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Ring posts: Lucha Underground's Brian Cage talks about Friday's Glen Burnie show

Former professional wrestler Ric Flair (seen outside the ring) looks on as WWE Superstar Chris Jericho gets pummeled on the ropes by "Rowdy" Roddy Piper during WrestleMania 25 at Reliant Stadium on April 5, 2009 in Houston, Texas. Flair is expected to be on hand for the April 24 Maryland Championship Wrestling match in Glen Burnie as Brian Cage makes his Baltimore area debut. Jericho was one of those who Cage tried to emulate as a young wrestler.

I had a chance to talk to Lucha Underground star Brian Cage before his match against Cedric Alexander at the upcoming Maryland Championship Wrestling "Homecoming" show in Glen Burnie this Friday, April 24. We talked about the rise of Lucha Underground, what makes it so appealing to fans, his time in WWE's developmental and where else he'd like to wrestle.

While you've been wrestling for a while, I think it's fair to say that you really took off when you joined Lucha Underground and were exposed to so many people. How did you get involved with them?

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There was a tryout for AAA [the Mexican wrestling organization] in 2010. I performed there, and I smashed it, but it really went nowhere. I befriended Konnan, who was also friends with one of my friends, and former FCW trainer, Norman Smiley. He told me that something was coming to LA, an American version of AAA. It seemed great, and five years later, here we are. He gave me the heads-up when it was coming through, and I knew I wanted to be part of it.

What initially attracted you to AAA and made you try out with them?

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I happened to be in LA at the time [they had the tryouts]. I didn't even know they were happening, I heard about them right before and was like "Wait, what?" They're one of the more-established organizations in the world, I don't know why any wrestler wouldn't want to go there. I'm not a one-dimensional wrestler, I can work different styles in different places, so I was all about it.

What's it like to get in on the ground floor of a company like Lucha Underground?

It's awesome because it makes you feel like you need to help establish and build something from the ground up. You feel better if it's more successful because you feel like you personally took part in what it becomes. I actually didn't know what to expect going in. I knew there were some different feelings about what was going on, people didn't know what was going on there. But after that first day I was there I was like "Oh my goodness, this is so much better than any major company I've been around." From the way it was put together, to the matches, everything was a surprise. I was stoked.

I feel like in the wrestling world, very little has had more buzz than Lucha Underground over the past six months or so. What is it about Lucha that is appealing to so many people?

I've said this over and over. It's FINALLY something that's new and different. It's not your typical new company that just does the same old thing with has-been guys, or guys who have been released from WWE, that is, at best, a second-rate version of WWE. It's something new with a new direction, with new people. There's a different feel. It has the amazing backstage cinematic work with the vignettes. It's more of a TV show about wrestling, than a wrestling show that's on TV.

Why do you think it took so long for someone to put out an alternative form of wrestling, as opposed to, as you said, another version of WWE?

I don't know if people aren't creative enough to do it, or it's more narrow-mindedness. Maybe people just look at WWE, and have decided that's the way you're supposed to do it. I don't know. You can't compete with WWE on that level, because they're so far ahead of the game. So you have to do something different. That's what people complain about and want, they want something different. They want someone outside the business to create something brand new.

With Lucha Underground being an extension of AAA and the lucha libre style, do you have to wrestle differently than you would in other organizations you're part of?

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Not at all. I feel like I can wrestle the exact same way. People might do different stuff to me that I have to work with, but I don't feel like I have to wrestle any differently. The only difference is that I have to wear different ring gear. I don't usually wear a singlet. I do that to differentiate. But there's nothing really different I do or don't do.

Is there anyone you specifically model yourself after in your career?

When I first started getting into wrestling, the three people I wanted to be like were the three Chrises: Chris Kanyon, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. Chris Kanyon is of course the innovator of offense, Chris Jericho with his agility, charisma and his mic work, and Benoit with his physique and his intense style and his suplexes. I wanted to be a hybrid of all three of those. I've gotten comparisons to all three of them at times, so to me that's a compliment, and mission accomplished.

Interesting that it's those three. All those guys are smaller wrestlers, and known for wrestling the underdog style a lot of the time. You're obviously a bigger guy and a powerhouse, especially in Lucha Underground. How do those things mesh?

When I started out, I wasn't a big guy either. I got into bodybuilding just by working out, and starting a fascination with it. When I graduated high school, I was 150 pounds. When I first started wrestling, with the independents in California, every company is going to have guys, or in better shape. While I had gotten bigger, I was still only about 205, so I wasn't huge. So I developed wrestling as one of the smaller guys. Then I moved on and started to get into bodybuilding. It actually took me a while to realize that I was one of the bigger guys. I watched a match I had done, and realized, "Wait a second, I'm a lot bigger than these guys, maybe I should change my style a little." So I incorporated more of a power style, but I still do springboards and moonsaults and whatever else. ... I had to adjust a little bit, but I definitely still have some of my old style in there. I'm a wrestler than just so happens to bodybuild, not a bodybuilder that is trying to wrestle.

I know when you started showing up on Lucha Underground, a lot of people who might not have been familiar with you before wondered why you weren't in WWE, because you seem to be the prototype for them. I know you were in FCW [WWE's developmental territory before NXT] for a while, what happened?

