In this exclusive interview, former WWE star Christian discusses the debut of “Knight Fight“, potentially returning to WWE, following in Edge’s footsteps into acting, and much more.
It’s been a busy past few months for former WWE star Jay “Christian” Reso, which has included a weekly podcast with longtime friend Adam “Edge” Copeland and the critically-acclaimed second season of The Edge and Christian Show on the WWE Network.
Now, he’s looking to try his hand at hosting, starting with Knight Fight on the History channel. The all-new show breaks down the toughest, most violent armored combat competition in the world today, so it’s only fitting the multi-time WWE world champion has been invited to be a part of the project.
In addition to hosting the show, Reso will be serving as a judge alongside experts Andre Sinou and John Clements and will be bringing plenty of experience to the table. He had a tendency throughout his tenure in WWE to make everything he was involved in incredibly entertaining, and this latest venture of his appears to be no different.
Ahead of the debut of Knight Fight yesterday at 10 p.m. ET, Reso had plenty to say about the uniqueness of the show, how it compares to his career in WWE, the second season of The Edge and Christian Show, and much more in this exclusive interview.
Daily DDT: How did the opportunity to host Knight Fight come about?
Jay Reso: My agent has a relationship with the guy who produced the show along with History, and I told him in previous conversations that I was interested in doing some hosting. Obviously, outside of the wrestling, this opportunity came up and thought I’d be perfect for it, showed them some footage of mine, and they said “that’s our guy,” so that’s kind of how it came about.
DDT: Has Adam shared any tips or thoughts with you about your new endeavor?
Reso: He thought it was a great opportunity, obviously. It’s funny how it worked out. We’re always seemingly linked together somehow. We’ve been best friends since sixth grade, so it’s funny how it turned out that way. But it’s neat that he’s on Vikings, which is the lead-in show for Knight Fight and it’s kind of cool. You get two full hours of Edge and Christian, so that’s pretty good.
DDT: How has hosting been different from acting for you so far?
Reso: Hosting is more… you’re basically yourself, right? That really is the difference. With acting, you’re portraying a character, much like I did in WWE with the character of Christian. I was playing the character, whereas when you’re hosting, you’re yourself. You’re trying to paint a picture of what’s going on as far how the show goes, and you’re trying to let the audience in on what the competitors are all about and what their personalities are like and the action that they’re seeing.
I did some judging, too. I judged along with two other guys: Andre Sinou, who was the founder of the Armor Combat League where a lot of these competitors come out of, and the other guy was John Clemmons, who’s a world-renowned instructor of renaissance fighting arts. He’s an expert in that field. Sitting with them, I felt like a conduit from the perspective of the audience, asking questions of these two experts that the audience might have as well. I felt that was my role.
DDT: Is there anyone you tried to model yourself after as a host?
Reso: I tried to have the same hair as Ryan Seacrest, but I’m not sure if it worked out that way (laughs). I’m not really sure, I just tried to be myself. I actually never really thought about… obviously, I’ve done a couple of hosting things on the WWE Network where I hosted specials and things like that and for The Edge and Christian Show, we did monologues and things like that. I just tried to be myself, that was all I tried to do.
DDT: Did you do any research for the role to get a better understanding of the knight culture?
Reso: Of course, yeah. I was sent a lot of footage, and I did some research on my own. I didn’t really know a lot about it, I heard about it when the opportunity came up. It’s been known in some circles as medieval MMA or “knight Fight Club.” I got a real appreciation for it when I started to watch it, but nothing like the appreciation when I got there and I watched it happening in front of me, the passion these knights have for what it is they’re doing and how much they care about it and how much winning this competition means to them.
You know, it’s kind of an underground sport, and this is probably the biggest platform these guys have ever had to show the world what they do, so they’re trying to take full advantage of that as well. So yeah, I definitely did my research and was caught up and, of course, I learned a lot as we went along during the season as well.
DDT: Any chance we see a crossover with you and Adam on your respective shows on the History channel at some point down the road?
Reso: (Laughs) You never know! It’d be fun if he showed up in his viking gear and I borrowed somebody’s armor. That could be funny (laughs).
DDT: How much of the physical nature of Knight Fight reminds you of your time in WWE?
Reso: I think just the action, the physicality, it’s really physical, really aggressive. I think the thing that reminded me most about my time in WWE and I could even trace it back before I started with WWE when I was training and first starting out on the independents when I was wrestling for maybe 25, 30 dollars a night and I was driving all over Canada and the U.S. to get some experience and get out there and do what I do. I had a real passion for it and I wouldn’t have done it for free. These guys remind me a lot of that, that they take pride in what they do and that they care about what they do. They travel not just in the U.S. but all over the world and a lot of these guys have regular jobs and this is [a] thing they do because they have a passion for it.
A lot of the passion and how much they cared about it and how they took pride in what they were doing reminded me of it, but yeah, the physicality for sure. It’s just non-stop action for the entire hour. Another cool thing is that a lot of the interviews that we do with the knights you get a real sense of their personalities and there’s all different personalities. I think the viewer will find themselves liking certain guys and maybe not liking certain guys so much, saying to themselves “I really hope this guy wins” or “Man, I really hope this guy loses.” That’s kind of the same thing you have in wrestling: somebody that you cheer for and somebody that you boo and I think you’ll very much find that with this show as well.
