Posted in: Doctor's Orders Doctor's Orders: On the Edge of Immortality - Weekend Long Rated R Superstar Commemorative
By Dr. CMV1
Apr 30, 2011 - 9:46:25 AM
I’ll never forget the Raw 8 days removed from Wrestlemania 27. I was still coming down from my Wrestlemania high and had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that wrestling was not going to be nearly as interesting as it had been for the previous three months. I was not, however, expecting that one of my all-time favorite WWE Superstars was going to suddenly be forced into retirement. I knew of Edge’s health history and I had always wondered how long a man who’d had spinal fusion surgery in his late twenties could continue in the profession of pro-wrestling, but I did not think it would come so abruptly. I had been attendance in Atlanta when Edge successfully defended the World title. Little did I know that it would be the last match of his career. I cannot say that I was shocked that he had to retire. I suppose that is why it has taken a couple of weeks for it sink in. As the video montages of his career have been played, the more it has begun to hit home.
As a fan of 25 years, I’ve had a few favorites. Ric Flair captured my young imagination in the eighties, Ultimate Warrior colorfully took over in the early nineties, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels ascended to the top as I grew a greater appreciation for the in-ring product, and The Rock was my guy during the Attitude era. Shortly before HBK returned in 2002, Edge had a series of matches with Kurt Angle that prompted me to declare Edge my new favorite. This was before I’d ever seen the TLC matches that I’d missed during an 18-month hiatus from wrestling, by the way. I got to watch him battle back from a devastating injury and build a new character that would eventually lead him to becoming an 11-time World Champion that main-evented four Wrestlemanias. When I met my wife a few years ago and she was forced to share my WWE habit, it was Edge that most captured her suspension of disbelief. She wore an Edge t-shirt and arm bands to Wrestlemania this year. So, Edge holds a special place for me, in large part because I followed his entire run as a singles performer from King of the Ring to Intercontinental Champion to contender for the World title to WWE Champion to Royal Rumble winner and future Hall of Famer.
So, it is with all of that being said that we look back at the career of Adam Copeland for the next two days; to pay tribute to Edge in a way that a superstar of his caliber deserves. We will look back at some of the defining moments of his time in wrestling, some of his greatest matches, and the final months of his career. Please feel free to leave feedback discussing your favorite Edge moments.
A Boy With a Dream; A Man With a Ladder
My earliest memory of Edge is actually from Summerslam 1998, when he was the surprise tag team partner of Sable against Jacqueline and Marc Mero. I remember thinking of him as a guy with some potential, but it was not the kind of match that really showcased what the young man was capable of doing. He was twenty-four years old at the time, living a dream and trying to make a name for himself. Like many guys back then, Edge was a new performer somewhat lost in the shuffle during a very booming period for the business. Every now and again, though, he was given an opportunity to shine and made the most of it. The month after Summerslam that year, Edge was placed in a PPV match against fellow-Canadian Owen Hart.
Edge vs. Owen Hart (Breakdown ’98) (CMV1 rating - ***1/4) (CMV1 note – People forget how athletic Edge was, in my opinion. He really showed how much his body broke down after that neck surgery and that TLC had taken its toll. He really hung with Owen in this match, which was a very good bout to open the same PPV that Austin, Taker, and Kane had a triple threat. Owen was awesome and Edge did a good job getting the crowd behind him before Christian showed up and distracted him. One of the first matches that showed you that Edge could really end up becoming a star)
Edge became a member of the Brood with childhood friend, Christian, and Gangrel in late ’98. I don’t recall the group for their memorable matches, but they have to be remembered for their memorable blood bath entrances and their awesome theme music. To this day, the Brood’s theme is one of my all-time favorites. The Brood ended up joining the Ministry of Darkness and helped the Undertaker hang the Big Bossman at Wrestlemania XV, marking Edge’s first appearance at wrestling’s most spectacular event.
It was during the summer of 1999 that I went on a lengthy hiatus from wrestling. I was in high school at the time and other interests rose to the forefront. Unfortunately, it caused me to miss Edge’s ascension to a major player. It was one of the first things that I did once I discovered the internet wrestling community and its wealth of online resources to watch old wrestling footage. It was pretty easy to find which match put Edge on the map. It came in the finals of the Terri (Runnels) Invitational to see which young tag team would get Terri as their manager and a bag full of cash. Back then, ladder matches were not as commonplace as they are today, so you have to assume that the WWE saw something in these guys before booking the bout with that stipulation. I’m not sure, though, that they had any idea how good it would be. It would be the introduction of a third team into the fold that would lead to the most famous tag team era in modern history. The Dudleys, Hardys, Edge, and Christian series of matches was not something that I got to witness live, as mentioned, but it was the series that most frequently had my rear end out of my seat when I watched them on DVD. The Triangle ladder match, the first official TLC match, and the second and third TLC matches were some of the most incredible stunt matches I’ve ever seen. Those guys will never be the same and took years off their qualities of life entertaining us and trying to take the next step in their careers. Edge is proof positive of that.
