It’s a story we’re all familiar with, right? Two friends team up to climb the tag team mountain for gold, succeed, but ultimately fall victim to wrestling circumstance, leading to an eventual feud. It’s a tale as old as time. Some of these stories don’t work as well as we’d hoped, but some propel its heroes and villains into superstardom. I don’t know that there is a tried and true formula that determines which story deserves which outcome. There may not be one. Timing. Commitment. Performance. Many things dictate success and failure.
Time will tell how well the former Jurassic Express besties navigate their post champion terrain. Unfortunately, an injury has derailed the inevitable conclusion to Jungle Jacks’ feud with Christian Cage – one that will require months to heal. I’m hopeful that we still see that blow off match, the one where Jungle Boy overcomes the impossible odds and is thrown into the upper card where he belongs as a result.
Timing is not on their side though. Keeping a story alive while one side is injured is difficult enough. Keeping the fans invested at the level a feud like this deserves is a whole separate story. Cage and Perry deserve to be highlighted weekly, as a blood feud should be. That’s just not possible currently. It will be interesting to see how All Elite Wrestling handles the three members of this story, how it keeps them relevant and hot, and how things are made to fit when all are healthy, if all are healthy.
It was built beautifully from the jump with seeds planted along the way for future use. A master of storytelling and a legend of the ring, Christian Cage, was inserted seamlessly into the team and was seen nurturing the young stars while also succeeding on his own. Though many fans began to wonder when the turn would happen over time, it didn’t make the eventual turn any less impactful. It allowed Jungle Boy to lean even farther into his top babyface position with fans and conversely allowed Cage to be the mega heel he is meant to be.
A much fun as Jungle Boy is as a character and as likeable as he naturally is, the nastiness that emerged immediately with the Christian turn was a necessary evolutionary moment for the young star. Cage masterfully pulled on personal heartstrings, constantly drawing audible gasps from the crowd and yanking emotional responses from his counterpart, some of which looked very real. They were star-making moments that every upcoming prospect must endure to leapfrog into the next level. It’s almost as much “can you weather it” as much as it is “can you combat it.”
It's obvious that he has grown exponentially since his debut with the company three years ago. He was able to comfortably become serious on the mic and attain the crossover appeal a top star needs to have to be successful. Perhaps this was a test for what could be expected when the ultimate trigger is pulled on his superstardom, and if so, I think its plain to see he passed. What remains to be seen though, and what everyone is wondering, is what do we do now that the match meant to launch him into space cannot and may not ever happen?
I think we’ve begun to see the answer to that question, and it’s a simple one really. Put the kid in matches with those who can make him better and highlight his immeasurable strengths while helping shape and build upon his weaknesses. A recent match with Rey Fenix did just that, while also furthering the feud with Cage and Luchasaurus. The match was an instant classic, as many guessed it would be, and it showed exactly why Jungle Boy is destined for the top of the AEW card someday.
It also showcased a glimpse into what may be AEW’s ultimate plan for Cage’s continued relevance while sidelined and status of the eventual match we’ve all been waiting to see. By continuing to needle Perry, Cage stays the eternally obnoxious and dastardly heel. By utilizing Luchasaurus, he maintains power over his path and how far he is able to rise in his absence. It also provides a match that will more than likely be had before we get to the main event that is the teacher versus student endgame we all desire. Cage vs Perry 2.
The Luchasaurus feud and match also gives us a way to keep Cage involved while not able to be physical and also gives us a potentially lengthy program to pass the days until he’s cleared. Until then, if we keep getting some of these incredible matches to continuously show the prowess of Jungle Boy, I certainly won’t complain. We’ll soon see how well they’re able to pace themselves and how quickly all can become/stay healthy for the climax to such a personal and vicious blood feud to finally happen.
The goal of all of this seems to have been fairly simple. Cristian gets to assist in making two very deserving stars, something he has stated repeatedly that he is most interested in doing in what is likely his last run as an active performer. Luchasaurus gets reborn as an absolute monster, a transition as easy as it is logical. Jungle Boy is catapulted into the top card, whether climbing the TNT title mountain or beginning an assault for the world title, however long that may take. Champions aren’t built in a day after all.
When surveilling where we are now to what the plan seemed to be early on, mission accomplished already. Selfishly though, I’d still love to see that match. I hope we get it.
Until that hypothetical day though, being able to watch as Jungle Boy goes on the full press attack is something I will take great joy in. An original pillar of AEW, he’s the only one who has yet to find any real singles glory, amazing matches notwithstanding. Something tells me that’s all about to change.
I can’t wait.