Ranking Edge's Greatest Moments as a WWE Superstar
Edge's return at the Royal Rumble created a fan fervor unlike any since AJ Styles made his debut in the same match four years earlier.
The fans in Houston responded with an overwhelming ovation, and the emotion painting The Rated-R Superstar's face showed just how much it meant for him to set foot back inside the squared circle nine years after being told his journey in wrestling had reached its end.
It was a journey defined by several unforgettable matches and moments that took him from the depths of obscurity to main events around the world.
In honor of Edge's return to the ring, relive 10 of those moments that helped make him one of the most prominent, important and unforgettable talents of his generation.
10. A WrestleMania Spear
There is no moment that better encapsulates Edge's drive and determination to entertain fans and solidify his legacy early in his career than his WrestleMania X-Seven spear from the top of a 20-foot ladder to Jeff Hardy as the latter swung from the WWE Tag Team Championships.
The moment, included in nearly every WrestleMania highlight package, put an exclamation point on what many consider the greatest of the Tables, Ladders and Chairs matches.
That it took Hardy out of the equation and allowed Edge and partner Christian to regain the titles for the second consecutive year at WrestleMania only made it that much more memorable and one of the most unforgettable moments of his career.
9. King of the Ring
It was clear by the summer of 2001 that WWE had significant plans for Edge.
While it would take another half-decade for them to come to fruition, the Canadian began his march to the top of the industry at the June 24 King of the Ring pay-per-view with a victory in the titular tournament.
To accomplish that goal, he had to overcome simmering jealousy from Christian and two hard-fought matches against close friends Rhyno and Kurt Angle.
By the time Edge planted the Olympian with the Impaler DDT, it became readily apparent that the days of tag team wrestling with Christian, repetitive series against The Hardy Boyz and Dudley Boyz, and wasted time replaying the greatest hits in gimmick matches were over.
He was heading for better things, things that would culminate in his extraordinary run at the top of the card.
8. 1st-Time Champions
Six months after a breakout performance at No Mercy that saw Edge, Christian and The Hardy Boyz become legitimate stars in WWE, The Dudley Boyz joined them for a wild and chaotic Triangle Ladder match at WrestleMania 2000 for the WWE Tag Team Championships.
The match, every bit as breathtaking and jaw-dropping as expected, captivated the fans in Anaheim and further solidified that trio of teams as the nucleus of a renewed tag division.
In the end, Edge and Christian sent Matt Hardy crashing off a makeshift platform and through a table 10 feet below before reaching up and grabbing the top prize in tag team wrestling.
The real-life best friends had envisioned the moment many times, but on that night in California and with the eyes of the wrestling world on them, they lived out their dream of winning the titles on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
7. Royal Rumble Winner
A torn Achilles tendon put Edge on the sidelines for most of 2009 and led to questions about his availability for WrestleMania 26 the following year.
Any concerns that one of WWE's most prominent stars would miss its biggest show of the year were put to bed at the 2010 Royal Rumble when Edge returned at No. 29, much to the shock and chagrin of his former tag team partner, Chris Jericho.
Edge wasted no time laying into the man who badmouthed him during his hiatus, eliminating Y2J in short order. From there, he tangled with John Cena before dumping him to the floor and securing his first Rumble victory.
The moment reminded the fans of the value of surprise while simultaneously ensuring Edge would not only appear at WrestleMania, but he would also do so in one of the night's marquee matches.
Perhaps most importantly, it added another incredible accomplishment to a resume already full of them.
6. Mr. Money in the Bank
After a horrible neck injury that put him on the shelf throughout 2003 and an unexpected heel turn in late-2004, Edge rolled into WrestleMania 21 finally ready to prove his doubters wrong by beginning his march to the top of the card with a Money in the Bank victory.
The first bout of its kind, the Money in the Bank ladder match saw six Superstars competing for the right to challenge the WWE or world heavyweight champion whenever they saw fit over the course of the next year.
Despite incredible efforts by Shelton Benjamin, Christian, Kane and Chris Jericho, and a gutsy performance by Chris Benoit, the blossoming villain seized an opening, retrieved the briefcase and set himself up for the most important moment of his career.
Edge's victory solidified the gimmick bout's place on the slate of WWE specialty matches and was ultimately responsible for the match getting its own pay-per-view event every summer.
5. Main-Eventing on the Grandest Stage
Just two years after he fought, clawed and speared his way to the top of the industry with an instant classic against Mick Foley at The Showcase of the Immortals, Edge returned to the biggest stage in professional wrestling as the world heavyweight champion, not to mention the undisputed face of SmackDown.
