All Elite Wrestling superstar Brian Cage stands 6-feet-tall and weighs more than 270 pounds, yet he is still able to bounce around the wrestling ring like a cat.
In a long, successful career that’s crossed several top promotions, including IMPACT and Lucha Undergound, the Swolverine’s dedication to ring conditioning still commands a great deal of respect.
Now signed with AEW, Cage shocked wrestling fans worldwide after blasting wrestling icon Sting with a thunderous powerbomb on a recent episode of “Dynamite.” In the upcoming AEW Revolution pay-per-view on March 7, Brian Cage is once again set to lock horns with the Stinger in a tag-team street fight.
Besides wrestling, Brian Cage, who can be seen every Wednesday night on “AEW Dynamite,” also has a bodybuilding background, a fondness for traveling, and a unique approach to health and fitness.
What are some of your personal highlights from competing as a bodybuilder?
I’ve competed five times. My first competition was back in 2012 and I won the novice overall, and I also ranked second on the judges list for the main competition. Then [in my second contest], I won another overall and was actually presented with a trophy by the guest poser, Kai Greene… my all time-favorite bodybuilder. That was back in 2013, and to throw it forward, I’m now sponsored by Redcon1, as is Kai Greene. They just hit me up recently about doing a video together with him, and that’s awesome. From where we started, to be able to train together for a sponsorship video, that’s pretty exciting.
How tough was juggling bodybuilding with a hectic wrestling schedule?
I’ve won four overalls, altogether, and I won in my class, but not overall in the other competition. I was prepping for the Miami Nationals back in 2015, and the second season of “Lucha Underground” started two weeks before it should have. Once I found that out, I wanted to work around it because I was prepping for Miami. But long story short, “Lucha Underground” paid me a decent bonus to miss Miami. That was cool, because I would have spent a lot of money getting to Miami.
People don’t realize how much it costs to get your pro bodybuilding card. I wanted to enter a bodybuilding competition the following month, at another NPC show to requalify. But then, AAA [the wrestling promotion] had a big pay-per-view and I had to cancel plans for the NPC show. By 2016, there was another NPC show on the same day as a “Lucha Underground” shoot, and I was determined to make both shows. It sounded insane, so we had someone film and document the run up to that day. But the NPC show got canceled, so I said, “You know what? Forget this, I’m not prepping anymore, I’m over it!” [laughs]
What is your personal approach to nutrition?
I’m pretty low carbs and high protein. I was doing the Carnivore diet for a little bit at the end of , and I liked that. Generally, I only have carbs in my pre-and-post workout meals. Since I am not prepping for bodybuilding shows, if I want to cheat and there’s an opportunity to eat something unique, or someone has cooked for me, or there something fancy and if I am in a new city, then I’ll splurge on that. But generally speaking, I eat around 100 grams of carbs per day and a very high protein content.
Since making your wrestling debut in 2005, what are some of your great travel memories from around the world?
I’ve wrestled in India, Pakistan, Korea, Japan. All of them are obviously pretty different from each other. Korea was the first international wrestling that I ever did, so that was a dream, but a little bit of a culture shock. We had to go to the demilitarized zone, which is the border between North and South Korea. The South Korean soldiers have to stand there all day long, looking at the North Korean soldiers, and they all have guns. And then here we were, of course only Americans would do this [laughs], looking at all this like it’s a tourist attraction. We are over there taking pictures and stuff. But it was a cool experience.
Many wrestlers have said that traveling to different cultures can be tough on their diet because if they don’t like the local food, they tend to gravitate towards fast food restaurants. Is that true in your case?
Japan is one of my favorite foreign countries that I have been to. I liked the food; I didn’t mind the food at all. While I was there, another bodybuilder friend of mine gave me the heads up on this cool place where I could get a bunch of chicken and rice meals, or steak and rice. Anytime we [wrestlers] all went out after a show, we’d get the barbecue or the sushi, and I don’t mind any of that food, so I got along pretty well.
In terms of physical recovery, you recently tried Hammer and Chisel therapy on your shoulder. How was that?
Basically, it pushes the glenohumeral joint [shoulder joint] down so that there is a lot more space to rotate inside the socket. That gives you more range of motion, and then you want to go and restretch, and retrain the muscles. You do have to go back as it tightens back up, or you can combine it with physical therapy.
It’s great to see you representing the big guys in pro wrestling now that things have moved toward a more cruiserweight technique. Do you have to work on conditioning to keep up with some of these lighter opponents?
I train pretty intense. You touched on a good point; I do represent the big guys … I’m a dying breed [in pro wrestling], I guess. However, I do like to stand out as a breed of my own because of my athleticism and my agility, which is rare. People who see me for the first time might think ‘oh no, it’s another big body guy that can’t move’, and then they find out I can go. I’m not a bodybuilder that tried to become a wrestler, I’m a pro wrestler that happens to enjoy bodybuilding.
As part of Team Taz, you shocked wrestling fans when you powerbombed the legend, Sting. Bearing in mind that Sting last wrestled in 2015, and retired following an injury sustained in a match with Seth Rollins, how stressful was it to make sure you delivered that move safely?
When they asked me about doing it, I thought it was cool, but I didn’t really think about it until afterwards, so it was like, “How cool is that? I just powerbombed Sting.” But yeah, here’s a guy that is not only a legend in the business, but was the first action figure I owned, too. He’s 61 and he hasn’t taken a bump for six years, he’s had his injuries and his problems. I was very appreciative that he trusted me to do that. I could have delivered it as the most perfect, safe powerbomb of all time, but even then, something [bad] could have happened if you have a [health] issue. That’s kinda like what happened with Seth Rollins. I don’t think, really, Seth did anything wrong. I feel like it was just one of those things where we call it a “bump card” in wrestling, where it’s just kind of a freak accident. Sting was a trooper. I’m glad that I didn’t think about it too much until afterward.
You will have a chance to get your hands on him again at AEW Revolution on March 7 [available on FITE TV and other pay-per-view outlets] when you team up with Ricky Starks to face Sting and Darby Allin in a Street Fight.
I’m really excited to be part of this match, and I know Sting has been working on a lot of stuff, so a lot of questions will be answered. Darby Allin is a little nugget and Sting’s time has been and gone, so if either one of them think that they can step up to me, or Ricky Starks, or anyone else in Team Taz, it’s a little ridiculous.