Lucha Underground star Brian Cage was recently interviewed by Sport Illustrated and you can find the entire interview here:
Here are some highlights of the interview:
Cage: I had a WWE tryout booked, but I told WWE, ‘Nevermind on the try-out, I don’t want to do it.’ Then I signed with Lucha Underground, and it’s the absolute best decision I ever made. It’s the most fun, and the best treatment from a company I’ve ever had. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had.
I was so determined and destined to get back to ‘The Fed,’ and I felt like my life was over unless I got back there. After so many ups and downs, Johnny Ace [Laurinaitis] called me down and then said, ‘Nevermind,’ and then I was called again, and it was, ‘Oh nevermind,’ then it was like, you know what? F— these guys. Once I let go of that, everything got better in my life. I’m not bitter or spiteful. I won’t say I’ll never go back, but if I don’t ever go back to WWE, I’m more than fine with it.
I worked in TNA multiple times, I had a couple dark matches. Al Snow was really good to me, and Chris Daniels and D’Lo Brown were really pushing for me. Al Snow got me my matches, wanted to protect me and allow me to shine, and [TNA official] Bob Ryder said they wanted to work with me in the future and sign me. It never happened. Things happen for a reason, and I’m sure I would have done well, but I’m not sure I would have had the same sort of showcase that I’ve gotten over here at Lucha Underground.
Obviously, as a kid, I was a fan of Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan. My two first idolizing figures in wrestling were Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon. I loved Shawn’s “Boyhood dream” and that the fact that wrestling was all he ever wanted to do–I was ten years old, and that’s what I wanted to do.
Chris Kanyon was a little less known, but he was also one of my all-time favorites. He had such an innovative offense and style, and that’s what I emulated. I was lucky enough to befriend Kanyon and he actually helped train me and gave me an opportunity to get my career to where it is now. I made a sign that got his attention at a Monday Night Raw in Sacramento, and he came back down after the show, signed my sign, and gave me his “Who Better Than Austin?” shirt since it was Steve Austin Appreciation Night. That right there made me want to be a wrestler even more–that was such an incredible night. I wanted to be able, someday, to give that experience to another person.
He actually talked me into going to [WWE developmental territory] Deep South. I didn’t get signed then, but I was the only non-contracted wrestler working full time and practicing with the developmental talent there. Unfortunately, Deep South got shut down and they reopened as FCW in Florida. I moved back to California, but I did a couple dark matches, got signed shortly after that, and moved back to Florida.
When I got released, it was the biggest shock of my life. I was actually expecting a raise, and I had been for a while. I missed a [phone] call from WWE, and I called back all excited. Then I was told, ‘We’re going to come to terms on your release,’ and I literally said, ‘Did you call the right number?’ I was so baffled. Wade Barrett even texted after and said, ‘In all my years being here, this is the most absolutely ridiculous release I’ve ever seen.’ I had a lot of support from the guys and the trainers, and I had been determined from the beginning to make it.
After I was released, I thought this was my boyhood dream that wasn’t going to come to fruition. But I was signed by the time I was 24 years old–I did that, I accomplished that. I did not wrestle at WrestleMania, things just did not happen that way. It was a roadblock, but I just tried to be the best I could. I was just so determined to make it, and it took a little longer and I took a different route than I thought I would, but it all worked out.
Dusty Rhodes was talking to me one day, and he said, ‘you’re a great worker, you’re phenomenal in the ring, but there is something missing about you. There’s something missing in your persona.’ I wanted to be the Wolverine, but that was copyrighted, so I was the Night Claw. I developed my attitude into what it is today. Excalibur, one of the announcers from Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, started calling me, ‘The F—— Machine.’ He thought I was doing things a guy my size and build shouldn’t be able to do, but it was second nature and I didn’t even need to think about it.
What makes the experience with PWG so unique?
Cage: That crowd is so amazing–it gives you that extra step to make it. But if you suck or mess up, they’ll eat you alive. Everyone wants to work there–it’s the modern day ECW. They bring the extra talent and confidence out of you, and it stays with you.
I love teaming with Michael Elgin, and I would love to have myself and Elgin against Chris Dickinson and Sami Callihan. I would love to work with The Bucks again. Elgin is a fun person to tag with. We tried to break into Japan together, and he’s killing it over there. I’ve always wanted to go to New Japan, and I know I’ll get there someday.
One of my favorite matches in PWG was with Roderick Strong. His timing is impeccable, and his ability to go is phenomenal, and it’s amazing how he can structure and put together a match. There are so many good talents–Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole, and even Kevin [Owens] was there. One of my all-time dream matches would be against AJ Styles, who was there a couple times. It’s pretty much the cream of the crop, and it’s like the independent WrestleMania.
Lucha Underground is a TV show about wrestling, instead of a wrestling show on TV. It’s something that is finally different. At the best, any other company is a B-version of WWE. It’s all the same with cookie cutting outlines–WWE has billions of dollars, you can’t compete with them. Lucha Underground has matches you’ve never seen with people you’ve never seen, and the cinematography feel to it with the backstage scenes.
My goal was to make it with WWE, which I didn’t do. Now I’ve learned how to be happy and live my dream outside WWE. Now I finally feel like I thought it would feel as a ten-year-old kid to be a pro wrestler. It finally feels like it’s supposed to feel, instead of walking around on eggshells. Instead of being held back and being told, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that,’ or ‘You’re not the guy because we want him to be the guy,’ at Lucha Underground it’s ‘Do the best you can do.’
I want to be Lucha world champion, and I always remember that none of this is possible without the fans. I couldn’t be more thankful of where I am now. I am so thankful for the fans who support Lucha Underground and me, and I thank them very much–I wouldn’t be living out my childhood fantasy if it wasn’t for them.
Good interview here by the very talented Brian Cage from my favorite wrestling promotion around right now, Lucha Underground. I’d recommend that any fan of wrestling should watch it – when Season 3 returns. I can’t wait.
If you haven’t read it already please check out my WWE Battleground thoughts here: