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DVD Review:
Derek Burgan reviews ROH Straight Shootin' with Christian Cage

One of the bigger news stories last year was TNA pulling its first major coup
in its three years of existence by signing long time WWE Superstar Christian. It seems like a million years now, but back in the day fans would be excited when a wrestler jumped from one promotion to the other. Christian was the first guy who was towards the upper top of WWE going over to another group. This was a BIG DEAL! Earlier this year, TNA pulled talent from the ROH show (
Unscripted II) in New York because of an impending blizzard. As a make good gesture to the fans of Long Island, TNA allowed ROH to book Christian in a dream tag team partner match with Colt Cabana versus "The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels & Bryan Danielson which took place at How We Roll. Great show, horrible name. ROH was also able to conduct a Straight Shootin' with Christian, and clocking in at well over three hours, this interview covers his entire career, including his WWE IC and multiple WWE Tag Team Title reigns during his time in the WWE circus.

On to the shoot!

Asking the questions was ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky and the first subject brought
up was how Christian got into wrestling. An athlete even as a kid, Christian suffered a shoulder injury that forced him to stay home for two months and during this time he discovered wrestling on TV. Like many of us who get infected by The Sickness, Christian remembers the very first match he saw and also recalled scouring all of the television stations to find as many different shows as possible. Canada had a bunch of different promotions at the time, including the famous Hart Family-run Stampede promotion, so Christian was immediately exposed to many different styles.

In a story I absolutely loved, Christian talked about bringing a ninja throwing star to school and immediately becoming one of the most popular kids. I'm sure it's hard to believe now, but everyone who grew up during the time Christian and I did remembers the ninja craze that just about took over North America. God damn, I remember being addicted to watching
American Ninja on HBO and buying Martial Arts magazines just to see the weapons.
At the time, I was OBSESSED with ordering
caltrops. Can you imagine? What kind of situation would call for anyone, including a ninja, to use a caltop?! Didn't matter to me, in fact, now that I think about it, I still want some of
those damn caltrops, just in case. Unfortunately, for every
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles this craze spawned, it also brought with it a Hollywood Hogan in Three Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain.

Anyway, Christian offered to sell his ninja throwing star and one of the kids who wanted to buy it was none other than future WWE Rated R Superstar Edge. While Christian ended up not selling his star, he and Edge quickly became fast friends and realized they both loved wrestling as well. At a local indy show in Canada, the two jumped into the ring and did a couple spots before getting grabbed by security. Intoxicated by the brief time in the ring, the two realized they would one day become professional wrestlers and spent all of their free time trying to figure out ways to accomplish this task. It was cool to hear Christian fondly reminisce about finding plastic fences with a little "give" that they could use as their own ring ropes.

Fast forward a couple years and Edge ended up winning a scholarship of sorts to a wrestling school because of an essay he had written. I won an essay contest once as well. Winner got to write for F4Wonline for a year. Loser had to write for two years. Unfortunately Christian didn't have the $1,500 bucks or so to join Edge at that camp, so Edge had about a one year head start on training. Eventually Christian got hooked up with a local wrestling promoter and began helping the promoter out in order to get trained. Christian's training including just about everything but wrestling. Cardio, weight lifting, cardio, eating right, cardio and even more cardio were drilled into Christian on a daily basis. Christian felt that this was the way to go as when he finally was put into a ring to learn to take bumps and do spots, he was more than ready.

Fun fact: Christian's ring name is a combination of the actors Christian Slater and Nicholas Cage.

Eventually Christian and Edge began wrestling all around Canada and the northern parts of the U.S. like Detroit. Christian has some great stories of how they ran into Rhino when Rhino was first starting and the three quickly bonded. Christian had also been doing some high profile independent promotions like ECWA and, in fact, Jim Ketner was the only promoter who actually flew Christian to a show. Christian spent a lot of time on the road and gave details of a lot of trips, including the time he went to the famous Hart family Dungeon and met Stu Hart for the first time.

Jim Cornette was the first high level person to take an interest in Christian's career and promised to get Christian into one of WWE's training camps. For those that don't know, the WWE used to have the Funkin' Dojo training camps in which they sent their best blue chippers to see who had what it takes. The list of guys who spent time at the Dojo (run by Dory Funk) reads like a Who's Who list: The Hardy Boyz, Kurt Angle, Steve Corino, Christopher Daniels, Test and my boy Teddy Hart are jut a few of the Superstars. Cornette called up Christian about going to a camp, but unfortunately had to break the news the next day that "politics" had gotten someone else into the camp and Christian got bumped. This was classic as Christian first thought he was being ribbed by Cornette, then realized he really was taken off the training camp's roster. "You can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half" – Bart Simpson.

