Christian Cage was on the latest episode of the Talk Is Jericho podcast. He and his long-time friend Chris Jericho discussed Cage’s journey back to the ring and to AEW. Cage explained his process in getting cleared to compete.
“Adam (Edge) got cleared. I know it’s a different injury, but he never thought he was gonna be able to come back,” Cage pointed out. “Who’s to say they won’t clear me at this point in time? It’s been seven years. I made my own appointments, and just went on my own and figured, if I go, they tell me they think I can do this, then I’ve opened up doors, and if they say no, you should probably stay retired, then I’m in no different situation than I was when I woke up in the morning.
“That’s what I did. I went to the University of South Florida and saw a specialist there, and I went through the physical training, went through the testing on the computer. They even said the testing had advanced some, obviously since I took it last, and when I sat in with the doctor, after I did all the tests, he was like, ‘Man, your test scores were great. You were average or above average on everything. You didn’t fail. You weren’t below average on any of these scores. Your physical tests were great, so let’s have a conversation.’ We started talking.
“And eventually we got to the point that he asked me, ‘What is it that you want to do?’ And I said, ‘I would like to go back and finish my career on my own terms, but I’m obviously not going to do it if it’s going to put my health at risk,’ and he said, ‘I think you can do this. I don’t think you’re thinking irrationally at all. From everything that we’ve talked about, all these test scores, everything’s laid out here, you can do this if it’s what you want to do.’ And that was like, wow, pretty surreal moment.”
Cage told WWE that he was cleared to compete, and WWE wanted to keep that under wraps. He talked about going to Pittsburgh for more testing and revealed what the doctor told him in regards to concussions.
“I brought it to to WWE’s attention that I had got this clearance, and obviously, they were very excited about it and was told they wanted to keep it close to the vest,” Cage recalled. “Quietly, [they] sent me up to Pittsburgh, I believe, towards the end of October. They sent me up there, and same thing, I just went through tests, but it was a harder test. It was more thorough tests, and it was probably about five hours long to be honest. And I saw about three or four different specialists for different things. Did a full in the gym physical workout.
“It was very very thorough, and the doctor said the same thing as the doctor here at USF said. Exact same thing but one thing I found interesting that he said was, ‘Did you find yourself, when you were getting concussed more, did you find yourself getting anxious and thinking about it a lot?’ I said, ‘Of course. Yeah.’ He said, ‘I need to stop thinking about concussions. If you have that anxiety and that fear, you’re making yourself more susceptible to it,’ which I didn’t even realize.
“He said, ‘You need to go step in that ring with no fear, and you need to step in there with the realization that you’re at no greater risk now than you’ve ever been in any point in your life of getting a concussion. Could you get another one? Sure, but you’re not in any greater risk than you were at any other point in your life. Go in there with every confidence that you’re going to be fine because if we go in there with that anxiety and that fear, you’re making yourself more susceptible.’ And that’s all I had to hear.”
“All these months pass and we get through the holidays, and I’d heard a little bit of a rumbling of maybe something in the Rumble, but then, no, it’s not going to happen. And that was probably a month out,” Cage stated. “Didn’t really think about it again and then the Rumble is on a Sunday night, and Friday night, about 7:30 p.m., I get a phone call saying, ‘We don’t think there’s a big enough surprise in this Rumble. Would you want to come back and do it?’ And I thought about it for a second, and all the things kind of go through your head. I don’t have any kind of deal or anything like that, and it’s like, you know what, I’ve always bet on myself anyway.”
Cage had said before that he had trained in the ring with Beth Phoenix using Edge’s ring. He talked about how long it had been since he had been in the ring, and he also talked about how much of a secret his Royal Rumble appearance would be.
“I legit hadn’t been in the ring since June when I was at Edge’s place, and before that, it had been seven years,” Cage noted. “I go, hopefully, it’s like riding a bike, and I’ll just pick it right back. They obviously have rings backstage. I was like, maybe I’ll be able to sneak in a ring and just hit the ropes, but there was people in those rings all day, so I couldn’t even do it because I’m the surprise. Legit, I didn’t get changed till the match before the Rumble was in, and I got changed, walked down.
“Everybody in the hall is like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I was just there hanging out for the day. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for me to be around. I was there three weeks previous doing some stuff for The Network. It’s not like I’m not around, so people are used to seeing me around. ‘Oh, we see another guy,’ and then I kind of laugh it off and then walk out. When the match actually started, I knew I would have about 40 – 45 minutes before I had to be in there. I got in the ring, hit the ropes about five times, took about five bumps just to get that initial shock in your system. I was like, alright, that’s gonna have to do it.”
Unfortunately for Cage, his in-ring return was not in front of a live crowd. He described his ThunderDome experience and revealed whether he got to speak with Vince McMahon or not.
“Well, it was obviously not the same day, but it was still cool because you more so see faces on the screen than you could with a live crowd,” Cage said. “There’s noise, and you can see the reactions of the people on the screens, which was cool. I’d done a couple of things in the Performance Center.
“Obviously, with that unsanctioned match where it was super weird where there’s nothing there, and it’s strange, but it was as good of an environment as you possibly could put without an actual crowd being there, so I appreciated that. And it was a good feeling. It felt great, and I thought I was going to be nervous before I walked through that curtain. I stood there, and I was cool as a cucumber man. I was like, I was born to do this. There’s nothing to be nervous. I put the work in other than getting the ring.
“It wasn’t like going out having a singles match. The Rumble, it’s a different kind of animal so went out there, and thankfully, it went good and it got a lot of positive feedback. People saying you looked like you never missed a step, which was great, and that gave me some more confidence and just kind of rolled from there. He (McMahon) was not there. I never saw him again after that.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.