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Impact Wrestling dropped the ball once — make that several times — with Brian Cage in the past. Since his return to the company earlier this year, though, it’s become obvious the Owl realizes the error of past regimes with no intent to fumble again.
Cage received weeks of hype in advance of his re-debut on the February 15 ‘Impact’ broadcast. There was not so much as a whisper about his failed “Gut Check Challenge” match some four years prior, much less that “Weapon X” auditioned for the company to no success not once, not twice but THREE times total before.
To those paying attention, the reason has become increasingly evident as his in-ring dominance continues. In a drive to rebuild its depleted roster around hand-selected talents capable of carrying the company into the future, a great deal of that responsibility appears to fall on Cage’s massive shoulders.
The Fresno, CA, native signed with Impact earlier this year at precisely the right time. With the imminent departure of former World champions Bobby Lashley and EC3 looming, the brand needed an immediate response, a star around whom it could build momentum and excitement to counteract what many considered a deadly one-two blow to its roster.
In so many ways, “The Machine” provided a veritable blueprint for filling the void. Of course, he entered a high-profile program against “The Destroyer” — two alpha males battling for dominance — almost instantly.
The company’s obvious powerhouse, Lashley was the only roster member to truly stack up against “Mr. GMSI” physically. Though given little time for the build such a clash deserved, given the four-time Impact champion’s planned jump to WWE, the men faced off in a series of outstanding bouts.
After picking up clean victories over the potential Impact Hall of Famer on back-to-back episodes, Cage received another serious rub as he vanquished two-time World champ EC3 on his way out the door as well. Within a matter of weeks, the new-hire managed to accomplish what few others had in years!
Since that time, the roadmap for what lies ahead for Cage has become even more obvious. Pre-recorded clips on recent broadcasts have shown Eli Drake’s former Pro Wrestling Guerrilla tag team partner decimate opponents from around the globe.
The ample attention given him over the last many months is a far cry from Impact’s take on Cage just a few short years ago. Between 2012-2014, the company passed on signing the big man during annual auditions.
Instead of languishing in defeat, though, he continued to hone his craft as a journeyman, earning a place as one of the most active grapplers not under exclusive contract in the world today. Stints in Mexico’s Triple-A and Japanese promotion Pro Wrestling Noah found Cage challenging for coveted titles worldwide.
Appearances on Lucha Underground’s weekly broadcasts built his following, which reveled at the ability of a man his size to keep pace with stars like Prince Puma (current NXT star Ricochet), and reputation as an unstoppable force. There he fleshed out the character upon which Impact hopes to capitalize.
The powers-that-be must recognize the foundation is already set for making this 6’, 265-pound behemoth a superstar. Now rather than simply another independent talent hoping to make it to “the big time,” Cage returns as a seasoned veteran — a bonafide brute looking to conquer his biggest prize yet — and legitimate threat to any champion he faces.
And, by all visible signs, the promotion is ready to pull the trigger. Finally!
Next Page: Is Brian Cage On-Track to Become Impact’s Goldberg? (cont.)