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Edge of greatness: WWE’s R-Rated Superstar retires on top of the world

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“The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.”

Champagne supernova: For a moment, Edge was the brightest star that outshined an entire industry.

In a recent interview with the Charlotte Observer in the days before WrestleMania, WWE World champion Edge, 37, talked his eventual retirement in Asheville, N.C., targeting a vague date of “Maybe a couple years. Five? It’s up to my body, which also depends on the kinds of matches…I want to be able to function and walk and hike these hills.”

When asked about his specialty, the Ladder Match, which put he and boyhood friend Christian on the map as WWE tag-team champions at WrestleMania 2000, he replied, “I’m relieved I don’t have to do it as much. I still get called on to do it every once in a while. I had 19 ladder matches and most guys have never had one. It’s taken a toll. Now everyone understands I only have so many more of those in me.”

Turns out that 20 might have been one too many.

The kamikaze style that got him noticed in the Attitude Era resulted in Edge having spinal fusion surgery eight years ago to recover from a broken neck. Since that time, he’s maintained the hard-work ethic that’s always been his trademark, including several more trips up and down the ladder…literally. That’s the only way he knows how to work–full throttle. It’s clear he felt he owed it to his fans, the company and himself to carry on with the same physical style that made him a superstar.

After retaining his championship against Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania in a bit of a surprise, Edge was scheduled to defend the title in a Ladder Rematch at the upcoming Extreme Rules WWE PPV. Thing was, though, he’d been experiencing more pain than usual lately; more disconcerting, he sometimes felt numb in his arms. Then he got the results back from his latest MRI: He was possibly one bad bump away from a wheelchair. Suddenly, a simple life with his dogs in Asheville seemed a lot more attractive, albeit sooner than expected.


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In an abrupt move that stunned many in the industry to the point that many initially suspected it to be an angle (including me), Edge announced his retirement on Monday’s RAW, getting emotional as he discussed his dream since childhood with pal Christian to became champions in WWE. “There’s no way if you had told me when I was 11 years old that I would win more championships in the history of anyone in this company that I would have believed you.” (A fact that’s even more impressive is that Edge accomplished all that without sleeping with a single McMahon. Now, Vickie Guerrero is another matter entirely….)

I have a soft spot in my heart for guys who were fans of the business as kids who got to live the dream. I’m thankful that on a very small level, I was able to do the same. There’s a passion with boyhood fans to live up to the standards–and in my cases exceed them–of their wrestling heroes of the ’80s. From his tag-team classics with Christian vs. the Hardys (and hilarious promos to boot) to his runs as World champion when he consistently delivered the strongest matches on the card and the most entertaining buildups to PPVs, Edge had a hell of a career. In an era when entertainment is stressed more than ever, Edge more than delivered the goods in that category as well. His promos, backstage vignettes and in-ring work have made him probably the best all-around WWE performer of the last seven years, in my opinion. He was versatile in that could be the slimiest heel to the funny cool guy we all wanted to be–not many can pull that off, especially with WWE Creative switching him babyface/heel constantly. Not to worry–Edge’s facial expressions alone could tell a story.

It’s only fitting in the weeks leading up to his retirement, Edge teamed with Christian one last time on RAW. And he also celebrated with his buddy on the industry’s biggest stage in Atlanta after retaining the WWE World championship–a moment young Adam Copeland could only dream about watching from the stands at WrestleMania VI at Toronto’s SkyDome in 1990. Ironically enough, in Edge’s absence, Christian may finally get the push to the next level as a singles star in WWE as he continues the good fight with Alberto Del Rio in honor of his friend for the now vacant World title–though that’s probably not how Jason Reso wanted it.

Although Shawn Michaels may have vacated the WWF title when he tragically lost his smile (they were later reunited after a thorough search) and Batista did the same with the WWE World title because of a legit injury only to return, Edge is the first WWE performer to go out while at the top of the ladder of his profession. In fact, other than AWA champion Verne Gagne, who owned the company, I can’t think of a single major World titleholder to actually retire as champion. But, of course, this isn’t about worthless wrestling titles–this is about quality of life and having the wisdom to step back from something you love while you still can.

Farewell, Edge. You were one of the great ones. Here’s to you for walking away.

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