WWE's Edge (Adam Copeland) Retires: Reactions and Analysis
Before Monday Night RAW, wrestling fans received a tweet from @WWEUniverse announcing rumours that the Rated R Superstar Edge’s career was in jeopardy.
I read it and did not give it much thought, thinking that it was a ploy to get viewers to tune into the show. I was thinking that it would turn out to be some overexaggeration about an injury which would then justify him missing Extreme Rules.
I tuned in anyway still blissfully unaware of the seriousness of the situation.
The commentators also informed us that Edge was going to be on RAW to speak to the WWE universe.
We heard from John Cena, Randy Orton, John Morrison, R-Truth and Dolph Ziggler arguing over who should be the next No. 1 contender for the WWE Title.
The anonymous GM decided to have a five-man gauntlet match to settle the issue, a normal day at the office...
Then we hear the music, Edge comes out, looking a little confused and jittery. He walks to the ring and delivers on hell of a knockout punch, “... the MRIs show that I have to retire.”
At this time I am still wondering if it was a game plan, but there was something about his body language and the way he was struggling to verbally organise his ideas that got me thinking twice.
Is Edge's retirement legitimate?
I immediately pick up my phone to ask a friend what he thinks. He is as unsure as I am but reminded me that the neck injury Edge was referring to was legit.
There were tears from Edge and a terrific response from the crowd. Almost immediately WWE.com communicated to us the reasons for Edge’s untimely retirement. It was very in-depth about his condition, symptoms and the possible dangers of this situation. It even quoted the name of the doctor for credibility,
“The Rated-R Superstar had been suffering numbness and uncontrollable trembling in his arms and hands. This is not the first time Edge has experienced these symptoms of nueropraxia.
"An MRI administered at Atlanta Midtown Diagnostic Imaging last Monday was sent to Dr. Joseph Maroon, a renowned neurosurgeon and professor of neurosurgery at The Pittsburgh School of Medicine. After careful examination of the MRI, it was determined that Edge would never be cleared to compete again, and thus, he is forced to retire.
"In 2003, Edge underwent a two level spinal fusion of the discs between his C5, C6 and C7 vertebrae. After being cleared to compete, the Rated-R Superstar returned to the ring, resulting in stenosis of the spine, or a narrowing of the spinal column, above and below the fused discs.
"This narrowing resulted in less and less of the vital fluid needed to protect the spinal cord. Medical professionals cannot clear Edge to compete ever again in WWE since doing so could result in paralysis or even death.” (Greg Adkins April 11, 2011 from http://www.wwe.com/inside/edge-announcement)
Then it really started sinking in.
This was no joke, there was no way that WWE would go through this much trouble to protect a storyline.
Adam Copeland was retiring from WWE as the World Heavyweight Champion. At this point the shock of it all had not worn out. I was really sorry for him, but I felt a little cheated too. Man, I was looking forward to that ladder match at Extreme Rules.
As I scolded myself for my selfishness it began.
The Internet world began debating why this was not true.
People made a lot of observations: He was not emotional enough during his speech Christian was not there as his best friend. The backstage angle was similar to the fake John Cena retirement a few months ago. It was too sudden and there were no previous rumours about his medical exams.
I think that people have to remember that even though this was his last night on RAW, it was not his last night at WWE. He is a Smackdown superstar and his last night is going to be on that show. This is when we are going to see the true emotion from the World Heavyweight Champion.
Christian is also a superstar from the Friday night instalment of WWE, and I expect to see him there with Edge as well.
The backstage shoot with him embracing members of the locker room was similar to the John Cena angle, but with a huge difference, there were heel superstars like Ziggler there to wish him goodbye.
He even embraced some of them, showing for a little while that despite the characters played by these individuals, they are human beings who work with one another for the overall success of WWE.
WWE would not want to sit on news like this.
There was no way that they were going to wait until Friday, or even wait to try and put it into a storyline.
Given the fast-paced nature of the world, they wanted him to be the one to break the news, before it got leaked from some other source. It was done out of respect to him.
The sudden nature of the announcement also shows the severity of the injury. A lot of times in professional wrestling, a minor injury is played into the story line, for example Christian’s injury was accredited to Alberto Del Rio.
Given the nature of Edge’s injury, the risk was not taken in fear that his health would be affected any further.
Superstars including John Cena, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Wade Barrett, Jim Ross Kelly Kelly, Michelle McCool, Zack Ryder and Vickie Guerrero all expressed their congratulations and best wishes for Edge.
The wide scope of that list should be the final example showing that this is all real.
While we know that Wrestling is scripted, and we all hear the criticisms of it being "fake"or a "soap opera", Edge is the manifestation of what the business can do to you.
From his speech it is clear that he performed through Wrestlemania 27 in pain and was unsure about his health.
This is a dedication many of us cannot say we possess. I sincerely hope that this issue does not affect him in any way and that he is able to continue on life’s path.
It also shows me how cynical we have become as a viewing audience.
Of course WWE has played a big part in our reactions to these things by the fake retirements and firings, etc.
They have tried to confuse the audience and outsmart us so many times, that when it is time for us to be serious and concerned for the well-being of a superstar, we react with disbelief and focus on the reasons why it is not true, instead of doing the opposite.
It is the classic boy-who-cried-wolf effect.
I wish the Rated-R Superstar the best as he takes on a new chapter of his life.
I am extremely honoured to have been able to watch him each week. I am sure he is already planning for his new future.
Congratulations on an exceptional career Edge, see you in the Hall of Fame class of 2012.
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