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Christian Cage

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Christian Cage
Christian WM Axxess 2015.jpg
Christian in March 2015
Birth name William Jason Reso
Born (1973-11-30) November 30, 1973 (age 43)
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Residence Tampa, Florida, United States
Spouse(s) Denise Hartmann (m. 2001)
Children 1
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Christian[1]
Christian Cage[2]
Conquistador Dos[3]
Male Nurse[4]
Billed height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)[1]
Billed weight 239 lb (108 kg)[1]
Billed from Tampa, Florida (WM18, TNA)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada[1]
Trained by Dory Funk Jr.[2]
Ron Hutchison[5]
Debut 1995[5]
Retired 2014[6]

William Jason Reso (born November 30, 1973) is a Canadian actor, variety show host, and retired professional wrestler. He is best known for his time in WWE under the ring name Christian, a shortened version of his original ring name that was also used during his tenure in TNA Christian Cage.

Reso was trained by former professional wrestlers Ron Hutchison and Dory Funk Jr., and made his wrestling debut in May 1992. Reso wrestled in Canadian independent promotions early in his career, where he frequently competed in singles and tag team competition with longtime best friend Adam Copeland. In 1998, Reso signed a developmental deal with the World Wrestling Federation and was rebranded as the storyline brother of Edge, Copeland's WWF persona. Reso made his debut the following year and immediately captured his first title in the company, the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship. He and Edge gained notoriety as a tag team for their participation in Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches and winning the WWF Tag Team Championship on seven different occasions. The team parted ways in 2001, after which Reso held various heavyweight singles titles. He first challenged for the WWE Championship in 2005, which began his transition to a world title-level performer.

Later that year, Reso signed with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) under his Christian Cage ring name, where he won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in February 2006. He recaptured the title in January 2007 and established Christian's Coalition, which disbanded a year later. Reso left TNA in late 2008 and re-signed with WWE, where he joined the company's revival of ECW. In April 2009, Reso won the ECW Championship, eventually losing the title only to regain it in July, during which he became WWE's longest-reigning ECW Champion. After ECW was shuttered, Reso went on to capture WWE's World Heavyweight Championship twice in 2011, making him the only wrestler to have held the NWA, ECW, and World Heavyweight Championships. Between WWE and TNA, Reso held 22 total championships (including six world titles) and headlined multiple pay-per-view events. He is the twenty-third Triple Crown Champion and the eleventh Grand Slam Champion in WWE history.

Early life[edit]

Reso was born on November 30, 1973 in Kitchener, Ontario,[2] the son of an American father and a Canadian mother.[2][7] He played ice hockey and was a wrestling fan as a child.[7] Reso lived in Huntsville and East Luther-Grand Valley,[7] before moving to Orangeville; here, he met Adam Copeland, who became his best friend and eventual tag team partner.[5][8] The two attended Orangeville District Secondary School together, from which Reso graduated.[5][8]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career (1994–1998)[edit]

In September 1994, Reso enrolled in a wrestling school at Sully's Gym, run by Ron Hutchison.[5] One of Reso's early ring names, Christian Cage, was a combination of the names of Christian Slater and Nicolas Cage.[5][8] Christian's wrestling career began in June 1995 in a match against Zakk Wyld, which resulted in a draw.[5] In 1997, he was a part of Thug Life, a stable that included Joe E. Legend, Zakk Wyld, Rhino Richards, and Sexton Hardcastle (Copeland). As a tag team on the Canadian independent circuit, Copeland and Reso were known as High Impact and later The Suicide Blondes. The duo held titles in numerous promotions, and competed in the United States and Japan.[9] Reso won the East Coast Wrestling Association (ECWA) Heavyweight Championship on July 18, 1998, which he held until October 15, 1999.[10]

When Copeland received a tryout match with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), Reso went with him. They faced off in an untelevised tryout match, which Copeland was booked to win. After the tryout, Copeland signed a contract with the WWF.[9] Once Copeland was promoted from his developmental status to touring with the WWF, he put in a good word for Reso and got him invited to the WWF-affiliated Dory Funk, Jr.'s Funking Conservatory training camp in 1998.[11] After completing his training at the conservatory, Reso signed a contract with the WWF to become a full-time performer.[9]

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment[edit]

Edge and Christian (1998–2001)[edit]

Christian (left) with Edge in their Brood attire, which they used along with gothic symbols

When Reso came to the World Wrestling Federation, he shortened his ring name to Christian.[5] He made his television debut on September 27, 1998 at the Breakdown: In Your House pay-per-view (PPV) event, distracting Edge during his match against Owen Hart to reveal his allegiance to Gangrel.[12][13] He won the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship in his debut match against Taka Michinoku on October 18, 1998, at the Judgment Day: In Your House PPV event.[5][14]

Christian, given the character of a vampire, formed an alliance with Gangrel and Edge, who (in storyline) was finally persuaded to join what became known as The Brood.[15] At Rock Bottom: In Your House, The Brood defeated The J.O.B. Squad in a six-man tag team match, then they briefly feuded with The Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness, later joining the team. Upon learning that Christian was beaten into telling Ken Shamrock the whereabouts of Stephanie McMahon, The Undertaker punished Christian by flogging him.[15] More loyal to The Brood than to The Ministry, Edge and Gangrel betrayed The Undertaker and rescued Christian from sacrifice later on.