Edge and Christian vs. The Hardys in a Ladder Match (No Mercy ’99) (CMV1 rating - ****1/2) (CMV1 note – Four young and hungry superstars went out that October and made a statement that they had arrived on the scene for good. This was the most memorable match of Edge’s young career. He started out fine, but he tapered off in ’99 until this match really put him on the map for a main-event caliber career. Interesting that he’d go on to feud with each of the other three participants in big singles programs that advanced his career. This set a new standard for ladder matches and, outside of the involvement of tables, this is arguably the greatest ladder match of all-time, spotfest or not)
Edge and Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz in a Triangle Ladder Match (Wrestlemania 2000) (CMV1 rating - ****1/2) (CMV1 note – One of the most thrilling matches I’ve ever witnessed thanks to all the crazy stunts that they performed. I just cannot describe to you the mayhem; you just have to see it. It stole the show at that year’s Wrestlemania and really elevated all six guys to positions of prominence that would last for quite awhile. It was the match that sparked the main-event careers of Jeff Hardy and Edge. Of course, it also gave birth to a classic new match type in TLC, which officially came to be a few months later at Summerslam, but which has spawned its own PPV in the modern era. It was groundbreaking in that sense and there’s nothing like the original)
Edge and Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match (Summerslam '00) (CMV1 rating - ****1/2) (CMV1 note - Billed as the first TLC match, it was really the second. The first took place at that year's Wrestlemania and it was off the charts in terms of the risks and bumps taken. This was just more of the same. The sequel was quite amazing to watch, yet again, with several cringe worthy stunts made to look fairly simple, but it wasn't as memorable since it wasn't the original)
Edge and Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz in a TLC Match (Wrestlemania X-Seven) (CMV1 rating - ****1/4) (CMV1 note – Sometimes, you have to factor in degree of difficulty to a stunt brawl like this. These 6 guys went out there and nearly topped their previous TLC efforts, which was thought to be a nearly impossible task. Had they managed to connect with all of their attempted spots, then they might very well have. Unfortunately, the degree of difficulty was extremely high and there was a rough moment during one of the attempted sequences. Edge’s Spear of a hanging by a hook Jeff Hardy from the top of a ladder was one of the most memorable spots in the history of the WWE)
The Classic Path: Tag Team Star to Intercontinental Champion
After the third TLC match, Edge and Christian began teasing a split. Edge won the King of the Ring tournament in 2001 and engaged in a feud with Lance Storm over the IC title heading into Summerslam. He won the title and immediately moved into a feud with Christian, who had by that point turned on him. Both of them were showing signs of becoming future stars at the top of the card, but this was really Edge’s first opportunity to show his skills in the singles ranks as a featured performer. He was a focal point, winning and losing the IC and US championships throughout the fall of 2001 before unifying the two titles with Test at Survivor Series – when the WWE vs. WCW feud came to an end. He lost the unified title to William Regal and began to move up the card again.
Edge vs. Lance Storm (Summerslam ’01) (CMV1 rating - ***) (CMV1 note – Not long enough to be anything special, but a really strong opener to the 2001 edition, featuring some nice catch as catch can wrestling, as JR liked to say. One great near fall at the end pushed this to the 3-star mark)
Edge vs. Christian in a Ladder Match (No Mercy ’01) (CMV1 rating - ****) (CMV1 note – I certainly wouldn’t say that it is on par with the ladder matches during the TLC era, but it showed that the two could adapt to a main-event style ladder match and still tear the house down. It was intelligently worked and they came up with some innovative ladder spots, which was a must during that time because there had been so many memorable ladder matches not far removed from it. Sure would’ve loved to have seen them wrestle in a big PPV main-event for a World title. It makes me more excited to see Christian get a crack at the World title this weekend)
Edge vs. Test (’01) (CMV1 rating - ***) (CMV1 note – I always thought that Test was underrated because of strong matches like this. He had a lot of high impact moves that made for believable false finishes. He and Edge unified the US and IC titles in this match)
Edge vs. William Regal (Royal Rumble ’02) (CMV1 rating - ***) (CMV1 note – If anyone has any gripes about Edge being a babyface, they simply need to watch him wrestle as one. I think he wrestles better as the good guy, despite his character being better as the bad guy. He even writes as much in his 2004 book. Good match)
This is a little out of chronological order, but Edge did return from injury to capture the IC title for a 5th time back in 2004. His neck surgery kept him away for over a year and he was drafted to Raw in April 2004. He was immediately positioned to be a top star, but he couldn’t seem to find his footing. Thus, he was put up against Randy Orton. I wanted to include this match because it was the bout that, to me, reminded the WWE of what he was capable of when given the chance to shine in a main-event caliber match. He hadn’t yet been given that chance since his return and I thought he delivered in spades. Soon after, he was right back in contention for the World title.
