Jay “Christian” Reso stars on the wonderfully offbeat “Edge and Christian Show” and History’s “Knight Fight.”

By Justin Barrasso
January 23, 2019

SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

Christian on his own as host for History

Headlining is never easy in professional wrestling. In addition to talent and charisma, a wrestler also needs a promotion’s believe that they are pushing a genuine star.

Christian is a future Hall of Famer, putting together a 12-year run of brilliant moments in the ring, sacrifice away from it, and endless memories for those watching in WWE.

An experience that enhanced his character was his run as a world champion in TNA as Christian Cage in 2006 and ’07, a period of time that furthered his presence and status within the business.

While TNA never truly competed against WWE, it developed a core audience and delivered some great moments in the ring. So count Christian among those who will be watching closely as WWE’s newest competitor, All Elite Wrestling, makes its debut this May with its “Double or Nothing” show in Las Vegas.

“I don’t know if it’s going to be direct competition with WWE, but it’s never a bad thing to have competition,” said Christian, whose real name is Jay Reso. “It’s obviously really ambitious, but when you see the success that Cody and the Young Bucks had with ‘All In,’ and with the financial backing they have from the Khan family, it’s a wait-and-see. Will they get a TV deal? You can’t get too far ahead of yourself, but I wish them the best. It’s never a bad thing for performers to have another place to go and ply their trade.”

Christian’s latest role as a headliner is as a host for HISTORY’s new show Knight Fight, which premieres tonight, Wednesday, January 23 at 10pm ET, bringing the personality and charm that wrestling fans know so well.

“Anyone can relate to this show because it’s a reality-based competition show,” said Reso. “They’re trying to win a prize. It’s great action, it’s physical, and there is drama involved, much like you’d see on a WWE show.”

Reso’s longtime tag team partner, Adam “Edge” Copeland, is a part of HISTORY’s Vikings series. He took a moment to playfully enjoy the fact that, while Copeland is merely a part of the cast, he is the host of his own show.

“It’s always good to one-up Adam,” said a joking Reso. “I don’t get many opportunities, so I’ve got to take them when I can.

“But they were looking for a host for this show, and my agent knew I was looking to host and try some things outside of wrestling. They saw some clips and said, ‘Yeah, that’s our guy.’”

Reso is joined on the show by two experts in Andre Sinou, who created the Armored Combat League, and John Clements, a weapons expert who is Director of the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts.

“I saw myself as a conduit for the fans watching the show,” said Reso. “I ask the questions from the perspective of the fans watching. I added in my comedy, too, but I also learned from Andre and John as we went along. My main goal was to highlight the competition.”

The winner of Knight Fight walks away with a championship title, $10,000 and a chance to become the first ever show champion.

“There is also an entertainment side to the show, so I’m trying to get the personalities out of the competitors,” said Reso. “That’s what the viewers are going to attach themselves to. The personality part sells in WWE, and that was an area which helped me hosting this show.”

In addition to their work for HISTORY, Reso and Copeland are back together for a long-awaited second season of “The Edge and Christian Show” on the WWE Network.

Part of the beauty of the show’s first season was it seemed as though WWE executives were blissfully unaware of the product. The jokes were nonstop and far off script, touching on characters, like CM Punk, that were not in the company’s good graces, as well as jokes about promotions like TNA, which, at the time, had not been mentioned on WWE programming. But Reso promised an even more complete show in the second season.

“I loved season two,” said Reso. “The show had never been done before, and we were trying to find its footing in the first season, which happened around the fourth or fifth episode. That’s when the vision we had for the show came into fruition. So now we already had the template, and we had the luxury of sitting down and writing the entire second season. During season one, we wrote in bits and then we shot in bits. So it helped to have the entire season written before we even started shooting.

“WWE has been great with us and allowing us to put our vision of the show out there. The response has been great, and ultimately, that’s why we do it—to entertain the fans, and we’re really happy with the response.”

The show was on hiatus for nearly two years, and not all of the guest stars from the first season will be back. Reso reflected back on a memorable moment between the late “Mean” Gene Okerlund and Sean Mooney, both wearing the traditional WWE blazers, that took place during a skit on the show’s first season.

“For as great as Gene was at his job, he was an even better person,” said Reso. “He was the guy I grew up watching interview all of the superstars that I liked, so to get to know him was special. Growing up, ‘Mean’ Gene was the voice of my generation.”

Reso hopes wrestling fans will come along for the ride on his new show, starting with Knight Fight’s premiere later this evening.

“It’s a show unlike anything you’ve ever seen,” said Reso. “It is really intense, and it’s referred to as medieval MMA or ‘Knight Fight Club.’ These knights are modern-day warriors battling in over 80 pounds of plated armor with real steel weapons. If you like action and competition, this is what it’s all about, and I think people are really going to like what they see.”

Braun Strowman and Charlotte Flair Frontrunners to Win Royal Rumble

The Royal Rumble is set to take place this Sunday from Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.