Christian signing autographs in 1999

In 1999, Christian and Edge parted ways with Gangrel, who associated himself with The Hardy Boyz (Jeff and Matt Hardy) to form The New Brood; as a result, they began feuding with The Hardy Boyz, and went on to compete in a ladder match at the No Mercy PPV event on October 17, 1999, for the managerial services of Terri Runnels and $100,000, which The Hardy Boyz won.[16] At Survivor Series, Edge and Christian and The Hardy Boyz faced Too Cool and The Hollys in a Four-on-four Survivor Series elimination match where they lost. At Armageddon, Edge and Christian competed in a 8-team battle royal which was won by The Acolytes. At Royal Rumble, Christian competed in the Royal Rumble match where he was eliminated by Rikishi. At No Way Out, Edge and Christian defeated The Hardy Boyz in a tag team match to determine the number one contenders to the WWF Tag Team Championship. On April 2, 2000, at WrestleMania 2000, Christian and Edge defeated The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) to win their first WWF Tag Team Championship in a Triple Threat Ladder match, which ultimately led to the creation of the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match (TLC).[17][18] At Backlash, Christian and Edge defeated D-Generation X to retain titles. At Judgment Day, Edge and Christian and Kurt Angle lost a Six-man tag team match to Rikishi and Too Cool. They lost the tag titles to Too Cool soon after, but won them back in a four corners elimination match at King of the Ring. At Fully Loaded they defended the titles against The Acolytes Protection Agency (Faarooq and Bradshaw) where they got disqualified but retained the titles.

Edge and Christian (right) at King of the Ring performing a five-second pose

Following their victory, Christian and Edge portrayed themselves as villains, shifting their in-ring personas from borderline goth to a comedic pair of "cool dudes." During this time, their trademark became the "five second pose", where they performed a pose in the ring for five seconds "for the benefit of those with flash photography" to mock, insult, or amuse the fans.[5][19] At the SummerSlam PPV event on August 27, 2000, the duo successfully defended the tag team title in the first-ever TLC match against The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz.[20] At Unforgiven, Edge and Christian defended the titles against The Hardy Boyz in a steel cage match where they lost the titles and were not allowed another title shot. At No Mercy, Edge and Christian under Masks of Los Conquistadores defeated The Hardys for the titles. The next night on Raw is War, The Hardy Boyz dressed as the Los Conquistadores and defeated Edge in a handicap match after Christian was taken out backstage to regain the WWF Tag Team Championship. At Survivor Series, Edge and Christian teamed with Right to Censor's Bull Buchanan and The Goodfather in a Four-on-four Survivor Series elimination match where they lost to The Dudleys and The Hardyz. They regained the tag titles at Armageddon in a Fatal Four-Way match but lost them 8 days later to The Rock and The Undertaker but won them back days later on Smackdown thanks to special guest referee Kurt Angle. At the Royal Rumble PPV event on January 21, 2001, Christian and Edge lost the WWF Tag Team Championship to The Dudley Boyz.[21][22] The following month on February 25, 2001 at the No Way Out PPV event, they were unsuccessful in regaining the titles,[23] but eventually recaptured them on April 1, 2001 at the WrestleMania X-Seven PPV event in the second-ever TLC match.[24][25] Christian and Edge were defeated by The Brothers of Destruction (Kane and The Undertaker) for the WWF Tag Team Championship on the April 19, 2001 episode of WWF SmackDown!.[26] At Backlash, Christian was part of Triple threat match for the WWF European Championship which was won by Matt Hardy. At Judgment Day, Edge and Christian competed in a Tag team turmoil match which was won by Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. Days later, on the May 24, 2001 episode of Smackdown, Christian and Edge competed in a fatal four-way tag team TLC match for the WWF Tag Team Championship in which Benoit and Jericho retained the titles.

After losing the tag team titles, friction arose within the team after Edge won the 2001 King of the Ring tournament on June 24 at the King of the Ring PPV event.[27] It was also during this time that Edge was becoming a fan favorite during "The Invasion" storyline. Christian turned on Edge shortly afterward,[28] resulting in the two feuding for Edge's WWF Intercontinental Championship for several months.[29]

Championship reigns and various feuds (2001–2004)[edit]

At Unforgiven, Christian defeated Edge to win the Intercontinental Championship but lost it back to Edge a month later at No Mercy in a ladder match. Christian resumed a singles career by winning the WWF European Championship from Bradshaw in October 2001.[30] On November 3 at Rebellion, Christian faced Edge in a steel cage match for the Intercontinental Championship but failed to win the title. At Survivor Series, Christian defeated Al Snow to retain the European Championship. At Vengeance, Christian and Test faced Scotty 2 Hotty and Albert in a losing effort. He lost the European title to Diamond Dallas Page in January 2002. At Royal Rumble, Christian entered the royal rumble match where he was eliminated by Steve Austin. At No Way Out, Christian and Lance Storm entered a Tag Team Turmoil match with the winners getting a tag title shot at Wrestlemania which was won by The APA. After a series of defeats, Christian announced he would quit the WWF, but Page persuaded him to reconsider, and adopted him as his protégé.[5] Christian betrayed Page and faced off against him for the European championship at the WrestleMania X8 event on March 17, 2002, in which Page defeated him.[5] He began throwing tantrums in his gimmick at the time whenever things did not go his way. During the same event, Christian defeated Mighty Molly to win the WWF Hardcore Championship, but lost the title to Maven later that night.[31]

Christian in 2002 as World Tag Team Champion alongside Lance Storm

Following WrestleMania X8, Christian formed an alliance with fellow Canadian wrestlers Lance Storm and Test in June 2002, calling themselves The Un-Americans. Together, Christian and Storm won the now named WWE Tag Team Championship, formerly the WWF Tag Team Championship (which was renamed due to the WWF being forced to rename itself "World Wrestling Entertainment"), on July 21, 2002 at the Vengeance pay-per-view event, but later lost it on the September 23, 2002 episode of WWE Raw to the team of The Hurricane and Kane.[32] He later formed a tag team with Chris Jericho, on October 7 WWE Raw Roulette, Christian & Chris Jericho competed in a Fatal 4-Way Tag Team TLC Match for the World Tag Team Championship but failed to win the titles, but a week later they won the World Tag Team Championship, the renamed WWE Tag Team Championship, on October 14, 2002.[32][33] Christian and Jericho lost the title in a fatal four-way elimination match, involving the teams of The Dudley Boyz, Booker T and Goldust, and William Regal and Lance Storm, on December 15, 2002 at the Armageddon PPV event.[34]

