At the time of this writing, current All Elite Wrestling TNT Champion Christian Cage is in Day 91 of his self-declared never-ending run as champion, a reign that today surpassed Cody Rhodes’ inaugural victory to become the 4th longest reign in the prize’s illustrious tenure. The career resurgence of ‘The Instant Classic’ has been critically acclaimed since signing on with the plucky underdogs out of Jacksonville, Florida in 2021. This is seen both through his individual efforts as the catalyst for the end of Kenny Omega’s stint as ‘The Belt Collector’ and in turn becoming the only man to hold the NWA, TNA & Impact World Heavyweight Championships, as well as his philanthropy work in rescuing best friend & student Luchasaurus from a problematic and brash youngster that we’ll speak on later.
A career that has entertained fans in sold out venues and on TV sets around the globe for over 20 years, a career that at one point was cut short by the wrestler he defeated to win his first WWE World Heavyweight Championship; the wrestler who stood opposite Cage’s childhood friend & longtime partner Edge during his seemingly career-ending match at Wrestlemania 27, Alberto Del Rio; a career which in parallel fashion to Edge saw rejuvenation and an unprecedented life breathed into it after a long duration on the shelf. So why is it that the story of a multi-championship winning veteran, gifted the opportunity to see out the twilight of his professional wrestling life on top, a story that is marred with statements questioning the validity of his most recent career triumph. “He wasn’t a legal competitor in the championship match”, “carrying a title doesn’t make you the champion” and “did he really just get security to kick his 10-year-old daughter out of the arena?” have all been thrown in the direction of ‘Captain Charisma’ in an attempt to tarnish the legacy of one of professional wrestling’s most underappreciated.
Regardless of the fact that multiple broadcasters on AEW programming have referred to Christian Cage as the TNT Champion, as well as acknowledging a father’s right to instil positive life lessons upon his dependants on national television, these are not the biggest issues with the reception towards the man that ‘outworked everyone’. The problem lies with the reactions concerning Cage’s disdain for dead fathers, more so the fact that after 20 years on screens across the planet no one saw the same pattern of events occur from the moment he debuted an hour away from his home in Ontario, Canada; all the way until now. If you need any further proof, let’s begin by analysing Christian’s history of partnerships, protégés & problem solvers.
Luchasaurus: The Peak of an Evolutionary Tale
Though his time within professional wrestling, Christian Cage has shared the ring with numerous partners and stablemates, ranging from multi-time World Champions, Hall of Famers and icons alike, with names such as the aforementioned Edge, Chris Jericho, Just Joe and Mark Jindrak being some of the first to come to mind. While Christian has more often than not surrounded himself with competitors that held a tool necessary to become a star in the industry, none have come as complete a set as Luchasaurus.
Luchasaurus’ first threat is the imposing figure he casts, winning half the battle before the bell is rung by simply sharing a ring with an opponent. Whether casting a 6’5” shadow or passionately educating a foe on medieval history or the marginalisation of dinosaurs across 65 million years, ‘The Post Modern Phenomenon’ poses a unique threat before you take into consideration the fact that he can move around the ring at the same high octane pace that his name suggests. Christian Cage would find early success in his career with larger-than-thou partners, however the necessary next step into wrestling folklore would require him to form the fundamentals that would eventually become the blueprint for his glory alongside Luchasaurus.
While it would be easy to point at Edge as his earliest taste of success with a larger partner, Christian’s first understanding of what that kind of backup would do for him and what it would mean for his opponents would come in April of 1999. With two months behind Christian as part of the Ministry of Darkness, surrounded by a conglomerate of giants and towering Paul Bearer by height only, Christian was the target of ringleader and legally deceased Undertaker, who ordered all of his gothic giants upon the former Light Heavyweight Champion. Whilst he escaped that night without being the victim of a public sacrifice, Cage vowed from that point on to never be a follower, and to always have a bigger man behind him to do the heavier lifting necessary.
This mindset was further solidified after the inception of beloved WWE stable ‘The Un-Americans’, with the original tandem of Cage & Lance Storm finding limited success prior to the inclusion of the towering force Andrew ‘Test’ Martin, who helped inspire Christian to his first post-Copeland era Tag Team Championship reign. It wasn’t until the brief but foreshadowing introduction to ‘The Problem Solver’ Tyson Tomko 7 years after Cage’s debut that the concept of a Main Event Run was ever even suggested for ‘The Pontiff of Peepulation’, and it wouldn’t be until 2 years later that Christian would form a faction that consisted of the golden formula of which he reaps the benefits of today.
Christian’s Coalition, and how dead fathers are involved
Christian’s largest success outside New York wasn’t his first tenure with “Ten Pounds of Gold”, it was his 2nd, and the most pivotal aspect of that reign was the attitude he carried himself with and the people he surrounded himself with, and when you look at the structure of Christian’s Coalition, you’ll see some glaring similarities to the one that was painted of Luchasaurus, and while there were many members that came and went and could easily be substituted in or out, the best presentation of ‘The Golden Triangle’ was the trio of Christian, Tomko & AJ Styles.
