Archive for April, 2011

Over the last couple of months, it seems that the phrase “Anything can happen in the WWE” has been ringing loud and true. Fans are now starting to expect the unexpected, and the WWE has delivered that in spades.

We saw The Rock return after seven years.

Stone Cold Steve Austin is teasing some form of in-ring return of his own.

Even Jim Ross is being allowed back behind the commentary table.

Add to all of that the fact that a rock-solid WrestleMania has come and gone, where fans saw The Miz keep the WWE Championship, an intense stare-down between Attitude Era leaders Austin and Rock and an instant classic between The Undertaker and Triple H.

Yes, it’s been quite a time to be a fan of WWE and wrestling in general, (uh-oh, I said the dreaded W-word!) but last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw was shocking and headline-making for all the wrong reasons.

Edge, real name Adam Copeland and an 11-time World Champion in the WWE announced his retirement from the industry.

Saying goodbye on Raw - April 11, 2011


Citing increasing numbness in his arms due to past neck and spinal injuries, Edge took a microphone and told the fans in Bridgeport, CT that doctors have told him to retire if he wants to save his body from any further harm or damage. The fans in the arena were shocked, viewers at home were shocked and the Internet exploded with everyone trying to decipher if this was an angle or a storyline.

Even I took it with a grain of salt. After all, this is pro wrestling we’re talking about. We’re led to suspend our disbelief on everything we see on TV and the only truth that WWE will sell you is what’s good for the company. But as I’ve interacted with other fans about it and thought about it even further, I believe what I was told last night. Edge’s long tenure inside the ring is over.

Nobody wants to see their favorite Superstar’s career come to an end, but it’s a harsh reality. Edge said it himself last night; when it comes to what these men and women do in the ring, a lot of people dismiss it as “smoke and mirrors”, but the truth is that their bodies take the worst punishment of all. I don’t see NBA players doing splashes and dives off of 15-foot ladders, I don’t see NFL guys playing with a torn quadricep in their leg and I sure as hell don’t see hockey players enduring as much brute force as being thrown off a 20-foot cage through a table. But hey, they know how to fall, right? Fuck. You.

Edge is making the best decision for himself by walking away while his body is still intact. Is he at 100%? Far from it. This is a guy who missed out on two WrestleManias because he was at home recovering from a broken neck in 2003/2004. Add to that a list of knee injuries, a broken arm here and there, torn muscles in his upper body and the most recent big injury, a ruptured Achilles tendon, which is described as the worst injury to try and come back from.

By anyone else’s standards, Edge is still a fairly young guy at 37 years old. But considering he’s been doing this for almost two decades, he’s very much a veteran warhorse. He’s stepping away relatively healthy and with his body intact, but I can imagine he still feels the effects of his long career every morning when he wakes up.

I kind of liken this situation with the same one Stone Cold found himself in back in 2003. Nobody could’ve suspected that Austin had wrestled his last match at WrestleMania 19, where The Rock pinned him in the final match of a trilogy between the two. But like Edge, Austin had a history of neck problems and he was forced to step away. Eight years later, and just a week after successfully retaining the World Title at WrestleMania 27, the same issues are forcing Edge to walk away from his career while he still can.

I almost hate that this isn’t a storyline. Edge is one of my all-time favorites, and I don’t want him to retire. But on the flip side of that coin, I admire and respect him for making this decision before some freak accident happened in the ring. He’s getting out before he’s bitter, broken and confined to a wheelchair (COUGH Dynamite Kid COUGH Superstar Billy Graham COUGH). You have to respect that.

As for everything outside of the ring, you have to admire the kind of person that Edge is. He’s the kind of guy that speaks his mind and offers no excuses on his own mistakes, such as opening discussing his experimenting with steroids and the whole Lita/Matt Hardy fiasco from 2005, which WWE turned into a memorable storyline and feud.