In 2003, after receiving advice and endorsement from The Rock, Christian self-proclaimed himself as the new "People's Champion", and began calling his fans "The Peeps".[35][36] On the May 5 episode of Raw, Christian faced Goldberg but it ended in a no contest when 3-Minute Warning got involved which led to a rematch on May 12, where Christian lost to Goldberg in a Steel Cage match. He went on to win a nine-man over-the-top-rope battle royal at the Judgment Day pay-per-view event on May 18, 2003, for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship, the renamed "WWF Intercontinental Championship".[29] The following night on Raw, he appeared on Chris Jericho's talk show, The Highlight Reel, sporting a new haircut and ring attire.[37] Christian lost the Intercontinental Championship to Booker T on the July 7 episode of Raw.[29] He regained the title at a house show on August 10, after Booker was legitimately injured.[29] At Unforgiven, Christian defeated Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam to retain the title in a triple threat match. A week later on the September 29 episode of Raw, Christian lost the Intercontinental Championship to Rob Van Dam in a ladder match. at Survivor Series, Christian was a part of Team Bischoff taking on Team Austin during the match Christian eliminated Bubba Ray Dudley and later on Christian was eliminated by Shawn Michaels; in the end Team Bischoff won the five-on-five Survivor Series elimination match. A month later at Armageddon, Christian and Chris Jericho defeated Trish Stratus and Lita in an intergender tag team match billed as the "Battle of the Sexes".

Also in 2003, Jericho and Christian began romances with WWE Divas Trish Stratus and Lita, respectively. As part of the angle, it was revealed to be a bet over who could sleep with their respective female first, with a Canadian dollar at stake.[38][39] Despite the bet, Jericho continued his relationship with Stratus, which ultimately resulted in Christian and Jericho turning on each other. At Royal Rumble, Christian competed in the Royal Rumble match where he was eliminated by Jericho, At the WrestleMania XX pay-per-view event on March 14, 2004, Christian faced Jericho in a singles match with Stratus on Jericho's side. Stratus, however, accidentally struck Jericho, allowing Christian to defeat him.[40] Stratus then joined forces with Christian, becoming his on-screen girlfriend in the process. At Backlash, Christian and Stratus faced Chris Jericho in an Intergender handicap match which Jericho won, During a steel cage match against Jericho on the May 10, 2004. episode of Raw, Christian suffered a severe back injury, causing him to miss almost four months of in-ring action.[8][41] He returned on the August 30 episode of Raw, resuming his feud with Jericho ending in a ladder match for the vacant Intercontinental Championship at Unforgiven.[42]

Captain Charisma and departure (2004–2005)[edit]

Christian's gimmick became that of a cocky, obnoxious and overconfident villain, dubbing himself "Captain Charisma" in October 2004. At Survivor Series 2004, Christian debuted "Just Close Your Eyes" by Waterproof Blonde as his theme song. On December 6, 2004, he was forced to wrestle as Captain Charisma, complete with a superhero costume, by Chris Jericho, who was general manager for the night.[43] Christian was often accompanied by Tyson Tomko, whom he called his "problem solver", and usually won his matches with interference from Tomko. Christian was loosely paired with Edge again several times in late 2004 and early 2005. Despite being a villain, he acquired a fanbase, who he referred to as his "Peeps",[44] "Peepulation" (a play on the word "population")[45] or the "Christian Coalition".[46] at New Year's Revolution, Christian and Tyson Tomko faced Eugene and William Regal for World Tag Team Championship but failed to win the titles, At the Royal Rumble Christian competed in the 30-man Royal Rumble match where he was eliminated by Batista.

In April 2005, Christian participated in the first-ever Money in the Bank ladder match at the WrestleMania 21 PPV event on April 3, 2005.[47] Following this, Christian, who had an encounter with SmackDown! superstar John Cena at the start of the year, began commenting on Cena, claiming he was a better rapper than Cena and denouncing him as "poseur". Christian was noticeably cheered during these segments.[8] Soon after Cena, then-WWE Champion, was drafted to the Raw brand, where Cena successfully defended the WWE Championship in a Triple Threat match against Christian and Jericho on June 26, 2005 at the Vengeance PPV event.[48]

On the June 30 episode of SmackDown!, Christian was drafted to the SmackDown! brand in the 2005 WWE Draft Lottery. He replaced The Big Show in a six-man elimination match for the newly created SmackDown! Championship, and lost to John "Bradshaw" Layfield.[49] Soon-after, he was given his own interview segment on SmackDown! called The Peep Show.[50] On July 24 at The Great American Bash, Christian faced Booker T in a losing effort. On October 9 at No Mercy, Christian competed in a fatal four-way match for the United States Championship which was won by Chris Benoit.

On October 31, 2005, Reso's contract with WWE expired.[50] According to wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, he was asked on the spot to sign a new contract but declined.[50] His last match occurred during the tapings for the November 4 episode of SmackDown!.[50] Despite his quitting, Christian appeared on the October 31 episode of Raw and at the Taboo Tuesday PPV event on November 1, 2005, fulfilling his obligations to the company, as he was one of five SmackDown! wrestlers eligible to be voted Snitsky and Chris Masters' opponents by the fans.[51][52]

Before leaving WWE, Reso filed to trademark the nickname of "Captain Charisma", which allowed him to use it as Christian Cage in TNA. However, after WWE disputed the trademark claim by citing a provision in the terms of his old contract, Reso stopped officially using it on TNA programming by the summer of 2006. From early 2007 onwards, he began calling himself "The Instant Classic", although he continued to be referred to as "Captain Charisma" in off-screen appearances and sometimes wore his "Captain Charisma" entrance jumpsuits to the ring at live events.[53]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling[edit]

Instant Classic (2005–2006)[edit]

Christian, with "Coach" Scott D'Amore, during his debut at the Genesis pay-per-view event in November 2005

