AEW WrestleDream 2023 saw the debut of Adam Copeland – formerly WWE Hall of Famer Edge – after the main event of the show. While his appearance in AEW caused huge stirs across the wrestling world, it was the performance of Christian Cage on the show that solidified him as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.
The match truly showed just how despicable the TNT Champion really is. Christian Cage is the best heel in the world today, and it is made even better when you realize just how petty his initial heel turn was.
Christian Cage’s Heel Turn Was Amazingly Petty
Christian Cage came into AEW as a babyface, but struggled to get the reactions needed to become the top wrestler in the company. While he was pushed early on, even beating Kenny Omega to win the Impact World Championship on the AEW Rampage debut episode, he was soon pushed down the card.
After losing to Kenny Omega in the main event of All Out 2021, Christian Cage slid down into the mid-card into what most people expected would be his level for the rest of his career. At nearly 50-years-old and after spending eight years in retirement between 2013 and 2021, it didn’t seem like the time for the Canadian to reinvent himself completely.
Christian Cage soon teamed up with Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy. His experience helped the team to win the AEW Tag Team Championships, although he very rarely stepped into the ring alongside them. He would occasionally interfere in their matches, but Christian was mainly there to add some star power to the group.
However, his heel turn would come unexpectedly and for the pettiest reason possible. After Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus lost their tag titles to the Young Bucks in June 2022, Christian Cage beat up the young Jack Perry, before leaving with Luchasaurus and forming his own new team with the dinosaur.
The reason for his heel turn was incredibly petty. The year prior, Jungle Boy eliminated Christian Cage to win the Casino Battle Royal. Because of this very, very mild indiscretion, Christian Cage decided to “hitch his wagon” to Jungle Boy, riding his wave of popularity to make as much money as he could, before turning on him and making his life a living hell.
This just showed that the character of Christian Cage was never a good guy, but just that he had nothing to be angry about until that point. From then on, he made his life’s goal to ruin Jack Perry’s life, and in doing so started the greatest gimmick in wrestling history – Dad-Hating Christian Cage.
His Turtleneck, Dead Dad-hating Gimmick Is Revolutionary In Its Simplicity
During his feud with Jungle Boy (who later took on the name Jack Perry), Christian Cage turned heel and created one of the best gimmicks in AEW history. After attacking Jungle Boy in Dynamite, Christian Cage cut a promo a week later, where he detailed the reason behind his new-found hatred for Jungle Boy.
He laid out that the only reason he did what he did was because Jungle Boy eliminated him from a battle royal, and that he wanted to make his life a living hell from there on after. Christian also revealed that Jungle Boy looked at him “like a father figure”, but that he already had a father (Hollywood star Luke Perry), but that “your father is dead”.
“I know Jungle Boy. He looked at me like a father figure, he sure did. But here’s the thing, Jungle Boy. I never wanted to be your father. I never wanted to be your father figure. You have a father, but your father is dead.”
Cage went on to have a legendary feud with Jack Perry – albeit with a large injury break in the middle – that ended with a coffin match at Full Gear 2022. However, this did not turn Cage away from his ways. He doubled down, focusing on other wrestlers with dead fathers, with the muscle of Luchasaurus backing him up.
Taking on wrestlers like Wardlow, Brian Pillman Jr and Nick Wayne, Cage became the best character in wrestling. His delivery was full of disdain, refusing to ever relent on his attacks on the crowd and fans, becoming the most distasteful and hateable wrestler on the planet.
Christian Cage Was The Best TNT Champion, Without Being Champion
Luchasaurus defeated Wardlow to win the title earlier this year, but you never knew it. As soon as he won the title, Christian Cage grabbed the title belt and began to celebrate as if he were the champion.
In fact, Luchasaurus touched the title until the very end of his reign. For all the months he defended the belt, Christian Cage carried the belt around and proclaimed that he was the TNT Champion. This lead to some hilarious moments, where he insulted the likes of CM Punk and his own daughter for wanting to hold belts they did not earn.
“Now, before you go Punk, I have a question – what kind of man carries around a championship he didn’t win”Christian Cage on CM Punk’s reign as the “Real” World’s Champion.
Christian Cage Was Inspired By The Iron Sheik
During a recent episode of Swerve City Podcast, Christian Cage spoke out-of-character about his recent run in AEW. He revealed that his current heel character, which is wildly regarded as the best heel wrestler in the world today, was inspired by the work of the WWE Hall of Famer The Iron Sheik.
The Iron Sheik was a legend in the WWE in the 1970s and 1980s. The Iranian grappler was the man who Hulk Hogan beat for the WWE Championship for the first time, and exhibited an incredible dedication to his character that has become his legacy in wrestling.
Christian Cage revealed that he was inspired by The Iron Sheik in his current heel run, and that he learnt from” “classic heels and villains like The Iron Sheik” in the process.
“To me, the most important aspect of being a true villain is having no redeeming qualities, you’ve got to throw those out the window,. You learn those from classic heels, villains like a guy like The Iron Sheik, he was ahead of his time almost with some of his mannerisms and his delivery and his persona. He was a true villain and a trailblazer.”
“As long as you’re delivering it and you believe what you’re saying and you believe it with every ounce of your being, for you that’s true and you’re right and you’re justified, even though it’s probably wrong. That’s how I look at it.”
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.