On paper, this card is one of WWE’s best. The four world title matches—Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles, Asuka vs. Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey vs. Sasha Banks, and Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor—are all worthy of a main event. That does not even account for the women’s and men’s Rumble matches (hopefully there will be more one-on-one time for Rey Mysterio and Andrade after their phenomenal two-out-of-three falls encounter this week on SmackDown), a four-way cruiserweight match, Rusev-Shinsuke Nakamura, and a unique tag title match that will see Shane McMahon and The Miz challenge Cesaro and Sheamus.

Charlotte Flair is the projected favorite for the women’s Royal Rumble. While she likely will not announce her choice of opponent at WrestleMania until the SmackDown Live following the Rumble, it would be a great plot twist if she chose to fight both women’s champions—likely to be Rousey and Lynch—at WrestleMania 35.

There is far more mystery in the men’s Rumble, though.

Seth Rollins is the favorite, but the removal of Braun Strowman from his Universal title match against Brock Lesnar was done for a reason. Strowman’s subsequent insertion into the Rumble immediately makes him as likely to win as Rollins. John Cena and Drew McIntyre both have outside shots at winning. If betting numbers are to be believed, people even think The Rock will make a surprise return and win the match. But I still believe that Strowman wins the Rumble and challenges for the Universal title at WrestleMania 35.

In other news…

• What does the future hold for Kenny Omega?

With an appearance at the Royal Rumble highly unlikely, fans hopeful to see Omega—and the matches and moments that would then lead to in the WWE—in the Rumble will be disappointed to know that his New Japan Pro Wrestling contract runs until the end of the month. Although that wipes the Rumble off his list of possibilities for 2019, Omega’s future will soon be revealed.

Sources close to Omega have confirmed that he will be introduced in February as the new centerpiece for All Elite Wrestling.

Omega would give AEW a talent that WWE, New Japan, and Ring of Honor would all be fortunate to have in their main event. In addition to Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks, PAC, and Chris Jericho, the AEW roster is flooded with talent.

The question of Omega’s future with New Japan is still undetermined, as he and the company are looking at avenues to extend their working relationship. Omega signing with AEW and keeping dates throughout the year with NJPW is the best-case scenario for the “Best Bout Machine”.

• Ring of Honor’s Matt Taven has not hesitated stating his goal for 2019: main-event the ROH/NJPW G1 Supercard show at Madison Square Garden during WrestleMania weekend.

“That is my only objective, and nothing will make me waver from that,” said Taven, who would like nothing more at MSG than a shot at the ROH world title against Jay Lethal. “It’s the biggest show of the year on the biggest platform, so if it’s not your goal, you should probably get out of the business. I have not lost focus that the countdown is ticking.”

Taven’s excitement was palpable during the interview, as the decades-long fan of the Patriots was thrilled that his team will be heading back to the Super Bowl.

“Tom Brady is so unbelievable,” said Taven, who once worked for the franchise and is old enough to remember the team before they were dominant. “We’ll never see anything like this again. Brady marched down the field in Kansas City, in overtime, to lead his team to his ninth Super Bowl appearance in 18 years. He’s the best player ever and no one else comes close.”

Shades of pro wrestling were on display in both of the NFL’s championship games, primarily in the officiating of the NFC Championship game between the Rams and the Saints, which was won by the Rams. The game was forever marred by an atrocious missed passed interference call late in the fourth quarter that would have secured the game for the Saints.

“The NFL just moved two teams into Los Angeles, and one just got an unbelievable call that led them to the Super Bowl right before they open their billion-dollar stadium,” said Taven. “And people think pro wrestling is a work?”

As the self-proclaimed Tom Brady of Ring of Honor, Taven looked at the other three quarterbacks from the NFL’s conference championship games and saw marked similarities with members of the ROH roster.

“The Saints’ Drew Brees is the consistent guy who’s been to the top before, and that is Jay Lethal,” said Taven. “But just like Jay Lethal, Brees wasn’t able to win a championship a second time. Jay is walking around calling himself a two-time champion, but he really just got lucky once. The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes is so young but so good and does things you can’t believe, which is just like Flip Gordon. He’s rose to prominence pretty quickly, and he has potential to be at the top for a long, long time. The Rams’ Jared Goff is Marty Scurll. Like Scurll, I just don’t see it in Goff, and he’ll find himself coming up short when he comes up against the G.O.A.T.”

Taven is preparing for a busy week, beginning with a match this Thursday at ROH’s “Road to G1 Supercard” in Dallas, Texas against Rocky Romero. The card will be broadcast on the Honor Club streaming service, and offers a chance for Taven to show he can go with one of the most talented wrestlers—with psychology embedded so deeply into his work—in Romero.

“This is the match that was never supposed to happen,” said Taven. “Rocky is in Japan so often and works in New Japan’s junior heavyweight division, but it’s a match I’ve always wanted to happen. I won the Welterweight title this past year in CMLL, and Rocky and me are the only two guys to wear titles in Ring of Honor, New Japan, and CMLL.

“I want to be the only guy to have ever done that, and Rocky is going to learn that the best guy to ever wear titles in all three companies is Matt Taven.”

• Pro Wrestling Tees owner Ryan Barkan is thrilled to announce that the newest addition to his industry-leading t-shirt superstore is WWE Hall of Famer “The Hitman” Bret Hart.

