Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thank You Edge!

Edge has retired. I've had a few hours to let it sink in and a night to sleep on it, but it still just seems so out of nowhere and unreal. Not unreal in the wrestling sense, just one of those things that kicks you in the gut and seems completely impossible. Edge is still relatively young, he's at the top of his game and still has the connection with the audience to carry a brand, you don't see a lot of wrestlers go out at that point in their career. But honestly, isn't that a good thing for Edge? I'm sure this isn't the time Edge imagined his career ending, but even with injuries aside, he gets to go out at his peak! He's the rock star of wrestling and he's going out before he enters the "St. Anger" portion of his career!

It's still a sad situation, his farewell speech last night was heart-wrenching and I know for a fact there's a legion of Edgeheads out there who are totally bummed, I get that, but let's be glad that he got out before things got really bad. And while you never want to see your favorite athlete forced out due to injury, there really wasn't anything left for Edge to do. Take a look:

-11 reigns as WWE or World Heavyweight Champion, only WWE Superstar to have more is Triple H.
-14 WWE/World Tag Team Title Reigns, a record.
-5 Time Intercontinental Champion, one of only five men to have five or more reigns.
-Has held more championships than anyone in the history of WWE.
-Kick-Out!! Wrestling's Superstar of the Decade!

He's also the ONLY man in WWE history to hold the WWE Championship, World Championship, Intercontinental Championship, United States Championship, World Tag Team Titles, WWE Tag Team Titles, Undisputed Tag Team Titles, and the Hardcore Championship*. Okay, I'm stretching a bit there, he never won the Hardcore Title, but him and Mick Foley did share it in 2006! The only title Edge was eligible for and never held was the European Championship... but he did win the Intercontinental Title after they were merged!

Edge has also won the King of the Ring tournament, a Royal Rumble and was the first man to ever win the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Slammy Awards? He's got two of them too. He's also been in the final match at WrestleMania, only 30 other men can make that claim, and his match was against The Undertaker. I'm sure I don't need to explain the significance of wrestling The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Hell, even outside of WWE, he won the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's 2002 Match of the Year award, which is a rare feat for a match that takes place in a WWE ring. And perhaps most importantly of all, I believe he is the first man in the history of WWE to retire as a World or WWE Champion.

Sure, he could've won the World Title a few more times, perhaps even would've surpassed Ric Flair's sixteen World Titles, but would it really have added that much to his stellar resumé? I don't say "he had nothing left to do" as an insult, the guy has literally done all there is to do in WWE and honestly, no one else can say that. Sure, for a lot of guys it's minor stuff like the US Title or holding the Money in the Bank briefcase, but that's the beauty of Edge's WWE career, we watched him claw his way to the top in a very different landscape. It used to be "win the Intercontinental Title, maybe you'll move onto the WWE Title and maybe you'd do something with the Tag Titles." But when Edge came in, there was a lot more to do and he did it all. That's not to say his journey was any better or worse, but he's the only guy that's had that journey and like he said last night, he grew up with us watching.

Edge debuted in WWE when I was 14 and I remember HATING Edge & Christian because I was a huge Hardy Boyz fan (oops). I always felt like E&C would wind up winning these brutal ladder matches after the Hardyz and Dudleyz took all the crazy bumps, then E&C would run in and steal the titles. This was the height of my smark phase, whoever hurt themselves the most should've won! I dug Edge more and more as time went on, anyone who uses Rob Zombie for theme music is okay in my book, but it wasn't until his heel turn in 2004 that I really saw how damn good the guy was. Sure, he had flashes of greatness before that, just watch his feud with Eddie Guerrero, but I distinctly remember thinking he was in the danger zone. He was very much the John Morrison of the early 00s.

Glad I was dead wrong about that, because once he became this unhinged psychopath, furious that he'd never received his shot at the WWE Championship, he hit that upper echelon. There were a few detours along the way, like his well-publicized personal issues with Matt Hardy and Lita, but it all just made the character even stronger.

I could continue to give you the history lesson, but you know it all by now. Every character needs their arch rival, Batman has the Joker, Stone Cold had The Rock, Edge had John Cena; you know those two had an awesome feud. You know how great he was in 2008 when he carried Smackdown on his shoulders (we miss you, Bam Neely!), and of course you remember his blood feud with The Undertaker, which resulted in the last great Hell in a Cell match WWE has produced. So with all that fresh in your mind, I'll just close this out with my personal favorite period in Edge's WWE career.

In 2006, Edge had just lost the WWE Title back to John Cena and transitioned into a feud with semi-retired Mick Foley. It all culminated with my favorite match in the history of hardcore wrestling, their brutal battle at WrestleMania 22. They took hardcore to the next level, actually introducing a story into it and they did it on the grand stage of WrestleMania. Somehow, these two guys convinced WWE to let them use FIRE, not just in a WWE ring, but at WrestleMania! What made it even better was that they weren't done there; Mick Foley, being the great storyteller that he is, came up with the idea for them to become a team, protesting the relaunch of ECW. They already had the greatest hardcore match in history, why relaunch the hardcore brand? Judging by what WWE's ECW became, it appeared they agreed.

But the insane tag match at One Night Stand 06 was so fun and featured Edge at his sleazy best. Though the TV-PG shift didn't come until two years later, in retrospect, you could really look back on this match as an end of an era.

I'm going to miss Edge in the ring. He was a hell of a talent that literally broke his body for our entertainment, even if he never entertained you for one single second, you have to appreciate that. Although if you were never once entertained by Edge, what the hell is wrong with you? From the eyes of this wrestling fan, I'll always remember Edge as the guy my fiancé downright loathed when she first started watching wrestling with me back in 2007, because he was the guy that would always have something to get you to care. Whether it was a great match, a make-out session with Vickie Guerrero or a Spear from a 12-foot ladder, he always knew how to grab our attention.

Adios, Rated-R Superstar and thank you.

5 comments:

  1. This made me teary eyed. Very good article man! Thank you Edge!

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  2. Nice words indeed. It's a real shame his career had to end so suddenly, but I'd much rather he retained his mobility for the rest of his life than keep risking his health when he's done it all.

    What has impressed me most is his ability to rebound from all of his injury setbacks. There were many occasions on which his career could have ended before now, but he always managed to make an impact as soon as he returned. That ability to maintain his momentum after long injury lay-offs is what establishes him as one of the gutsiest wrestlers of his generation.

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  3. Edge is by far my favorite wrestler of all time. I seriously doubt he would have touched Flair's 16 let alone HHH's 13...I don't think HHH would allow that. With that said, he has talked about retiring in a few years just a few months ago. I was thinking 2012 could be the year so he retired just a bit sooner than I expected.

    Edge is easily the best heel in the last 10 years. HHH is close but his long title reign was beyond boring. Glad to see Edge get a few title reigns as a face and go out as one as well. I was hoping he'd become the de facto HBK for a little bit as he usually as good matches.

    Thank you Edge.


    BTW, do more podcasting!!!

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  4. @Stone - Should have a new podcast up this week!

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  5. I don't know how long this will be up, but it's WWE paying tribute to Edge after the SmackDown! tapings.

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xi3q96_edge-tribute-albany-ny_sport

    Watch out for the multiple ads through out the video.

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