This week one of the guys that I’ve followed since the very beginning of his career retired from professional wrestling, and in a lot of ways it kind of closed the chapter on a period of my life. WWE’s Edge has retired from active duty as a WWE wrestler after an amazing 14 year career.
There was a time where I was TSN.ca’s defacto wrestling guy, and my columns “Tales from the Darkside” regularly brought in a couple hundred thousand page views.
I really grew out of wrestling about six years ago. I had an extremely unpleasant experience with some of WWE’s management, and it soured me. Combined with the fact that the were putting out some of the most offensive storylines (not good offensive, I just mean cheap heat and gross stories), and the fact that a bunch of the guys I had met over the years had started passing away with rapid succession, wrestling stopped being fun for me. The UFC quickly became my methadone to WWE’s heroin, and I’ve been a rabid MMA fan since.
In my time (from about March 1997 – January 2000), as the face of TSN’s online wrestling coverage, I got to do some pretty cool things. I was on the inside of the famous Bret Hart “Wrestling with Shadows” controversy (and unwittingly shook Bret Hart’s broken hand…which he had busted up smacking Vince McMahon upside the head after the Montreal Incident), I asked Stone Cold Steve Austin for shaving tips, and I got to see some pretty great rookies in their first matches ever.
For a while I was talking with WWE Canada’s office to come and work for them, and it led to me being allowed great access which got me some really cool interviews. In my house somewhere is a treasure trove of mini-DV tapes with incredible interviews with the likes of Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Bret Hart, Mick Foley, Sean Morley, Ken Shamrock, Bret Hart, Kurt Angle, Bobby Heenan, Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, Trish Stratus, Dawn Marie, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, Triple H, Brock Lesnar, The Big Show, Hawk, Animal, Lance Storm, Don Callis, and one of my favourites, Edge. I’ve interviewed major sports celebrities as well, and I can honestly say that WWE guys were hands down always the nicest human beings on the planet (although the CFL’s Pinball Clemons takes the cake as the nicest man I’ve ever met).
I’ve always watched Edge’s career with a ton of interest because I got to see the VERY beginning of his rise to fame. I saw one of his very first dark matches against Christian at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, and at one of the first TSN events I was ever at, Edge, Kurrgan and Don Callis were there doing a live chat on TSN.ca with me. I got to hang out with the boys that day, and they were pretty nice to me.
A year later I’d get to spend another day with Edge, and his then Brother-In-Law Val Venis (a.k.a. Sean Morley) as a videographer as Edge threw out the first pitch of a Jays game. Again, the boys were awesome with me, and Edge even claimed he remembered me (although honestly, the dude met tens of thousands of people like me every year, so I’m sure he was just being kind). It was one of the best days in my near decade of working at TSN, and we got to tour the Jays Bullpen with then team manager Jimmy Johnson. We saw Jose Canseco working out, and I learned he was a HUGE fan of the WWE. I also saw Juan Guzman warming up with the Jays trainers in what would be his last game as a Toronto Blue Jay.
It was a really cool day, and the guys were awesome to share it with me. Being on the main field when 40,000 people cheered for Edge’s pitch was a really great feeling, and I totally understood that night how the experience could be like a drug for these guys who got up in front of people 250 nights a year and sacrificed their bodies.
Yeah, wrestling is a “worked sport”, it’s scripted, and guys know what they’re doing to each other. I worked out at a wrestling gym for one day, and I’ll tell you first hand that while everything is a work (I can still deliver a mean looking worked punch), there are immutable laws, such as the laws of physics and the laws of gravity that quite simply EFFING HURT!
Edge’s best friend Christian back in the day talked about a “bump card”, meaning that everyone can take only so many “bumps”, before a major injury happens to them. He used to say that he could take bumps so well because he had a flat butt, which allowed him to absorb the abuse across more of his body, but not everyone benefitted from that genetic gift. About 8 years ago Edge broke his neck, had to get spinal fusion surgery, and was told then that he might never wrestle again. He went on to have his most successful period of his career, but it was that injury which ultimately ended his wrestling life.
It’s much better that he retires from ring life, than ends up hobbled and unable to move like so many of his peers before him.
I’ll always celebrate Edge’s spectacular career, and I hope that Adam Copeland has a bright and comfortable future.
Here’s Edge’s retirement speech from this week’s Monday Night RAW.