Brian Cage, better known as They Call Him Cage (He's Not Man He's A Machine) on Lucha Underground, is one of the more talented big men in wrestling. He's had battles with Johnny Mundo (John Morrison) and Prince Puma (Ricochet) and he went toe to toe with the Monster Matanza Cueto, cashing in the Gift of the Gods Belt for a shot at Cueto's Lucha Underground championship.
Spoiler Alert: He lost, but not for lack of trying. That match is one of the greater displays of athleticism and power that you are likely to see in a wrestling ring, by both gentlemen. Matanza remains undefeated to this day, but Cage made him work for that win. Cage might actually be a cyborg that someone programmed to do a standing moonsault. Maybe.
Oh, and he also once definitely curb-stomped a dude's face through a cinder block.
But something that some LU fans may not know is that Cage was not only high school classmates with Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but he was once under contract to WWE. SI.com's Extra Mustard caught up with Brian to ask him some questions about his unceremonious exit from WWE, his new home in Lucha Underground, his time in PWG, and more. You can read the entire interview here, (scroll down to near the bottom) and we've included some interesting excerpts below for your perusal and enlightenment.
On his earliest Wrestling Idols:
"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."
On his friendship with WCW and WWE's Chris Kanyon:
"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. ... 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."
On being released from WWE Developmental:
"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."
On his time with TNA:
"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."
On his time with PWG and who his Dream Match would be against:
"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. ... It’s pretty much the cream of the crop, and it’s like the independent WrestleMania. ... One of my all-time dream matches would be against AJ Styles, who was there a couple times."
On his relationship with Michael Elgin and the possibility of going to New Japan:
"I love teaming with Michael Elgin, (he's) 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."
On how he got his nickname "The Machine":
"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."
On what he loves about being a part of Lucha Underground:
"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."
On Why He'd Be Fine Never Returning to WWE:
"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. ...
... (Before I signed with LU) 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."
"Fun." Nothing says "fun" like a Boyle Heights Street Fight.
Here's to many more years of having "fun."