Edge vs. Randy Orton (Vengeance '04) (CMV1 rating - ****) (CMV1 note - People have allowed their judgment of both competitors to cloud their minds when it comes to this match. It's funny - if Angle and HBK start out with a methodical pace, it's to set the stage for a long match and it's no big deal. When Orton and Edge did it, it's because they both suck and it made the match boring. Nonsense I say! This was a great match that ended the great run that Orton had been having with the IC title during the post-Mania part of 2004. The last quarter of this match was on par with any of the other top matches from that year, with a flurry of excellent sequences and near falls that left you wanting more)
“Dude, I’m Going With Edge as My New Favorite Wrestler”
It was Rock vs. Hogan at Wrestlemania X-8 that truly recaptured my inner fandom for wrestling, so while I came back from my hiatus during the Invasion and got to see some great Edge moments, it was not until the draft that followed Mania in 2002 that I really started to notice just how good Edge had become. I watched the first or second Smackdown after the original draft and saw Edge take on Kurt Angle in that night’s main-event. I was highly impressed. You see, I actually watched as if they were two separate and distinct brands, Raw and Smackdown. SD became my favorite as I was really beginning to put a premium on high quality in-ring action. Edge and Angle’s match led to a return match at Backlash, which was another impressive performance. The feud continued with the classic hair vs. hair match at Judgment Day and it was shortly after that match that I called one of my best friends, a fellow wrestling fan, and told him that Edge was going to be my new favorite wrestler. I was just so impressed with the matches that he was having that I saw a future World Champion on my TV and decided to go ahead and hitch my wagon to him in advance.
His string of great matches continued well past the series with Angle. He also had some damn good matches with Chris Jericho and captured the tag titles with is childhood hero, Hulk Hogan. The tag titles would again factor prominently into his career. He and Rey Mysterio would later capture the tag straps in a phenomenal string of bouts with Los Guerreros and Kurt Angle/Chris Benoit, the best of which was an amazing match at No Mercy 2002. Speaking of Guerreros, Edge had another great series with Eddie Guerrero that year, culminating in a brilliant performance on SD in September. I thought one of the best matches that Edge had that year was actually one that almost nobody knows about since it took place at the UK-based Rebellion PPV. That night, he wrestled against Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman with the WWE Championship on the line and tore the house down! I didn’t see this match until four years after it happened, but I will never forget sitting there and thinking to myself, “That’s why I pegged Edge as my favorite that year.”
Edge vs. Kurt Angle in a Hair vs. Hair Match (Judgment Day ’02) (CMV1 rating - ****1/4) (CMV1 note – God, I loved this series of matches. This was probably the best match in the series with all of the crazy near falls. The style back then was so intense and fast-paced. Angle was the epitome of that style, but Edge could hang with him and it certainly got my attention. It was one of many matches that each of them had in 2002 that made wrestling must-see TV again for me. Angle used that year to punch his ticket to four major Mania matches in the years just after this one. Edge wrestled like he wanted to get to the main-event)
Edge vs. Kurt Angle in a Steel Cage Match (Smackdown June ’02) (CMV1 rating - ****1/4) (CMV1 note – There was a consistently high match quality from week-to-week in 2002 that I’m not sure has ever been matched in a year before. Edge and Angle were a big part of that and anyone who tries to tell me that Edge was carried to all of those great matches will be met with an icy glare from yours truly. You get to the four-star level or better more than a handful of times in a year, then you’ve earned the right to be considered one half of a great series of matches instead of the guy that got carried)
Edge and Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit (No Mercy ’02) (CMV1 rating - ****1/4) (CMV1 note – It’s not very often in the modern era that you can call a tag team match at MOTY candidate, but that’s what these four future World Champs produced in October ’02. Edge and Mysterio paired up to make a great tag team with all sorts of innovative tag maneuvers. Angle and Benoit formed the rare partnership between rivals and were great, as well. The combination, naturally, produced a memorable tag team match for the post-TLC era and helped elevate the tag titles to a position of prominence for a short while, thus keeping all four competitors near the top of the card)
Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero (Summerslam '02) (CMV1 rating - ***) (CMV1 note - A really strong effort and one of those matches that you forget about because the only truly memorable match in their series was the No-DQ bout from SD later that year. This was the kind of match that showed the potential for what they would later do)
Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero (Unforgiven ’02) (CMV1 rating - ***1/4) (CMV1 note – I thought it was on par if not slightly better than the first match in their series. Considering it was given just over ten minutes, then I think that’s quite a compliment. Edge and Eddie had a good chemistry and Edge was really working hard to move his way up the card)
Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero in a No-DQ match (Smackdown September ’02) (CMV1 rating - ****1/4) (CMV1 note – Back during the days of the SD Six, whatever of the top feuds on the blue brand didn’t get enough time to play out their finales on PPV, they’d get that time on SD. Edge and Guerrero had two very good matches on PPV, but this was a MOTY candidate and a phenomenal TV match. It is one of the best matches in the history of SD and the kind of match that had to have made people backstage look at Guerrero and Edge as future main-event players and World Champions)
Edge vs. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman (UK Rebellion ’02) (CMV1 rating - ****) (CMV1 note – This was a match that really put the stamp on Edge being a guy that they could eventually push to the title. They put him in the main-event and had Brock Lesnar give him every move in his arsenal, but allowed Edge to come back and nearly win the WWE title in his first major championship match. It was a UK PPV, but it was still a great test for Edge and he passed with flying colors. Lesnar could’ve become a phenom in the WWE had he stuck around)
Money in the Love Triangle?
