Here, the famous signature of Christian Cage was born:

 “I never wanted to be your father, I never wanted to be your father figure. You have a father. But your father is dead.”

The dead father bashing was not done yet, however. If you had a dead father and you were in his crosshairs, you better watch out. And don’t get me started on if you have a hot mom – if you do, he will hit on her and there is nothing you can do about it.

Brian Pillman Jr., Wardlow, and even Antonio Inoki’s grandsons caught strays. This man even opened the still fresh wound of Arn Anderson having lost his son during the short time he managed Wardlow. It’s one thing to rub salt in the wound of someone who missed the person who raised them, but for a parent who had to bury their own child – that’s heartless.  Cage even had his own daughter removed from the arena for having the audacity to ask to hold his TNT Championship while uncredentialed.

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As he continued to conduct his business, Christian continued his actions devoid of humanity and morality. It wasn’t just dead dads and hot moms. It was Matt Hardy’s relationship with his brother Jeff in the midst of Jeff’s problems

And once his old friend Adam Copeland made the jump to AEW, fans were on edge – how far would Cage go? Well, it seemed but Beth and Adam’s daughters were immediately painted with a target from the second Christian Cage saw Edge the Dynamite after Copeland’s debut at WrestleDream. In a classic wrestling trope, Christian flirted with the idea of replacing Adam Copeland’s place in his own family. I’ll get to Adam and this trope later, but the point for now is, Cage is so gone. He’s so gone being on top and having no remorse in staying there.

With these antics, Christian Cage has placed the spotlight on the TNT Championship. Even the belts that are supposed to be the top goal feel lacking in comparison and that’s saying something. Finally, after decades, after a retirement he did not ask for, after having the ball dropped on him on major stages, Christian Cage is at the top of his game. Turn on the nearest wrestling podcast on YouTube or Spotify or open up social media, and the odds are you will see people remark how Christian Cage is putting on the performance of his career. 

It’s one thing to have venomous promo segments, but it’s another to shape that into the in-ring moments themselves – where the most important part of wrestling storytelling takes place – the wrestling. Christian has translated the same person ripping apart his victim on the microphone to someone who will stop at nothing to stay where he feels he always should have been. 

Not only will he cheat, he will play dirty and taunt anyone in his vicinity that has nothing to offer him. Some matches, especially during his WrestleDream match against Darby Allin, where, under the secret magic of professional wrestling, you almost believe that he’s going to retire someone, if not outright kill them. 

Anyone can talk the talk, but the current TNT Champion regularly backs up his greatness on the microphone, but he can move audiences with how his matches are structured. Everything is down to a science as he psychologically manipulates everyone to feel and stay into the story. He doesn’t need to have an epic war of chops, or a technical masterpiece, nor does he need to soar through the sky. He just does what needs to be done – the way that American wrestling is supposed to be. That’s the idea of it. 

Harkening to current AEW World Champion, the newly babyface MJF, for the longest time he was the de facto heel. The one who would get under everyone’s skin, either by low-hanging fruit or masterful planning. The one who felt iredeemable and hatable. Since his heart has changed during his time with Adam Cole, that aspect of Friedman left, despite his willingness to be himself in all his scumbag glory.

In that spot, a void was left. Left, and quickly filled by Christian Cage. I salivate at the idea of these two someday locking up with these current characters.
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Back to Adam Copeland. He’s a key fixture in Christian’s career. Despite all the heights Adam would reach within WWE as Edge, he was so intertwined with Christian. He’s grown wiser and older and lived all these things whereas Christian was, and still is catching up. Christian, someone who was great all along but doesn’t know how to handle it, has lost himself while Adam is ready to move on and accept where he is in his career. After his victory over Sheamus on that August episode of SmackDown, Adam is content and wants to finish his career the way he came in – with his best friend.

The only problem? Christian’s moved on. He’s finally on the level Adam is on, and he’s living for it. Except, it feels he’s oddly empty inside. He’s doing all these things and being horrible there, but behind that iconic scowl riddled with age and life, there is nothing. There’s an unfulfillment that is wrought with the hurt of rejection.

In my eyes, Christian portrays a victim of Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria – he’s been cast aside too much that it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to be with him, to enjoy success with him. That’s what makes his time with Luchasaurus and Nick Wayne and the previous relationship to Jack Perry so contradictory and compelling. He knows that there’s a hole he wants to have filled. He wants to help talent rise up, despite his claims to be in it for the money, but in reality he wants to see them grow. Unfortunately, who he is, this conflicted man, is also selfish. Winning the TNT Championship officially after pinning Luchasaurus. Taunting Nick Wayne’s dead father and being unhealthily horny towards his mother. That’s not fatherly love. That’s not love at all.

Yet he claims that he’s a father to them. Wherever the story goes with that, if there is a betrayal at the hands of the dinosaur and the youngster, that would be wholly justified. That will be something that Christian has to deal with, being the man who has been let down and is actively doing to them what was done to him.

But that’s what Adam has a hard time seeing. To Christian, Adam left him behind repeatedly. All the times Christian had wanted to team up again, to “get the band back together” so to speak, and it was ignored. Sometimes being a man, communicating these things is simply hard. When you crave that connection with someone who you know so well, and knows you so well, you can’t easily discuss it, at least not in a healthy manner.

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For Adam, he hasn’t seen that. He’s seen countless main events and breakthroughs to the mainstream. That spear to Jeff Hardy off the ladder at WrestleMania X-7 is forever immortalized when anyone thinks of professional wrestling. So to him, it’s all nothing. This is a final chapter that is being denied to him. All he wants is his friend. He wants to end his career on his own terms, and Christian is supposed to be a part of that. But in all his Rated-R and Ultimate Opportunist ways, Copeland doesn’t see why Christian wants to ride his own high.

Honestly, it feels I’m watching the end of a franchise film series I grew up watching – like an end to the American Pie series or a long-running comedy series. These two goofballs are telling a beautiful story but we are going to get lost in the humor, the action, and the theatrical bombast that is professional wrestling.

And that’s a credit to how much of a genius that Christian is. He’s telling a story personal to him, while being shocking and hilarious, all the while hitting our own conversational points we’ve been stating for decades. He’s being who we’ve shaped him to be – bitter that he didn’t get those chances, that he was overlooked, that he was the mistreated young talent who grew up in a vicious cycle where now he’s mistreating young talent himself. 

To think that the fanbase’s reaction at his signing to All Elite Wrestling during Revolution 2021 instead of someone like say, John Cena, CM Punk, or Brock Lesnar (for some reason) was as negative as it was, he’s damn sure since has turned that around. He’s one of the most compelling characters under the banner. Before he even entered the conversation of the TNT Championship, that belt felt as much as an afterthought as he once felt. Perhaps that’s why he holds it so tight. He’s holding a kinship, not a championship.

Right now, the belt is as hot as it’s ever been, since maybe when Miro held it. This reign is as good as, if not better than the times it was held by Cody Rhodes, Mr. Brodie Lee, Samoa Joe, Darby Allin, or the aforementioned Miro. The TNT title currently feels like the belt to watch in the company, and that’s thanks to Christian. 

So, in summary, Christian Cage really is a father at the center of it all. His role in the lives and careers of Jack Perry, Luchasaurus, and Nick Wayne, his reign as TNT Champion, and his grasp of what makes MJF and Jay White special, they’re his responsibility. He wasn’t responsible for bringing these things to the forefront, but he is responsible and is taking care of it. 

Christian Cage isn’t a father in AEW, and he isn’t a father figure. He’s just the father who stepped up.