Christian Cage is sharing the story of his return to the ring, and part of it involves him finding the confidence to work without fear of getting injured again.
Christian spoke with ET Canada‘s Shakiel Mahjouri after his AEW debut match versus Frankie Kazarian and talked about how his AEW debut compared to his TNA back in 2005. Cage said that leaving WWE for TNA was about proving himself as a wrestler, but this time he went to AEW as a free agent and just felt like it was the best platform for him.
“When I left in 2005, it was more to bet on myself and to prove a point. I felt like I was stuck in a rut. I felt like I needed to get away in order to come back and be better than I was. I needed to step away and prove that I can work at and wrestle at the top of the card and carry a show. And I felt like if I just stayed in WWE, I wasn’t necessarily going to get that opportunity no matter what reactions or the quality of matches that I was putting on. So I needed to kind of bet on myself, get out of their face for a little while, go and prove that even if it was on a smaller scale that I could do that,” Christian said, “and I feel like I did. And then I came back.”
“This time is a little bit different. I didn’t leave WWE because I wasn’t under contract with WWE. I hadn’t been under contract for WWE in probably six, seven years at this point in time,” Christian said, “so it was a choice that I made. I needed the best platform for me at this stage of my career where I felt like I could go out and do my best work and also elevate the next generation that is coming up behind me.”
Christian initially retired due to injury in 2014, but ended up being cleared last year. Asked if he had to amend his wrestling style to account for his health and history with concussions, he said there was an initial concern about that, but one doctor explained that he wasn’t at any more risk now with working a certain style than he was before. Christian said the biggest thing to overcome was the anxiety of a potential injury and explained how he found the confidence to get back in the ring.
“I thought that, so I went up there on my own and WWE sent me to a specialist in Pittsburgh and I went through a really in-depth five-hour testing for these concussions. I saw three or four different specialists. I went to the gym and I did a full 45-minute workout for them. It was very thorough. And both the doctor said the same thing and, in particular, the doctor that I saw in Pittsburgh after the tests, he said, ‘I need you to go in the ring if you’re going to do this and not worry about getting concussed again, because if you have anxiety about it, if it’s present in your mind, if it’s what you’re thinking about, that you’re going to get hurt when you get in there, you’re making yourself more susceptible to it. You have to go in there with all the confidence in the world that you’re just as good as you’ve ever been. And as far as all these tests go and all the conversations and everything that you’ve done here, you’re at no greater risk than at any other point in your life of this happening again. Could it happen again? Sure. But you’re not at any bigger risk.’ So that gave me all the confidence I needed and honestly, I haven’t even thought about it, not once… It’s part of my journey. We have to talk about it.”