Christian Cage retired in 2014 after suffering concussion issues, but he is on cloud nine with his career comeback as a star of All Elite Wrestling (AEW).
Cage, 48, made a surprise appearance for AEW in March and had his first true singles match, his first in seven years, for the company later that month. Over the course of 10 months, Cage won a world title, headlined AEW’s biggest pay-per-view (PPV) event, and served as a mentor to the company’s next crop of stars.
“It’s a gift. It really is. To get my career back, to be able to take it back after losing it for seven years is pretty special,” Cage told ET Canada. “I just wanted the right platform where I could finish my career the way that I wanted to. I wanted to do it on the biggest stages. The place that would give me the best opportunities — and along with that, being able to help out the generation coming up behind me. AEW is the perfect fit for me in that respect.
“It’s amazing that not even a full year, even from where I started to where right now, with Byan Danielson showing up and CM Punk showing up and just game-changing stuff. It’s a destination where performers want to be in AEW, they want to be a part of this and they see what we’re doing on a weekly basis. For me, this is the most fun, and this is the most excited I’ve been in my long career.”
Heading into the New Year, Cage has aspirations of being AEW’s top dog.
“My goal is always to be the best,” he said. “I feel like my comeback has been everything I’d hoped it would have been. Getting some big opportunities. I obviously won a world championship already this year with the Impact World title, but I came to AEW with that goal in mind to hold the AEW championship as well. I’ll put my sights on that for 2022.”
Cage challenged fellow Canadian Kenny Omega for the AEW World championship at “All Out”, the young company’s best-selling PPV to date. Towards the match’s conclusion, Cage took a tremendous slam, dubbed The One-Winged Angel, off Omega’s shoulders from the top rope. The height of the fall was admittedly alarming to Cage.
“I got up there at the end of that match and when he stood up, I was like, ‘Well, there’s no getting out of this now.’ I mean it was pretty damn high, I’m not going to lie,” he said. “It was jarring, you know, but when you’re out there and your adrenaline’s kicking and you’re in that type of match — the main event — you really don’t feel it in the moment, But it was there. It was a big one.”
Cage is currently aligned with Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus, two younger wrestlers expected to help carry AEW into the next generation. An opportunity to mentor younger talents is something that drew Cage to AEW.
“The business is all about giving back,” he said. “It’s given me so much in my life that I do want to share. I don’t know everything, but I feel like I know a lot. I’m still learning this business too. We’re all learning. That’s a beautiful thing about it. You’re never finished learning as a performer. But the knowledge that I do have, I’m very happy to share.
“The two guys that I’m with, Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus, they’re sponges. They pick my brain. We are a legit team. We hang out together, we talk together. We talk during the week and we’re not at the arena. We keep in touch and we’re always brainstorming. I love their enthusiasm. In turn, it gives me enthusiasm.”
Cage and his former tag team partner Edge had many classic run-ins with The Hardy Boys, Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy, in WWE. Following Jeff’s recent departure from WWE, Cage expects Jeff to join him and brother Matt in AEW.
“Yeah, of course. There’s so much history there and, obviously, I’m very close with Matt [Hardy] as well,” he said. “It’s been great to reconnect with him in AEW. He’s kind of doing the same thing as far as mentoring the younger generation the same way. He’s also got a wealth of knowledge. Jeff is an extremely talented guy. A really good guy. I’m sure at some point that will happen.”
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s “What?!” chant is one of the most iconic in pro-wrestling history. It remains a popular crowd chant to antagonize someone on the microphone, despite Austin’s retirement nearly 20 years ago. Cage played a role in the creation of that legendary phrase.
“Steve and I would sometimes just call each other if we were on drives. Just to joke around and make each other laugh and just do ridiculous stuff,” Cage said. “He called me and it went straight to my voicemail. He started leaving me this crazy message where he just started asking himself questions and answering them with ‘What.’
“I was laughing because it was so ridiculous. I asked him at the arena, ‘What was that message?’ He was just laughing, ‘I don’t know, I was just messing around.’ Literally a week or two later, I’m sitting in the locker room TV and I can hear him in the ring doing his promo on live television. All of a sudden I hear him start doing ‘What?’ and I’m like, ‘I can’t believe that he’s doing this in front of the crowd and he’s going to get it over. I know he is. And that’s how it kind of how it started.”
Heading into 2022, Cage hopes AEW can make its way to Canada and abroad, should the ongoing COVID pandemic allow for it.
“We have a huge following in Europe and Canada, at some point it would be great to figure out how to get some shows there,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s going to be 2022, but eventually, that hopefully will happen. I would love to take the show to our audiences in other parts of the world that are kind of clamouring for it.”