Styles, who possessed speed and agility not seen before and had been floating under the radar of western audiences for the better part of a decade at that point. Tomko, a stacked slab of meat with power of immense proportions and a track record of success alongside Christian at the end of his tenure with the WWE. Alongside Cage, the veteran with a higher ring IQ than most locker rooms combined and the now comfortably positioned main event talent, this combination of skills is what Christian saw the moment he watched the pro wrestling dinosaur in action. If he wanted to get anywhere near Luchasaurus, however, it was to get rid of The Jurassic Express.
The disdain for dead fathers can be dated back to Christian Cage’s adolescence, but it was first used as a weapon during his debut for the WWE in 1998. After growing up alongside fellow Canadian, Edge, the two both aspired to be WWE Superstars and tag partners. Cage’s parents provided a stable environment for Christian to graduate from secondary school to ensure he would have an educational backbone no matter what he wanted to do in life. Edge however would pursue the world of professional wrestling earlier and before Christian could show off early signs of his upcoming philanthropy, Edge became a loner and a drifter, abandoning his longtime friend in the process.
All it took was some minor convincing for Christian to make the hour-long drive and debut at the expense of the first person to deceive him in the industry. Christian didn’t blame Edge though, if he did there wouldn’t be any historical moments with the two as a unit. The one thing that could’ve stopped Edge from taking the path he took was a stable household with a focus on key values that are needed to be active members of society. What he needed was a role model to look up to so that he would stay on the path best followed. The issue is that Edge didn’t know his father and, as far as Cage was concerned, from that night on he may as well have been dead. Nearly 25 years to the date of his debut, after looking back on his career following a loss in the Casino Battle Royal at AEW Double or Nothing 2021, Christian set forth to replicate the plan of the man that brought him into the world of wrestling.
If anyone is to blame, it’s Gangrel
In the midst of a month-long feud with the WWE’s newest Canadian blonde bombshell that roamed the streets aimlessly at night, the even newer and clearly reckless vampire named Gangrel decided that, rather hastily and dangerously, the bad blood in this clearly deep-rooted issue called for the subsequent brainwashing and eventual transformation of Christian Cage into the vampire featured during his time with The Brood. It was through the brainwashing process that the feelings of pure vitriol towards deceased fathers was intensified, but it was the promises that were kept to the hungry new debutant that convinced Christian to pledge his early days towards fangin’ & bangin’, actions that have been equally mirrored towards Luchasaurus.
Like Gangrel’s twisting of the then level-minded and well brought up Cage, the first step in Christian’s plan was to infiltrate Jurassic Express and use the flaws of one of AEW’s instrumental ‘pillars’, ‘Jungle Boy’ Jack Perry. With Luchasaurus and Marko Stunt more than happy to absorb any knowledge that Cage had to offer, tensions built quickly within the Jurassic Camp when it was obvious that Jack Perry wasn’t keen on taking any advice, steadfast with the belief that he didn’t need the help. Off the back of these issues came the disappearance of Marko Stunt, and whilst no direct correlation has been found between Gangrel’s initial plan in 1998 and his sudden vanishing, it’s fair to speculate that Marko’s child-like appearance would’ve eventually gotten to Christian. Off the assumption to the casual viewer that he seemed to be without a parent present, Cage must’ve viewed him similarly to that of an orphan and dispersed of him in one way or another, another tale spun within the mind of a now conflicted Luchasaurus.
Christian then had to dangle the carrot in front of Luchasaurus. Jungle Boy had opportunity after opportunity at singles championships and had come up short, but as a Tag Team alongside Luchasaurus, he struck AEW Tag Team Championship glory. In 1998, Gangrel presented a similar mindset to the soon to be Creepy Little Bloodsucker. Edge had been getting opportunities in the WWE as early as 1996 with very little to show for it, while Christian wasn’t even afforded a foot in the door by the company, let alone offered help from Edge. Gangrel, a quiet yet avid practician of mental manipulation, used quite frankly erroneous methods to secure Christian an opportunity at the WWE Light Heavyweight Championship in his debut match in return for his allegiance in what would become The Brood. With his victory over TAKA Michinoku at Judgement Day: In Your House, Christian’s first opportunity became the inspiration for his finest adaption of Gangrel’s plan. Offering Luchasaurus an opportunity to compete in a TNT Championship Match in exchange for betraying Perry and pledging allegiance to Cage.
After months of brainwashing, in the mind of Luchasaurus just as it was painted to Christian Cage back in 1998, Jungle Boy was benefitting from the lack of a father in his life in a similar way to Edge. The key difference was that Edge was painted as a victim of circumstance, with the goal to recruit Edge into The Brood later on. Christian, clearly seeing years ahead of what was to come, could see no benefit in Jungle Boy and painted him to Luchasaurus as a leech off of his father’s success, something that disgusted the sole surviving descendant of a lineage that hasn’t existed for tens of millions of years.
It’s that key fact, along with the detail that he would be competing in the match, but not for the right to become TNT Champion that Luchasaurus had been too mentally drained to notice through months of strenuous planning from Christian Cage. Before long, the vampiric fangs of Christian re-emerged to bite down on the prehistoric neck of Luchasaurus, changing the hue of his green scales to that of black and red, in turn poising Christian for a long, vicious and dead dad denouncing championship reign as the representative of the TNT Network, and it’s all thanks to Gangrel.