I was very disappointed when Edge got injured and was forced to miss a year recovering from neck surgery. Yet, I was very excited to see his return. I kept my eye on his possible return dates for the better part of six months, so when that vignette aired to hype his return during Wrestlemania XX, I was quite pumped up to say the least. When he came back, though, he didn’t catch fire as a returning babyface the way that I (and surely the WWE higher ups) had hoped. He spent the majority of 2004 trying to find his place on Raw. Plenty of time was spent giving him chances and there were numerous rumors that he’d get a World title shot. He ended up being the guy to take the IC title off Randy Orton so that the Legend Killer could win the World title. His only PPV defense came at Summerslam ’04, which turned out to be historically significant for reasons to be discussed later on. Despite being the babyface in his hometown, he got booed out of the building. He ended up with a minor injury that caused him to lose that title, but it was a blessing in disguise. He turned heel upon his return and took out Shawn Michaels.
In a sign of things to come, he nearly won the World title on Raw, but it turned out to be vacated due to a double finish. HBK returned soon after and ignited what was a dream feud for me. Michaels is my all-time favorite wrestler and to see him and Edge go it was just awesome. I looked at it as a huge opportunity for Edge and he delivered, in my opinion. That was the feud, to me, that got Edge’s career as a featured performer off the ground. I’ve got this way of looking at top talents. If your feud warrants a hype video nearly every time you wrestle on PPV, then you’ve made it to the top. Edge took the ball and ran with it, but it was around this time that rumors began circulating that he was having an affair with Lita, whose long-time boyfriend, Matt Hardy, had been released by that point. Chants of “You Screwed Matt” were heard long and loud throughout the country as Wrestlemania 21 approached. Edge was booked in the first-ever Money in the Bank ladder match that year and was considered a favorite to win, but the real life love triangle seemingly threatened to hurt his reputation and his chances of taking the next step in his career.
Edge vs. Shawn Michaels (Royal Rumble ’05) (CMV1 rating - ***1/4) (CMV1 note – A really strong 18-minute contest that was right in the early part of Edge trying to figure out how to better work in the ring as a heel. He definitely showed flashes of the main-event star he would become and I’ve always wanted to see what these two could have done circa ’06-’08 when Edge was at his best)
Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Wrestlemania 21) (CMV1 rating - ****) (CMV1 note - While it was naturally spotty in nature, it was actually quite psychological in many ways. You will typically find it amongst the top 20 lists in Mania history that scatter the internet. I personally believe it to be the fourth best ladder match in the history of Wrestlemania, but it has obviously become a phenomenon all its own, earning its own PPV in addition to being featured on every Wrestlemania from 2005-2010)
That career-threatening reputational downgrade never came and instead only strengthened his position. He won the MITB match and later won a #1 contender tournament on Raw to face World Champion Batista. During the finals of that tournament, Lita turned on her storyline husband, Kane, joining forces with Edge to take advantage of the real life heat. I thought it was an awesome move, yet some criticized that Lita would hold Edge back. Nonsense! It only helped to better the heel character that Edge was developing. The feud with Kane turned out to be great for Edge because he wasn’t overexposed or rushed to the title like many of the other MITB winners have become. It gave him a chance to really build heat and get better as a main-event level heel. When Matt Hardy came back in the summer to get as much out of the real life drama as possible, Edge really took that last step toward superstar status. Many critics had cited Edge’s lack of fire during his promos and that look in his eye that said he wanted it. I remember there was a promo he did backstage where he basically told his side of the story and you could see that fire in his eyes. He turned the corner during that feud, during which he and Hardy had some phenomenally intense battles.
