Going to the mat is an opinion column for the Unofficial WWE Podcast, where I, Cody Churchill, roll out one of my many hot takes regarding the world of wrestling, and attempt to convince you of it. Whether you agree or disagree, I’m going to the mat for this:
Edge’s next Wrestlemania match should be the last match of his career.
The day was January 26th, 2020. A packed Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas bore witness to the pay-per-view known as the Royal Rumble. This was a storied men’s match for many reasons, but of course one moment surpassed them all.
We can talk about Brock Lesnar’s historic performance. He boasted that he wanted to go in first, and that he did. He racked up a historic and impressive 13 eliminations in a row, tying the elimination record before being taken out by Drew McIntyre. This made from very entertaining in-ring competition, although of course he had to make 13 performers look like wimps in order for it to happen. Still, he did not go all the way and will probably soon be eclipsed in terms of Royal Rumble performances.
We can also talk about Drew McIntyre and his Royal Rumble Victory. He had been a crowd favorite or some time after working his way back to the WWE after being fired. Not always does a wrestling fan get what they want, and watching Drew McIntyre eliminate Roman Reigns and earn a world championship match was what we wanted. Still, one could argue that this moment was too long overdue and quickly turned into a title reign taking place without any fans present. Now, many are asking for Drew McIntyre to win the title again next year where he can be celebrated in front of a live audience.
However, neither of these moments are what I would describe as lightning-in-a-bottle. These lightning-in-a-bottle-moments are what the WWE is known for. They only come around once every so often, and sadly, they have been fewer and farther between recently. We’re talking about Hogan slamming Andre. We’re talking about Stone Cold and the beer truck. We’re talking about Mick Foley’s World Championship win. And we’re talking about Ric Flair’s retirement match against Shawn Michaels. I don’t know about you, but moments like that are why I still persist in watching a product that has grown more stale and increasingly insulting.
Thankfully, on January 26th 2020, the wrestling world got one such moment. What the Rumble does so well is surprise appearances, big returns, and cashing in on nostalgia. But frankly, few of these cause a seasoned wrestling fan to ‘mark out,’ as it were. However, when entry number 21 hit and we all heard the phrase “you think you know me,” I marked out and so did you. Edge was back.
This of course led to a months-long feud with Randy Orton. The program resulted in a couple of conchairtos, and a tragically overbilled Backlash main event that ended in an even more tragic injury for Edge, one that will knock him out of in-ring competition for months. Many have theorized that he may come back at next year’s Royal Rumble, or at some point on the Road to WrestleMania. I could certainly see them placing him in a similar spot in the Rumble and letting lightning-in-a-bottle happen twice. Now they say that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but I’m going to be honest with you, if Edge made another surprise return at Rumble 2021, my reaction would probably be just the same as it was this January. But what I’m going to the mat for today is not an opinion on whether he should return, but rather an opinion on the end of his career.
I believe the Edge’s next big feud payoff should happen at WrestleMania 37, and it should be his last match in professional wrestling.
In fact, if the WWE does not do this I will be sorely disappointed. They have the rare opportunity to send someone out in the best possible fashion, and to try to milk anything more out of him afterward would be disrespectful to his legacy and potentially risk further harm to his body. It is well-known that he is sustained multiple injuries to his neck, and is currently recovering from a triceps injury. In fact, when I saw him in the ring at Backlash, I was just as concerned for the kayfabe outcome of the match as I was for the real man’s health. Neck injuries are a career-ending type of thing in most athletic endeavors, and while I was stoked to see him back, it made me very worried about his overall safety. That’s partly why I’m glad that they stuck him in a program with Randy Orton, who has a track record of being a safe worker. That is why I hope that this particular program ends at Mania in 2021 and Edge is sent off with a bang.
On top of the injuries, he is currently 46 years old. He will be 47 when the next Royal Rumble occurs. And props to him. Very few people are able to put on entertaining matches past the age of 40. However, by the time we could see him at Wrestlemania, he will be closer to 50. As we have seen in the Undertaker’s career, performers who last past age 50 can be very hit-and-miss as far as entertainment goes, and they also put themselves at a greater risk. Since Edge has both advanced age for a wrestler, and multiple neck injuries, the amount of good performances we might see is severely limited. It needs to be a couple of well-booked matches culminating in a final battle at WrestleMania, in which he leaves everything in the ring. This will lead to the greatest possible legacy for him, and ending his career with yet another lightning-in-a-bottle moment.
After that, I could see and using his influence to help build younger Stars. The WWE has an embarrassing amount of performers in their 20s and early 30s who are being overshadowed by older performers who don’t know when to quit. Perhaps the most egregious example of this was Goldberg’s win over The Fiend. In my opinion, these legacy stars are best used to make new stars rather than outshine them. And that’s exactly what Edge should spend the next few years doing, once he defeats Randy Orton once-and-for-all and hangs up the boots for good. Anything else would be a waste of this opportunity, and I’m going to the mat for that.
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below!