by Jon Lane
For what seems like the umpteenth time in his career, Christian will be putting his physical well-being on the line, this time in a Ladder match, where he'll defend the World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship against Edge at No Mercy. In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Christian was asked about living up to the expectations set by riveting performances in three Tables, Ladders, Chairs matches and the Tag Team Ladder match at No Mercy 1999 that pitted Edge & Christian against the Hardy Boyz.
"My personal philosophy is I don't ever want to try and top it. I just want to be on par with it," he said. "If we do top it, great. If we try to top it, you're putting way too much pressure on yourself. If it's on par with the other ones, it's going to be great, because that's was I expecting anyway."
The match at No Mercy two years ago launched the careers of Christian, Edge and the Hardys. Both teams were relative unknowns and needed to do something dramatic to get to the next level, and they delivered. This Sunday, the situation is different and the stakes are higher. Christian and Edge will look to establish themselves as singles superstars.
"It's definitely going to be different," Christian said. "There were four or six guys in those other matches and now there's just two. At that time we hadn't been established and what helped us more than anything was that match.
I don't think it will have the exact same effect but hopefully it'll be something of that nature. I think people think we both bring something to the table as singles competitors."
The biggest twist this time around is Christian's new standing as a bad guy. Since Edge became the 2001 King of the Ring, the story had Christian burning up with jealously over Edge's success. The rage inside Christian boiled over in his hometown of Toronto, where he turned his back on Edge by clobbering him with a steel chair. The fact that the breakup of the seven-time Federation Tag Team Champions took place in Toronto only added to the drama behind it.
"It was pretty emotional because we've been together (in the Federation) for three years," Christian said. "We had a great run as a team. It was emotional and sad, but it was the opening of a new chapter in my career. It was also scary. It was one of those nights that I was kind of at a loss for words. It was more of a different feeling than I've ever had before in my life."
Since then, Christian has been content with the direction of his new persona - which continued to evolve on Monday's RAW when he joined the Alliance. "It's been a little bit of an adjustment," he said. "I've been happy with it. It's a little bit of a challenge but it's a fun challenge and I like challenges."
As much fun as he had teaming with Edge -- and as much chemistry as the duo had as a team -- Christian was ready and willing to risk making a change.
"You don't want to risk getting stale and then break up and nobody cares. You have to stay fresh, which is hard to do. I feel I'm doing well with it."
Ladder matches aren't known to get stale with fans, especially when they're worked and timed right. Christian's goal this Sunday is to try different things without thinking about it too much. He is also aware of the risk of injury, but thinking about getting hurt will only get him in trouble.
"I've been in enough of these (matches) to know how unforgiving a ladder can me," he said. "They seem an awful lot higher when you're up on them than they look when you're on the ground. The biggest thing is you have to be aware of the risk of injury at all times and try to know where you are and what you want to do.
"I try not to force myself to be into something. Edge & Christian was really us with the volume cranked up. This is a little different. When you're out there, you feel the emotions, which make it easier to get in the mode you want to get into. I never think about it. I just do it."
In the past, the breakup of tag teams has resulted in some of the more memorable feuds in Federation history. Time will tell where Edge vs. Christian will stand compared to Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty or Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart, but Christian won't look at the past as a standard. His only focus is staying on par with what he and Edge are capable of doing.
"I don't like to compare it to anything, whether it's Michaels and Jannetty or Owen against Bret Hart," Christian said. "It's hard to compare. I think that Edge and I both have qualities that will show that we can both do very well. We both have a hard work ethic."