DDT: Does hosting a show with such similarities to WWE make you appreciate you’re retired, does it make you miss it, or is it a bit of both?
Reso: I mean, I’m 45, so when I see people get hit, I kind of cringe (laughs). It makes me glad I’m not getting beat up anymore. But yeah, I have a real appreciation for the toll that it takes on these guys’ bodies. Don’t forget they’re fighting in 80-100 pounds worth of armor on top of their bodies, so when you get knocked down, it’s a real struggle to get back to your feet. The weapons they’re using, these historical pieces, are full scale, full weight, full size. Getting hit with those things… I really made it a point to go up, win or lose, to every single guy and shake their hand and let them know that I really appreciated what it was that they did.
DDT: The winner of Knight Fight wins a championship title, $10,000 and a spot in the season finale for a chance to become the first-ever Knight Fight champion, so how does it compare to an event such as WrestleMania?
Reso: Yeah, when you think about it, this really is WrestleMania for these guys. This is the biggest platform they’ve ever been on and to be the last knight standing and be recognized as the Knight Fight tournament champion, that’s huge. To be the first ever of anything is big, especially with this underground sport getting this spotlight. That’s what every single competitor going into this wanted and you’ll see it run its course throughout the season.
DDT: Between The Edge and Christian Show, podcasting, and hosting Knight Fight, how have you found yourself being able to juggle everything?
Reso: Don’t forget father, that’s like the busiest, chasing my five-year-old around (laughs). It’s a good balance because I’m busy, but I get to be home more than I was previously when I was with WWE, being on the road 250 days or more a year. It’s hard, especially when you have a child at home, but with this, I’m gone for chunks but I’m home for chunks as well. I’d rather be busy than not busy, you know?
That was one thing when my wrestling career came to an end, I was like, “What’s the next challenge?” I’m still young, there’s still things I want to accomplish, and I want to tackle things like acting and hosting, writing and producing The Edge and Christian Show, doing the podcast, all these things. Things that when I was wrestling, and not to toot my own horn, they were second nature to me. I wrestled at the highest level for a long time, and the challenge is to do the same thing: work with people better than me, learn from them, and the challenge is to get better and to be at the top of your game in other areas.
DDT: What are your thoughts on how the second season of The Edge and Christian Show has turned out so far?
Reso: I’m super happy with it, I think we all are. The first season was great as well, I think we hit our stride with the second half of the first season, we didn’t really know what the show was when it started out. We still trying to find our way. A show like this had never been done before when you think about it. It’s a variety show with a wrestling theme. It was a big thing to tackle because we didn’t know exactly what it was. We switched some writers around, we switched some things from the first season and said, “Oh okay, this is what it is!”
With that momentum when the first season ended, during that first season we were writing in blocks and then shooting in blocks, so we decided to write the entire season beforehand before we started production or anything and that helped us tremendously, especially with finding out what the show was. That made the process smoother and I couldn’t be happier with it. The feedback has been great and people have seemed to love it and be entertained by it. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about: writing something people will like and will be entertained by.
Not only that, the Superstars that do cameos and come on the show have a blast as well. They get on there and there’s not the pressure of performing on a live Raw or a pay-per-view or a TakeOver. They let their hair down a little bit, ad lib and we get them the creative liberty to do that. Everybody had fun, that’s what it was all about for us was having fun, and if you’re having fun, that’s going to come across to the viewer as well. I couldn’t be happier with how the second season has gone and has been received and at the end of the day, it’s all about whether the fans are entertained and thankfully they are.
DDT: Do you have any interest in returning to WWE in a recurring role of some sort, and what would you say are the biggest differences between the live atmosphere at Raw and being on the set of a show such as Knight Fight?
Reso: Obviously, the difference is that it’s not as live. It’s 100 percent live with Raw and you’re talking about being in front of 19-20,000 people in an arena and it’s a different atmosphere. We had a live audience there [for Knight Fight]. Of course, the show isn’t live, it’s not aired live, but it’s more of an intimate, Fight Club-like feel, a little grittier, a little more underground, and it had that cool vibe to it. I think those were the differences. And I don’t know what’s coming here up in a bit, I’m so busy with these other things. I never close the door on anything and we’ll see what happens. I still have a great working relationship with WWE as far as that goes, so we’ll see what happens. You never know.
DDT: Finally, what about Knight Fight are you most excited for fans to see upon its premiere next week?
Reso: I’m just excited for them to see this show. It blows my mind, even when I see the clips; just the all-out action, the brutality, and the beauty of it. The skill that these knights possess, the historical significance, the armor… it’s funny because like with WWE, you have all different sizes of competitors. You have some giant men that are 6′ 6”, 6′ 7”, and you have some smaller guys that are under six feet that are faster. Just seeing how they use their different body types and the skill they have to their advantage, also the different weapon collection that they have, because the smaller guys can’t use the heavier weapons as well.
They’re versatile and they use their quickness to their advantage. I’m excited that this is finally going to be on the air and I really think people are going to be blown away by the action and the drama. There’s so much drama as well throughout the season. The personalities of these guys… I know people are going to enjoy the show. I can’t wait for everyone to see it.
Knight Fight premiered on Wednesday, January 23 at 10 p.m. ET on History, immediately following Vikings.