Tuesday, April 12, 2011

JC's Take: Edge's Retirement: Thank You Edge

JC’s Take: Edge’s Retirement, Thank You Edge

Hey everyone. Well, I didn’t plan on writing today. I just assumed Monday would have been another typical episode of RAW. Nothing too newsworthy. I knew Rock wasn’t going to be on. I thought they’d name the #1 Contender for the WWE Championship. That basic kind of stuff. Then when I was watching Tough Enough, they aired a commercial for RAW and it read this:

“Rated R Announcement”

Jim Ross said rumors had been floating around all day about the possibility of Edge retiring. I didn’t put much stock into it. I assumed it was going to be a part of some angle. Why would Edge retire now? He’s the World Heavyweight Champion. He talked about retiring in a year or so, but not now. I, probably just like the rest of the viewing audience, assumed it was just part of a big tease by Edge. He wasn’t going anywhere.

Then Edge came out, he walked to the ring like normal. Started talking just like a regular promo. But once he really got into it, you knew something was up. It wasn’t your typical crazy-eye, intense, laugh a minute Edge. He was serious about something. I felt like this was real when he started talking about his neck surgery. He rarely, if ever, brought that up on TV. And then he said this,

“Thankfully I went for some more tests, because the MRI showed that I have to retire.”

What? I was in shock, I still couldn’t believe it. But when he said, “Thankfully I found out, cause I’m not going to end up in a wheelchair now,” I knew it was for real. And the crowd did too by their reaction. It was an absolute shock. It came out of nowhere. With rumors and news leaks happening constantly in the pro wrestling business, you figured something like this would have gotten out by now. But it didn’t. Looking back at Wrestlemania, the decision to have Edge win makes sense now. Edge never won a title match at Wrestlemania, so having him win one before he had to retire was the right thing to do.

Edge said last night that his speech was kind of not going to make sense, and at times seem like he’s just rambling on, and that is what this post is kind of going to sound like. I’ve never really wrote a long career retrospect before. This really isn’t going to be one either. I really just want to touch on Edge’s career, his rise to the top, his career defining moment, and all of his top moments.

In a way Edge is similar to me. He grew up watching wrestling. He used to go to all of the shows in his hometown, just like I still do. Then Edge saw Wrestlemania 6, he saw Hulk Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior, and from that point on he knew he wanted to be a wrestler. Lots of kids probably had that same feeling when they grow up, but Edge followed through with it. He was determined to be a pro wrestler. He wrote an essay to a gym as part of a contest, won, and received free training. That’s determination. Kids hate writing essays enough in school, so to take time out of your free time and write to a gym to try and get free training shows determination.

After years on the independent circuit, he finally made it to the WWE. Upon his debut, he already stood out as somebody different. He made his way to the ring through the crowd. He was a very ominous character, not really talking or doing much. But it’s always important as a debuting wrestler to have something that makes you different from the pack, and Edge had that. Edge’s first feud was against Gangrel. Gangrel introduced Christian, Edge’s storyline brother, as his allie. Eventually Edge joined up with Gangrel and Christian to form the Brood, a vampire like cult. Again, Edge was part of something that stood out from the pack. When was there ever a vampire cult in the WWE? There entrance was unique, coming up through a circle of fire. Eventually the Brood joined up with the Ministry of Darkness, lead by the Undertaker. Edge won his first singles title in 1999, defeating Jeff Jarrett in Toronto to win the Intercontinental Championship. He lost it back to Jarrett the next night in Buffalo at a PPV. I was there for that event, and was disappointed to see him lose the title so quickly. Even at this point in his career, you knew the WWE saw something in Edge. He wasn’t the leader of the Brood, but he was the only one of the group to win a title.

In late 1999 and early 2000, Edge started competing in a match that would define his career: the Ladder Match. At this point Edge was teaming with Christian, and they began feuding with the Hardy Boyz, Matt and Jeff. Their first ladder match was at No Mercy 1999. At Wrestlemania 2000, the Dudley Boyz were added to the mix, and the three team competed in a Ladder Match for the Tag Team Championship. This match was one of those standout matches in the history of the WWE. There had been ladder matches before, but none like this. All six men used ladders as weapons like had never been seen before. The “ooohs” and “aaahs” from the crowd proved it. The ladder match lead to two more series of matches between the two teams, at SummerSlam 2000 and Wrestlemania 17. They evolved into TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches. One of Edge’s standout moments in his career was when he speared Jeff Hardy off of the hook holding the Tag belts by jumping off a ladder. That moment, along with Edge & Christian winning these two matches, gave Edge the title of “Master of the TLC Match.”