Reso made his debut in the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) promotion on November 13, 2005 at TNA's Genesis PPV event under his old ring name Christian Cage.[54] Cage then made his way the ring, where he grabbed a microphone and announced his intentions to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship held by Jeff Jarrett, after taking a few shots at his former employer.[54] Coach Scott D'Amore and Bobby Roode of the villainous Team Canada alliance then made their way to the ring. D'Amore then offered Cage a position in Team Canada (since Reso is Canadian) and even giving him a Team Canada T-shirt and telling Cage to take his time on making a decision.[54] Later in the night after the main event, a six-man tag team match pitting the team of Jarrett and America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm) (AMW) against Rhino and Team 3D (Brother Ray and Brother Devon), Cage ran down to the ring while Team Canada (D'Amore, Roode, Eric Young, and A-1), AMW, and Jarrett were assaulting Rhino and Team 3D.[54] After Cage entered the ring, he removed the jacket he was wearing to reveal the Team Canada T-shirt he was given earlier by D'Amore. D'Amore immediately rejoiced that Cage was seemingly a member of Team Canada until Cage turned on D'Amore and performed his Unprettier maneuver; Cage's act also solidified his character as a face.[54] Cage, Rhino, and Team 3D attacked AMW and Team Canada and threw them out of the ring; they then forced the remaining Jarrett through a wooden table after Cage removed his Team Canada shirt to reveal a hidden TNA T-shirt.[54]

Cage made his first appearance on TNA Impact! during the November 19, 2005 episode by engaging in a verbal sparring bout with Monty Brown.[55] This led to a match against Brown to become number one contender to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on December 11, 2005 at TNA's Turning Point PPV event, which Cage won.[56] At TNA's Final Resolution PPV event on January 15, 2006, Cage participated in his first TNA PPV main event by teaming with Sting to defeat the team of Monty Brown and Jeff Jarrett.[57] Cage went on to defeat then-NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jarrett for the title on February 12, 2006 at TNA's Against All Odds PPV event.[58]

Cage had his first title defense against Brown on March 12, 2006 at TNA's Destination X PPV event; there Cage defeated Brown to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.[59] On the March 25 and April 2 respective Impact! episodes, Abyss, his manager Father James Mitchell, and Alex Shelley showed two pre-taped video packages that had been compiled in the weeks before the episodes. The first, on March 25, depicted Mitchell stalking Cage's wife Denise, confronting her, and even threatening that "they were coming".[60] The second aired on April 2, with Abyss, accompanied by Mitchell and Shelley, who was taping the segment with a camcorder like the previous video package, attacking Cage at his home in Tampa, Florida and nearly drowning Cage in his own pool.[61] This storyline led to Cage facing Abyss at TNA's Lockdown PPV event on April 23, 2006 in a Six Sides of Steel cage match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, with Cage prevailing. After the match, Cage attempted to attack Mitchell and gain revenge for all his recent evil deeds against Cage and his family. Abyss, however, stopped him, took a steel chain, wrapped it around Cage's neck, and attempted to hang him with it until he passed out. Abyss and Mitchell then stole the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt and left the arena.[62] The storyline between Abyss and Mitchell and Cage continued until TNA's Sacrifice PPV event on May 14, 2006, where Cage defeated Abyss and regained the NWA title belt under Full Metal Mayhem rules.[63]

On June 18, 2006 at TNA's Slammiversary PPV event, Cage's NWA World Heavyweight Championship reign came to an end as he was defeated by Jeff Jarrett in a King of the Mountain match, which also involved Abyss, Ron Killings, and Sting.[64] Larry Zbyszko and referee Earl Hebner intervened at the end of the match by helping Jarrett win.[64] The title was declared vacant until TNA's main authority figure at the time, Management Director Jim Cornette, awarded the title belt back to Jarrett on the June 29, 2006 episode of Impact! on the condition that he defend it against the winner of a four-way match at TNA's Victory Road PPV event on July 16, 2006 involving Cage, Samoa Joe, Scott Steiner, and Sting.[65] Jarrett agreed to the condition, and at the event Sting became the new number one contender.[66]

NWA World Heavyweight Champion (2006–2007)[edit]

Christian at a TNA live event in 2007

After Victory Road, Cage befriended the new number one contender Sting on the July 27, 2006 episode of Impact!, by asking for forgiveness for doubting Sting's agenda by coming to TNA in January of that year.[67] He went on to say that he had asked Jim Cornette the week before if he could be in Sting's corner in his match with Jarrett for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at TNA's Hard Justice PPV event, but had told him he needed Sting's approval.[67] Sting accepted Cage's offer, with interviewer and occasional ring announcer Jeremy Borash announcing Sting's decision in a backstage segment on the August 3, 2006 episode of Impact!.[68] On August 13, 2006, Cage was in Sting's corner at Hard Justice as he faced Jarrett, with Scott Steiner in his corner, for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. During the contest, Cage interfered to help Sting win numerous times, as did Steiner for Jarrett, until Cage turned on Sting by taking Jarrett's signature guitar and bashing it over his head—changing his character from a face to a heel.[69] He then allowed Jarrett to pin Sting and retain the title.[69]

After the event, Cage began a feud with Rhino, whose real name is Terry Gerin, one of Reso's real-life good friends. On the August 17, 2006 episode of Impact!, Rhino questioned Cage on his actions at Hard Justice; Cage replied saying he did it for the good of TNA.[70] He went on to explain later in the episode, during a sit-down interview with TNA commentator Mike Tenay, that he attacked Sting because he felt Sting did not show enough passion during the encounter to "get the job done" and win the title.[71] The next week on Impact!, Cage came down to the ring where he addressed his attack on Sting further, until he was interrupted by Rhino. After a small debate, Rhino attacked Cage, starting a brawl between the two which came to an end after Cage laid Rhino's head on a steel chair, picked up another chair, and bashed it over the outside of Rhino's head performing a one-man con-chair-to in the process.[72] This led to a match against Rhino at TNA's No Surrender PPV event on September 24, 2006, which Cage won.[73] A rematch was held at TNA's Bound for Glory PPV event on October 22, 2006, which Cage also won under 8 Mile Street Fight rules.[74] They had their final bout on the November 16, 2006 episode of Impact!, where Cage defeated Rhino in a Barbed Wire Six Sides of Steel cage match.[75]

