When I was five or six years old, I first got into professional wrestling (though, apparently, the WWE has taken the wrestling out of its name and it’s now just the “WWE,” and nothing more… an entertainment company), enjoying it’s larger-than-life show.
My brothers used to watch the Saturday morning shows — from the old World Class Championship Wrestling on WRGB to the NWA on TBS to the then WWF on several channels. Since that time, my interest in professional wrestling has gone from the far-fetched (as in wanting to become a wrestler when I was in high school) to a big fan to now, where I’m a casual fan who likes to catch one weekly show as it’s basically an adult male soap opera.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the biggest names in the business over the years, from Vince McMahon to the Undertaker to Shawn Michaels. It’s been pretty cool to see some of the things I’ve seen and also watching as the “sport” went from a “it’s real” to “it’s entertainment.” It’s now funny. It’s entertaining. There’s good writing and stories. That’s why it’s actually still somewhat interesting to watch.
I also still like to catch some live events from time to time, more of the independent wrestling, but it’s fun to watch in a live setting (I’ll actually have a future post about watching wrestling live as I’ve seen some wacky things).
Five years ago, four of us went to Albany to the then Pepsi Arena to watch a WWE pay per view — New Year’s Revolution. It was the second pay per view I had seen in person, following the 1992 Royal Rumble in Albany. The main event of this one was an elimination chamber match, in which John Cena successfully defended his WWE championship and was a bloody mess.
As the match — and we thought — the pay per view ended, WWE chairman Vince McMahon walked out on stage and announced there would be another match as Edge was cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase. (side note — the Money in the Bank briefcase guarantees the holder a title shot at any time and any place up to one year after he’s won it).
Two minutes later, Edge won his first WWE championship.
Though wrestling is a form of entertainment and matches are obviously pre-determined, the storylines and performers are built up to massive levels. People have a vested interest in what happens. There are still “good guys” and “bad guys.”
Edge has been both.
And he’s been damn good at both.
But at 37 years old, with all the abuse his body took over his 14 years with the WWE (including a broken neck several years ago), it all came to a screetching halt this week. See, following his Wrestlemania match, where he defended his world championship, Edge saw some doctors as he apparently had been feeling numbness in his arms (never a good thing). They advised he have surgery as it was something with his neck again. They also wouldn’t clear him to wrestle again as he could risk becoming paralyzed or even die.
Not for nothing, but I don’t care how addicted you are to the rush of things, I wouldn’t mess with that. So, this past week on RAW, the WWE’s flagship weekly show, Edge retired. Though often thought to be an angle when things like this happen, this wasn’t a story. This was real. The WWE showed wrestlers — good guys and bad guys — applauding Edge.
This next clip is kind of long, but shows that even though the world of the WWE is scripted, people can get emotional. It’s no different than a professional athlete retiring or a normal joe leaving a job after so many years.
Now, the WWE does a second weekly show — Smackdown. Most of the wrestlers are on one or the other. Edge is actually the champion on Smackdown, which is why his appearance on RAW was a little more shocking. But RAW is the live weekly show, so it was worth having him there.
That being said, he needed to surrender his world championship on Smackdown — which was taped Tuesday — in Albany. So me, my former sports editor and his son went up to watch. It’s the first time in several years I’ve seen the WWE live, so it was cool to watch. We had some great seats and got a chance to see Edge’s final time as champion — in Albany.
That’s what fans will see on Smackdown when it airs tonight on SyFy.
But after the show “went off the air,” is when it got really cool and interesting. With other superstars coming out to applaud Edge and him giving a final speech.
I wanted to attach the YouTube video to it, but the version that was online was removed by WWE, so when I wrote this post, I couldn’t find it again.
In the end, I’ve had the chance to see some cool things in regard to wrestling and this ranks right up there with the best of them. I’ll look forward to seeing how they play it all on television.
And for those of you who might be ‘rasslin fans, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that Edge was fun to watch over the years. From the ladder matches, to the tables, ladders and chairs to everything else, he really put a show on for the fans. I have a feeling he’ll be enjoying a trip into the WWE Hall of Fame next year.
Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com.