On September 21, Brother Christianson entered the ring at Empire State Wrestling’s “Overdrive” event and grabbed the microphone from ring announcer Chris Gullo during the entrance of his client Atticus Cogar. He insisted to the audience that he would announce Cogar’s entrance in a more deserving manner. Was this Brother Christianson’s last testament?
As Christianson was lauding Cogar to the crowd at the St. Johnsburg Fire Hall, Cogar leveled his manager with a forearm shiver that sent Christianson to the mat and out of the ring to the joy of many fans.
And with that shot, Brother Christianson’s 9-year run as a professional wrestling manager concluded – a tenure that quietly included working with several notable names on the wrestling circuit and managing a few to championships within Empire State Wrestling’s (ESW) realm.
The root of Christianson’s fan hood
It hearkens back to the mid-1980s during the “rock ‘n’ wrestling” era. He watched pay-per-views at his best friend’s house. He and his brother were World Wrestling Federation fans and attended their first show at the War Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1984. He continued enjoying the product through the 1990s and beyond.
“My dad gave me and my brother a certificate for tickets to anything,” Christianson said. “We chose wrestling over the (Buffalo) Bills and (Buffalo) Sabres. We saw Roddy Piper and Andre the Giants versus Big John Studd. We could tell from the nosebleeds how tall Andre was.”
Thus as a lifelong wrestling fan, when Christianson met a new employee at his day job who revealed that he was a pro wrestling manager via a new hire icebreaker exercise, it proved to be a watershed moment. That new co-worker was current ESW commissioner The Caesar. The two became close friends and eventually roommates through their mutual fan hood of pro wrestling.
In May 2010, The Caesar obtained a wrestling booking in Ohio at a juggalo-like festival called “Sauce Storm”. One of the conditions for taking the booking was that he could bring along two of his friends. Christianson was one of those friends along with former ESW wrestler “Inferno” Johnny Adams.
The Caesar allowed Christianson to be his manager for that event.
The Caesar wrestled as “G-Rated” Micah Rose against former Total Nonstop Action star Sharkboy.
“It was just a favor to me and a one-time deal to get to do something you dreamed about doing your whole life,” Christianson said.
This match created the Brother Christianson character – a preacher that was a hidden alcoholic that kept a flask in his pocket and would take a swig from it during the match. He also did a faith healing gimmick in which he made The Caesar walk again after being crippled.
“(Christianson) was playing around with this goofy Southern preacher gimmick while we were living together and some of the sh*t he was saying had me in tears which is very unfortunate we didn’t get that side of the character in ESW,” The Caesar said.
The following day, they traveled to Cleveland, Ohio for Firestorm Pro Wrestling. Christianson got another spot that weekend calling out a wrestler to attack Rufio that was already in the ring.
“A band was there and the microphone would cut out every time they played so it was a good experience on learning to work on the fly,” Christianson said.
Although untrained, Christianson’s speaking skills impressed The Caesar and Inferno. They brought word back from this Buckeye State trip to then ESW booker Jonny Puma that Christianson possessed a good knack for talking on the microphone and held potential as a character.
The act of being a manager was something out of Christianson’s comfort zone as he naturally keeps to himself.
“It was a challenge for me,” he said. “I’m introverted so I had to focus into becoming the character. I had to channel Brother Christianson rather than be myself before going out there. I really enjoyed being hated which I didn’t expect.”
Christianson cited Brother Love as a major influence on his gimmick.
“I always enjoyed Brother Love and always thought there was a lot of hypocrisy among religious leaders like Jim Jones – using their religion to overpower people.”
Puma decided to pair Christianson with the debuting Asylum (now known as Impact Wrestling’s Stone Rockwell) in 2011. Puma first met Asylum a few years prior to bringing him to ESW at a show in Toronto, Ont. However, he waited for the right opportunity to debut Asylum to maximize the potential he saw in him. The opportunity surfaced when Puma believed Christianson and Asylum were an ideal match.
With Christianson at his side, Asylum rose to prominence quickly in ESW as he won the ESW Heavyweight Championship from Brandon Thurston in January 2012 before ceding the belt back to him in April.
On the path to the title, Christianson remembered a brutal beating Asylum committed on Adams.
“A personal highlight for me is (Asylum) beat Inferno so bad that somebody in the crowd called for an ambulance,” he said.
Christianson credited learning a lot about the ways of professional wrestling during his time as Asylum’s manager.
“I was always kind of intimidated by Asylum because he’s a very serious person,” he said. “If there was an occasion where I screwed something up, I knew I’d hear about it afterward. But I also learned a ton because of it.”