Christian's old WWE enforcer Tyson Tomko (now going simply by Tomko) made his TNA debut on the November 23, 2006 episode of Impact! helping Cage in a match against Sting.[68] Cage, with Tomko at his side, set his sights on the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, now held by Abyss. At TNA's Turning Point PPV event on December 10, 2006, Cage fought Abyss and Sting in a three way match for the NWA Title. Cage failed to win the match, as Abyss won to retain the championship after pinning Sting.[76]

Christian's Coalition and departure (2007–2008)[edit]

Christian (right) and Tomko (left) were reunited in TNA, while in the alliance called Christian's Coalition

Cage fought for the NWA Championship once again at TNA's Final Resolution PPV event on January 14, 2007 against Abyss and Sting, this time in a Three Way Elimination match. Cage prevailed this time around by pinning Sting after Abyss was already eliminated to win the championship.[77] After Final Resolution, Cage prepared for his title defense against the new number one contender Kurt Angle, who had defeated Samoa Joe in a 30-minute Iron Man match at Final Resolution to gain the opportunity.[77] Heading into their encounter at TNA's Against All Odds PPV event on February 11, 2007, Cage announced on the January 17, 2007 episode of Impact! that he had hired a special consultant to assist him in training for his bout with Angle.[78] This consultant was revealed on the February 8, 2007 episode of Impact!, who turned out to be Scott Steiner after he attacked Angle following a match pitting the team of Angle and Joe against Cage and A.J. Styles.[79] Cage went on to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Angle at Against All Odds with Joe as the unofficial special outside enforcer.[80]

On the March 8, 2007 episode of Impact!, Cage proclaimed that he, Tomko, and Steiner were an "inseparable family", which he called Christian's Coalition.[81] After a short feud with Samoa Joe, culminating in a victory for Cage at TNA's Destination X PPV event on March 11, 2007 for the NWA Title,[82] Cage was announced as a captain of a five-man team for the Lethal Lockdown match at TNA's Lockdown PPV event on April 15, 2007 against Team Angle, led by Kurt Angle, during the March 15, 2007 episode of Impact!.[83] Team Cage, consisting of Cage, Tomko, Steiner, A.J. Styles, and Abyss, went on to lose to Team Angle, consisting of Angle, Joe, Rhino, Sting, and Jeff Jarrett at Lockdown.[84] A stipulation was added that the wrestler who got the pinfall would become number one contender for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and have their title shot on May 13 at Sacrifice.[85] Sting was the individual who gained the pinfall victory for Team Angle, and became the new number one contender.[84]

Christian making his way to the ring in August 2007

Abyss was later kicked out of the group after he attacked Cage on the April 19, 2007 episode of Impact!.[86] Steiner was the next to leave the group, after he was attacked by Tomko following their tag team title match at the Sacrifice PPV event.[87] Cage was set to defend the NWA Championship against Sting at Sacrifice, however, on the May 3, 2007 episode of Impact! Angle was added to the match, making it a three way match.[88] The day of the PPV, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), the owners of the NWA World Heavyweight and the NWA World Tag Team Championships, stripped Cage of the title and Team 3D of the tag team titles.[89] NWA Executive Director Robert K. Trobich stated the reason was that Cage refused to defend the NWA Title at NWA live events.[89] At the PPV event, Cage, still holding the physical NWA Championship belt, defended what was billed as the "World Heavyweight Championship" against Angle and Sting. Angle was the victor of said contest by making Sting submit, who had "technically" just pinned Cage at the very same moment, and was announced as the new "World Heavyweight Champion".[87] The Impact! following the event, Angle came to the ring with a new championship belt in-toe, and announced he was the new "TNA World Heavyweight Champion",[90] a championship that TNA had just introduced at Sacrifice.[91] Afterwards, Cage and Sting came to the ring and the three began to argue over who was the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion. Due to the controversial finish to their match at Sacrifice, the title was declared vacant by Cornette. A tournament was held for the title which culminated in a King of the Mountain match at TNA's Slammiversary PPV event on June 17, 2007.[90] Cage won entry into the match on the June 14, 2007 episode of Impact!, by defeating Abyss.[92] Cage, however, failed to defeat the four other men (Styles, Joe, Angle, and Chris Harris) and win the title, as Angle hung the title belt to become the new and undisputed TNA World Heavyweight Champion.[93]

After defeating Harris at TNA's Victory Road PPV event on July 17, 2007[94] and Tomko, Styles, and he losing to the team of Andrew Martin, Sting, and Abyss at TNA's Hard Justice PPV event on August 12, 2007 in a Doomsday Chamber of Blood match to become number one contender to the TNA Title,[95] Cage restarted his feud with Samoa Joe. The two met at TNA's No Surrender PPV event on September 9, 2007, where Cage defeated Joe by disqualification when Joe refused to release his Coquina Clutch submission hold he had applied.[96] The two had a rematch on October 14, 2007 at TNA's Bound for Glory PPV event with Matt Morgan as the special outside enforcer. There, Joe defeated Cage to end his 23-month-long undefeated streak by not officially being pinned nor made to submit.[97] Cage and Joe fought one more time on the October 18, 2007 episode of Impact!, with a spot in the 2007 Fight for the Right tournament to become number one contender to the TNA Championship.[98] Cage defeated Joe to gain entry.[98] Cage made it all the way to the final round of the tournament, where he fought Kaz on the November 8, 2007 episode of Impact!. Cage defeated Kaz, but due to interference from Styles and Tomko on Cage's behalf, the match was declared a no contest, with the finals being determined on November 11, 2007 at TNA's Genesis PPV event in a ladder match.[99] Cage, however, failed to win the tournament final the second time around at Genesis.[100]

