Christian soldiers onward: after years as a tag-teamer, he strikes out on his own without losing any of his edge.
Author/s: Jim Varsallone
Issue: August, 2002
RELYING MORE AND MORE on his own abilities, Christian has made the transition from tag-team stardom to singles star. He has come a long way from the goofy character who debuted in the WWE (formerly the WWF) in 1998 with a penchant for wearing those funky hats and weird glasses.
A talented performer, Christian has already won the European tide. But after losing the belt and falling victim to a losing streak, his arrogant, cocky demeanor changed a bit. He now loses it mentally during a match. Those in-ring temper tantrums, however, add humor to his persona.
Even with the changes, he still keeps an eye out for something special to wear.
"If I see it and like it, I grab it and wear it," he says. "I'm always on the lookout for cool things in the Village or wherever we are, which make me stand out. I have to be comfortable wearing something like flint. I like to pop the camera."
Whether you boo, cheer, sing-a-long, or laugh, Christian provokes a reaction backstage, making his way to the ring, and in the ring. WWE music man Jim Johnson created the hymnal sounds to Christian's entrance theme. "I like it," Christian says. "People react to it."
Christian was recently embroiled in a feud with his good-friend and "brother," Edge. Once these two were atop the tag-team ladder, but now these two combatants were standing toe-to-toe against each other in singles action. The split helped both springboard into the singles scene.
"I don't like to compare the feud to anything, whether it's Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty or Owen and Bret Hart," Christian says. "I think it was different, and I think it was hard to compare it to other splits."
For one, Christian and Edge respect each other. "We had a great run as a team and accomplished a lot together," Christian says. "We've tagged three years in the WWE and well before that. It was emotional and sad and scary, but it was also opening a new chapter on my careen It's more of a different feeling than I've ever had before in my life.
"Always going from something that worked to something new is a little risky, but at the same time, you don't want to get stale in the fans' eyes. If they've seen the same thing for a few years now, how much longer can it go. It could have gone another three years or another one. You don't know. You also don't want to risk getting stale and then breaking up and nobody cares. You have to change and stay fresh. That's hard to do. I feel like I'm easing into it, doing well with it. I feel comfortable with it."
Wrestling as a tag team for so long, Christian is now relishing his time as a singles competitor.
"It was a little bit of an adjustment, and I've been happy with it," he says. "It's been a little bit of a challenge but a fun challenge. I like challenges, and I'm very happy with the way things are going."
Christian and Edge teamed against the Hardy Boyz and Dudley Boys in show-stopping ladder matches. When Christian turned on Edge, they looked to settle the score in a one-on-one ladder match at the No Mercy pay-per-view on October 21, 2001.
"In the very first ladder match, I didn't know what to expect," Christian says. "Now, I pretty much know what to expect. I'll relax, try not to think about it, and not push myself out go into it with a clear head and hopefully not get too hurt.
"There's always the risk of permanent injury. I've been in enough of these ladder matches. I know how unforgiving the ladders can be. The ladders seem an awful lot higher when you're up on them than they look when you're on the ground. It's a long way to fall.
"A few times I've actually fallen off the ladder, over the ropes and to the floor. That hurts. The biggest thing is you have to be aware of the serious risks. You have to be aware of that at all times. You have to know where you are and where your opponent is and where the ladders are, which is hard to do."
Christian makes sure to relax before a ladder match. "I try not to think about it much until the day of the match," he says. "I try not to psych myself out. I try to be innovative and do different things that people haven't seen before. There are a lot of high spots and high risk moves, and you want to do them at the right time. You want the match to make sense which is important."
Escalating his heel status, Christian joined the Alliance last winter. "I don't think it was too soon for me to join the Alliance when I did," he says. "I was already an established WWE performer. I felt like I was bringing something to the Alliance, more mic time. It helped."
Christian and Edge not only worked well together in the ring but also creating names for moves and skits. For instance there was the "Con-chair-to," which included playing songs with kazoos, including a song for Kurt Angle. Poking fun at the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Bills, Colorado Rockies and other sports teams also created a lot of merriment--except to fans of those teams.
"The funny skits with Mick Foley were great," Christian says. "The first time with Mick we nailed, it. There was some instant chemistry. So we always looked forward to doing things with him."
Nowadays, Christian particularly admires the work backstage by Paul Heyman. "He is very creative and very hands on," Christian says. "He sees something you're doing and may help you tweak it or give you a suggestion. He is always there and always available to Work with the guys.
"We talked a little bit about my turn, and after my turn, he helped me as well." Christian says he always looks forward to wrestling Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and the Rock, in particular. He also mentions the Undertaker, but with the current brand split that matchup is unlikely. He has worked against Kane, which is something he enjoyed, and the WWE recently teased a Christian-Triple H battle.
"It would be great to work with Triple H," Christian says. "The possibilities are endless as long as I keep working hard and perform well." WWE star Rikishi notes the stellar work of the young grappler. "Christian is fantastic," Rikishi says. "He is a good kid and has a long future ahead of him in the WWE being that he is eager to learn all the time and creative.
Credit: Wrestling Digest