While wrestling fans may be missing “The Machine,” Brian Cage is easy to find.
Maybe it’s his massive muscles on a six-foot, 272-pound frame. Maybe it’s his distinctive Mohawk and sideburns.
Cage, who spent several years living in Fresno, returns this weekend for the CVC card show, Saturday and Sunday at the Wyndham Garden Hotel near the Fresno airport (5090 E. Clinton Way).
“I’m from the 559. It’s been my hometown forever,” Cage said, speaking with Off the Bottom Rope from his Las Vegas home.
Never mind the show takes place the same weekend as WrestleMania — the WWE’s annual showcase event emanating this year from suburban Dallas. It is tradition in the wrestling world to converge for shows and meet and greets.
Not for Cage.
“Because of AEW contracts, (owner Tony Khan) would rather us not do anything WrestleMania weekend, because … he doesn’t want anyone to look like, you know, hey AEW is beneath WWE,” Cage said.
Watch Interview with Brian Cage
Still with AEW
Cage remains under contract with All Elite Wrestling, the chief competitor to WWE. AEW has two weekly shows on national TV — Wednesday nights on TBS and Fridays on TNT. Although Cage has not wrestled on TV since last October, he awaits his opportunity.
“I’ve been under contract the whole time. As for further details on what’s happened with AEW, I don’t have much (to say), exactly, Cage said. “I’ve been told there’s been a plan this whole time. Whether I have more details or not, I wouldn’t be able to say.”
Cage’s AEW contract allows him to wrestle in other independent promotions.
“I love wrestling more than anything else … I get paid plenty fine from AEW. Financially, I don’t have to do independent bookings, but I do them because I love it,” Cage said.
Working indies allows Cage to have his “Brian Cage matches,” featuring more action than he can have in a TV match.
Cage Once Lived in Fresno
Cage grew up in Chico and started his pro wrestling career in 2004 in small California independent promotions. He eventually caught the eye of the WWE. Wrestling for its developmental territory in Florida, Cage stayed about a year before being let go.
He returned to California and moved to Fresno because “my girlfriend at the time, who would later become my wife, who is now my ex-wife … was from there.”
Cage lived in Fresno for seven years.
“I really enjoyed it there a lot,” he said.
Despite having a 530 area code, he was billed “From The 559” at his matches, something that took awhile to get used to.
“The more I kept hearing 559, the cooler it sounded. I guess it’s better than 530. It rolls off the tongue better the way (former ring announcer and current wife) Melissa says it is … It’s definitely a home away from home,” Cage said.
While living in Fresno, he appeared in commercials for Valley Fitness Nutrition. He once worked as a personal trainer, one of many jobs he worked waiting for his wrestling career to take off.
A Sweet Tooth and Favorite Fresno Restaurants
Cage hopes to hit some of his favorite eateries while in town.
“I love Batter Up. That’s my favorite breakfast I’ve been to. Don Pepe’s — I don’t even like Mexican food that much anymore. And I would travel to Mexico all the time and I would never eat any of the food. But I’d come back and eat Don Pepe’s. That place is amazing,” Cage said.
“I’m a big sweets guy. If I’m going to cheat, I want sweets. I don’t want burgers and stuff. I mean, I’ll eat them. I like those, too. But usually it’s the baked goods that get me. Cookies, the brownies, the donuts. That’s that’s what really, really gets me going,” Cage said about straying from his diet.
Credits Kanyon for Career Development
Growing up in Chico, Cage was a fan of the late Scott Hall, aka Razor Ramon. It was always his dream to become a wrestler.
“Everyone’s afraid to chase the dream of what they really want because they’re afraid to fail. What they don’t realize is the only way to fail really is to never try,” Cage said.
In high school, there was one fellow athlete who always asked Cage about wrestling, Aaron Rodgers.
“Aaron, being a (future) NFL quarterback and he’d always ask me on Tuesday, ‘Did you watch Raw last night?’ Always talking about it. I was a little mad that he got the world title before I did,” Cage said about the Super Bowl champion.
He credits his professional development to Chris Kanyon, considered one of the top innovators of offensive wrestling during the 1990s and 2000s.
“I see him wrestle and every time there’d be something new, something would stand out. So, whether he had the best match or not, his matches really stand out to me,” Cage said. “That just really struck a chord with me. So I wanted to be just like that.”
Where does Cage see himself in five years?
“I won’t say it’s a failure, but if I’m not world champion in AEW within three to five years, then I think that’s a big mishap,” Cage said. “Because if you’re not in here to be the best, be the world champion … you’re almost wasting your time.”
Rock vs. Smith a Shoot, Says Cage
Cage, a pro wrestling veteran, should know a work versus a shoot if he sees one. He is calling the “Slap Heard ‘Round the World” between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars the real deal.
“It was a bit ridiculous. Regardless of his reasoning for doing it, even if was defending his wife … with plenty of other people and any other circumstances, it wouldn’t be tolerated. So I don’t know why it’s tolerated in that regard,” Cage said. “If I go to the comedy club with my wife, if she gets made fun of and I get up and I slap the comedian — pretty sure I’m getting arrested for assault.”