And look at the career that Edge has had. If it doesn’t scream HALL OF FAME, then nothing does. Where does Edge rank on the list of all-time greats? If we were looking at a list of 50 wrestlers, I personally wouldn’t have any hesitation at putting him in the top 15. (the WWE’s “official” list of 50 top superstars ranked him at 19)

What makes for a top star? Three things – being able to talk, possess standout in-ring work and an ability to draw big money on all levels. Edge has done that time and time again. He’s leaving at a time where he’s still on top. Hell, until the Smackdown tapings tonight where he’ll relinquish the belt, he’s STILL the World Heavyweight Champion!

The guy has had a one of a kind career in the WWE. Among some of the biggest highlights:

– revolutionized the Ladder match with Christian, the Hardys and Dudleys
– provided countless highlight reel moments with the epic TLC matches (spearing Jeff Hardy from 15 feet in the air at Mania 17)
– won the 2001 King of the Ring
– became a standout singles star after the brand extension on Smackdown in a series of matches with Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero
– won the Tag Titles with childhood idol Hulk Hogan on July 4, 2002
– won the first Money in the Bank
– after cashing it in against Cena, ratings for Raw increased dramatically
– main-evented WrestleMania 24 and Summerslam against The Undertaker in 2008
– lost the WWE Title and then won the World Title in the same night at No Way Out in 2009
– returned from the Achilles tendon injury to win the Royal Rumble in 2010
– currently the man with the most title wins in WWE history, with a total number of 31 championships to his name

Retains the World Title at WrestleMania 27


Those are just a spoonful of the things that Edge has accomplished in his 13-year career in the WWE. He’s done it all. He can kick back on his back porch with a cold beer on a hot day and be more than proud of the matches, moments and memories that he gave fans over the years.

So then, what happens now? Tonight, Edge is scheduled to surrender the World Title at the Smackdown tapings in Albany, NY and I can imagine he’ll say one last goodbye on the show that he’s been the face of for the last few years. Knowing that his forced retirement is legit, I won’t be surprised if I shed a few tears myself when the show airs on Friday night.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but we’re only the fans. I can only imagine the hurt pride that Edge must be feeling himself. But at the same time, he had a career only a select few guys will ever have in pro wrestling, and for that he should be thankful and grateful.

I know I am.

Edge for the 2012 Hall of Fame. Make it happen, McMahon.

Advertisements

Last night was WrestleMania 27, with over 70,000 packing the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

I paid $29 and watched it at a multiplex theater in HD with about 300 other WWE fans. Always an amazing experience. I was grabbing some pizza from the concession and ran into several other fans, sporting garb such as John Cena and Undertaker t-shirts (such as the one I wore myself, see my photos with the Trailer Park Boys for reference). I also wore my Bret Hart cap and Edge pendant, so I was pretty much the stereotypical WWE mark for one night only.

Called it!

Overall, I thought Mania 27 delivered on the hype. There were a few decisions made that I didn’t agree with, and of course it had its share of filler, but for the matches I was looking forward to the most, WWE hits a huge bull’s eye, in my book.

Taken from the WWE Parallel Universe page on Facebook, my overall thoughts on each bout at WrestleMania 27:

Edge vs Del Rio: Nobody could’ve suspected this would go on first, but they had the task of getting the crowd fired up and I think they delivered. Strong match and I was surprised to see Edge retain. I thought for sure Christian was turning heel, especially when he brought out the weapons to smash up Del Rio’s car. Guess not.

Rhodes vs Mysterio: Glad to see Cody get the win here. Solid match with some good action, and I loved that stalling superplex that Cody did. Must’ve had Rey upside down for at least 10 seconds. THAT’S how you create your own WrestleMania moment.

Loved seeing Rock and Austin interact. Attitude Era FTW!

8-Man Tag: Waste of time. The Corre has the Tag and IC Titles, and no heat at all. Feel a little bad for them, but hey, at least one faction made it to Mania. Nexus sat at home.

