WWE’s Christian on wrestling, his love of hockey and how he’s combining the two

Tuesday February 7th, 2017

Even though the card for WrestleMania 33 is far from official, there is one match that Christian is already anticipating will be appointment viewing.

“I’m looking forward to watching AJ Styles’ match, no matter who he is wrestling,” said Christian (born Jay Reso). “AJ had such a great year in the ring, and no one even came close to him. I would have liked to have seen him carry the title all the way to WrestleMania and have a chance to defend it, but he’s still my favorite guy to watch.”

In addition to enjoying a Hall of Fame-worthy career in professional wrestling, Christian is also a diehard hockey fan. The 43-year-old native of Orangeville, Ontario, is a devoted supporter of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he is still patiently awaiting the team’s first run with the strap—or, in this case, the Stanley Cup—in his lifetime.

“I was a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and I still am,” said Christian, whose Leafs last won the Cup in 1967. “They have a good young core for the future with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Connor Brown, and Nikita Soshnikov. I think they’re going to be the best team in the league within three or four years. Toronto fans deserve it—we’ve been let down before. They had a couple of deep runs in the playoffs when I was younger, but it’s pretty much been heartbreak every single year.”

Courtesy of WWE

The Maple Leafs’ best chance to win a championship occurred in 1993, until the team ran into Wayne Gretzky’s Los Angeles Kings. Gretzky and the Kings fell behind, three games to two, before winning game six in LA and then upsetting Toronto in game seven behind a Gretzky hat trick.

“Toronto actually opened up the [Blue Jays’] Sky Dome for fans to watch the game on the big screen,” said Christian. “There were 30,000 people in that dome watching the game. I was there watching game six, and there is a referee [Kerry Fraser] who, to this day, admits that he missed a call against the Leafs. Toronto had another chance to win the series in game seven, but they didn’t.

“Wayne Gretzky is the greatest hockey player of all-time, I don’t think there is any debate about that. If you look at the records he holds, they’ll never be broken or touched. He wasn’t the biggest, wasn’t the fastest, and didn’t have the hardest shot, but no one saw the game developing the way he saw the game develop. He saw things before they happened, and that’s something you cannot teach. No one saw the game the way Gretzky did, and no one ever will.”

Christian was asked if there is anyone in wrestling similar to Gretzky, who was aptly nicknamed “The Great One.”

“The wrestling equivalent to Wayne Gretzky?” replied Christian. “That’s Shawn Michaels.”

Along with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and Tommy Dreamer, Christian is set to appear at the Florida Panthers’ first-ever “Pro Wrestling Night” as the Panthers play host, fittingly, to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

“I also root for the Florida Panthers,” said Christian. “The Panthers have built a good young team, drafted well, and made some good trades. I cheer for them because I always like the underdog teams, especially in an underdog market since Florida is a non-traditional hockey market. I’ve lived in Tampa since 2001, and it’s also pretty cool to see the hockey town that Tampa has become.”

Christian is open to embracing talented hockey players and teams, permitting they do not play for the Montreal Canadiens. The 24-time champs, Christian explained, are the biggest heels in hockey.

“If you’re a Maple Leafs fan, you hate the Canadians,” explained Christian. “I’m not a Canadiens fan at all.”

Edge and Christian returned to the WWE Network in 2015 for an appearance on Steve Austin’s “Stone Cold” podcast, which was a precursor to “The Edge and Christian Show” that debuted six months later on the Network.

“It was cool to sit down in a different format like that with Steve,” said Christian. “It was three guys having a conversation and trying to make each other laugh. We had so much fun, shooting the breeze like we did when we were on the road together. We always had a good rapport with Steve, and he’s a really funny guy, quick-witted, and being able to share some of the stories – like the ‘Don’t look at me’ jokes and for how long – was cool for the fans to be able to hear. That podcast was a chance to reintroduce ourselves, and from that came ‘The Edge and Christian Show.’”

“The Edge and Christian Show” is a WWE Network exclusive, and received incredibly positive reviews of its first season.

“We had a blast with the show,” said Christian. “We wanted to take it in a complete, opposite direction of anything that was on the Network. It’s really cool that there is so much original programming on the Network, but we wanted to put a comedic twist on what was happening. Since we had a whole library of footage at our disposal, we wanted to really do something with it. It took us a few episodes, but we finally hit our stride by the fourth episode, and it was a fun process. The whole time we were shooting, we were just trying to make each other laugh. There was a lot of ad-libbing, which kept us on our toes.”

Courtesy of WWE

Although no date has been announced, both Christian and Edge are looking forward to returning for a second season of the show.

“Season two is in development stages, so there is nothing definite in terms of a date,” said Christian. “We are laying out the content that’s going to go into the show, but I was also robbed in the ‘Chumpstain Challenge’ [trivia contest against Edge] and I’ll be looking to redeem myself in season two.”

Edge recently revealed that his original retirement plan was to lose his final match to Christian at WrestleMania 28. Injuries prevented that plan from coming to fruition, yet Christian remains grateful for the bond he shared with Edge in wrestling.

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“Edge actually never told me about his plan,” said Christian. “It would have been amazing if we could have ended his career in a match together for the world title at WrestleMania. I ended up winning the world title after he, unfortunately, had to retire. I know he really wanted to be a part of that moment, and it was pretty cool. It almost meant more to him than it did to me when I first won.

“We both thought a lot alike. We always thought about this 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He was one of my biggest advocates and always looked out for me.”

Christian combines his first two loves—hockey and pro wrestling—this Thursday at the Panthers’ “Pro Wrestling Night”, and he is grateful to share the night with people who love the two sports as much as he does.

“The cool thing about wrestling fans is that they’re so passionate,” said Christian. “It’s so nice to say thanks for the support they continue to give. Wrestling is so interactive with the crowd—the signs, the chants—so it’s important to interact on a personal level, and I always enjoy it. ‘Pro Wrestling Night’ with the Panthers is perfect for me. I can talk to people about the two things I talking about most: wrestling and hockey.”

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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