As I was watching the premier episode of All Elite Wrestling's Rampage program, the show kicked off with the IMPACT Wrestling World Championship Match. Kenny Omega, who is considered to be quite possibly the greatest in-ring performer on the planet, put the IMPACT World Title on the line against the legendary Christian Cage. This was the first time in a few years that I felt an emotional investment in a pro wrestling match. I thought to myself, "it would make all the sense in the world to have Christian Cage win this match. Christian deserves this victory after making an improbable in-ring comeback, and he has been proving that he is still as good of a performer as he ever was. Kenny Omega needs to drop the IMPACT World Title eventually, and who would be a better choice than Christian Cage?"
If I'm being honest, certain other wrestling promotions have pretty much conditioned me not to get my hopes up about anything. As a wrestling fan, I've been conditioned to never bet on the sentimental favorite, because they always end up getting demolished, at least in "certain other wrestling promotions." Luckily though, this did not turn out to be the case on Rampage. I was expecting a great match, and the match itself certainly did not disappoint. But I was fully expecting a disappointing finish. It put a genuine smile on my face when Christian got the pinfall victory over Kenny Omega to win the IMPACT World Title.
The way I see it, Christian's World Title win was a lot more than just "a feel-good moment." If you think about it, it's actually a pretty inspirational story. From 2014 until the 2021 WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view, it appeared as though Christian Cage would never be able to perform in the ring again due to his history of concussions. I always felt as though Christian's retirement from the ring in 2014 was quite sad, as he never even got a proper send-off. He was simply removed from WWE programming without any real explanation, and that was it. He was finished. After years of cementing an incredible legacy as a great performer who was severely underutilized in WWE, Christian's career seemingly ended in the blink of an eye.
Christian Cage's IMPACT World Title victory says a lot about what the wrestling world can be like outside of WWE. As fans will recall, Christian initially proved that he was World Championship material when he left WWE back in 2005, signed with IMPACT (known as Total Nonstop Action Wrestling back then) and captured the prestigious National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship. During his three-year run with TNA from 2005 to 2008, Christian became a two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
Although Christian did become a two-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion in 2011, it always felt as though WWE never really viewed Christian as being worthy of holding a World Championship. In 2009 and 2010, WWE did make Christian a two-time ECW Champion, although WWE's ECW program was always presented as being inferior to the Raw and SmackDown brands. His first WWE World Heavyweight Title reign on the SmackDown brand lasted mere days, as he won the title at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view from Alberto Del Rio, only to drop the title to Randy Orton at the very next SmackDown television taping. He would then briefly regain the World Heavyweight Championship, only to hold it for one short month before dropping it right back to Randy Orton. WWE booked Christian to look like one of the weakest World Heavyweight Champions in the history of the company, and it's difficult to even acknowledge his two World Heavyweight Championship reigns in 2011.
When he went to TNA in 2005, Christian Cage proved that he was more than capable of being a main eventer and a World Champion. And now, in 2021, at 47 years old, Christian has proved once again that he is still a great performer and is still capable of being a main eventer and a World Champion. His IMPACT World Title win also proves that hard work can actually be rewarded in the wrestling business, which does not always seem to be the case in WWE.
I have to give my respects to All Elite Wrestling and IMPACT Wrestling, as well as Christian Cage and Kenny Omega themselves for the great match that they gave the fans on Rampage. I give my respects to AEW and IMPACT for actually giving the fans a good finish and a good booking decision that makes sense. As a lifelong wrestling fan who has become conditioned to have extremely low expectations in recent years, it's nice to see that good things can still happen in wrestling. Good booking decisions can still be made. Talented wrestlers can still be rewarded for their efforts. It's very refreshing, to say the least.
WWE is not the only wrestling promotion in the United States. There are viable alternatives for the wrestlers and for the fans. Wrestling can still be fun to watch, and talented performers do not always have to be held down by bad creative and poor booking decisions.
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