“There was someone interviewing people after a show in front of the entrance-way and they asked Asylum questions. He then said to me, “Why am I answering questions when you’re my mouthpiece? You should be the one there.” So that taught me to take a more active role as a manager.”
Asylum and Christianson set their sights on the tag team division when Burns came to ESW in 2013. As The Flatliners, they captured the ESW Tag Team Championships from The Peacock Experience later that year.
Christianson considers The Flatliners winning the belts from The Peacock Experience as a special moment in his managing career.
“When (The Flatliners) beat the Peacocks, it was a real thrill to me because they were considered to be the premier tag team in ESW my entire time there,” he said.
Around this time, Christianson also appeared in a very unique backstage angle that The Caesar feels is the closet Christianson ever came to showing the over-the-top characterization he observed when they roomed together.
You can see that angle here:
The Flatliners dropped the belts to the team of Adams and ex-World Wrestling Entertainment star The Hurricane in August 2014. During their ESW tenure, Christianson was also able to work with another ex-WWE talent when The Flatliners teamed with Thurston to face Goldust, Jonny Puma and Freddie Midnight. Later on, he managed Asylum against future WWE star Cedric Alexander, as well.
Shortly after losing the titles, Burns exited ESW and Asylum returned to singles action. Christianson also started managing a tag team known as The Alter Boys who were going to be “the muscle” as part of his stable called “The Cleansing”, but they did not stay in ESW for long.
This led to the fracturing of ties between Christianson and Asylum and Christianson forming The Cleansing without him in 2016. Christianson would compose his faction with “Big League” John McChesney, P.B. Smooth and current All-Elite Wrestling star Britt Baker. Unfortunately, The Cleansing’s run was cut short.
“Being with John (McChesney) was just pure fun,” Christianson said. “I was friends with him before being Brother Christianson. Being with him was just a dream come true. (The Cleansing) could have been an amazing group together. PB Smooth was getting big in Erie and Cleveland. We also had Britt Baker who’s now in AEW doing amazing things. McChesney got hurt and it’s a shame because we could’ve had a great feud with Asylum.”
Yet, The Cleansing did experience a memorable moment when McChesney hit Jay Freddie in a match with Christianson’s Bible and made him bleed.
“It was funny because every time I used the Bible in a match,” Christianson said. “I was terrified to not hurt them since I’m not trained and have them wonder ‘why is this jerk in the ring?’”
Asylum also got injured around the same time. So without a firm creative direction, Christianson appeared in a few backstage segments on ESW events as he transitioned into his next storyline. Christianson also would partake in an occasional humorous pre-show ritual.
“Before bigger shows, I’d do a ‘prayer’ backstage,” he said. “I’d write a prayer based off a 1980s television show and then Puma would request it end with a different song each time.”
The next clients under his managerial services were The Cogar Brothers in August 2016. The group roughed up several ESW talents at the start of their run. Over time, Otis Cogar retired leaving Atticus to move into the singles division in August 2018.
“My character got angrier and angrier as time went on so it made sense that I got paired with newcomers that just hurt people,” Christianson said. “Working with Atticus, he’s such a creative person. It’s so interesting watching him come up with ideas.”
Throughout 2019, Atticus gained significant momentum as he picked up a slew of impressive victories over such as wrestlers as Puf and in a triple threat against Evolve’s Josh Briggs and “The Remix” Kevin Bennett. Ironically, these wins occurred when Christianson was not present. Meanwhile, when Christianson was at ringside with Atticus, he found himself on the losing end. This led to Atticus turning on Christianson, and with that turn, sending him into independent wrestling retirement.
“I think it’s important to always provide something to the fans,” Christianson said. “I thought it was getting a little stale so I wanted to leave before everyone in the crowd thought that way, too. It was also important for me to have a definitive end to the character. I didn’t just want to be there one show and then gone without explanation.”
The Caesar will miss Christianson both inside and outside the ring.
“Seeing him in the ring was always a treat because he is incredibly introverted,” The Caesar said. “When we lived together, it was basically the odd couple…Now he has his peddler license and can do what he’s always wanted to do and that makes dream catchers to sell at flea markets.”
Having achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a part of the sport of pro wrestling, Christianson plans on focusing more on his other passion of helping out the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival.
“I watch hundreds of movies each year for (the festival) and help recommend what movies should be shown,” he said. “So I have no shortage of things eating up my time.”
Even though he called it a career, Christianson does not completely rule out a return to ringside someday.
“I’m sure I’ll pop in backstage here-and-there,” Christianson said. “I wouldn’t rule out coming back if something was pitched to me but it wouldn’t be just a one-shot deal.”