Christian did get put into the next camp and shined brightly. Before the camp was over, Bruce Pritchard pulled Christian aside and told him WWE was going to offer him a contract and to "not tell anyone." As you can imagine, everyone in the camp wanted to know what Bruce and Christian were talking about, but Christian was able to keep his contract news a secret. In typical WWE fashion, Christian did not receive a contract a week after the camp. He was told after calling Pritchard to wait another week and see if it came. The
second week passed and still no contract. At this point, Christian believed he had done something wrong and was back to square one. Maybe Johnny Ace was told to send a contract out, saw it was going to a "Christian" and sent it to Sting.

Once the WWE contract did arrive, Christian basically told his lawyer that he was signing the contract no matter what it said. Welcome to wrestling. And people wonder why there will never be a union? Now in WWE, the shoot covered everything in just about microscopic detail. If you wanted to know about a specific part of Christian's WWE tenure, I can just about guarantee it was talked about. Christian discussed winning the Light heavyweight title on his first night in and joining the Brood right after that. In a class story, Christian found out about the team disbanding when a member of WWE creative ran into them and said, "Hey, it's the Brood. Won't be saying that for much longer." All of the matches with the Hardy Boyz are covered, including who thought up what in their incredible Best of Seven series with each match having a different stipulation. Christian vividly remembers every detail about these matches, including the last match which immediately followed the Good Housekeeping match between Jeff Jarrett and Chyna. If I remember right, this was the match that Jeff Jarrett basically held McMahon over a barrel and demanded more money for (as his contract had expired shortly before the match) and is most likely the biggest reason Jarrett is all but blackballed in WWE and had to start TNA. That was also the match in which Matt Hardy told Christian that all four men went from "WWE wrestlers to WWE Superstars."

Christian talked about a lot of the guys in WWE at the time, including Steve Austin, who Christian said was the first guy in the building and the last guy to leave, even at house shows. Christian also said he was so na´ve to how the business worked, he had no idea that agents sent back reports to McMahon on what was happening at the shows. Christian also talked about how the WWE machine worked, such as a monthly newsletter Jim Ross would send out. When the Dudley Boys made their way to WWE, Christian felt that the tag team division was just as important to the company as anything else. At WrestleMania 2000 in Anaheim, the Dudleys were scheduled to win the tag team titles and Edge and Christian were going to break up. Around this time though, Christian and Edge had been hanging around WWE writer Brian Gerwirtz, and Gerwirtz suggested that they start using their off camera personalities when doing commentary in the angles leading up to WrestleMania. This brought about the goofy stuff like the "five second pose" and Vince McMahon himself realized there was no way they could be broken up until this angle was milked dry. Christian gives Gerwirtz major credit in pulling out the best of him as a performer.

When WWE was finally ready to split up Edge and Christian, they ended up buying WCW halfway through the angle. The Invasion debacle occurred and much of the focus was taken off Edge and Christian. In fact, Christian ended up being put with The Alliance (the team that represented WCW and ECW. The Alliance was "owned" by Stephanie McMahon, captained by Steve Austin, and, yes, it was as stupid as it reads) to get some heat with the fans. After the Alliance debacle, Christian was put with Lance Storm and Test as the UnAmericans. Christian hated this gimmick. Christian was hesitant about being back in a team environment, but WWE Creative was behind the idea. Christian called it "the cheapest of cheap heat." Christian balked when both he and Test were told to get hair cuts like Lance Storm. Even though he actually wanted to cut his hair, Christian thought this was a terrible idea and stood up for himself. Christian wanted his hair cut to mean something as he had long hair for his entire WWE career. Soon the team was broken up and WWE Creative "had no plans for Andrew and I." That's like the 50th Welcome to Wrestling story in this shoot.

Christian came back for the Raw Roulette show, which seems like a million years ago. The premise of that show was that they were in Las Vegas and Eric Bischoff had a huge wheel. Bisch explained that every match on Raw would have a stipulation determined by the roulette wheel. One of the matches on the wheel was a Tables, Ladders, and Chair match. Long story short, this ended up with Christian teaming with Chris Jericho, and the pair were so successful they were later booked to beat WWE tag team chaps Kane and the Hurricane. By this point Christian felt he was finally out of the WWE doghouse and also felt it was time to change his look. In hindsight, Christian felt he should have changed his look after he split with Edge, but immediately after winning the Intercontinental title, he came out with short hair. Christian covered his angles with the Rock, noting the two were hooked up together because Brian Gerwirtz was also the writer assigned to handle Rock's bits on the show. Working with Rock led into Christian becoming the new "People's Champion" but since Christian didn't want to be a complete rip-off, he ended up going with the whole Peeps thing.

Remarkably injury-free for his entire career, Christian ended up having to take some time off after starting to lose feeling in one of his legs. With the wrestler mentality of fearing time off and losing one's spot, Christian tried his best to continue wrestling, even though he was walking on his hands and knees at the hotel because he was in so much pain. WWE forced Christian to take time off, so Christian went to his home in Florida and was part of an aggressive rehab project instead of getting surgery. Christian's doctors had a Five Step plan to get him back into the ring. After completing the fifth step, Christian was told everyone else who has tried this plan had quit during the third or fourth step. Christian wished he had known this as he would have quit as well. Classic! Christian claims that the rehab worked so well that he is pain free to this day.

