Sometimes life hands you an unfair card, there’s just nothing you or anyone can do about it. Such was the case for Edge, who had to retire from the WWE in 2011, after years of wrestling spots had taken its toll on his body.
One match in particular ensured that Edge’s days of wrestling would come to an end sooner than anyone would have liked. That such match took place on the September 26, 2002 episode of Smackdown, against Eddie Guerrero.
Falling on a ladder the damage began, Edge heard a crack and thought it was the ladder. Not helping matters later in the match was a sunset flip piledriver, and knowing this was the match Edge’s injury took place, it is easy to see he was struggling to the best of his abilities to carry on through the match. Though he would go on to win and take some time off to recover, the injury would continue to plague him.
Edge continued to have a momentous career, putting on stellar matches with the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton, Undertaker, and Matt Hardy. In a time where the world was hating the ever-so present megastar that was John Cena, Edge would maintain the attention of fans, despite the most disgusting, morally reprehensible behavior that he indulged in.
It came as such a heartbreaking blow in 2011, after having retained his World Heavyweight title at WrestleMania XXVII against Alberto Del Rio, Edge had to declare his retirement from in-ring competition. From then on, Edge would take a backseat, only occasionally engaging with whatever talent required him to progress their story.
Then, something interesting happened. At SummerSlam, 2019, the musical drifter known as Elias had taken up his guitar, and sang to the Toronto, Ontario, Canada crowd, but he was prone to interruptions. This song too would be disrupted by Alterbridge’s “Metalingus”, and out came Edge. Instead of cutting a promo at the expense of the Drifter, Edge got ready for his world-famous spear, and laid out Elias flat. The crowd went nuts. I went nuts. It was a helluva time.
This moment gave way to speculation and rumors, the likes of which Edge had to shoot down time and time again (poor guy). But the world wanted Edge back so badly, and come the 2020 Royal Rumble, their prayers would be answered as Edge came out to the ring at number 21. Eliminating AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Randy Orton, and surviving to the final four, Edge put on a tremendous showing as though he never left.
His return was such a beautiful moment; the emotion being exhaled by him as he realized that not only had people remembered him, but they missed him. I still replay it on YouTube when I need a pick-me-up during a bad day. Imagine walking into a room and having that many people excited to see you (but I’m getting off topic here)!
Edge returned the next night on Raw, still riding the high of his return. He was so happy to be back, to have allowed the nine years away to heal his body so he can return and end his career on his terms. Sure, many who were wrestling at that time were either gone or on their way out of the door, but the Rated-R Superstar had unfinished business and a proper goodbye to give to his many Edgeheads. That was until the Viper struck.
Randy Orton joined Edge in the ring, praising who he was in the past and thanking him for getting fighting through. Just as it looked as though their old tag team, Rated-RKO was about to reform, Edge found himself struck out of nowhere with Randy’s RKO, followed by a con-chair-to right to the head of the Hall of Famer.
This was, put simply, a blood feud featuring bitter rivals with bitter feelings, a memorable rivalry rekindled. But fans wanted more, I wanted more. Returning after surgery following a torn bicep at 2020’s Backlash event, we got just that.
When Edge finally made his return, he was scheduled to start out the 2021 Men’s Royal Rumble Match alongside Randy Orton, starting from entry number one. Finally settling this beef. In a match that saw the main roster debut of Damian Priest from NXT and the returns of Carlito, Seth Rollins, and Christian (whom Edge had a tender reunion with), Edge lasted through it all, becoming the third person in Royal Rumble history to last bell to bell from number one and win the entire match. Not only that, but he did so going toe-to-toe with today’s roster, showcasing many dream matches we didn’t know we needed nor expected that we could get.
In retrospect, it seems that all Edge needed was a long time away to heal. Daniel Bryan had a similar situation back in 2015 until making his return a few years later in 2018. It happened to Shawn Michaels in 2002, after having retired in 1998. Once Michaels returned, his formerly injured back was not in pain anymore and he wanted to resume his career. Almost a decade later, he retired on a high note in his WrestleMania 26 against The Undertaker. Saudi Arabia didn’t happen. It didn’t. Don’t even argue with me because you are already wrong.