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Long story short, I had a torn groin [in 2008]. We had a big holiday house show. Dusty Rhodes, Linda McMahon, Rikishi, a lot of people were going to be there. Because it was a big show, I worked a match, even though I was hurt. In the match, I had a spot where I had gotten knocked over the ropes, but I held on and I was going to springboard back in and the guy was supposed to give me a big boot. I couldn't really springboard because of my groin, so I thought I'd just jump and get there. But he was completely on the other side of the ring, and he missed me by a mile. It was awful. I just fell forward and fell to the ring because I couldn't do anything. I couldn't register or sell the boot. But we got up, we did a little comeback finish, and it was fine.

The office happened to watch that match because it was a big show with everyone there, though they watched it a long time later. I guess they didn't watch any of the other matches that we had every week, which were awesome. So they were on their conference call, listing the guys that they thought should get cut. Everybody on the list made sense, except for me. All the office and trainers from FCW said no, you don't want to release Logan, my name was Kris Logan then. Their response was, and I believe this was Johnny Ace [Laurainitis], "Well if he's that good, then we'll just try him again, won't we?" So that was that. Everyone was shocked, including myself. I thought I was getting a phone call to come up on the road. There was talk that someone that week would get a call to go on the road, and I saw I missed a call from the office. I called back, all excited, and they told me that they had come to terms on my release. I thought they had the wrong number at first. It is what it is though. I'm much happier now.

Do you ever think about that, and think about how one move has changed the entire course of your career?

I guess you could say that, but, everything has led up to this point, and yeah there were some hard times, but everything happens for a reason. I can honestly say that I'm really happy where I am now. If things had gone differently, they may have ended differently, and I wouldn't be where I am at today. I can't really complain.

Is there a part of you that still wants to get back to NXT, and get back to WWE?

There was for a while. In fact, I did get offered a contract at one point to go back there. They rescinded it though. We've gone back and forth. I was supposed to be on Tough Enough at one point, then I wasn't. There's been a lot of ups and downs. I just had enough of it. I wasn't mad or anything, I just didn't care. Once I let go of that need to go back, I just got so much better. I was supposed to have a tryout with them in the past year, but they kept pushing it back. Finally, I was invited to their September tryout, since everyone has to do tryouts now, and I ended up turning it down. That happened to be the weekend of my honeymoon, I had talks with other places, I knew Lucha Underground was coming up, so I turned it down. A couple weeks later I ended up going with Lucha Underground, and I'm happy. I have no animosity towards them. Could I go back? Maybe, but right now I don't care.

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Are there any places besides WWE that you haven't had a chance to work for yet, whether it's Ring of Honor, or New Japan, or any other organization?

I'm super happy where I'm at right now. But, the No. 1 on the bucket-list, where I've always wanted to work, is New Japan. Ring of Honor, I was actually going to, finally, which would be great because it's the only major American organization I haven't worked for. However, because of some technicality issues with the networks, it looks like that might not be able to happen, but we're still trying to work that out. That's not that big a deal. But I've always wanted to go and wrestle for New Japan.

While New Japan was always big, it seems like more and more American wrestlers are finding their way over there. What is it about NJPW that's so attractive?

To me, it's where the best of the best wrestlers go. I wanted to be in WWE forever, and I did that. So that was an awesome accomplishment, even though I didn't get to the main show. However, while there were great guys there, there were a lot of guys who just couldn't wrestle at all, so if you could get there without knowing what you were doing, how big of an accomplishment is it, really? To get booked by New Japan, that's where the top talent goes. They're booking the real wrestlers, the top guys. All these guys worked there, like Jericho, Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dynamite Kid. All these guys who can wrestle. It's where you can go for wrestling, and not just sports entertainment.

You're going to be wrestling in Baltimore next weekend, for Maryland Championship Wrestling. I know you primarily wrestle on the west coast, have you ever wrestled in Baltimore before?

I have not, and I'm really looking forward to it

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What are you looking forward to the most about wrestling in Baltimore?

I know it's a great show, I've seen the lineup. I've never wrestled Cedric [Alexander] before so that should be great. I know a couple people, like Pat Brink, from the developmental system. He's been hyping it up to me. You can look at a show on paper, and you'll know what's going to be a good show and what's not going to be a good show. You see the lineup, and you see the buzz and the quality of the advertisement. Ric Flair is coming in. You know it's not going to be some 25-seat bingo hall. It's a new place for me. So to get to work for an established place in a new place in front of a new crowd, it will be great.

I had a chance to talk to Cedric before, and he said how excited he was to wrestle you for the first time. How excited for that match are you?

I'm really excited. He's another PWG [Pro Wrestling Guerilla] guy, and of course he wrestles for Ring of Honor. We've never worked at all. He's great in the ring, and athletic, and I've never gotten to do anything with him before. So everything will be brand new. It'll be a great match.

For those fans who haven't seen you before, what can they expect to see on Friday?

First of all, to see me GMSI, which is Get My Stuff In. If you haven't seen me before, you're in for a surprise. You don't usually get to see someone who comes out and looks like Batista or Lex Luger, and can move around like Dean Malenko. I'd say that me and Cedric are going to have the match of the night and steal the show, and anyone who hadn't seen me before will be amazed.

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You can see Brian Cage face Cedric Alexander, and more, at MCW's "Homecoming" show in Glen Burnie on Friday, April 24. You can find more information and buy tickets at www.marylandwrestling.com.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my thoughts on my podcast "Jobbing Out", which you can find here: http://www.glennclarkradio.com/2015/04/22/the-miz-and-summer-rae-help-make-jobbing-out-episode-seven-awesome


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