Christian in September 2008

Later in the night, Styles and Tomko helped Angle retain the TNA title during the main event as Cage looked on from the ramp.[100] Styles and Tomko were later announced as members of Angle's new group, The Angle Alliance, which led to a title match between the two on January 6, 2008 at TNA's Final Resolution PPV event, and also turning into a fan favorite in the process.[101] On the January 3, 2008 episode of Impact!, Tomko left both Christian's Coalition and The Angle Alliance.[102] Cage failed to win the title at Final Resolution, as a result of Styles' betraying and attacking him during the bout, thus ending Christian's Coalition.[103] Cage got a rematch against Angle on February 10, 2008 at TNA's Against All Odds PPV event with Samoa Joe as the special outside enforcer. He once again was defeated by Angle as this time Tomko interfered and cost Cage the match.[104] Cage teamed with Joe and Kevin Nash, known as The Unlikely Alliance, at TNA's Destination X PPV event on March 9, 2008 to defeat The Angle Alliance (Angle, Styles, and Tomko) in a six-man tag team match.[105] Cage, along with Tomko, were announced as opposing team captains for a Lethal Lockdown match at TNA's Lockdown PPV event, to be held on April 13, 2008, on the March 13 episode of Impact!.[106] Team Cage (Cage, Rhino, Nash, Morgan, and Sting) went on to defeat Team Tomko (Tomko, Styles, Brother Devon, Brother Ray, and James Storm) at the event.[107] Afterwards, Cage and Rhino began competition as a regular tag team, with the pair being involved in The Deuce's Wild Tag Team Tournament for the vacant TNA World Tag Team Championship. They, however, failed to win the tournament and the championship on May 11, 2008 at TNA's Sacrifice PPV event.[108] Cage and Rhino were involved as single competitors in a King of the Mountain match for the TNA Championship at TNA's Slammiversary PPV event on June 8, 2008, but failed to win the match.[109] Cage and Rhino went on to team with Styles, who had made amends with Cage and Rhino, in a losing effort against Angle, Brother Devon, and Brother Ray in a Full Metal Mayhem match at TNA's Victory Road PPV event on July 13, 2008.[110] On August 10, 2008 at TNA's Hard Justice PPV event, Cage and Rhino defeated Team 3D in a New Jersey Street Fight.[111] Cage was involved in a three-way match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against the champion Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle at TNA's No Surrender PPV event on September 13, 2008, but failed to become the new champion.[112] Cage then went on to participate in another three-way match against Styles and Booker T at TNA's Bound for Glory IV PPV event on October 12, 2008, which Booker T won.[113] Cage was defeated in his final TNA match on November 9, 2008 by Booker T for the newly established Legends Championship at Turning Point, with the stipulation that if Cage lost, he would have to join the newly formed Main Event Mafia.[114] On the November 13, 2008 episode of Impact!, Cage had his final appearance in TNA before his contract expired. During the telecast, Cage was to be inducted into The Main Event Mafia, but was attacked and "injured" by Angle, Booker T, Nash, and Scott Steiner after Angle learned that Cage would go back to WWE when his contract expired.[115]

One-night return (2012)[edit]

In 2012, Reso made a one-night return to TNA at Slammiversary pay-per-view under his old ring name, Christian Cage, to announce the number one moment in TNA history as voted by the TNA fans (Sting's 2006 return in the aforementioned Final Resolution tag team main event). This was part of a deal, which, in return, WWE were able to use Ric Flair in programming and induct him into the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of the Four Horsemen stable.[116]

Independent circuit (2006)[edit]

In March 2006, Reso competed as "Christian Cage" three times in the United Kingdom for the One Pro Wrestling (1PW) promotion. His first appearance was on March 4, 2006 at their All or Nothing: Night 1 event, where he defeated Rhino.[117] His second appearance was at 1PW's Know Your Enemy: Night 1 event on May 26, 2006, defeating Steve Corino.[117] At Know Your Enermy: Night 2 event on May 27, 2006, Reso fought against the champion, Abyss, and Corino for the 1PW World Heavyweight Championship in a three way dance, but failed to win as Corino gained the fall and the title.[117]

In May 2006, Reso made two appearances for the Ring of Honor (ROH) promotion as "Christian Cage". His first appearance was on May 12, 2006 at ROH's How We Roll event in a tag match with Colt Cabana against Bryan Danielson and Christopher Daniels, which Cabana and he won.[118] His second appearance was a loss to Christopher Daniels at ROH's Generation Now event on July 29, 2006.[118]

Return to WWE[edit]

ECW Champion (2009–2010)[edit]

Christian at a WWE live event during his second run with the promotion

During an interview with TNA president Dixie Carter, she confirmed that Reso's contract with TNA had expired and that he had re-signed with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).[119] Reso did not appear for the promotion until the February 10, 2009 episode of ECW under his old ring name "Christian", as a face, confronting then ECW Champion Jack Swagger.[120] Later that night, Christian defeated Swagger in his first match back.[120] Christian faced Swagger again on the February 24, 2009 episode of ECW for the ECW championship in a losing effort.[121] Christian won a tri-branded 15-man battle royal on the March 10, 2009 episode of ECW, gaining entry into the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXV, which was won by CM Punk.[122] [123]

Christian won an elimination chase tournament to become the #1 contender to the ECW Championship, gaining a title match at Backlash.[124] At the event, Christian defeated Swagger to win the title.[125] At Judgment Day, Christian defeated Jack Swagger to retain the title. Tommy Dreamer defeated Christian and Swagger in a Triple Threat Hardcore match to win the title at Extreme Rules.[126]

Christian faced Dreamer for the ECW Championship on the June 15, 2009 episode of Raw in a losing effort.[127] After unsuccessfully challenging for the ECW Championship at The Bash in a Championship Scramble match that also included Swagger, Finlay, and Mark Henry, Christian regained the ECW Title from Dreamer at Night of Champions.[128][129]

