After arguing with some friends regarding Christian’s TNA departure and WWE return, I had given a lot of thought as to why Vince would put Christian on ECW, and not on a bigger brand with a bigger title push. Vince’s hate for Christian is three-fold. Did Christian screw himself by coming back?
As a solo wrestler, prior to his TNA departure, Christian won the Hardcore Championship, the European Championship, the Light-Heavyweight Champion once each; the Interncontinental Championship three times; and nine World Tag Team Championships (seven alongside Edge as Edge & Christian, one with Lance Storm and one with Chris Jericho).
Now, this theory is based on watching every promo of Christian’s I could find from the last few months of his first run in the WWE and some videos of Cena in the first half of 2005.
Jump back to late 2004-early 2005. Christian has added the “Captain Charisma” gimmick, and is about to burst onto the WWE upper card, right during the prime of his career. At this time, he’s still a full-fledged heel, but the boos aren’t as strong as they used to be. Christian, then feuding with Booker T, pulls a asks if anyone has ordered a pizza with extra “peep-aroni”, and proceeds to do a “peep-a-rooni”, which the crowd eats up. Christian also began his chest-slapping and kiss-callouts to his peeps in the crowd, which also gave him a bigger pop. Needless to say, he’s building momentum in the WWE.
Talent, fans and WWE officials love Christian, as he’s a home-grown talent – WWE since day one. As things begin to look up for Christian, the theory begins to kick in – a feud with John Cena.
At this point in time, Cena’s already groomed to be *the* man, and he’s started his main event run. Back then, he was still freestyle rapping, dissing anyone who would take a shot at him, and ultimately, he was still completely over with the crowd without any issues. That is, until his segments with Christian.
Backstage at the Royal Rumble, Christian challenges Cena to a freestyle battle. The crowd pops for Cena, but Christian receives an equally big ovation. His jokes with Tomko are over with the crowd, and when he calls out his peeps, the crowd pops!
At Backlash, Christian does another freestyle, attacking many WWE superstars, including several heels. The crowd eats it up. His jab at Cena was the following, “you talk like Snoop Dogg, but you look like Corey Haim.”
Before Captain Charisma was involved with Cena, the crowd was behind Cena 100%. By the time Christian was sent away from RAW to SmackDown!, it was too late, and the crowd had begun to turn on Cena.
As Christian began building steam, he was still being held down by Vince, and as a result, was sent to SmackDown!. His SD! debut saw him job clean to JBL. He did, however, receive a shot at World Heavyweight Champion Batista, to which he lost in a one-sided match. If you remember, Vince also dropped the “Captain Charisma” gimmick and tried to get Christian to re-adapt to the Creepy Little Bastard (CLB) nickname. Christian would eventually see the main event again, but only under CLB, and only as Chris Jericho’s sidekick. You must ask, why go out of your way to cut down the push of a homegrown talent that’s over with the crowd, without cashing in on a few PPV’s at the very least?
So, this is what I’m getting at. It seems to me that the years of strong hate for John Cena may be traced back to Christian getting over at Cena’s expense for the first quarter of 2005. Vince McMahon was never able to win those fans back over for Cena, as they only grew to hate him more and more. Cena was still ‘cool’, but Christian was ‘cooler’ because he was a heel too, and the fans slowly began to reject Cena. By the time he unveiled the first “spinner belt,” he was receiving heat from the crowd.
Only now, in 2008/2009 is the crowd starting to pop for Cena more than booing again – almost *four years* later – and that took a new generation of fans to join the WWE Universe. If you ask me, it would only make sense that Vince would hold it against Christian for planting the seed that made Cena look so bad for so many years.
The series of events look like this: Christian gets over with the crowd; Christian trades words with Cena and gets pops; crowd realizes that Cena is not so great after all; crowd hates Cena for the next 3 1/2 years; Vince unhappy.
Seeing how Cena is the focal point of the WWE, Christian literally put a dent in Cena taking off from the company. Is it impossible to believe that Christian’s rise and Cena’s fall are totally independant of each other?
Aside from Vengeance 2005, when Christian, Cena and Chris Jericho collided in a three-way (Cena pinned Christian to retain), Christian and Cena have never faced off one-on-one. Coincidence? I think not. From a storyline perspective, it made no sense to tease it for months, and then randomly pull the plug on it. Logically, Vince was worried that if the two feuded directly, Christian would turn the crowd completely against Cena.
