Pros and Cons of Christian Cage Leaving WWE for AEW
Christian Cage has joined the All Elite Wrestling roster after a shock reveal at the Revolution pay-per-view on Sunday, but it's a move that has divided fans for a number of reasons.
Some consider his signing to be a blessing, focusing on what Cage can offer and the benefits he'll bring to the company; others are more negative, disappointed it wasn't someone else or feeling less confident about his potential value.
Let's break down the pros of cons of his departure from WWE for AEW.
Pro: Creative Freedom and Interesting Matches
Undoubtedly, AEW provides much more creative freedom for its talent. There aren't as many shackles in comparison to how WWE scripts all its promos, changes direction on the fly and executes more control over the roster.
AEW's approach doesn't always work out well, though. Sometimes, wrestlers like Matt Hardy try a few stories that don't catch on, or there are too many of the same angles running simultaneously.
But at least in the newer promotion, Cage has the ability to make the last run of his career more of what he wants. He won't be in a position where his retirement match is against an opponent he doesn't pick, such as Kurt Angle had with King Corbin at WrestleMania 35.
In general, Cage will have more influence on who he works with, being able to pick his dance partners based on who he thinks he'll have chemistry with. He won't have full autonomy, but AEW President Tony Khan does appear to listen to suggestions and weighs those heavily into his decisions.
If Cage wants to focus more on characters, he could work with MJF. If he's looking to put on the best matches possible, Kenny Omega and Pac are possibilities. And there are figures such as Cody Rhodes and Orange Cassidy, who are the best of both worlds.
There are lots of fresh, new names available for Cage to work with in interesting ways.
Con: Missed Opportunities with WWE Matches
Leaving WWE means Cage has left behind some potentially fantastic matches that would have been amazing to see on Raw, SmackDown and NXT.
In particular, fans won't be able to see him team up with Edge to face a team like The New Day. And the idea of an Edge vs. Christian double-retirement is also out the window.
Cage can't have "one more match" with Randy Orton to finish out that storyline in a better way than the punt that happened when they last stepped into a WWE ring together in June 2020.
The veteran may never face Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn or Kevin Owens, and there may be no match against Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns in the future.
There are so many amazing performers in WWE who could have had great matches with Cage that we'll likely never see.
Pro for AEW, Con for WWE: He Can Help Only the Younger Talent in AEW
Since AEW and WWE have no working relationship, their rosters are entirely cut off from one another in a professional sense.
It's sad to think there are so many names in NXT and the WWE developmental system who won't now benefit from working with Cage both in and out of the squared circle. He's a fantastic performer for both pure wrestling skills and psychology, and he'd have made a great coach at the Performance Center.
However, WWE's loss is AEW's gain in that department.
Whether part of The Nightmare Family, a reliable hand on AEW Dark or part of the main roster itself, Cage will be there for younger wrestlers in the fledgling promotion.
Jungle Boy, Darby Allin, Ricky Starks and tag teams like The Acclaimed can gain significant knowledge from The Instant Classic that could shape their future careers.
Pro: Sending a Message to WWE
It isn't just the on-screen product that directly changes as a result of Cage's switch. These shifts have reverberations that can be felt all throughout the product.
One major positive is that this sends a message to Vince McMahon and WWE management that AEW is growing stronger as a competitor and cannot be taken lightly.
Gone are the days when wrestlers had to either go to WWE or struggle on the independent circuit. AEW is a legitimate alternative now.
WWE can't low-ball offers and expect to keep talent. If they're worth something, AEW will pick them up instead.
Sitting on talent with false promises that a push will come eventually won't fly anymore. We have already seen former WWE wrestlers such as Shawn Spears, Miro and FTR join AEW, while legends like Sting, Paul Wight and Cage have made the same move.
This could be a wake-up call for WWE.
Con: More Fuel for AEW Critics
A major criticism of Cage's signing has been his age. At 47 and after a career-threatening injury that kept him out of the ring for years, he's no longer in his prime.
Those who criticize AEW for seemingly turning into TNA now have more ammunition, after Impact Wrestling previously became known for housing forgotten WWE names.
TNA had Cage, Matt Hardy, Sting and more who are now on the AEW roster. With each similar acquisition, it starts to look more and more like a repeat of that company's trajectory. Some fans may also complain that the latest arrival is taking a spot that could have gone to a younger wrestler.
If AEW only employed newcomers, though, there would be no star power. It's a delicate balancing act for the company.
Pro: Avoiding Becoming a Stepping Stone
In WWE, Christian was viewed as Edge's sidekick—Robin to The Rated-R Superstar's Batman. In AEW, Cage will be his own man.
Cage has been a world champion, but he only reached that status after Edge retired and he had already made a bigger name for himself in TNA.
Being away from Edge has its negatives, but it does mean he won't just be the sacrificial lamb WWE shoves into a ring to lose to whoever is feuding with his friend. It would be easy to fall into the trap of Roman Reigns destroying Christian to send a message to his WrestleMania 37 opponent, and WWE would certainly do that.
Cage may not be the next challenger for the AEW World Championship or the main event of any future pay-per-views, but he'll stand a better chance to have his own feuds and be the focal point of those stories, rather than being a supporting character.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.