Now that we are all caught up, here is where I want to make my case. In the weeks after the Royal Rumble, Edge had been relishing in the three options of which title to challenge for at WrestleMania 37: Finn Balor on NXT, Drew McIntyre on Raw, or Roman Reigns on Smackdown. He had been planting seeds for each of these competitors.
He forced Drew to keep his head on a swivel so as to not be distracted by his fellow Raw wrestlers. He sang the praises of Finn, and how that makes him want to come back and take the title off of him, if he can even keep it until WrestleMania. And Edge has Roman Reigns living in paranoia and insecurity.
This is exactly who Edge is; he was manipulating these men for the right moment, and then taking the ultimate opportunity to make them his prey. Combined with his knowledge and experience in his veteran career, his title as the Ultimate Opportunist makes him all the more dangerous for anyone in the title picture. Not to mention, he is very much hungry for gold.
Admittedly, I too wanted others to win the Royal Rumble, including Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura, Daniel Bryan, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Damian Priest. It is also heavily worth noting I had also wanted Shinsuke Nakamura to win.
This is the exact predicament that WWE finds themselves in time and time again – drawing the ire of fans. Fans clamor for newer talent to shine, but someone near the end of their career or someone with the spotlight fully on them prevents that from happening. For some, veterans keep getting opportunities over fresh faces, and often at the expense of younger talent.
Whereas Bianca Belair had won the Women’s Royal Rumble Match, we didn’t get that for the men’s match. It just didn’t seem fair, with all the momentum that superstars had gained, the Rumble truly felt like it was anyone’s game. And it was.
Here’s the thing though: Edge is not the bad guy here. He’s not even a bad choice. With WWE taking him seriously, it is proven that the creative wants this to go somewhere, as does he.
Edge has, to this point, proven that he can still go, that he’s every bit the wrestler that fans grew up watching. He can still go the distance, and he still has the mic skills (which may have improved even more so in his acting career). Not only that, but he has also maintained working a full-time schedule, not a part-timer along the likes of Goldberg or John Cena. He even had a match on the Monday Night Raw following his lengthy performance at the Royal Rumble and a match on Smackdown, ahead of Fastlane, against Jey Uso.
When considering the type of person Edge is, it is clear he wants to help make newer stars. When someone turns on their TV and sees Edge back in the ring, feuding with the future and present of WWE, his opponents stick out. He’s the type of person that wants to ensure wrestlers in the company have a chance for a legacy that will live in the minds of fans, as he did for many in the Attitude Era and Ruthless Aggression Era. In a recent media call, Triple H even stated that Edge wants to go to NXT to put younger stars in a bigger spotlight.
Edge using his privilege as a Hall of Famer and big name, as well as full-time performer, is a big deal. In his time, many legends and veterans would often put themselves first, making it harder for up-and-comers to get their portion of the plate. It would make sense that he would want to give the future a seat at the table to eat their fill.
Edge might not be the draw that WWE had hoped, especially on NXT, but he does move the needle. And that’s no fault of his own, but rather the booking and the company’s business choices. How could you even expect someone as now beloved as Edge to help shift the ratings against another Wednesday show in AEW Dynamite, who continually changes the trajectory for the future of the business?
Regardless of this, Edge’s involvement in the current WWE product could be done very well, if done right. He may not even need a title, but having Edge as a challenger instantly elevates whatever championship he is pursuing, just as any feud elevate’s his opponent.
Edge isn’t the typical Hall of Famer or part-timer coming around once in a while for a quick spear and call it a day; he’s here to tell stories and elevate wrestlers so we’ll talk about them for years to come, so that future talent can be considered cutting edge.
On this day, I hope you’ve seen clearly, and that everything has come to light.