Monday, May 2, 2011

JC's Take: A Win for the Peeps! Christian's Journey to the World Heavyweight Title!

Wrestling fans take a lot of flack from the non-viewing audience. Why do you guys like this stuff? You know it's fake right? You like watching guys fake fight?

We hear that from people all the time. Most of my friends have come to respect that I like wrestling, and that there is nothing that will change it. They don't like it, but they understand that I do and it has become a staple of my daily routine.

One of the main reasons we stay wrestling fans is because of moments like last night at Extreme Rules. Last night Christian, a guy who has busted his butt in the wrestling business for over 10 years, finally achieved what every wrestler in this business would like to achieve. Christian won his first ever major singles championship, winning the vacant World Heavyweight Title in a Ladder Match. It was an emotional moment knowing how hard Christian has worked in his career. There were times in his first WWE run where it looked like he was a future main eventer, but the WWE never capitalized on it.

Christian made his debut in the WWE in 1998, distracting Edge during a match at an In Your House PPV. He joined with Gangrel, and the two were eventually joined by Edge to form the Brood.

After the Brood broke up, Christian & Edge went on to form a tag team by themselves. While they started off as serious threats, they eventually turned their personas into a goofy comedic team. Edge & Christian entertained fans night in and night out. Sure they were technically the heels, but they were so entertaining that you couldn't help but laugh. I loved every single "5 second pose." How could you not? During this time, Edge & Christian also made themselves the masters of the TLC Match. The two won a Ladder Match at Wrestlemania 16, then won two Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches at SummerSlam 2000 and Wrestlemania 17.

The team broke up after Edge won the 2001 King of the Ring. It seemed like the WWE had faith in Edge as a future singles competitor, but Christian was soon to be lost in the shuffle. The WWE pegged Edge as the guy to push out of the two. Christian formed the Un-Americans with Lance Storm and Test in 2002. The group didn't amount to much, and it still seemed like Christian was going nowhere.

In 2003, however, it seemed like Christian was in line for a push. Christian had a segment with the Rock where Rock told Christian that he has some potential. Christian called himself the "New People's Champion" and started calling his fans "Peeps."

He started hanging around with Chris Jericho, and the two started teaming together. They eventually broke up, leading to a good singles match at Wrestlemania XX, where Christian won and formed an alliance with Trish Stratus. After returning from a back injury in 2004, Christian began calling himself "Captain Charisma" and introduced his problem solver, Tyson Tomko.

With a new bodyguard and what seemed to be a new found attitude, it seemed like Christian was on his way to the main event level. Even though he was a heel, people started to get behind Christian. He was getting cheered every night by the die hard fans, the same people who cheer him today. People saw Christian as a guy who grew up right in front of their eyes. Christian cut a money promo in Canada that even furthered people's liking of him. Everyone thought this was the promo that made Christian a star.

After the WWE Draft of 2005 where John Cena was drafted to RAW, a feud with Christian seemed imminent. The WWE booked him in a match against Cena at the Vengeance PPV but instead added Chris Jericho to the mix, making it a Triple Threat match. John Cena retained the WWE Title in the bout.

In November 2005, Christian quit the WWE. His contract was expiring, and he decided not to re-sign. Most people believe that Christian quit because he was unhappy with his push. It was obvious to everyone watching that the fans were behind him. He was a solid worker in the ring, and he was one of the better promo guys the WWE had. But Vince McMahon didn't see Christian as a top guy, so he never pulled the trigger on him.

Christian went on to wrestle for TNA. I won't go in depth into his run there. I've never paid full attention to TNA, but it was obvious that he was out to prove he could be a top dog in the wrestling business. Christian held the NWA World Heavyweight Title there, and he showed he could be a main eventer in the WWE down the line. His in ring work never suffered, and he still continued to be one of the best promos around.

Christian returned to the WWE in 2009. At the time, it was rumored that he was the person who attacked Jeff Hardy in late 2008, and he would be returning by costing Hardy the WWE Championship. That never happened. Again, it had to do with Vince not thinking Christian could handle the top stage. The fans wanted it, they were begging for it. There were constant "WE WANT CHRISTIAN" chants on TV and PPV. But nothing. Instead of hyping up Christian's debut, they just had him re-appear on a random episode of ECW. Christian remained on ECW until its demise. He was on RAW for a few months, then was drafted to Smackdown. He seemed to be stuck in mid-card purgatory again. In late 2010, Christian suffered a torn pectoral muscle. Storyline wise, he was put out by Alberto del Rio. Little did Christian know this injury would become an important part of his rise to the top.