Edge vs. Kane (Vengeance ’05) (CMV1 rating - ***1/4) (CMV1 note – Edge and Kane had some really good matches in 2005 during the love triangle storyline with Kane, Lita, and Edge. Edge had improved his heel in-ring act and was showing signs of the Rated R Superstar becoming a reality. He thrived in the feud with Kane and then Matt Hardy. Vengeance in 2005 was an awesome PPV – one of the best of all-time, in my opinion. This match helped elevate it with a strong upper mid-card performance)
Edge vs. Matt Hardy (Summerslam '05) (CMV1 rating - 3/4 *) (CMV1 note – As a match, it wasn’t much. Yet, as the elevating segment that took this storyline to another level, it was quite effective. Edge surprised people by destroying Hardy and having the match stopped. It showed an intense side to Edge’s heel character that added another dimension to his eventual main-event caliber persona)
Edge vs. Matt Hardy in a Steel Cage Match (Unforgiven ’05) (CMV1 rating - ****1/4) (CMV1 note – If Angle vs. HBK had not been so good, then there would’ve been several matches in the running for the ’05 MOTY and this would’ve been one of them. They not only told a very good story with several twists and turns, but they also performed some pretty nasty cage spots – the kinds that you just don’t see much anymore with some serious bumping. I look back at 2005 and I think this match might be the most underrated match. There were some great false finishes during the climax, with the whole thing just laid out nicely)
The Rise of the Rated R Superstar
Just days into 2006, Edge was in a match with Ric Flair at New Year’s Revolution that was largely considered a throwaway. Edge suffered an injury late in 2005 that left him unable to capitalize on the aftermath of the Matt Hardy feud. His match with Flair at NYR was the opener; they wrestled for a few minutes and went to a DQ finish. A ho-hum night for Edge…until Mr. McMahon came out after the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE title and announced that Edge was cashing in his title opportunity. I was on the edge, pun intended, of my seat! I don’t curse very often in print, but I was like “Holy SHIT!” Edge cashed in and won the WWE Championship. One night later, he had a memorable “Live Sex” celebration on Raw that, little did I know, my future wife happened to watch out of sheer curiosity. The segment drew a huge rating – the biggest in a very long time on Raw. Suddenly, Edge was a huge, ratings grabbing star. The next week, he had an incredibly entertaining match with Ric Flair – in a ladder match no less – on Raw. Ratings were huge again! Go Edge, go! He ended up dropping the belt to Cena at the Royal Rumble, but the three week reign turned Edge into a mega-star and he never looked back. He was put into a big match with a returning Mick Foley for Wrestlemania that year and his Spear through a flaming table that won him that match arguably stole the show.
Edge vs. Ric Flair in a TLC Match (Raw January ’06) (CMV1 rating - ****) (CMV1 note – Make no mistake about it…this was one of the finest performances of Edge’s career. Flair had done many things during his long run in wrestling, but never a ladder match of any kind. Edge carried him to one of the best matches – of his second WWE stint, anyway. The rating for the Raw that night was the highest it had been in years, tying it with the week before and week after for some of the best Raw ratings of the modern era. It was awesome to see Edge’s first title run go so well. It seemed like it had been a long-time coming when he won the title and the people showed that they thought he belonged, thus earning him 10 more reigns)
John Cena vs. Edge (Royal Rumble ’06) (CMV1 rating - **1/2) (CMV1 note – By far the worst match in their series thanks to the way that it was booked. Edge dominated the early part of the match, then Cena came roaring back to win his title. Ho-hum)
Edge vs. Mick Foley in a Hardcore Match (Wrestlemania 22) (CMV1 rating - ***3/4) (CMV1 note - The match was hailed as a potential show stealer amidst strong competition on that night. It was definitely a well-respected performance that many said was the great match that Foley had been waiting for in his Mania career. Edge did a great job and became a mainstay in Mania main-events for several years soon after. The enduring image of Edge Spearing Foley through a flaming table is one of those iconic moments that gets immortalized through videos to this day and will continue to do so for years to come)
By the time Mania had rolled around, Edge had firmly established himself as the Rated R Superstar capable of becoming a main-event player for years to come. So, after Mania, he was immediately thrust back into the title picture and rightfully so. I love the triple threat match he had with John Cena and Triple H at Backlash that year. I ranked it in my top ten that year. I did the same for the match that he had with RVD at Vengeance. Quite frankly, I think Edge vs. RVD was one of the most underrated bouts of 2006. Yet, it turned out to be just a pit stop feud for Edge, as he re-engaged John Cena for a memorable series heading toward Summerslam and beyond. He won the WWE title for a second time on Raw in early July. The second chapter in that feud was excellent. His TLC match with Cena at Unforgiven was my 2006 co-MOTY. It was historically significant because it was in the same building in Toronto where Edge had two years prior been booed like booing was going out of style, despite him being the babyface in the match. In September 2006, he was the top heel in the WWE, but the crowd adored him and gave him such an amazing reaction during his entrance that he lost control of his emotions and began to cry before putting on the performance of his career to that point.
Edge vs. RVD (Vengeance '06) (CMV1 rating - ***3/4) (CMV1 note - This was one of my favorite matches of 2006, as I thought they really clicked in the ring. There were several really intricately worked spots throughout and this was the kind of match that RVD shined in. Edge was the perfect opponent for him, as he also thrives in gimmicks. Had this gone another 4-5 minutes, it could've been on my top 5 list for MOTY candidates that year. I thought it was THAT good)
Edge vs. John Cena (Summerslam '06) (CMV1 rating - ***1/2) (CMV1 note - really good main-event that ended up being the match of the night, easily. This was the match where they began clicking in the ring together. The last few minutes were very exciting and Edge’s dominant offense through the first ten minutes was executed well enough to keep the match from being boring. It was nice to see Edge get a meaningful win and be booked to look strong by getting out of the STFU)
Edge vs. John Cena in a TLC Match (Unforgiven ’06) (CMV1 rating - ****1/2) (CMV1 note – An absolutely amazing match that put the finishing touches on one of the better rivalries of the modern era. I voted this the 2006 Co-MOTY w/ Angle vs. Taker from February and I stand by that decision five years later. Some of the bumps that they took in that match no doubt led to Cena’s eventual neck surgery and Edge’s eventual retirement. The human body just wasn’t made to endure matches like this one, but the drama was awesome)
After Edge was out of the WWE title picture, he partnered up with Randy Orton to form Rated RKO, an awesome team created to combat Degeneration X, themselves fresh off a lengthy feud. DX and Rated RKO feuded from September throughout the remainder of 2006. The culmination of the storyline resulted in a big match at New Years Revolution, which became famous for being the second match in history where Triple H blew out his quadriceps muscle. It was an unfortunate end to the feud, but it was a great match up until that point. I think that feud deserves to be highlighted. As Wrestlemania approached in ’07, Orton and Edge split up and it seemed as if they were going to have a match at Wrestlemania. Unfortunately, Edge got injured – recurring theme throughout his career. He and Orton were shifted to the Money in the Bank ladder match to protect Edge’s face. Yet, a couple of weeks later on the same night as Cena vs. HBK (often regarded as the ’07 MOTY) from the England Raw, Orton and Edge had a very good match that could’ve really added to the Mania card’s quality.
