On April 6th, the Dudley Boys were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Edge & Christian. The two teams, along with the Hardy Boyz, elevated the tag team division to heights it hadn't seen in years. With a number of classic matches, including the innovative TLC stipulation, the trio laid the foundation of their careers for years to come.
When Edge & Christian stood at the podium, they started their speech by addressing the elephant in the room. Christian was once again passed over by the WWE Hall of Fame. The two longtime friends did what they do best, they joked and mocked about what many may consider a sensitive topic. After all, Christian had a very impressive career, which has seen him capture 20 WWE championships. Chants of “you deserve it” echoed throughout the arena. But this Hall of Fame ceremony was a microcosm of Christian’s career. In the WWE, Christian has always been the means to an end.
As an early singles competitor, Edge admitted on numerous occasions that he had a hard time understanding his character. In vignettes leading to his debut, Edge was seen running around the streets and beating up pedestrians, while a strange (now iconic) voice read poetry. In an interview on Talk is Jericho, Edge said, “I didn’t have the confidence. I didn’t know what the character was, so when I was in doubt I would just scream. It was awkward and it was forced.”
On October 8, 1998 Christian debuted at Breakdown: In Your House distracting Edge in his match against Owen Hart. The interference cost Edge the match and started a will-he-won’t-he storyline with Christian. Ultimately, Edge chose to side with his kayfabe brother and Gangrel to form The Brood.
While the vampire gimmick was always the idea of Gangrel, The Brood served a rather specific purpose. "Edge was their man from the get-go,” Gangrel said in an interview on the Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling podcast. “They basically told me to make sure everyone liked him and to guide him along... They knew with Edge he was their guy before he had any character and they didn't know what to do with him and that basically the vampire thing was there and the Brood was born out of that.”
It was evident early on that the Brood was able to do just that. On February 8, 1999, The Brood became tertiary players in the largest angle on the WWE - they joined the Ministry of Darkness. But their allegiance would be short lived. On the April 12 episode of RAW The Brood rebelled from The Ministry after Undertaker ordered The Brood to sacrifice Christian for his incompetence.
Behind the scenes, the purpose of the formation of The Brood was working. Due to their cool personas, The Brood was getting over with the crowd and taking heat off of The Ministry of Darkness. In their first promo, Gangrel and Edge spoke about following their own path and finding out who they are as people. But when the microphone was given to Christian, ironically he had nothing to say, solidifying positioned Christian’s position in the faction.
Shortly thereafter, Edge and Christian broke away from the brood and formed their own tag team. As Edge and Christian, they weren’t given new music to help define their path as a tag team. Instead, the two came to the ring using Edge’s old music - “You Think You Know Me.” Perhaps signaling the WWE’s commitment to the duo.
Together they would go on to become one of the most dominate tag teams during the Attitude Era, winning 7 titles in that span. During a discussion on the E&C Pod of Awesomeness, Christian talked about having to come up with 3 endings to their Terri Invitational match; one of which had Christian betraying Edge.
Running on borrowed time from the get go, Edge and Christian lasted only 26 months total as a team. The writing was on the wall when Edge won the King of the Ring tournament in 2001. WWE had positioned Edge as the next face of the company, and naturally, Christian was positioned as the jealous friend who would carry around Edge’s trophy like he had won it. This eventually led to a feud between the two in which Edge would win the Intercontinental Title from Christian at No Mercy 2001.
While Edge continued to enjoy singles success and began his main event run, Christian lasted only 4 more years in the WWE. Despite fans support, he was never given same singles opportunities. By late 2005, Christian had left WWE and signed with TNA. “I was kinda stuck in a rut and my situation wasn’t going to change if I stayed [in WWE] at that point. It was gonna be like, ‘well we know what we got with him. He’s there, he’s doing his thing, when something comes we’ll figure something out.’ But that time never came for me, you know what I mean?”
Once the Christian character had played his part in getting Edge over, he was unceremoniously relegated to the mid-cad scene. A scene that he had all but outgrown. So Christian, now billed as Christian Cage, bet on himself and spent 3 years with TNA as their main eventer. There he won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship twice and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship once.
After proving his main event worth at TNA, Christian returned to the WWE with renewed vigor.
“It worked out because I went away for three years and came back and I feel like the second part of my singles career in WWE was much better than the first.”
During the brand split, Christian was positioned at the top of the card on WWE’s ECW program. And in late 2009, he became the longest reigning WWE-era ECW Championship. His success there eventually carried him to the top of the card. At Extreme Rules 2011, he earned a spot to challenge Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship, which he won with help from a retired Edge.
Two days later, chants of “you deserve it!” filled the Amway Center in Orlando, FL on SmackDown. Despite being nothing more than an means to an end, Christian had gained the adoration of the WWE Universe.
But even today, WWE may never understand or acknowledge how important Christian was to Edge, the Attitude Era, or WWE itself. Appropriately, as the two legends stepped onto the stage, they didn’t enter using the theme music they used as a tag team. Instead, the two walked out to Edge’s “Metalingus.”
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