AEW star Brian Cage recently sat down with Chris Van Vliet as part of the Insight podcast. On the show, they discussed Brian’s time in WWE, what lead to the release and why he doesn’t want to go back. They also discussed the move to IMPACT Wrestling and ultimately AEW, being in Ring of Honor and more.
Most people look at you and think that you are a bodybuilder, how close do you think you could be to stepping on stage?
“You know, that almost happened this past week. My wife did it recently and she is crushing it! So we were like well let’s go and do a show together. Originally, we were prepping and she got pregnant, so we had to cancel that. Years later, she finally did it and did great and wanted to do it again. I got the itch out of nowhere when I was training in a gym over WrestleMania weekend in 2017. I just got nostalgic about it and was like well why not? But then I pulled my hamstring so it didn’t happen. 5 weeks with no training legs and no cardio is a long time.”
So what is the biggest downfall of being this big all the time?
“People online will ask you for extremely detailed fitness advice and expect a one word answer. They will ask like ‘Hey, how do I look like you?’ And they expect me to just say something like ‘Drink honey.’ It’s awesome that they are serious about it, but face to face you know who is serious and who is just looking for the answer that they want to hear. But they hear that you gotta work hard and are like ‘No how do I do it fast and simple?’ It’s like learning a foreign language. You have to work at it and if you take time off, you lose it.”
Are your meals clean every day?
“Not as clean as they used to be. I felt like because I ate so clean for so long that it was not as much of a shock because I had to make less of a change. But I am more free to loosen up the diet a bit, it’s mainly sweets. If it’s a baked good you can’t get anywhere, I’m like man that looks good. But if I have a big match coming up I’m like no, not today. It’s pretty much steak, eggs, rice, oats and protein shakes. I’m also taking multivitamins. I don’t eat as much vegetables because they go bad instantly, and if they go bad then the meal goes bad.”
So you post these throwback photos where you look like you could be in a boyband. When did the shift to The Machine start?
“I graduated high school at 150 lbs and it took me forever to get to that picture, which was about 200 lbs. I made my debut in wrestling at over 200, but it was a sloppy 200. I looked great in a shirt but not out of it. To build up to the size I am, it took me about 10 years. It was mostly through wrestling, I am not a bodybuilder trying to wrestle, I am a wrestler who happens to like bodybuilding. I competed and did 5 shows throughout my wrestling career. I wrestled every weekend, then on Sunday get up, do cardio and hit legs.”
We saw you at Ring of Honor recently so I’m guessing it won’t be long before we see you back on AEW?
“Right, I feel like you are correct. I know there are a lot of rumours regarding ROH and what’s next. There’s stuff that I know and stuff that I don’t. Hopefully we will be doing both at the same time, and I will be a part of both. I will never say no to work, I love this business and having amazing matches. If I’m taking an indie booking, I want an awesome and fun match. I don’t want to feel like I should have stayed at home, I want to be stoked.”
Well I imagine it’s cool when kids see you in real life.
“You never know what kid will be seeing you for the first and maybe only time. I hate cancelling, it’s a small thing in your life but it’s a big thing for them. Whenever you meet a fan and see how much you have touched them, it is still shocking. It is cool to see that magic happen.”
Who did you want to line up to see?
“In wrestling it was Shawn Michaels. I also waited forever to get Triple H’s book signed, but he had to cancel. I was waiting in the parking lot for this book to get signed, he wasn’t even there. I never got to see Shawn either, but I would have loved to. We were pretty broke growing up, so we didn’t do anything. I went to my first wrestling event in high school, but I knew since I was 10 years old that I wanted to do this.”
We all have that first benchmark where we are serious about our dream, what was yours?
“My first match was against Chris Kanyon. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. He was so great and helped me out so much. That dude was so influential and such a good dude. He gave so much to wrestling and would excel so much more if he was around today. Definitely he is not talked about as much as he should.”
So what’s the next thing where people were like you are actually doing this?
“I remember getting my first extra spots. People said ‘Oh that’s cool, but if you don’t get signed then it’s over right?’ It doesn’t work like that! Kanyon helped me get into Deep South and I was there uncontracted. My mom hoped that would I get signed or stop, but they moved to Florida and I moved back home. I got signed eventually and it was great, but then when I got released she asked if I was going to stop.”
A lot of people would think that you ticked all the boxes back then. What was the reason WWE gave you when they released you?
“Well, I was waiting on a raise, I was due for one. I was told I would be getting a call and going on the road. I missed the call from the office, but I am stoked and I call them back. They say ‘Hey Brian how’s things going?’ I’m like things are good and I’m trying to play it cool. They then say that they are coming to terms with my release. I’m not trying to be a smartass here but I legitimately asked if they had the right number. It didn’t even cross my mind. They gave me the reason that I am a little bit too indie and I need to get some more experience. So I have to go to the indies to get more experience and not be so indie? Hmm, ok that makes sense!”
So you go to TNA, did WWE ever call you back?
“They did call to say that they were going to do Tough Enough and bring me back for it, but then they took me off of the list. They invited me down and wanted me on NXT, but then they changed their minds again. I asked what happened and they said ‘You are average at best and we are no longer interested.’ They sent that in a text and I was so heated. I kept it as professional as I could, there was a lot I wanted to say. I got back to them saying we might work together again in the future. But actually, that was when my desire to go back to them went away. My life professionally and personally excelled when I let go of that. They reached out to me several times and people would reach out to them about me. They talked to me a lot of times about try-outs and it never happened. When it finally happened I turned them down because I had just signed with AAA and Lucha Underground. They were shocked that I didn’t want it, and that felt kind of good. There was some small talk, but it never really went anywhere. I ultimately wanted to go to AEW because there were so many people I wanted to work with there. If I stayed at IMPACT, I feel like my ceiling would have been capped.”
Do people still mention that you put Tessa over?
“There are people who try to mention it. First of all, they act like it was the only time, I beat Tessa all the time. They act like it was dominant, but she got a lucky roll up. But I get it, it’s an easy go to. But I think she is hands down the greatest in the female division of all of wrestling. I have had intergender matches before, that gives you better experience and standpoint of it. But that girl is really good!”
But you had no problem wrestling her and some people did.
“I get it, I’m not the biggest fan of intergender wrestling. But at the same time, I am excited about the challenge of it. With my stature and my size, it is more lopsided, but I want to show that I can work with anyone.”
I remember at Double or Nothing in Las Vegas that you were meant to be on that show.
“I was so stoked because it was a well kept secret, which is very rare. I was IMPACT World Champion at the time, and they had the issue with it. They had the most to gain from it and they [AEW] were going to really let me shine. They wanted me in the Battle Royale and no one was going to beat me. But because IMPACT got word they canned it. I got to make my debut a year later, but it was in front of no people.”
I imagine you got a lot of offers along with AEW.
“Several companies were interested and gave me verbal offers, nothing physical. I tore my bicep before Hard To Kill and was supposed to have a match with RVD, which was also supposed to be my last match. I decided I was going to sign with AEW, but IMPACT was going to offer me another contract in-person for me to look over. I get there and they are trying to figure out how they can work around it. I get back from my match with RVD and it was so weird and so quiet in the back. What’s going on? I look at my phone and it’s all ‘Brian Cage signs with AEW.’ At that time I hadn’t signed with AEW and they said they will email me a contract later. I am injured at this time, so I am damaged goods. If IMPACT wants to sign me then cool. But now IMPACT thinks I have signed with AEW, maybe they don’t want to sign me and maybe AEW don’t want to sign me. I was furious. Tony Khan said they still wanted me here and I am super thankful for how he handled it.”
Featured image: WrestleZone