Rated RKO vs. DX (Cyber Sunday ’06) (CMV1 rating - ***1/2) (CMV1 note – I thought these four had a really good match that evening, but I didn’t think it was great. HBK and HHH still had a while before they really got their mojo as a tag team, in my opinion. That’s not to say that they weren’t capable of having really good matches like these, but I thought that by ’09 they’d gotten to the great level. Edge and Orton were a solid team and I liked the story told during this match, especially with Orton and Trips. Edge and HBK seemed headed toward a big match down the road, but it never came to be)
Edge vs. Randy Orton (Raw April ’07) (CMV1 rating - ***1/2) (CMV1 note – This was one hell of a match for a TV match during that time period. I reviewed Raw for close to a year on LOP and saw few matches that were as good as this one. Edge and Orton worked a match that many wrestling aficionados would tell you is not easy to pull off: a heel vs. heel match. They did a nice job of getting the crowd on Orton’s side and letting Edge play the heel. I always wished these two would’ve wrestled at Mania that year)
The Ultimate Opportunist and His Ultimate Obstalce
The next big move in Edge’s career came somewhat unexpectedly. Mr. Kennedy had won the MITB ladder match and had proclaimed that he would wait until Mania 24 to cash it in. Yet, then he got injured and got into the dog house. Undertaker was injured, despite being the new World Champion, so they had to get the belt off of him so that he could have surgery. Rather than give it back to Batista, the WWE decided to go a different and more interesting route. Edge challenged and beat Kennedy for the MITB contract. Then, Edge cashed it in after Taker had a cage match with Batista and had gotten attacked by Mark Henry on Smackdown to win the World title for the first time. It turned out to be a turning point in his career because he basically became the face of the Smackdown brand for the rest of his career. Edge immediately began replacing Taker in the matches against Batista, whom Edge claimed in future interviews that he really enjoyed working with. Edge had to drop the title due to injury in the summer.
Edge vs. Undertaker (Smackdown May ’07) (CMV1 rating - **) (CMV1 note – It may not have been much of an actual match and it may have lasted only a few seconds from bell-to-bell, but this was a very clever way to start the Edge-Taker feud. Edge sells the MITB cash-in better than anyone)
Edge vs. Batista (Vengeance ’07) (CMV1 rating - ***1/2) (CMV1 note – They did a nice job of incorporating some psychology by having Edge go after Batista’s shoulder and they built up to a very nice last several minutes. The match was restarted after Edge got himself DQ-ed, but it all worked out in the end. The near falls were legitimate and Edge did a nice job of working with Batista. This was the kind of match that showed Edge’s range. He didn’t necessarily carry guys like Bats to four-star bouts, but he could get some really strong matches out of them nonetheless)
By the time Edge came from injury, Undertaker had returned to title contention and was facing Batista again, this time in a Hell in a Cell match. Edge, dressed as a cameraman, interfered in the match and cost Taker the title. He soon revealed that he was partnered up with Smackdown General Manager Vickie Guerrero in a pairing that actually did wonders for them both. It perfectly fit with Edge’s budding Ultimate Opportunist character and put him over as a guy who would do anything to be the champion, even if it meant having a relationship with Vickie. I loved it. I thought it made a lot of sense and was a surprise smash hit. Edge won the title in a triple threat with Taker and Batista at Armageddon. The remainder of the guys that were put with Edge and Vickie (to form “La Familia”) didn’t really work out that well, in my opinion, but the group put Edge in position to main-event his first Wrestlemania. The feud with the Undertaker was the best work of Edge’s career, if you ask me. Their match at Wrestlemania was excellent and each of their return matches was excellent. I believe you can basically choose from one of the three matches listed below to name the 2008 Match of the Year. The two opponents that will define Edge’s legacy in the WWE are John Cena and Undertaker.