The heel had become the star around whom the blue brand was booked so it really shouldn't have been a surprise that WWE management, confident in his consistent excellence, booked The Rated-R Superstar in the main event of WrestleMania 24.
His opponent? The Undertaker, the single Superstar more synonymous with the event than anyone. His legendary undefeated streak would be on the line against Edge's title in a high-stakes headliner.
The match, a dramatic and emotional roller coaster, would see The Deadman overcome interference from Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins to capture the title and put an end to Edge's reign of terror. At least for the time being.
For the former champion, though, the match represented the stamp of approval from WWE management. After years of clawing and scratching his way to the top of the card, Edge was finally recognized as one of the elite performers in the company.
4. Hall of Famer
When Edge announced his retirement in 2011 due to a neck injury that threatened paralysis if he took one bump the wrong way, it was only a matter of time before he found himself enshrined in WWE's Hall of Fame.
As it turned out, it would take only a year.
Edge joined the likes of Hulk Hogan, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Eddie Guerrero, Bret "Hitman" Hart and Andre the Giant in the Hall in 2012, the headline member of a class that also featured the great Yokozuna and legendary Four Horsemen.
After years spent proving his detractors wrong, he could bask in his accomplishments and realize the impact he had had on the industry. The induction was a celebration of him as a performer, a man and a legendary figure in sports entertainment.
It was also well-deserved.
3. A Hardcore Breakthrough
Despite a magical cash-in and increased television ratings, there were still concerns backstage about Edge's ability to succeed in a main event role, thus necessitating him dropping the WWE title back to John Cena at the 2006 Royal Rumble.
Frustrated and determined he belonged in the upper echelon of talent, Edge saw his Hardcore match with Mick Foley as the opportunity to stick it to his doubters and firmly entrench himself at the top of the card.
In a brutal and violent match, The Rated-R Superstar and Hardcore Legend stole the show at WrestleMania. The storytelling was superb, the determination from Edge was clear and the pressure on Foley to finally have that one WrestleMania moment that defined him built steadily to the match's crescendo.
At ringside, Lita engulfed a table in flames. Edge took off across the ring and delivered a spear through the ropes, to Foley that drove the iconic Superstar through the table. Chants of "holy s--t" spilled from the stands, and Edge barely made the pin to pick up the win.
Fans had always known Edge was willing to take risks to achieve victory. They had witnessed it numerous times in the TLC and ladder matches that helped put him on the proverbial mat. What they did not know was that he could be that double-tough villain when the time came for it.
They sure knew after WrestleMania 22, a show that finally catapulted him into the main event scene, which he would call home for the remainder of the first half of his career.
2. An Improbable Return
Sometimes in life, you have to take it upon yourself to right wrongs and do things on your own terms.
Such was the case for Edge, who stepped out of retirement and back into the squared circle on January 26 as a surprise entrant in the men's Royal Rumble match.
Greeted by a thunderous ovation from the fans who had packed Minute Maid Park in Houston, he hit the ring and uncorked several spears, including one that nearly turned AJ Styles inside out.
In his first ring action in nearly a decade, Edge would be one of the final three competitors before being eliminated by runner-up Roman Reigns. It was within that match that he planted the seeds for the next chapter of his illustrious career by sending former tag team partner Randy Orton over the top rope.
That one moment sparked a thirst for vengeance within Orton that led to a heinous beatdown the following night on Raw and set Edge up for another dance on the WrestleMania stage.
Above all else, Edge's return at the Rumble was an emotional one that saw fans welcome him back with open arms, embracing him despite the long layoff and accepting him back to the company he helped carry during the second half of the 2000s.
1. Rated-R Champion
With John Cena battered and bloodied following a successful title defense against five challengers inside Elimination Chamber, Mr. McMahon strutted on stage and announced the night was not yet over.
No, the New Year's Revolution event would not end with a triumphant Cena because Edge would be cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase.
The ultimate opportunist marched to the ring, unloaded on Cena with a spear and...failed to keep him down for a count of three. Frustration and desperation set in and he delivered another one.
This time, there was no kicking out.
The referee's hand slapped the mat three times and The Rated R Superstar finally realized his fullest potential, winning the WWE Championship in an unforgettable moment that set the bar extremely high for anyone looking to cash in their Money in the Bank briefcase after him.
The raw emotion that painted his face as he celebrated his monumental victory with Lita to close the show was reflective not only of the moment but of the journey he took to get to it. Though he was a vile villain, a despicable heel, it was impossible not to feel genuinely happy for one of WWE's hardest workers in that moment.
For everything Edge has accomplished and every moment he has been responsible for, his cash-in on January 8, 2006 remains his defining moment.