The Wrestling Genius: You Gotta Know When to Fold’em
It isn’t very often we as wrestling fans are blindsided these days, not with all of the backstage news websites. That’s what made Monday even more shocking, it was barely reported before hand, and we just didn’t see Edge being the next to go. Edge was still supposed to have years left on his wrestling odometer. Edge was an elite talent but was cursed with a body that couldn’t hold up to the daily grind of being a WWE Superstar. All of the moves that left us completely in awe, have left him with no option but to leave the business he loves. Whether you liked Edge’s many characters or not there is something that stands out above all else, very few wrestlers understood what Edge understood. It doesn’t matter if you are winning, or you are losing it’s about the show. I never saw Edge take a night off, I never saw him half-ass a match like so many others do. Edge sold as good as he gave and you can’t say that about too many guys in the business. His resume might be one of the most unique resumes in Sports Entertainment history.
7x World Heavyweight Championship
4x WWE Championship
14x World Tag Team Championship (combining all of his tag titles)
5x WWE Intercontinental Championship
1x United States Championship
Just the fourteenth Triple Crown Champion
King of the Ring
2x Mr. Money in the Bank
Not a lot of people have that kind of resume right? So where does Edge rank in the greatest of all time picture? Well for me that depends on how high you rank someone like Scottie Pippen. See I consider Pippen to be in the top 25 NBA players of all time, a destructive defensive force who cared more about winning than stats. Pippen was never good enough to lead a team to championship as the main dog, but you could never ask for a better number two. Like Pippen, Edge is a superbly talented individual that won a lot of championships, but was never the top guy at any one time. Pippen always had Jordan to be the face of the team for him, he never had the pressure of being the guy, and when he finally did his team never reached the level of success it did with Jordan. What does that have to do with Edge? Edge won 11 world championships, but was never asked to be the face of the company. He never had the pressure of being the top guy, but got all the perks of being a champion. The WWE always had someone else on top of the mountain for Edge’s entire WWE career, HHH, The Rock, and John Cena just to name a few. There is more pressure on someone when they are asked to go out and carry the entire brand, to sell tickets, t-shirts, do every interview, and always be available to the fans. Say what you want about John Cena, and trust me I have said many critical things, the one thing you can’t say is, is that he doesn’t do everything for the WWE. Edge was never asked to be that guy, and I’m not sure if he could do it or not, but what I do know is he was never asked to do it. So, that ultimately is the biggest reason to not put Edge in the discussion for greatest of all time.
Here is why you do put him in that discussion, look at that resume a second time. Very few wrestlers transitioned from being in one of the greatest tag teams of all time, into a super successful singles wrestler. Shawn Michaels, Booker T, Scott Steiner, Brett Hart, all did that, but surprisingly not a one of them won more world titles, or tag titles then Edge. So wait a minute read that list again, three sure-fire hall of famers and a fringe hall of famer in Steiner, and Edge won more world titles then all of them. That resume is daunting, but what really puts Edge into the discussion is this, if he was going to be on a PPV card did it make it more likely you’d buy that PPV? Honestly, I don’t buy every PPV, but if I felt like Edge was being put in the right kind of match, with the right opponent I was usually on board. Edge gave a crap every single night but he seemed obsessed with stealing every single PPV, especially Wrestlemania. We call Shawn Michaels Mr. Wrestlemania, but I’d argue that Edge had nearly as many memorable matches at WM. Up until Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker at WM 26 and 27, Edge vs. Undertaker was my favorite WM match. That match was one of the first Undertaker matches where people started being obsessed with ending The Streak. Edge and Taker stole that show and that wasn’t Edge’s first WM moment. Edge has been through a flaming table, thrown from countless ladders, and did everything we ever asked of him, no matter what it did to his body. Edge was never the biggest, strongest, fastest, but he gave every match everything he had. Edge has been wrestling on borrowed time for a long time, his broken neck, his Achilles tendon tear; all of it would have broken a lesser man long ago.