Edge vs. Undertaker (Wrestlemania XXIV) (CMV1 rating - ****1/4) (CMV1 note – This is a polarizing match, as there seem to be as many people who dislike this match and thought it was average as those that think it was great – like myself – and love the match. Edge’s only legit main-event at Mania was one of his best performances in a non-gimmicked environment. They put together a match that kept you guessing at the end, with some awesome false finishes. The early part was kept slower to build-up to the flurry of offense for the last twenty minutes, but that was perfectly fine given that they went long. The bottom line is that they both delivered)
TLC Match: Edge vs. Undertaker (One Night Stand '08) (CMV1 rating - ****1/4) (CMV1 note - Excellent match with a lot of great false finishes, which are more difficult to realistically pull off in the ladder match setting. This is Edge's money match that he can go to and pull off with anyone. Whether it be Flair, Cena, or Taker...Edge just flat out owns the one-on-one TLC match. If you'll recall, Edge and Taker had to overcome the stipulation that should Taker lose, he'd have to retire. Historically, that makes matches so predictable. But they overcame that and made you keep guessing who would win)
Undertaker vs. Edge in a Hell in a Cell Match (Summerslam '08) (CMV1 rating - ****1/2) (CMV1 note - A fantastic match that put the finishing touches on a feud that produced a match on these lists for five out of the last six months. One could argue that this was the best HIAC match of all-time, and it was easily the best since they switched to the new, taller cell. They did a great job of incorporating bits and pieces from each of the matches in their lengthy feud. Really and truly the blueprint for the modern era HIAC match)
Old Foes Are New Again
Edge had a great year in 2008, but again had to take time off toward the end of it because of injury. Yet, he won the WWE title immediately upon returning, only to drop it to Jeff Hardy at the December PPV. That ended up setting the stage for the two old rivals from the TLC era to clash for the big belt. It was nice to see the two of them going at it in the main-event considering their history. I thought Edge and Jeff had some really good matches in ’09 and that each of the PPV encounters were at the 4-star level or better. In between the first and second chapters of the Hardy-Edge main-event feud, though, Edge furthered his Ultimate Opportunist gimmick by entering the Raw Elimination Chamber after losing the World title in the SD EC and winning the World title. It set-up the renewal of one of his greatest rivals by pitting him against John Cena. Big Show was inserted into the fold, but I thought it was nice that such a good rivalry ended up getting featured in at least some way on the grandest of stages. The Edge-Cena feud meant a lot to both of their careers as they were establishing themselves as the top guys. Of course, there was the Wrestlemania 25 triple threat, but it was the one-on-one Last Man Standing match at Backlash that tore the house down. Had HBK and Taker not stolen the year at Mania, Edge vs. Cena might very well have been what replaced it as MOTY. Unfortunately, after chapter two of the Edge-Hardy feud, the Rated R Superstar got injured again (his second really serious and career threatening injury, this time to his Achilles).
Edge vs. Jeff Hardy (Royal Rumble ’09) (CMV1 rating - ****) (CMV1 note – This was somewhat of a dream match for those of us that saw them compete during the TLC days, as it was an evolution of the business. I thought they worked a great match with some dramatic near falls leading up to the semi-surprise of Matt Hardy turning on his brother and costing him the title. Jeff was so over that it played out well on screen and the crowd reacted really well to it – disbelief!)
Edge vs. John Cena vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Mike Knox in an Elimination Chamber Match (No Way Out '09) (CMV1 rating - ****) (CMV1 note - Rey Mysterio, in particular, was phenomenal in this match. The last few minutes between he and Edge were nothing short of breathtaking. Seeing Cena taken out was certainly intriguing, but once he was out you pretty much knew that Edge was going to be the winner. Perhaps saving Edge vs. Cena for the end would've been better)
Edge vs. John Cena vs. Big Show (25th Anniversary of Wrestlemania) (CMV1 rating - ***1/2) (CMV1 note – Sort of an underrated match, if you ask me, in large part because of the match that came right before it. For all the knocks on the main-events of that year’s Mania, I thought it was unfair to criticize this bout, which managed to squeak out just a little bit more energy out of the crowd as they delivered a nice match)
Last Man Standing Match: Edge vs. John Cena (Backlash ’09) (CMV1 rating - ****1/4) (CMV1 note – Nearly three years after competing in Edge’s specialty TLC match, they competed in Cena’s specialty LMS match…and what a match it was. It was billed as and it felt like the end to their storied rivalry. Without question, they fought like hell to go out with a bang and I thought that they delivered in spades. Maybe not quite as good as the TLC match, but definitely a memorable final battle on PPV for them. I would rank this match right up there with Edge’s best)
Ladder Match: Edge vs. Jeff Hardy (Extreme Rules '09) (CMV1 rating - ****) (CMV1 note - The ladder match has happened so many times - and was taken to such extreme heights via the TLC format - that I'm not sure I can ever NOT compare a modern ladder match to one of those from the past. Yet, I have to give credit where it is due...Edge and Hardy told a good story with their ladder match last year. Storytelling in ladder matches now seems to be the thing rather than just a bunch of random high spots. I thought these two started that trend in '09)
Solidifying a Hall of Fame Resume
