Thursday Morning Backlash on the Career of Edge

Nine days ago, one of the WWE’s most successful homegrown talents, Edge, called it a career after almost 13 years in the WWE. He won 31 championships during his tenure: he’s an 11-time World Championship (four times WWE Champion and a record seven times World Heavyweight Champion), five-time Intercontinental Champion, U.S. Champion, and a record 14-time Tag Team Champion (seven time World Tag Team Champion with Christian, two-time World Tag Team Champion with Chris Benoit, and once apiece with Hulk Hogan, Randy Orton, and Chris Jericho, as well as the WWE Tag Team Championship once each with Rey Mysterio and Jericho). He also won the King of the Ring in 2001, the first Money in the Bank match in 2005, and the Royal Rumble in 2010. No one else has ever earned all three of those accolades.

So what will Edge’s place in history be? He’s obviously a Hall of Fame guy by WWE standards, and just by looking at that list of accolades it’s hard to argue that he’s earned a spot. He took the classic path of a WWE superstar. He started off in a tag team (with the Brood and then Christian) and they got themselves over enough to be part of the main event scene, which is rare for a tag team. The characters were primarily comedic, but their performances in various TLC matches showed their toughness and earned them respect from the audience. Some of their skits with Mick Foley were comic gold, and a couple on their own (who could forget kazoos and streamers?) were supremely memorable.

From there he moved to the singles division, and immediately had success. He won the 2001 King of the Ring tournament, and captured three Intercontinental Championships in 2001 alone, and also unified it with the WCW U.S. Championship at Survivor Series. In 2002 he won another Tag Team Title with Hulk Hogan, and later won another one with Rey Mysterio. Edge and Mysterio were part of the vaunted “Smackdown Six” along with Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Chavo Guerrero, and the matches produced by those six men were amongst the best ever seen on WWE television. When Angle won the WWE Title and added Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin to his entourage, Benoit and Edge joined up with Brock Lesnar to feud with the skilled trio.

In the midst of this push, Edge suffered his first major injury and missed most of 2003 and the first several months of 2004. He came back to a lame feud with Kane, and then started getting mixed up in both the Intercontinental and World Title scenes. He partnered with Chris Benoit, and then started a slow heel turn that would end up making his career. He feuded with and had great matches with Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit, and Matt Hardy. He won the inaugural Money in the Bank match, and held it from April all the way to early January, when he cashed it in on John Cena and won his first WWE Championship.

His heel antics and partnership with the hated Lita helped vault Edge right to the top of the card, where he would more or less stay for the rest of his career. Through the rest of 2006 he feuded with and later partnered with Mick Foley. He also feuded with Rob Van Dam and John Cena over the WWE Title, including losing the title to Cena in a terrific TLC match at Unforgiven in Toronto. Late in the year he partnered up with Randy Orton to form Team Rated R-KO.

In 2007 Edge was moved to Smackdown, and this is where he really took off. He feuded with top stars Undertaker and Batista and was put up on their level. He spent more time on the DL in 2007, and when he came back he engaged in a long feud with Undertaker. They battled in the main event of WrestleMania XXIV (the only time Edge was in the last match), as well as Backlash, Judgment Day, One Night Stand (TLC match), and SummerSlam (Hell in a Cell). After taking time off again, he came back and won the WWE Title right away from Triple H.

From here he went on to feud with Jeff Hardy, and then reignited the feud with Cena, culminating in a brutal Last Man Standing match at the final Backlash. After dropping the World Title to Jeff Hardy, Edge joined Chris Jericho to chase the Unified Tag Team Titles. Unfortunately, Edge suffered another injury and would miss more time.

He came back to win the 2010 Royal Rumble, but when he challenged World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXVI he was unable to win the title. He then floundered a bit on Raw, feuding with Randy Orton, spending some time injured, and feuding with the anonymous Raw General Manager. Thus, he was traded to Smackdown for the last good run of his career. He quickly got himself into the main event scene and challenged Kane for the World Heavyweight Championship, winning the belt at TLC. He moved on to a feud with Dolph Ziggler that produced some excellent matches, as well as a mini-feud with Drew McIntyre.

His final feud was with the Mexican aristocrat Alberto Del Rio. He successfully defended the title against Del Rio in the opening match of WrestleMania XXVII, which would prove to be Edge’s last. He was scheduled to defend the title in a ladder match at Extreme Rules, but his body just couldn’t take it anymore. Edge gave an emotional retirement speech on the April 11, 2011 edition of Raw.

While it may be ridiculous that Edge won so many titles in a relatively short amount of time, but the bottom line is that from 2000-2011 Edge was consistently thought of highly enough to be in some kind of title picture. From late 2004 up until his retirement he was amongst the top guys in the company. He was a successful tag team wrestler, midcard wrestler, and main event star. He formed great tag teams with multiple individuals, and worked with every top star of his era. He had success as a babyface and as a heel.

Disregard that absurd number 31, and the career that remains is still a remarkable one. Edge has been a fixture of WWE TV for so long now, that I think his absence will be noticeable and a void will be felt for a little while. Hopefully Christian will be given the opportunity to step up and has the ability to succeed. Hopefully Edge will come back in some role someday, because I don’t like thinking that we’ve seen our last Five Second Pose … for the benefit of those with flash photography, of course.

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