Look at this from Vince’s perspective: he rolls the dice on Christian, after Edge introduced him, and worked on him as a singles and tag-team wrestler for seven years. Christian won numerous championships, most notably, his nine World Tag Team Championships, solidifying E&C as one of the greatest WWE tag teams ever. Suddenly, Christian’s contract is up, and being non-commital, he decides to leave and join the competition, TNA Wrestling.
In TNA Wrestling, Christian, now Christian Cage, is booked as an upper-midcarder for roughly 18 months, winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship twice. After Cage’s contract in TNA was up, just like in WWE, he was non-commital about re-signing, and quietly went back to WWE in order to get back into the big leagues.
If you’re Vince, how can you put your trust back into Christian? It’s a similar situation with Jeff Hardy. A long history of no-showing events, past drug problems, and ultimately, two strikes against him on the WWE Wellness Program, meaning one more slip up costs him his job. And like Jeff Hardy, having Christian leave for the competition no doubt hurt his ego. How can you put trust – let alone a WWE championship – into his hands?
In all likelihood, Vince allowed Christian to return, but under Vince’s terms. Those terms, logically, would include working back up to the top from the bottom in order to regain trust, as well as a bit of a grudge-move for signing with the competition.
Now, to believe that Cena’s fall early in his career was the primary reason why Christian is on Vince’s bad side is foolish. There is far more than just that.
Many people see physiques as a main point in wrestling, and rightfully so; Vince, however, has a thing for big guys, and tends to push them over the smaller wrestlers. Believability is a big thing in pro wrestling, but only to an extent.
Christian, for example, is not a big guy. His physique is lacking, although, he has lost weight and built up some muscle since his return to WWE. Many people see this as a reason why he was held back from the main event scene. This raises a few arguments, though.
While Vince has notably kept some of the smaller wrestlers from pushes, that is not always the case. Take CM Punk, Jeff Hardy and Rey Mysterio. Both men have held the World Heavyweight Championship. Here’s where it gets tricky; neither has held the belt for very long, and, once the belt was dropped, both wrestlers immediately slipped into the midcard. Essentially, they were paper champions.
Why, you ask, does WWE not push the smaller guys? Aside from believability, it’s the fact that size sells. Take a look at Triple H, John Cena and Batista. They’re ripped, muscular, and powerful. Now, take a look at Evan Bourne, CM Punk, AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Christopher Daniels, etc. No, they can’t compare to Triple H in terms of size and power, but each one is unique and offers something different, such as actual wrestling skill. Many of the guys in indie promotions, such as Ring of Honor, will never see the WWE big time because their lack of size is unimpressive. Punk came in at an opportune time, with all the steroid scandals going on in wrestling and pro sports. His ‘hardcore staight-edge’ gimmick was exactly what WWE needed in someone they could push to the top. Hardy, on the other hand, was so over with the fans, a short WWE Champonship run was essential just for the storyline itself.
This is why Christian remains on ECW, the ‘C’ show. WWE’s view on wrestling has changed; it isn’t about giving what the fans want anymore; it’s what he wants and to see, and what he wants to see is which star is making him money. If you remember back to when Paul Heyman’s WWE tenure ended, Heyman and Vince were at each other because Heyman knew how to run ECW, and Vince wanted it done his way. When Paul objected that the fans wouldn’t like it, Vince replied “I’ll make them like it.” Shortly after was the miserable PPV, December to Dismember, to which Heyman quit WWE afterwards.
Unfortunately, Christian is getting the ‘Vince treatment’. Triple H got it, and Randy Orton got it. It seems to be what Vince does to test you after you’ve burnt him. If he’s willing to job and lose week after week, they can eventually earn another chance.
The question remains; can Christian carry the WWE as a main eventer? While I believe he can, either as a heel or babyface, there’s an argument to be made. Take TNA Wrestling, for example. Among about 12-dozen reasons, one of them is that they’re going nowhere because of them pushing former WWE midcarders. Looking at WWE, all of their main guys have had great crossover appeal into the media; John Cena, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, etc. While wrestling remains a part of pro wrestling, it also remains a business.
While there was talk of Vince being upset about Christian’s spot in the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania 26 (and the WWE Creative team having to fight Vince on wanting to take him out), Christian’s doghouse spot may be a thing of the past, as he won the ECW Championship at Backlash 2009 – Christian has never won a main WWE Championship, and with this being his first, it’s possible that he could see more in the very near future.