“We’ve wanted this to happen for nearly three years, and we worked together to land the deal about a month ago,” said Barkan. “This will allow us to create brand new Bret Hart designs that no one has ever seen before.”

Alnog with his team of designers, Barkan will help create the new Hitman shirts, which he will then pitch back to Hart for approval.

“We’ve made shirts for so many different legends, but people have always been asking for Bret,” said Barkan. “He’s already the number two seller of the week.”

Pro Wrestling Tees is also working directly with All Elite Wrestling on their merchandise.

“We’re helping come up with all the designs and products,” said Barkan. “We’re coming up with new ideas and releasing new shirts, just trying to get the brand out there.”

• Following the Patriots’ overtime victory over the Chiefs this past Sunday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that retirement may be near for Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski but a future in WWE is not.

Gronkowski is close with forgotten WWE star Mojo Rawley, who would greatly benefit from even a few guest appearances from Gronkowski. The most significant push Rawley received took place when he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33, eliminating Jinder Mahal with an assist from Gronk.

Barstool Sports’ Jerry Thornton details every move the Patriots make, and although he believes that a full-time run in WWE is unlikely, he does believe that guest appearances in pro wrestling are likely once Gronkowski retires.

“There is so much smoke here that it’s possible there is some fire,” said Thornton. “This talk has gone on since the post-game locker room during Super Bowl 52 last February. There was clearly some disconnect between Gronk and the team that was resolved during the off-season, and he looked great earlier in the season until problems started cropping up.”

Gronkowski is still one of the most talented tight ends in the NFL, but mounting injuries have limited his production over the past three seasons. If Gronkowski is to retire following this year’s Super Bowl, Thornton still believes that WWE will be his eventually landing spot.

“Will his future be Hollywood or the squared circle?” asked Thornton. “I love Gronk, and my love for him takes a backseat to no man. But let’s just say he’s not Daniel Day-Lewis. He’ll never be a master thespian. I will add that not long ago I watched Sudden Death starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, and I thought, ‘Yeah, Gronk could act this bad.’

“If a movie ever needs a large, handsome, alpha male who struggles with the English language, then Gronk could probably fill that role. But it’s far more likely he’ll be part of the WWE from time to time, though it’s too physically demanding for him to ever tour full-time.”

Thornton recently released his new book, “Five Rings: The Super Bowl History of the New England Patriots (So Far),” and sees a plethora of similarities between the start of the Patriots’ dynasty in 2001 and the rise of Hulkamania in 1984.

“The Patriots were the worst thing you can be in American culture, and that is to be irrelevant,” said Thornton. “You couldn’t even buy their merchandise from the Sears Christmas catalog, until they pulled off a miracle win over the Rams in the Super Bowl, which was akin to the Rocky III moment for Hulk Hogan.”

After a run of immense popularity, Hogan turned heel in WCW—which Thornton claims the Patriots also did in 2007 during the Spygate controversy.

“The Patriots went from telling kids to say their prayers and eat their vitamins to joining The Outsiders,” said Thornton. “Hulk was able to make that turn back again, but in the reality of the NFL, you can only turn once. So the Patriots’ fate is destined to ruin everyone else’s Super Bowl, and I’ve embraced that.”

• Conrad Thompson returns this Friday to “Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard” to discuss and examine Sid.

“We’ll discuss the famed story where, allegedly, Vince McMahon wanted to make Sid his next Hulk Hogan,” said Thompson. “The story goes that Sid said no, he’d rather be a heel. We’ll talk about that, whether it really happened, and what was going through Vince’s head.”

Sid headlined WrestleMania on two separate occasions, closing out WrestleMania VIII against Hulk Hogan and WrestleMania 13 against The Undertaker.

“It’s interesting how, in both of those WrestleMania main events, Sid wasn’t the first choice,” said Thompson. “It was supposed to be Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VIII, but plans changed. And obviously, Sid was not the first choice for the main event at WrestleMania 13, which was supposed to be the rematch between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Sid was never even supposed to be in that mix, it was supposed to be Vader. So neither main event was supposed to happen.”

Sid’s size and look made him the prototypical wrestler, and he could manipulate a crowd, but he never had the prolonged run as the face of the WWE.

“Sid had a tremendous look, and Vince was enamored with that,” said Thompson. “But he also proved to be less-than-reliable. We’ll address all the rumor and innuendo about car wrecks and reportedly faking injury. Everybody has joked about softball for years, so we’ll get to the bottom of that. He was at times his own worst enemy, or at least that’s what we were told to believe.”

Another memorable moment of Sid’s career was his Survivor Series ’96 main event against Shawn Michaels, where he won over the crowd at Madison Square Garden in his defeat of Michaels.

“That are so many parts of his career that flew under the radar,” said Thompson. “Like the In Your House promo with Jim Ross where Sid said, ‘Sorry, let’s start over,’ and JR says, ‘We’re live, pal.’ All those moments will be fun to relive, and I can’t wait to discuss the topic of steroids, and I can’t wait for Bruce to answer.”

Tweet of the Week

While we’re due for some surprises on Sunday at the Royal Rumble, it doesn’t appear that Carlito will be one of them.

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

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