We WWE fans have had an odd relationship with Edge. We never believed in him, not fully. Not even when he won his first World Title, he did it in a shady way we didn’t condone. He was always the weird, creepy, dorky, vampire who could never make it as a singles wrestler. (I’m stating the message board perception of Edge, for years people counted him out) Edge finally wore us down, he kept putting on great match after great match, he kept getting better on the mic, until we finally said “Holy sh*t Edge is awesome”. We grew to appreciate a guy who never took a night off and had an obsession with stealing the show. Ultimately that obsession would lead to his shortened career, but it also made it so none of us would ever forget him.
I asked my buddies Aaron, and Anthony, two guys I consider to be of the last true wrestling fans, real elite wrestling minds, guys who I’ve had thousands of wrestling conversations with to help me sum up Edge. Anthony said all the things I said about Edge. Aaron had his own personal take on Edge. By the way he had no idea I did the whole NBA comparison, so you’ll see how much we think a like when he makes the same convoluted comparison, albeit with a different NBA player.
“Being one of the early fans of Edge & Christian (E&C-Era of awesomeness eons away), I have loved to see them both grow and mature from the blood bathing days of The Brood. (Poor Gangrel as he was overshadowed from day one.) Edge had found his nitch as the Downward Spiral sneak attacks were just not catching on with the crowd. Jump forward a few years and for the benefit of those with flash photography…………….5 secs later…….E&C then destroy some ass tag team such as Too Cool or The Highlanders.
Let’s do this different and just talk about the man. His wrestling credentials speak for themselves. Most decorated WWE superstar in history. Always put forward every effort (Made out with Vickie for example, and seemed to enjoy it..LOL). Edge has always demonstrated the “it” factor. Whatever crazy scheme he had planned or doing whatever it took story wise or physically to ensure the fans were entertained. I am hoping this “retirement” is not an angle as I saw true tears in Edge’s eyes as he spoke and I was moved as I have watched Edge form his pro-methesis to unfortunately his early retirement it seems.
Despite his lack of personal morals, he has seemed to keep a core group of friends in the WWE and outside which leads me to believe he must be a stand up guy(Just don’t leave him alone with a lady…His track record there is quite sketchy from what I have read from his 1st wife, Matt Hardy, Lita..etc etc) However, this does not take away from his in ring performance. Coming back from injury and still performing on a high level is just a another notch in his bedpost as he and HHH have an uncanny ability to just keep coming until that bell rings. On a quick side note, Edge has an incredible taste in music…
Edge will undoubtly be inducted into the HOF but his career has been quieter than most that rise to his greatness. He has dominated the tag team division but only the TLC is talked about. He has won tag titles with Mysterio to Hogan to of course Christian and many others but still it is one match that haunts his legacy. Edge also sneaks into Heavyweight title contention with some gimmick (dating the GM) or by destroying the intended contender. He has never (at least to me) seemed to be able to establish himself (Jericho is another example) in the eyes of McMahon or whoever is booking stories. They do not want to just let him be over and shine, as I believe he had the potential to do…..I equate Edge’s career to that of NBA “role model” Charles Barkley. It didn’t matter what was asked of either of them, they performed and shined; however, there was always someone (Jordan or HBK) to be the main event. And Edge and Sir Charles were left fighting for their position and sometimes they were able to sneak past the Walls put up and Main event and the people were given a hell of a show…
Edge will always be part of that tag team, part of that TLC match, that girl’s flunky champ…but to me he has done what is needed to succeed in this business that has spit out many of men greater than he..Edge has taken the road of hard work and perseverance and to at least this fan of 28 years..Edge will always be in my Top 10…..”
That’s Edge’s legacy, at least to Aaron, Anthony and I. Edge was a guy we enjoyed seeing, but was never allowed the chance to be the top guy of the company. Which is alright, when you consider the totality of his career I’m sure we’ll overlook that fact and just see a guy we enjoyed watching grow up on television. He grew into one of the best in ring performers we’ve ever had the privilege of seeing. Thank you Edge, thank you for risking your body every night just to entertain us. Thank you.
Thanks again for reading and if you want to get in contact with me you can do so by emailing me here: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can bug me via twitter @JaredGebhardt. As always, I try to get to every single email and tweet I get.
The Wrestling Genius: Jared Gebhardt