From the moment Dixie Carter tweeted that Christian Cage would be appearing at Slammiversary, the rumors have been plenty on what he might do.
It has been rumored on LordsofPain.net that he will be used for DVD purposes or that he may be the first inductee into the TNA Hall of Fame.
I hope it will be the latter. But whether TNA chooses to honor Christian tonight, I will take a few paragraphs to honor him here.
Christian is a man who I have always argued deserved better from WWE. Not only did he deserve better, he deserved better sooner.
Like, in 2005, when he stood face-to-face with Vince McMahon.
The Christian in this video could have easily been a World Champion. Not only could he have been a superstar. He could have been a megastar.
He was much different than he is today.
He had a swagger like he no longer has. He had catchphrases like Captain Charisma and The Christian Coalition and, of course, that’s how I roll.
He was arrogant and hopeful and talked up Christian and talked down Hulk Hogan. He stood toe-to-toe with Mr. McMahon and brought down the house when he said,
“I think my Peeps would tell you if I was taken with the first pick in the draft to SmackDown and I would face maybe, say, John Cena. I don’t like to brag but I would kick Marky Mark’s ass and take his WWE Title because that’s how I roll.”
This was the moment that Christian was poised to have an era and a run of his own (at least to do what Miz would do only later). But there are eight words in that quote that present the sad irony of what happened to Christian at that time in his career: “If I was taken with the first pick.”
Sadly, Christian would never be WWE’s first pick for anything.
In Christian and Edge, it would be Edge. In Christian and guys like Christian (again: Miz), it would be the guys like Christian. It would be Batista and Chris Jericho and John Cena, but it would never be Christian.
When Vince McMahon called Christian a "creepy little bastard," I would like to have asked him which part bothered him the most: the creepy or the little.
Creepy works if you sell it right.
I think it might have been the little that bothered Mr. McMahon.
If Christian had been three inches taller and three inches wider, perhaps he would have been rewarded two more titles for every inch of stature.
That is sometimes the world in which we live.
I applauded Christian when he left the WWE for a chance to be a top star.
I was both happy and excited to see the debut of Christian Cage in TNA. I still remember Don West's declaration when Christian Cage first appeared (in all CAPS before any Don West quote should be).
“CHRISTIAN CAGE! THE RUMORS ARE CORRECT! HE HAS MADE THE JUMP! THIS CROWD IS ON THEIR FEET AND THEY’RE GOING CRAZY. PEOPLE WONDERED IF HE WOULD REALLY DO IT. WELL, THERE IS YOUR ANSWER.”
As he said, there is your answer, Christian happened to be slapping his own chest.
This was an unprecedented jump. And it is arguable that it happened so easily because WWE thought so little of Christian as a top star.
Christian would cut his first of many classic promos in TNA on his first night and the Instant Classic would soon go on to become the NWA Heavyweight Champion.
Like his time in WWE, however, he would later find himself back in the mid-card, as TNA got Kurt Angle and changed directions almost as frequently as months on the calendar.
It is a strange thing about Christian.
He first suffered because Vince McMahon didn’t recognize his star power, but one can argue he was rewarded for the very same reason.
A top star who jumped ship and won his first major title in another company could easily be blackballed.
Not creepy little Christian, however.
They let him come back and work their third brand—ECW.
These setbacks are now the reason Christian can say what so few can. He is a former NWA, ECW, and WWE Champion. What a strange resume and what a nontraditional path to get there.
He never had a full-on era.
He was always the utility guy.
Have a spot that’s open?
Christian can fill it.
He can be the jumped ship guy or the ECW guy or the temporary Heavyweight Champion guy. Even now he is the veteran IC Champ guy.
While many are saying the first TNA inductee should be Jeff Jarrett or AJ Styles, I have no problem, if it happens, with Christian getting the nod.
Remember what he said to Vince McMahon half a decade ago about being picked first?
This would be the first time Christian gets picked first.
And it would mean a great deal to me, because Christian Cage was the reason I remembered I had been a wrestling fan.
I grew up with NWA and WCW and I liked my wrestling to feel real and intense and like something was on the line.
When WCW failed and WWE no longer entertained me, for a few years I thought not only was I not a wrestling fan but that I had never been one.
Too many times I had turned on the TV and not felt anything and wondered why I watched so many years.
Then I turned on TNA and saw a promo between Christian Cage and Monty Brown. They were funny and poignant and sharp and cut each other down, word by word.
I liked the promo, but I wasn’t yet changed.
It wasn’t until I tried to go to sleep that night.
I was in bed and suddenly thinking, Those guys said a lot about each other. They really cut each other down. They really put their reputations on the line. Somebody is really going to lose face when they have their match.
And just like that, it was back and I was back.
I needed what Christian needed when he jumped to TNA—for what was going on to truly matter.
Christian became Christian Cage because he had been caged. Because he was creepy or little or too much this or not enough that.
But inside that cage he built a life for himself. He built a career. He told a story that he is still telling today.
He told a story that I hope he will be honored for at Slammiversary.
To be the first in a company’s Hall of Fame is an honor that will last forever (one not awarded to Edge or John Cena or nearly anyone else). To one day become a part of TNA and WWE’s Hall of Fame would be something very few could do.
Like being the NWA, ECW and WWE Champion, it comes from being overlooked.
It comes from being Christian—wrestling’s great utility man.