Title: Christian Cage The Instant Classic
Synopsis: TNAs offering of seven complete matches from Christians TNA career between February 2006 and March 2007. Also included is a 38 minute documentary on his life and career, a Cribs style tour of his house and a bonus match against Lance Diamond (TNA Road Agent Simon Diamond) with commentary from both men. Presumably because of the Barbed Wire Steel Cage match with Rhino, this DVD is rated 18 in the UK.
Reasons to Buy this DVD:
Now the documentary isn’t perfect for reasons that I’ll cover later, but I found it enjoyable overall. At less than 40 minutes, it’s incredibly easy to digest and it’s divided into chapters such as Childhood, Training, Jumping to TNA so at no point does the DVD feel like it’s dragging. Jay Reso is a natural storyteller and although vague at times, comes across as likable, humorous and just plain down to Earth. Parts that stick out in my mind are a funny story about working in a mill and witnessing someone accidentally cut off their thumb (which convinced him to leave the mill and chase his wrestling dreams) his first meetings with Adam “Edge” Copeland and Terry “Rhino” Richards, and a vivid description of his worst injury, a broken nose which he later attempted to fix himself.
It’s pretty good overall but I have a lot more to say about its problems.
Christian Cage vs Jeff Jarrett (Against All Odds 2006)
The first match of the DVD is on here for obvious reasons. Christian Cage’s first ever World Heavyweight Championship win. The two men work a pretty good match which is helped along by the crowd reactions, the Impact Zone faithful could not have made their desire to see Christian defeat Jarrett any clearer. Unfortunately they leave out the aftermath of Cage celebrating in the ring with the fans. It was a truly special moment for both Christian and TNA, and watching it back now, it makes the whole Orton situation look much worse. You can criticise TNA for always putting the title on former WWE wrestlers, but with Christian, he was one of the few who actually deserved it. But hey at least they didn’t book him to drop the title back to Jarrett or Sting at the next nights Impact taping.
Christian Cage vs Rhino 8 Mile Street Fight (Bound for Glory 2006)
This match is a wild weapon filled prop heavy brawl which features some great spots including a ridiculous (in a good way) fight on top of a Zamboni, a piledriver of the ring apron through a table, and the most OTT Concerto ever. The crowd is hot from start to finish and the announcers do a great job in selling Rhino’s storyline concussion and head trauma. Now adays they would probably just cut to the next segment with no further mention of, or concern over Rhino’s health.
Christian Cage vs Rhino Barbed Wire Steel Cage match (Impact 2006)
As I said earlier the reason this DVD was slapped with an 18 rating from the BBFC. This match to end the feud between Cage and Rhino is heated and bloody, and the spots are even better than the spots in the Street Fight. Although I could have done without the “Weapons or Escape” stipulation where each man had both a weapon and a tool for escaping the cage. Basically Rhino’s weapon was a straight jacket and his means of escape was a key to the door. Cage’s weapon was a steel chair and his means of escape was a pair of bolt cutters to cut the barbed wire at the top of the cage. The wrestlers can call for the tools or weapons at any time, but only their own. There are so many things wrong with that stipulation, I don’t even know where to begin! Luckily the match still manages to deliver and the finish is spectacular.
Christian Cage vs Samoa Joe (Destination X 2007)
The DVD ends on a high note with I believe the first ever meeting between Christian Cage and Samoa Joe for the NWA Title. It’s a clash of styles which somehow compliment each other and the back and forth action builds to an exciting finish which keeps the crowd guessing until the end, something that Captain Charisma has always been very good at. Also of note is Joe’s entrance which is quite a spectacle in it’s own right. It made the match and the championship feel important.
The early interview with Edge and Christian as the Suicide Blonds raises a smile but the bonus match with Diamond and the photo gallery are nothing to write home about. The most interesting bonus feature however is the tour of Christian’s home. I’m no expert on housing or whatever so the tour itself, you can take or leave. What makes this special though is that we really see the real Jay Reso: the man who drives a Porsche, has four cats and owns a full size swimming pool which he never uses. Apart from getting a glimpse of how wrestlers live when they’re not on the road, it’s just a really good look into Reso’s life and what he’s really like. That and the fact that he shows us his most prized possession: a Christian Cage action figure with Kevin Nash’s voice. The heel promo he cuts at the end is a riot.
Reasons to Avoid this DVD:
Christian Cage vs Abyss vs Sting (Final Resolution 2007)
I can understand why this match was included because Christian Cage wins his second (and last) NWA Title. But this match for me was extremely dull. I didn’t like watching it at Final Resolution four years ago and I did not enjoy reliving it for this review. It just happens sometimes. Matches I would have liked to see are his series with Abyss from 2006, his match with AJ Styles from Genesis 2006, His match with Samoa Joe from Bound For Glory 2007 and (if the DVD was released just a couple of months later) his ladder match with Kaz from Genesis 2007.
I liked the documentary and it’s easy to watch due to it’s short length and fast pace. But my God did they whiz through his life. His WWE career for example is mentioned obviously but they go from his developmental training in the 90s, to debuting with the Brood, and then suddenly jump to 2005 when he’s feeling burned out and “bitter” as he puts it. Reso is careful with his comments so as not to bury anyone or suffer any heat later, which to his credit is very wise. The problem though is that he comes off as vague and at times I couldn’t decide if he was deliberately avoiding giving anything away, or if he just wasn’t bothered about going into detail. An example is when he talks about being stuck in midcard hell in the WWE in 2005: “I think the fans wanted to see me at a different level too and for whatever reason it wasn’t happening … the fans felt that it should happen, I knew it should happen and it didn’t and that’s okay but everything happens for a reason“. Maybe he was already planning his WWE return a year later and didn’t want to ruin his chances. All I know for sure is that if you interviewed him today he’d probably give you the exact same answer.
I’m glad to see that he didn’t attempt to speack in character, or try to claim that wrestling is a legitimate sport (something TNA DVDs have been doing for years) but on the other hand he didn’t talk much about his matches at all. Not once does he mention what it’s like between the ropes, or what it’s like working a professional match. Again at least he didn’t try to pass his matches off as actual sporting contests, but we’ll never know if he would have because he doesn’t bring them up at all.
In addition there’s no timeline before 2005, no mention of when he was born, when he started training or when he joined WWE, etc. The structure is also chronologically out of order, for example Reso speaks about his childhood, then his education at college, and then his first jobs (I couldn’t tell you how old he was when he attended college or worked in the mill but lets assume it was after he graduated from high school). Then he goes back to talk about discovering wrestling as a child, and meeting Edge in school. This goes on for most of the interview.
Until WWE releases a Christian DVD (and I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you) this is as good as we’re going to get with Jay Reso. It’s short and sweet and it lacks a lot of detail but what is included is reasonable for anyone to enjoy. Four of the seven matches are very good and the bonus material is a lot of fun. The documentary has many flaws, but I suppose if you’re not a fan of the giant WWE style feature length documentaries, you will find this one easier to watch in one sitting.