Cutting Edge: The Future of WWE's Adam Copeland
Just one week after WrestleMania 27 and retaining his World title against Alberto Del Rio, Adam Copeland stepped into the ring at Monday Night Raw and announced to the WWE Universe that because of a persistent neck injury, he was retiring. Most fans were in shock. He had just retained his title; why was he leaving? Moreover, if he wasn't leaving, and this was a storyline, what would WWE stand to gain from this stunt? After all, sports entertainment performers "quitting" or "retiring" from their respective organizations are akin to soap opera heroines "dying" on their shows: they'll be back, either in another form or to begin a new storyline.
But since it's true, then what? Edge's departure, an unscripted development, would immediately vacate the World title, and leave its ownership up in the air. Will this lead to the return of tournament-style matches to decide the title's fate, or might Mr. McMahon return to award a backstage toady? Will the company re-unify the WWE and World titles? Will Edge stay with the company?
Or...will Edge succeed outside the business?
I will attempt to guess at a few angles for this development, as well as a few ideas for his future employment. This is merely speculation on my part, with little more than history to back up my ideas.
Edge as WWE Color Commentator
Retiring from the ring does not mean leaving WWE or the cameras, as many current WWE employees can attest. Val Venis is a producer for WWE. Trish Stratus, Bill DeMott, Booker T, and Stone Cold Steve Austin are all working as trainers on WWE Tough Enough on the USA Network. Gerald Brisco, Dean Malenko, The Brooklyn Brawler, and Jamie Noble are all currently working behind the scenes for WWE. Jerry "The King" Lawler and Matt Stryker are both former wrestlers now serving as commentators for the shows. So, this may not be the last we see of Edge on WWE, or at least of his work.
Edge has done stints on Raw and Smackdown! as a color commentator, mostly narrating the matches during rivalries. He also appeared as a color commentator on Mind of Mencia during a sketch (see video), so it's not like we couldn't get a mental picture of him in the booth, calling the plays. Edge is a great talker, and is capable of keeping the dialogue going during a match. If he's indeed staying on as an employee, this would be a good fit for him.
Edge as General Manager or Commissioner
And I quote...
Remembering this hilarious sketch from a September 2010 episode of Raw made me think: what if Edge replaced the "talking laptop" as General Manager of Raw? The timing couldn't be more perfect, as Edge just announced his retirement, and the talking laptop gimmick has long passed its shelf life. Why not give Edge a shot as the GM, and see what develops?
Edge's GM reign might consist of taking out revenge on those he's faced off with over the years. He's gotten into the ring with nearly everyone currently on the WWE roster, and he could be conceivably holding onto some (kayfabe) grudges, or turn a blind eye to those he has befriended when they cheat. Edge is also notoriously goofy, so I'm sure there might be some fun gimmick matches in the mix.
Bring Back "The Cutting Edge"
There hasn't been an interview segment on WWE in a while, and Edge's was one of the most intriguing. He plays Devil's advocate like no one else, and as I've mentioned before, he's a great talker. Edge knows how to stir up controversy, and how to get under other WWE performers' skins, and I'd like to see "The Cutting Edge" restored for Raw.
Edge as a Trainer?
This is a little iffy. Given the physical limitations of his injury, training fledgling wrestlers might not be the smartest or safest thing he could do. As we've seen on Tough Enough, sometimes the kids training are so green, they may accidentally hurt the trainers. While Edge has twenty-plus years of experience in his field, I wonder if this would be worth the risk.
Jobs Outside WWE: Acting!
Edge on Dancing with the Stars?
Since Chris Jericho did it, I'm sure there are those who would love to see other WWE SuperStars cha-cha-ing and doing the paso doble. Why not have the "Rated R Superstar" get his ya-yas out on the dance floor? Like Jericho, Edge is charismatic, funny, and has enough physical grace to make it worth the attempt. The only downside: "Dancing with the Stars" has an injury record similar to the WWE's.
Adam Copeland: Sports Commentator
Fellow Canadian Bret Hart began writing sports columns for the Calgary Sun-Times after his wrestling career took a hiatus. Perhaps, with Edge's unique perspective, he could start contributing his two cents to sports news. Sports figures tend to this career path quite often, especially if they've had a good career, and a great deal of personality, including Terry Bradshaw, Charles Barkley, and Michael Strahan. Personality's something Edge has in spades, and I think he's at least ready to appear on WWE Legends.
The Future of Adam Copeland
This is a case of a career ending in a way that isn't tragic, as many sports entertainment careers are wont to do. Edge realized, early on that his personal health was at risk, and made a decision to protect himself before it became an issue. Too often, performers are compelled to protect their "spot", and work through pain, injuries, and resulting substance abuse connected to these. I wish Edge well in all his future endeavors, and hope that WWE will take it under advisement to protect their performers so that the show might always go on.
The future of Adam Copeland, a.k.a., our Rated R Superstar, could be very bright outside the ring.