During this time period, Edge & Christian both transformed as characters. They went from being quiet, silent types to more of a comedic duo. This was when I really started to take notice of Edge. Even though they were suppose to be the “bad guys”, you couldn’t help but laugh and like them. Some of the comedic bits they did were gold. Anybody who has not seen these just needs to go on YouTube and search them out. If you don’t get a good laugh out of them, then you need to check your sense of humor. Edge & Christian also began to do their “5 second poses” at this point of their career. Again, comedy gold. I remember them doing one in Buffalo, re-enacting the infamous “Wide Right” from the Bills/Giants Super Bowl. I even laughed at that one. Edge’s transformation here again showed his willingness to evolve in the ever changing business that is pro wrestling.

At this point, fans started taking a liking to the duo. In 2001, Edge won the King of the Ring Tournament, another high point of his career. Christian became jealous of Edge’s win, and turned on his partner, breaking up one of the best tag teams ever. The two feuded all summer, with Edge getting the best of Christian in the end. He continued to hold the IC Title on and off in 2001. He wrestled Booker T at Wrestlemania 18. Storyline wise, it was over a shampoo commercial. Yes, even Edge made that work. In late 2002, Edge formed a tag team with Rey Mysterio, and feuded over the Tag Titles with Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit and Los Guerreros. The “Smackdown Six”, as they were called, put on some great matches. Again, they are must see for any wrestling fan. You don’t see matches like these six had on TV that much anymore.

In 2003, Edge suffered a neck injury that lead to his retirement yesterday. He was out for over a year. He returned to the RAW brand in 2004. He won the IC Title in the summer of that year from Randy Orton, but suffered a groin injury that caused him to be stripped of the title.

When Edge returned from his groin injury, he became a different person. He seemed more focus as a wrestler, with an eye on the main event scene. It was finally time for Edge to step up to the big leagues. After not receiving the fan vote to face HHH in a World Title Match at Taboo Tuesday, he cost HBK the title, turning heel. Edge was outstanding here, shouting “IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME!” after doing it. The two fought at the Royal Rumble, with Edge winning, which catapulted a strong 2005 for Edge. At Wrestlemania 21, he won the first ever Money in the Bank Ladder Match, giving him a guaranteed WWE or World Title Match at anytime. That briefcase was essentially a “ticket to the next level” for Edge. It opened the door to the next level, the main event.

Before Edge could cash that in, however, he faced some real life turmoil. Edge had an affair with Amy Dumas, better known as Lita. Edge was married at the time, and Lita was dating fellow wrestler and friend Matt Hardy. Edge was already a villain, but he was hated even more now. When Matt Hardy returned, it was suppose to be a star making feud for Hardy. But instead, it became a star making feud for Edge. Edge played his part perfectly in this program. He knew how to antagonize the crowd with his antics involving Lita. This program defined Edge as a main event level heel, and it paid off for him in early 2006.

At New Year’s Revolution, Edge cashed in his MITB contract on a vulnerable John Cena, winning his first ever WWE Title. Because of my hatred for Cena, I officially became an “Edge-head” after this moment. Another standout moment in Edge’s career. A unique moment in wrestling history. Edge was given the ball and he took off with it. He was here to stay as a main event player in the WWE. His in ring work was at it’s best. It’s a shame he wasn’t given an extended run his first time. Edge had an outstanding Hardcore Match at Wrestlemania 22 with Mick Foley, which ended with Edge spearing Foley through a flaming table. Another defining moment. Edge regained the title in the summer before losing it to Cena in a TLC Match in September.

Again, I feel like I’m rambling on, so I’ll try to keep the rest of Edge’s career retrospect short. He formed a team with Randy Orton, calling themselves Rated RKO. He won the World Heavyweight Title from Undertaker on an episdoe of Smackdown. Edge relinquished the title due to injury. Upon his return, he won the title back in a Triple Threat match against Undertaker and Batista. He engaged in a feud with Undertaker throughout 2008. They main evented Wrestlemania. After he lost the title to C.M. Punk when Punk cashed in MITB, he lost to Taker in a Hell in a Cell match at SummerSlam. Edge returned at Survivor Series and won the WWE Title, saving what was a horrible match between HHH and Vladimir Kozlov. He would go on to hold the WWE and World Title in 2009, before suffering a torn Achilles which kept him out of action months. He made his return at the 2010 Royal Rumble, winning it and facing Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania, a match he ended up losing. Edge won the World Heavyweight Title back from Kane in late 2010, and held it until his retirement. Early this year, he started teaming with his former partner Christian as well.

Wow, almost 2000 words just on Edge’s career alone. I haven’t even talked about my thoughts on him yet. I’m not too good at this stuff, so I’ll try my best.

I’ve always liked Edge. Over his career, he slowly became a favorite of mine. I really started to take notice as a kid when he was teaming with Christian. There goofy stuff they did together was comedy gold. You couldn’t help but laugh at it. Edge, even at that young point in his career, knew how to entertain an audience. He slowly developed his character throughout his WWE career, evolving it with the ever changing pro wrestling business.