Christian returned from injury at Elimination Chamber, rescuing Edge from an attack from Alberto del Rio. In the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania, Christian teamed with Edge against Del Rio and Brodus Clay. Christian also fought Del Rio on TV. Christian was in Edge's corner when Edge defeated Del Rio at Wrestlemania to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. At the time, there was talk about what would happen with Christian down the line. Some people saw him turning on Edge, then engaging in a main event program with him. Some saw him slowly working his way into a match against Edge & Del Rio for the Title. The possibilities were endless for Christian. Somehow, it seemed like he was finally on his way to a real main event program.

Then Edge's retirement happened. It was a shock to everyone. People were in disbelief. After the dust settled, I thought that it was finally Christian's time. Sure enough, he won a battle royal on Smackdown to win the right to fight Alberto del Rio at Extreme Rules for the World Title. I wrote in my Extreme Rules preview that if Christian was ever going to win a World Title, it was now or never. Sure enough, his time was now. (I hate when I quote John Cena) Christian climbed the ladder and grabbed the World Title. It was a very good match. Sure Edge helped Christian, but it doesn't take away from the moment. All Edge did was honk a car horn. When Eddie Guerrero won his first WWE Title, Goldberg interfered in the match. Edge's "interference" doesn't take away from Christian's win.

Christian's win was a great moment in wrestling history. Here was a guy who was the ultimate underdog in the wrestling business. I've always been a fan of Christian. He's one of those guys that you would watch every show and know that he was giving it his all. Whether it was in his Brood days, or teaming with Edge & Christian, in TNA, or one of his many mid-card matches, Christian gave it his all every night. That is part of the reason so many people started to get behind him. Christian is one of the hardest workers in the business who knew how to put on a show every night.

Many people consider Christian an "internet darling." The Internet wrestling community likes to get behind people who they think are solid workers inside the ring, and put on an entertaining show for the fans every night. Christian easily fell into that company. As much as Internet fans get a bad rap, they know talent when they see it. Christian is a talented worker who deserves the praise he gets.

The talk about Christian was always that he didn't have the look of a top company guy, that's why Vince McMahon never put the WWE or World Title on him. Christian looked too much like an average guy. Well, that's another thing that made people attracted to him. Not every top star needs to look muscular like John Cena, or be a former reality TV star like Miz, or have a unique look and gimmick like C.M. Punk. Some guys just need to be the typical, hard-working guy who goes in and busts his butt. Christian could be compared to the typical 9-5 weekday worker at a typical job. He may not be the boss or the hot shot salesman, but he does his job efficiently and effectively and when the right people notice, he will be given his due. That's Christian.

Now there are people who will say Christian is only here because of Edge's sudden retirement. Now that is partially true. He was in this match because of Edge's retirement, but I think sooner rather than later he was going to be World Champ this year. Everything was setting up for some kind of match down the line. Christian's buddy Edge had been trying to get him there for years. Little did Edge know that his sudden retirement would be the thing that put Christian to the top. Sometimes, you have to take advantage of the opportunity given to you. That's what Christian did. If people didn't take advantage of opportunities, there wouldn't be as many stars as there are today. Where would Tom Brady be if he didn't step in for an injured Drew Bledsoe for the Patriots? You have to seize the bull by the horns when given the chance, otherwise you will never get the opportunity to be the top guy.

There are very few things that get me teary eyed nowadays. Seeing Christian win the World Title Sunday at Extreme Rules did that. Being a fan of someone your whole life, it is always nice to finally that person make their way to the top. Christian is one of the most entertaining wrestlers in the business. As I said, he busts his butt every night no matter the match, the crowd, or the show. He's a very nice and out going guy. I met him at Wrestlemania Fan Axxess. Being a Sabres fan, I made a joke about the Toronto Maple Leafs not making the NHL Playoffs again. He got a laugh out of it. He seemed to want to talk to everyone in line and take pictures with everybody. His line got so backed up that they had to cut off pictures. Christian loved inter-acting with the fans and unlike some other wrestlers that were there, he seemed genuinely happy to be there.

Christian deserves all of the accolades he will receive in the coming weeks. Now it is all up to the WWE to decide how to handle his reign. Hopefully it is not a short reign, and just a victory for the sake of a victory. Christian deserves a few months as World Champ to show he can handle his time at the top. Hopefully Vince gives him the chance to run with the ball before he decides to take it away.

Congratulations Christian. You deserve your spot at the top. I've watched you work your ass off for over ten years to get where you are today. Enjoy your time at the top. Cherish it, soak up every minute of it. Your win was one of the best things to happen in wrestling in a long time. I've always been a member of the Peep Nation. I consider myself "Buffalo's #1 Peep!" I'll make sure I see every minute of your title reign. You always took the time to entertain the Peeps, so I'll make sure I take the time to watch ever minute you are on top.

But just remember, no matter if you are World Champ or Lightheavyweight Champ, the Leafs will always still suck!

Until next time,
Justin C

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