On a recent episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast, Brian Cage joined Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone to chat about his AEW signing. Cage first talked about what drew him to AEW specifically.
“Well, you know, there were multiple factors of why I came here instead of staying where I was or going elsewhere for that matter,” Cage stated. “Personally, I was more excited to come here than anywhere else. That wasn’t the be all and end all, but, that’s why I wanted to come.
“Secondly, I felt like for me to break through the barrier that I already kind of a capped off with as far as the reach that I’ve had. This will help here, and then most importantly, this place had the most amount of not only unique, awesome matches that I wanted, but so many are first-time ever, whereas almost everywhere else were a lot of repeats. Which isn’t a bad thing, there’s just so many that I wanted and that I haven’t ever had. Artistically speaking, I feel like this would be the most fun place to go.”
Edwards noted that working with different people helps change things up. Cage agreed, saying that working with someone new allows a wrestler to work outside of their comfort zone. He used an example from the world of music.
“Absolutely – you’re able to grow in a different way,” Cage said. “Everyone kind of has, even if they don’t really realize it, has a structure or formula they kind of work with. Even if every match isn’t the same, just the way you put it together is similar.
“So when you have somebody that kind of challenges that, it makes you think outside the box. Then you kind of create something different. It’s like doing a duet or a single or something. When like Mariah Carey and Busta Rhymes had a little unique duet that they did. Something new.”
Cage says he did not know that he was going to be paired up with Taz until he came into contact with AEW Executive Vice President, Cody Rhodes. He also revealed that he did not know that he would debut at the ladder match at Double or Nothing, however, he thought the mystery participant would be him.
“I didn’t even know I was going to be paired with Taz until like a week out,” Cage admitted. “I think Cody messaged me, ‘Hey, so, you know what’s going on?’ I’m guessing I’m gonna be debuting at Double or Nothing. ‘Has anyone mentioned anything to you about Taz?’ I went, ‘No’, and then he goes, ‘Alright, let me try to connect you with Taz,’ and then even the ladder match – that was probably a week out or so I knew I was in the ladder match, but I just assumed that was me when I saw guest participant.
“I’m assuming that’s me then because it says mystery guy, so I’m assuming that’s me. And my first thought was like, what? My first match coming back from injury is a ladder match? If I’m the last guy getting to throw people around, probably be alright.”
Cage said he’s not sure what the original plan was for him. He did reveal that he tried to get on the second Chris Jericho cruise, having been on the first one. He decided against it, however, because it would not have been that shocking of a debut.
“I don’t know what the original plan was,” Cage reiterated. “I know I was really trying to politic to debut on the cruise. I was on the first one, so I loved it, Tony goes, ‘Oh, you want to do it?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, maybe we could. I know it’s pretty full though. Maybe we can find room.’ Obviously, it didn’t happen.
“Even before the injury, it wasn’t gonna happen, and I guess it makes sense too because I don’t know how surprising my debut would have been if I was chilling on the ship the whole time then all of a sudden Brian’s wrestling as well. Well, of course, I’ve been there the whole time, but I just wanted to go on the cruise.”
“Then from the sound of it, it looked like they were going to do something with me at the PPV in February, and then I got hurt,” Cage recalled. “I tore my bicep the day before my last day under contract. I was so gutted. I’m like, here we go, man. My contract is probably gonna be rescinded now, and I’m gonna be sitting at home.
“Tony’s like, ‘Dude, don’t worry about it. It’s cool.’ I think he was on the cruise when I found that out, and he goes, ‘I’ll get back to you. We’ll sort it out. Don’t worry. We’re still going to sign you. We want you part of the team. We have faith and belief in you. It’s fine. Just do what you can and we’ll keep you under contract as soon as you can debut. Then we’ll bring you aboard.'”
Cage noted that he was supposed to work the first Double or Nothing show. He said that Impact Wrestling did not want their world champion to work a battle royal pre-show and lose.
“Then he goes, that’ll be even better then,” Cage said. “We’ll have you as a big surprise for Double or Nothing, which to play it back, I was actually supposed to be on Double or Nothing last year at the battle royal. It was probably about 90 minutes to showtime. I remember, like, a lot of people in the battle royal didn’t even know, and I was so stoked because almost nothing gets kept a secret really in wrestle anymore.
“Then Impact caught whiff of it, and they were more mad because I was their world champion at the time [and] I wasn’t winning. So they’re mad because I was going to be in the pre-show battle royal and wasn’t winning as the world champion, and I get where they’re coming from with that.”
Cage revealed a conversation he had with Rhodes about working the Casino Battle Royal. There was a dispute over Cage’s role in the match since AEW did not want to put Cage over their own wrestlers on their roster, but Impact did not want Cage to lose. Cage said he pulled out of the show as to not anger either promotion.
“Even then Cody was talking to me about it like, ‘Hey, could you do it?’ ‘I should see the verbiage of my contract. I should be able to do it.’ This is back in November, prior to the first Double or Nothing, and he’s like, ‘Well we’re not gonna put you in the battle royal again because we don’t feel like you should be losing, but we can’t put you over our contracted guys. We can put you in the battle royal. We can have you eliminate everyone. I was definitely shining huge in the battle royal. You’re not winning, but I’m not getting beat.
“They pulled me off it,” Cage stated. “It was my decision. That was the best-case scenario. You don’t want to get heat from either company. I cancelled, but I felt bad because I left them hanging at the last minute.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.