Edge also stood out to me because he wasn’t one of the overly muscular guys. As someone who is also a skinny guy, I could identify with him. He was a small guy looking to make it in a big man’s world. Edge didn’t have that standout physique, so he had to impress the audience with his work inside the ring. Again, it’s something he worked on and improved year in and year out throughout his WWE career. He evolved from working as a tag team wrestler, to a singles mid-carder, all the way up to competing at a main event level. You have to be able to go through transitions like that to make it in this business. While it may not seem difficult, it can be a tough transition going from a tag team wrestler to a singles wrestler. Instead of being able to rely on your partner to help make a match or get you over, you have to start doing it by yourself. Edge was able to do that, and it helped him in the long run.

Edge really broke out after his return in 2005. He was put into the main event scene and didn’t disappoint. I’m sure he was thrilled to be put into a program with Shawn Michaels. HBK was one of those wrestlers he idolized when he was getting into the business. Edge brought his A game into that feud, and it showed he belonged at the top. You could see the emotion in his face after he won the WWE Title after cashing in his MITB contract. The way he looked at the title after winning it showed how the passion he has. It was a look of, “I can’t believe I finally made it.” He never disappointed during his time at the top. He was always an entertaining character. He put on constantly good matches no matter who he worked with.

One of the strengths of Edge was that no matter who he was paired with, whether as a tag team partner or opponent, he always found a way to make it work. His chemistry with Christian was outstanding. I was really looking forward to a program between the two this year. I thought there was no way he could make his team with Randy Orton work, but he did. Other than that crappy mash-up entrance them, they were great together. His team with Chris Jericho before his Achilles injury was good. Jericho was the straight forward, serious type, Edge was the more quirky one. His best work may have been with Lita. I’m sure it was awkward for the two to work together after everything that happened, but Edge was gold throughout all of it. Their pairing worked on TV. It may be one of the best male/female combos of all time. I liked it that much. While Lita got more of the heat, Edge played all of it off very well. Lita made Edge hated in the eyes of the fans, and he capitalized on it.

Of course, the thing people will remember Edge the most for in his career is the ladder match. Edge will always be known as the “Master of the TLC.” Sure he was part of a group of 6 men who took part in the matches, but he was the one who took the ball and revolutionized it. Out of the 3 encounters between Edge & Chrisitan, the Dudleyz, and the Hardyz, then moment people remember the most is Edge spearing Jeff Hardy in mid-air at Wrestlemania 17. Oh yeah, and the fact that Edge & Christian won all three matches is a point to make too. The reason Edge is known as the ladder match king is because he always knew how to put on a good one. Every ladder match he took part in was different and unique. There’s not a single dull Edge ladder match out there. You know a wrestler is a good one when they have one specific type of match that can be associated with his career.

People might look at Edge’s 11 reigns as WWE Champion and World Champion and think, “Man, those titles don’t mean anything nowadays. Those reigns are bogus.” I would completely disagree. I look at those reigns and think it shows how much the WWE trusted Edge at the top. To hold the title that many times shows that Vince McMahon believed in Edge as a champion, representing his company. Wrestlers don’t hold titles that many times if you aren’t capable of staying at the top and drawing ratings and money. Edge has been at the top for five years now, always in a top level program. He pretty much is identified as the face of the Smackdown brand, more than the Undertaker and even Rey Mysterio. While Edge doesn’t make the PR appearances like Miz and John Cena, he was always a great man to put at the top of the company. He had a great passion for the business and is one of those guys who accomplished his life long dream of getting to the top.

I’m sure there are varying opinions of Edge’s place in wrestling history. He probably doesn’t crack anybody’s Top 10, but he has an argument to be on a Top 25 list. He’s an accomplished Tag Team and Single’s wrestler. He worked his way up from the bottom to make a name for himself at the top. He was one of my favorite current wrestlers in the WWE. He was one of those guys that even as a heel, you couldn’t help but cheer for him. He was so funny and witty with the mic that you couldn’t help but laugh. His matches in the ring were entertaining. He took a weird program with Kane, and the two made it work.

Edge took pride in everything he did, no matter how bad the story. He had a passion for the business that can’t be described. He’s one of those guys that is just thankful for being where he is. Edge went out there every single night doing something he wanted to do forever. He was living his dream. He wanted to entertain every single fan in the building, and watching at home on TV. Edge had a long ans successful career, and I for one am happy to see him get out before he was in it for too long. He’s leaving on his terms, and that’s always a positive in the pro wrestling business.

I’ll admit that I’m sad to see Edge go. His career was one I took for granted. He was one of those guys that you just expected to be around forever. Even after he talked about retiring earlier this year, I still didn’t believe it. I just expected him to be on my TV screen forever. But that’s not the case right now.

I will end this long piece by saying THANK YOU EDGE. Thank You for going out there every night and putting on an entertaining show for us all. Thank You for risking your body in countless ladder matches just to say that you stole the show that night. Thank You for giving us that crazy face that we all love. Thank You for everything you did throughout your wrestling career. Thank You for living your lifelong dream in front of us, and putting on a show that entertained us all.

Thank You Edge.

Until next time,
Justin C

No comments:

Post a Comment