Christian retained the ECW Championship in an Extreme Rules match against Dreamer on the August 4, 2009 episode of ECW.[130] Christian then began a rivalry with William Regal over the ECW Championship, retaining the title against him at SummerSlam.[131] and at Breaking Point.[132] After a few months of defending the ECW Championship on ECW only, retaining the title against the likes of Zack Ryder and Yoshi Tatsu,[133][134] at Survivor Series, Christian was part of Team Kingston in a Survivor Series elimination match, where he eliminated both Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes before being eliminated by Randy Orton. Christian successfully defended the title against Shelton Benjamin in a ladder match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs.[135] Christian became the longest reigning WWE-era ECW Champion in late-December 2009.[136] At the Royal Rumble, Christian successfully defended the ECW title against Ezekiel Jackson.[137] On February 16, 2010, Christian lost the ECW Championship in an Extreme Rules match to Jackson on the final episode of ECW.[138]

World Heavyweight Champion (2010–2011)[edit]

Christian at a WWE live event in April 2010

On the February 22 episode of Raw, Christian was announced to have re-signed with the Raw brand. Later the same night, he defeated Carlito to gain entry into the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXVI, which he failed to win.[139] Later, it was announced that he would be WWE Pro on NXT, mentoring NXT Rookie, Heath Slater.[140]

Christian was drafted back to the SmackDown! brand due the WWE Draft.[141] On the May 7 episode of SmackDown, he was placed in a WWE Intercontinental Championship tournament, defeating Cody Rhodes to get to the finals, where he lost to Kofi Kingston.[142][143] On the July 2 episode of SmackDown, it was announced that Christian would compete in the SmackDown! Money in the Bank ladder match at Money in the Bank,[144] which he lost.[145]

In September 2010, Christian tore his pectoral muscle and was expected to be sidelined for approximately six months.[146] However, following surgery WWE released a statement that revealed he was expected to only be sidelined for four months.[147] The injury was put into a storyline with Alberto Del Rio attacking Christian backstage, on the September 24, 2010 episode of SmackDown.[148] Christian made his return from injury at Elimination Chamber, saving Edge from an attack by Alberto Del Rio.[149] On the March 4 episode SmackDown, he saved Edge from another attack by Del Rio.[150] On the March 7 episode of Raw, Christian made his in-ring return from injury against Del Rio's bodyguard, Brodus Clay, picking up the victory.[151] On the March 11 episode of SmackDown, Christian reunited with Edge and defeated Alberto Del Rio and Brodus Clay in a tag team match.[152] The following week, Christian defeated Del Rio in a steel cage match, but was afterwards attacked by both Del Rio and Clay.[153] Christian was in the corner of his best friend Edge when Edge retained the World Heavyweight Championship against Del Rio at WrestleMania XXVII.

On the April 8 episode of SmackDown!, Christian was defeated by Alberto Del Rio in a number one contender's match for the World Heavyweight Championship after a distraction from Brodus Clay. After Edge's sudden retirement from wrestling on the April 15 episode of SmackDown, Christian won a 20-man battle royal to determine who will face Del Rio for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules, where Christian defeated Del Rio to win the World Heavyweight Championship. On the May 6 episode of SmackDown, Christian lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Randy Orton.[154] At the Over The Limit pay-per-view event, he failed to regain the championship from Orton.[155] On the June 3 episode of SmackDown, Christian was the Special Referee for a World Heavyweight Championship defense by Orton against Sheamus. Orton went on to successfully defend the title. After the match, Christian hit Orton with the title belt, turning heel for the second time since 2005. At Capitol Punishment, Christian faced Orton for the World Heavyweight championship once again, however he failed to capture the title.[156] At Money in the Bank, Christian won the World Heavyweight Championship, after Orton was disqualified for kicking him in the groin; the stipulation was if Orton was disqualified or the referee made a bad call, he would lose the title.[157] At SummerSlam, Christian lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Orton in a No Holds Barred match.[158] On the August 26 episode of SmackDown, special guest General Manager Bret Hart announced that Christian would face Orton in a steel cage match on the August 30 episode of SmackDown for the championship, in which Christian went on to lose the encounter, thus ending the feud.[159] Christian then began feuding with Sheamus, leading to a match between the two at the Hell in a Cell and Vengeance pay-per-views, both of which Christian lost.[160][161]

On the November 4 episode of SmackDown, Christian was chokeslammed by Big Show and received a storyline neck injury, preventing him from competing that night.[162] Afterward, Christian wore a neck brace. On November 9, during the WWE European Tour, Christian injured his ankle, and was pulled from a Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team match at Survivor Series on November 20.[163] In December, Christian briefly appeared at the Slammy Awards and WWE Tribute to the Troops.[164][165]

Championship pursuits and injuries (2012–2014)[edit]

Christian returned from his injury on February 19, 2012 at Elimination Chamber to show support for John Laurinaitis.[166] Christian returned on the March 16 episode of SmackDown, hosting an episode of the 'Peep Show' and given a spot on Laurinaitis' team in a 12-man tag match at WrestleMania XXVIII.[167] On the March 26 episode of Raw, as part of a storyline, Christian was injured once again after (kayfabe) re-aggravating his neck and shoulder in a match with CM Punk.[168] This was to write him off at WrestleMania as it was later reported that Christian has not yet been fully medically cleared to compete due to a history of shoulder injuries. Despite the injury, Christian still appeared at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony to induct long-time friend Edge.[169]

Christian as Intercontinental Champion during his fourth reign

Christian made his pay-per-view return at Over the Limit, where he won a Battle Royal to receive a title match for either the Intercontinental or United States Championship. Despite originally selecting to face Santino Marella for the United States Championship he went on to defeat Cody Rhodes later in the show to win his fourth Intercontinental Championship, turning face once again.[170] Christian later explained his turn as inducting Edge into the Hall of Fame in 2012 made him realize that his career could end in an instant and wanted to end his career with the fans support, wanting to win multiple championships, and leave having a Hall of Fame career, much like his best friend.[171] At No Way Out, Christian successfully defended the Intercontinental title against Rhodes in a rematch.[172] On the June 29 episode of SmackDown, Christian and United States Champion Santino Marella defeated Rhodes and David Otunga to qualify for spots in the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank ladder match.[173] However, at Money in the Bank, he was unsuccessful as the match was won by Dolph Ziggler.[174] On July 23 at Raw 1000, Christian lost the Intercontinental Championship to The Miz. Four days later on SmackDown, Christian failed to regain the title from Miz in a rematch.[175] Christian once again took a leave of absence in mid-2012 due to a legit aggravated shoulder injury.