It was around this time when Christian also began to hit his head on the glass ceiling. Despite getting good reactions from the crowd, and having top selling "Captain Charisma" merchandise, Christian felt he was pegged in a certain slot in the company. Christian discussed a planned run with John Cena that ended up getting cut short and how his trade to SmackDown just ended up getting him into the same rut he was in on Raw. With his contract coming up for renewal, WWE kept asking Christian to sign a three year extension, but Christian kept putting it off as he didn't know what he wanted to do with his life. Christian added that he felt the coverage of his contract situation was absurd and that people were nowhere close in terms of how much money he was making. Christian did acknowledge that airline tickets were a subject he negotiated for, but he wasn't asking for first class tickets, he was asking for full fare tickets which could be upgraded for a cheaper price. Christian feels that if you are supposed to be a Superstar you should act like a Superstar and part of that is not traveling in coach. This whole thing was blown out of proportion though as WWE told Christian the tickets were "not an issue" and is was more the fact that he didn't want to meet them halfway on all the other issues.

To show WWE learns nothing from history, Christian's contract ran out on a Monday. However, he was already booked for the Taboo Tuesday PPV the next day. Unlike Jeff Jarrett, Christian participated in the PPV without holding McMahon up for a ton of money. Being friends with Scott D'amore, Christian always knew he'd have a spot in TNA if he wanted it, so Christian sold his wife on the idea of working for TNA. Living in St. Pete, Florida, the drive to Orlando was a little over an hour and Christian would also be able to do side projects since he wouldn't be on the road so much. One thing Christian loves to do is act and plugged that he has a part in a movie Shoot 'Em Up starring Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti. Believe it or not, Chris Jericho is also in the movie. Christian said he was not promised the TNA title, and like the rest of us, couldn't believe both he and Edge were world champions within weeks of each other. The two kids from Canada completed their dream.

Christian felt that part of the problem wrestling is at where it is today is because guys "get paid to train" and don't grow up busting their ass to get into the business like he did. I can see his point to a degree, but in another way it is similar to old school wrestlers bitching about how guys like Christian had it easy compared to the way they had to do it. For example, Christian didn't like the grind of WWE travel schedule, but that schedule was a hundred times worse when guys like Jake "The Snake" Roberts had to crisscross the country while working shows as WWE did not position shows on a loop close to each other.

Christian was asked who he loved and hated wrestling during his career and the one guy he had a horrible match with was Essa Rios. Apparently there was a communication problem, as Rios couldn't speak English, and the match they had was so bad Christian felt embarrassed when he went to the back. Christian did love the matches he had against Hulk Hogan, and remembers almost marking out when Hogan was HULKING UP against Christian and Christian heard the Hulkster saying "Hulk Up!" when this was going on. Surreal.

Overall Thoughts:While Straight Shootin' with Christian doesn't attain the elite status like ROH's shoots with
Mick Foley, Jim Mitchell, or CM Punk & Samoa Joe have earned, it is an enjoyable interview to watch. The biggest complaint is that, like just about any interview with a guy in TNA, there seems to be a lot of stuff held back. Christian does give his comments on the writers in WWE, but you know there is a lot more he wanted to say. The same goes with how the Invasion was handled and several other subjects. That said, this is a great DVD for fans of Christian or anyone who loved the Attitude Era. Christian is a likeable, well spoken guy who remembers in great detail everything that has happened during his career. I loved hearing his thoughts on being at the first One Night Stand and how that was Christian's first ECW show. Christian's upbringing and how he got into wrestling was also stuff I had never heard before and it was great to listen to someone who grew up in the same era as me and believed so passionately in becoming a wrestler. It is also need to see first hand how the WWE machine can eat up the soul of someone who, for all intents and purposes, would have done anything for the company. If you would like to purchase Straight Shootin' with Christian, Click HERE or head on over to www.ROHwrestling.com and check out all the other DVDs they have to offer.

Don't forget to check out Derek's
Weekly Enjoyment Index, Gimmick Table columns, Opinion Pieces, MySpace page~! and goofy stuff on The Wrestling Fan.

Special Thanks to the Dr. Keith Show's own
Keith Lipinski for his help with this review.

Recent Reviews:
Heroes of World Class DVD
Gary Michael Cappetta's Bodyslams! book
Behind Closed Doors with Jake "The Snake" Roberts DVD
Unscarred: The Life of "Sick" Nick Mondo DVD

Derek Burgan can be seen wasting everyone's time with wrestling DVD and comic book reviews over at Wrestling Observer and the world famous Wrestling Enjoyment Index at Figure Four Weekly online~! Don't forget about his Opinion Pieces at World Wrestling Insanity and goofiness at WrestleCrap as well. Whew! Derek can be reached at: derek@gumgod.com

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November 2006


by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).