VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Jay Reso Reveals Challenges Of Going From Wrestling To MMA In ‘Cagefighter’
Jay Reso, also known by his wrestling name Christian Cage, revealed the challenges of pivoting from wrestling to acting and learning from his fellow actors on set for Cagefighter.
The movie is “based around an MMA promotion called LEGENDS, and their champion has kind of run through his division and has kind of run out of challengers at this point,” Reso said. “And there’s a notable professional wrestler that’s looking to crossover into MMA, one of if not the biggest star in pro-wrestling, and the promoter sees an opportunity here to kind of crossover and kind of make a superfight of sorts.”
The 47-year-old former actor said that movie is “not just about fighting, there’s a story there to be told that’s personal, overcoming personal problems.” He also noted that the movie is relevant because it reflects what we see happening now in the real world of MMA and professional wrestling.
“You know we see a lot of pro-wrestlers that have crossed over in MMA like Brock Lesnar, Bobby Lashley has done it, obviously CM Punk, Jake Hager, and vice versa as well,” he said. The movie is serves as a parallel to the challenges wrestlers face when entering the MMA world.
“Obviously MMA purists will say that it’s a circus act trying to bring a pro-wrestler into MMA, and [in the movie] the MMA fighter doesn’t quite take it seriously, doesn’t really want the challenge, but it’s kind of, you know, like ‘Hey this guy is popular. Make his fans your fans, and you know if it’s that easy we’ll have an easy night work.’ And it doesn’t quite pan out that way, and it kind of goes from there.”
Reso plays Stephen Drake, a MMA radio show host “looking for that next scoop.” The former wrestler said that he didn’t base his character on any one radio host in particular, but used his experience in real life from the other side of the mic and applied them to his character. He explained that acting has been his “next challenge” in life.
“You know when I stepped out of the ring it was like ‘What’s that next challenge?'” he said. “I always viewed myself as being able to do more than just be a wrestler. That was a big part of my life, but it was just that, a part of my life, and when the time came I was going to move on and try other things.”
“I wrestled so long and got to the top level that was never easy, but also my confidence was there 100 percent, that like I knew I was at the top of my game you know? Now it’s kind of almost like starting over again, trying to build that foundation that I built as a wrestler, but in a different kind of genre.”
“I’ve always kind of been of the belief that if you want to get better at something then you work with people that are better than you,” Reso said. “So, I’ve always tried to, whoever I’ve worked with as far as acting goes, always tried to talk to them and pick their brain and ask them questions and pick up things that they did the same way I did when I was coming up wrestling.”
“It’s a fun challenge, a good creative outlet, and you know sometimes you get slammed or thrown down, so that’s a bonus,” he joked. “I had some injuries and I was turning 40, and I was just like maybe it’s time to kind of pack it in here, I’ve had a great career and I didn’t want to be one of those guys that held on too long.”
The peak of his wrestling career? Winning the world title for the very first time. “I played it over and over in my head since I was a kid, made make believe titles and belts and wrestling with my brothers and my friends,” he said.
“There’s a lot of times where I was standing on top of a ladder and you look out and see 60,000 people in a stadium like ‘What am I doing? This is not going to end well.'” he said. “I look back now, it’s kind of scary, but at the time, when you’re young, you don’t really think of getting hurt.”