I had quietly hoped that I was right about Edge being able to come back and win the 2010 Royal Rumble. There had been very few rumors about it and most reports suggested that Edge might not be able to make it back until after Mania. Yet, I remained quietly confident that he would make a surprise return and win the thing. I thought that he and Chris Jericho deserved the chance to take their budding feud to Wrestlemania and be one of the main-events…one that I would highly anticipate. It turned out that I was right! Edge did return to win it, Jericho won the World title, and the two were set to face off at Mania. Looking back, I certainly saw the potential in Edge’s run as a babyface, but it took long after the Jericho feud was in the books for it to really catch on and pan out. They had a good match at Mania 26, but Edge sort of got lost in the shuffle for awhile until he got moved back to Smackdown and won the World title in a great 4-way TLC match in December. I was critical of Edge at the time for his horrible feud with Kane, but he really got his babyface schtick going during his feuds with Dolph Ziggler/Vickie Guerrero and Alberto Del Rio. I thought the work he did in the twilight of his career was very good. The match at the Rumble with Ziggler was top notch and his final match was a good one, as well. It may very well be his performance in the Elimination Chamber that will go down as the best of his final few months, though. Thanks in large part to his efforts, that match is a top contender for 2011 Match of the Year. Taker vs. Triple H will probably win it, but that EC match will probably get some votes…
Rumble ’10 (CMV1 rating - ***1/4) (CMV1 note – One of the shortest Rumbles in history featured a lot of rapid fire eliminations. The usual lengthy performance from a mid-card guy was wiped out in favor of several 10-minute stays here and there that, frankly, carried the majority of the match. Well, that and the storytelling of HBK as he tried desperately to win and go on to face Taker at Mania. Edge’s return was something I had hoped to see at the Rumble and was quite pleased with at the time)
Edge vs. Chris Jericho (Wrestlemania XXVI) (CMV1 rating - ***1/2) (CMV1 note – At just over 16-minutes in length, this was not given enough time to become a great match at the pace that they were working. They were on their way, but they didn’t get to the four-star mark like I’d hoped and predicted, but they did have a very good match. Jericho did a nice job of controlling the match with working over Edge’s leg and they, like in most Edge matches, were able to work in some nice false finishes and counters)
Edge vs. Kane vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio in a TLC Match (TLC ’10) (CMV1 rating - ****) (CMV1 note - Another excellent match that pushes this PPV to the brink of being one of the best of the year. All four worked really hard to overcome the silly nature of the predominant storyline that this match was based around to have a kick ass match. Edge as a 10-time champ? Hard to believe)
Edge vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Big Show vs. Kane vs. Wade Barrett (Elimination Chamber ’11) (CMV1 rating - ****1/2) (CMV1 note - Here's your early front-runner for 2011 MOTY. An outstanding performance by all involved, especially Edge and Rey Mysterio. Their thrilling 8-minute string of near falls as the final two participants was excellently worked. Drew McIntyre and Wade Barrett also showed flashes of being consistent mainstays at the top in years to come. Big Show and Kane did well in their roles, too. Everyone came out of this match looking better than they did before it, but I cannot say enough about Edge and Mysterio's final sequences. Superb job!)
Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio (Wrestlemania XXVII) (CMV1 rating - ***1/4) (CMV1 note – Quietly, these guys had a good feud leading up to the event, so I wasn’t surprised that the crowd was into it. I actually thought that the placement on the card was nearly perfect because it gave the match a chance to get the reaction it deserved. In recent years, the Taker’s matches have overshadowed at least one World title match. The way that they handled it this year, I thought it worked better. Edge and ADR worked hard and built to a good climax that saw them trade submission finishers and sell them well enough to create legit false finishes. Certainly not a great match, but a damn good one to kick off the wrestling portion)
So, off and on for the last thirty hours (with seven hours break for sleep), I’ve watched the best matches of Edge’s career. I think perhaps that Edge was one of those guys that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. After watching all these classic battles, I’m struck with a sense of wishing that I had appreciated what Edge brought to the table more than I did in his final months. There have been few in the history of the WWE that have had MOTY contenders consistently almost every year for over a decade. Whether it be his TLC and ladder matches from his tag team days in 1999-early 2001 or the really good matches he had during his Intercontinental title reigns in 2001-02, he established very early in his career that he would be a major player for years to come. He only upped his game during the 2002 run on Smackdown that preceded his neck injury. The matches he had that year were stellar and showed why he’d be a future World Champion, but it was the character he developed, grew, and evolved in the years since that injury that have put Edge in the Hall of Fame category. The Rated R Superstar and Ultimate Opportunist personas made Edge a legend in the main-events of the WWE. It’s what helped him to the 11-times he held the World/WWE titles. I would say that his finest work came against Undertaker and John Cena, as those were his two most high profile feuds. He certainly gave us plenty more to be proud of, but those are my favorites. One day, he’ll get a HOF ring on his finger. I hope I can be there that day because “on this day, I see clearly”…that Edge is one of the all-time greats.