Chris Jericho isn’t just “The Ocho,” “The Demo God,” “Le Champion,” and about 100 other nicknames he’s been afforded by himself and others over his 32-year wrestling career. No, for all of the accolades Jericho has earned in the ring, he’s just as known for his knowledge of the industry, as he’s a certified student of the game who not only has an expansive knowledge of the industry but is willing to learn and grow with each passing year, as his work with performers like Orange Cassidy and Danhausen clearly proves.
So naturally, when Jericho gives his endorsement to another star who is about to become a free agent in AEW, Tony Khan will probably take his opinion into particular account with future deals. Fortunately for Brian Cage, that very scenario happened after his match with Konosuke Takeshita on Dynamite, as Jericho, in conversation with The Daily Star, believes the former member of Team Taz deserves a longer look in AEW.
“I think Brian Cage over the last six months is the best Brian Cage has ever been,” Jericho said. “I think he’s finally starting to understand some of the psychology of wrestling rather than just moves and that sort of thing. He is one of a kind with his size and agility, but now there is more intensity and I think he’s really understanding who he is as a wrestler. Six months ago I might have said ‘Well, whatever, if he says that’s cool,’ but now I think he has become a way more valuable part of our roster and I would sign him for sure. Absolutely.”
To Jericho’s credit, Cage has changed quite a bit in his AEW debut. Initially hired as Taz’s muscle following an impressive run in Impact Wrestling, Cage’s character was more or less a blank slate used to service whatever story he was a part of and serve the desires of his manager. While this was helpful for stars like “Hangman” Adam Page and especially Ricky Starks, who had elevating programs with the star, it didn’t leave much room for storylines for “The Machine” when his title reign came to an end.
Since returning, however, Cage has shown more personality both in the ring and on the mic, especially during his backstage segment with MJF, and has become a reliable measuring stick for AEW performers in the middle of the card, which, considering where he was nine months ago, is a pretty good place to be.
Chris Jericho compares Brian Cage’s recent run to one of his classic WWE feuds.
Discussing Cage’s developments as a storyteller further, Jericho compared “The Machine’s” recent developments as an in-ring performer to his own awakening as to what professional wrestling is capable of. Though his own revelation didn’t come until nearly 20 years into his professional wrestling career, Jericho’s program against Shawn Michaels in WWE helped to establish him as more than just a professional wrestler but instead a full-blown storyteller who can captivate the audience with his punches and his prose.
“You’re always given opportunities in the business, like for me – when did I really become Chris Jericho?” Jericho asked. “I’d say 2008 – that’s 18 years into [my time in] the business, when I did that feud with Shawn Michaels. That’s when I really got it. I had already been Undisputed Champion and all that other stuff, but that’s when it really hit me, what wrestling is all about. You can look at all the stuff prior; debuting against The Rock and the matches I had, they’re all good, but nothing from that time period is as good as the stuff I did in 2008, that’s just my opinion. So, it takes a while for guys to get it. So ‘flying under the radar?’ – I don’t see that. You have to figure stuff out on your own and that’s what makes you great. If you can stick it all together… I think everybody has their individual journey on how to get there.”
Will Cage eventually shed Prince Nana and finally stand on his own as an AEW performer, something fans in promotions like Warrior have seen firsthand? Or will he continue to serve as a midcard muscle man who loses when it counts, picks up easy wins on Dark and Elevation, and lives to fight another day? While it would be shocking to see Cage as AEW World Champion any time soon, maybe Jericho is right – maybe there’s more to Cage than meets the eye, and AEW fans will find it all out soon enough.