After a ten-month absence, Christian returned from injury on the June 17, 2013 episode of Raw, defeating Wade Barrett.[176] Later that week on SmackDown, after defeating Drew McIntyre, Christian was attacked by The Shield while delivering a promo.[177] On the June 26 episode of Main Event, Christian took on Shield member Dean Ambrose, which resulted in a disqualification win for Christian following interference from Ambrose's stablemates, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.[178] That same week on SmackDown, Christian teamed up with the Usos to defeat The Shield, handing the stable their second loss in six-man tag matches.[179][180] On July 14 at Money in the Bank, Christian competed in the WWE Championship Money in the Bank ladder match, but was unsuccessful as the match was won by Randy Orton.[181] During the match, Christian had his teeth chipped after a strong punch from Sheamus through the rungs of a ladder.[182] On the July 29 episode of Raw, Christian defeated World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio in a non-title match.[183] That same week on SmackDown, Christian defeated Randy Orton and Rob Van Dam in a three-way match to become number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship, after which, he was attacked by Del Rio during a post-match interview.[184] On the August 9 episode of SmackDown, Christian again defeated Del Rio in a non-title match.[185] On August 18 at SummerSlam, Christian failed in his title challenge against Del Rio.[186] On the September 9 episode of Raw, following Edge's opinion on Triple H's recent abuse of power, The Shield dragged out an assaulted Christian as a message to anyone that disrespected Triple H. On that week's SmackDown, Edge promised Christian would return soon and get his payback.[187] Christian returned and appeared on the 2013 Slammy Awards, where he presented an award and appeared in a segment involving John Cena and Randy Orton.

Christian returned on the January 31, 2014 episode of SmackDown to defeat Jack Swagger in a qualifying match for the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.[188] On the February 17 episode of Raw, Christian attacked Daniel Bryan from behind while he was distracted by Kane and mocked Bryan during the match, making him a heel. At Elimination Chamber, Christian eliminated Sheamus before being eliminated himself by Bryan. On the March 24 episode of Raw, Christian won a fatal four-way match including Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus to challenge Big E for the WWE Intercontinental Championship, which did not come to fruition due to Christian suffering a concussion; this was his final match.

Part-time appearances and retirement (2014–2016)[edit]

Christian hosting the Peep Show at Night of Champions in 2014

After suffering his concussion, Christian appeared on pre-show discussion panels for WWE for events including NXT TakeOver, Money in the Bank and Battleground.[189][190][191] In 2014, he went on to host the Peep Show program with Chris Jericho at Night of Champions in September and with Dean Ambrose on the November 7 episode of SmackDown.

Christian and Edge were the guest hosts for the December 29 episode of Raw,[192] where WWE commentator Jerry Lawler referred to Christian as "retired". PWInsider corroborated Lawler's statement, adding that because of multiple concussions and other injuries, the company considered Christian retired as an active wrestler.[6] On October 27, 2015, Christian's profile was moved to the alumni section at WWE.com, and noted that he had left active competition.[1] On the March 2, 2016, episode of Talk is Jericho, Christian said that while he has had no formal discussion with management regarding his retirement, he is unlikely to wrestle again.[193]

Starting on February 21, 2016, Reso began appearing along with Edge in the WWE Network exclusive, The Edge and Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness. In July of 2017, it was announced that the Show was canceled from the Network.[194]

In mid May 2016, it became known that Reso had been released from his talent contract.[195] On the June 22, 2016 Talk is Jericho podcast focusing on the Chris Benoit tragedy, Jericho mentioned Christian as an example of modern wrestlers who had to retire as the WWE would no longer give them medical clearances due to concussion related injuries. This was largely as a consequence of the Benoit incident, as well as better knowledge of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and other concussion related risks.[196]

Other media[edit]

He has been a playable character in most of WWE video games starting from WWF Attitude until WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006 and then reappearing in WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 and appears in WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011, WWE '12, WWE '13, WWE 2K14, WWE 2K15, WWE 2K16 and WWE 2K17. He also appeared in TNA Impact! video game in 2008. In 2007, TNA Home Video released a DVD titled The Instant Classic: Christian Cage, covering his beginnings in the independent circuit and other various subjects up to his second NWA World Heavyweight Championship reign.[197] Reso is also the host of the DVD The Ladder Match 2: Crash and Burn. In September 2015 Christian and Edge were guests on Stone Cold Steve Austin's Stone Cold Podcast, which aired on the WWE Network.

Personal life[edit]

Reso currently lives in Tampa, Florida, with his wife Denise, a German model whom he met while on tour in England. The couple married on May 25, 2001. On December 9, 2013, Reso announced on WWE.com that he had taken time off due to recurring post-concussive symptoms and during the time off his wife gave birth to their first child, a daughter called Isla.[198]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2007 Shoot 'Em Up Senator's guard
2007 Dark Rising Ricky
2009 Bloodstained Memoirs Himself
2010 Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf Officer Pete Gallant
2017 SuperGrid Kurtis

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2006 Casino Cinema Himself
2014–15 Haven McHugh

WWE Network[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2015 Swerved Himself
2015 Stone Cold Podcast Himself
2016–2017 The Edge and Christian Show Himself Co-host

In wrestling[edit]

Christian setting up his Killswitch on The Miz
Christian performing a frog splash on Kurt Angle
Christian choking Randy Orton against the ring ropes

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

While with TNA, Christian became a two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion
When returning to WWE in 2009, Christian won the ECW Championship twice

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]