Savage vs Steamboat 2011

Orton vs Punk: Great match. Very physical. Punk is not a “sports entertainer”, he’s a WRESTLER and he goes out of his way to let people know that. I think he pulled a great performance out of Orton and it’ll be a match that sticks out on Randy’s resume. Loved the submission attempts by Punk, especially the Anaconda Vice. Cool RKO spot to finish it.

Lawler vs Cole: This was the Mania 27 version of Bret/Vince last year. Went on far too long, and what the hell’s the deal with reversing the decision? If they cut short the beer celebration, let Lawler win the match with no reverse decision and shaved 5 minutes off the match, we would’ve got the US Title match. Forgettable contest.

Nothing short of incredible.

Taker vs HHH: Absolutely epic. Blew away my expectations. Those two destroyed each other. Loved seeing Taker get airborn with that splash on the outside as I wasn’t sure he’d ever do that again after Sim Snuka didn’t catch him at WM25. Spinebuster through the Spanish table was brutal.

I loved the last five minutes because it was amazing storytelling. Last year, Taker told HBK to stay down and last night HHH told Taker the same thing.

I have to say, for a SPLIT SECOND I thought the streak was over. When Taker grabbed HHH by the throat, only it was a weak attempt and HHH Tombstoned him, I thought it was over. HHH enduring Hell’s Gate while trying to grab the sledge was fantastic. Taker collapsing after it was over and being carted away was great drama. Just an incredible match.

Personally, I thought it was a better match than Taker/HBK 2 from last year, but not quite on the level of WM25. Then again, it’s two very different styles coming from HBK and HHH. Taker is the greatest of all time. He’s the true Mr. WrestleMania.

6-man tag: The buffer match. Couldn’t care less about it.

Miz vs Cena: I liked the video packages hyping the two, but Cena’s entrance was terrible and the Georgia Dome crapped all over it. I see Cena’s now pimping red kiddie gear.

I wanted to like the match, I really did. In the end though, I just thought it was average, and average is not what you pull out at WrestleMania. And I’m not deliberately picking on him, but Cena just seemed to be off his game. Like it was a bad day at the office. Miz looked fierce and determined, as he should’ve, but Cena just looked kind of there like he wasn’t putting his full effort into it. Did anyone else notice this?

I thought it was a bold move going for the fake double countout finish, but The Rock restarting the match was obvious. Then Cena eats a Rock Bottom and Miz is still Champ. That made me happy. Show closing with Rock was the right move because he was at the center of all the hype and promotion.

It’ll be interesting to see what develops on Raw tonight.

Overall, I thought it was a very strong WrestleMania. I enjoyed it more than 25 and 26. There were a couple things I didn’t like and it’s too bad the US Title match got cut, but far more positives than negatives in my view. The WWE Title match should’ve been so much better and Cena has no excuse for going through the motions (at least in my opinion), but it was cool to see Miz go from opening Mania last year to main eventing it last night. It shows that WWE can still make superstars.

Overall, I’d give it an 8/10. Though I was looking forward to a couple matches on the undercard, I was watching this mainly for Taker/HHH and The Rock’s involvement and I was not disappointed at all. Great show.

The overall opinion as far as the net is concerned is that Mania 27 suffered from the same would that 25 did in 2009, where one match was so epic that nothing was going to top it. Because Triple H and The Undertaker produced such an instant classic, the WWE Title match between The Miz and John Cena suffered from an exhausted crowd. Aside from that, the match was very sub-par to begin with and Cena was going through the motions, for which he has no excuse. Miz completely outperformed him and he was the right man to walk out with the WWE Title. At least in that sense, I was happy with the WrestleMania main event.

In a nutshell, it was more enjoyable than the last two Manias, but 24 still holds up very well as far as being the last epic WrestleMania. I think 27 will go down as the show that gave back to the older fans and was a bit of a throwback to the Attitude Era, which pleases viewers like myself. In my view, it deserves every bit of success that WWE hopes it reached, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was able to break the one million PPV buyrate mark.

Raw tonight is definitely gonna be interesting.

I’m out,
DR