WWE Hall of Famer Adam "Edge" Copeland became a successful actor during his nearly 10 years away from professional wrestling after what was thought to be a career-ending neck injury, but now that he is back in the ring, he is pursuing two of his biggest passions simultaneously.
Fresh off his clash with Randy Orton at Backlash last month in what was billed as the "Greatest Wrestling Match Ever" by WWE, Edge is set for a starring role in the new action film Money Plane, which will be available via video on demand services beginning Friday.
In the movie, Edge is tasked with pulling off a heist in an airborne casino—known as the "money plane"—after a dastardly criminal played by Kelsey Grammer buys out his debt. In addition to Grammer, Edge stars alongside Thomas Jane and Denise Richards in Money Plane.
In an exclusive interview with Bleacher Report, Edge said he was immediately drawn to the script for Money Plane and had a good feeling he would enjoy being a part of it:
"Part of the reason I thought it would be fun is just that, it was a fun script. It felt like a throwback to movies that I kind of grew up on. Some action flicks that just fly by because they're high octane and also tongue-in-cheek. So, I liked that aspect of it. That to me was fun, and I think at the end of the day, that's the important thing to me is does it feel like it's gonna be fun. This one did.
"It's fun, and I think now more than ever the world needs some fun. You just need an outlet to be able to forget about everything and forget about the news that is going to be hammered into your brain constantly right now. I'm not saying put our head in the sand, but we also just need a break every once in a while, and I'd like to think that this movie could be that because it's just fun. Just turn off your brain for an hour-and-a-half."
Another huge factor for Edge when it came to signing on for Money Plane was the presence of Grammer, who is best known for playing the character of Frasier Crane on the beloved sitcoms Cheers and Frasier. Edge discussed how his late mother, Judy, considered Grammer her favorite actor, and he couldn't pass up the opportunity to work with him:
"When they said Kelsey Grammer's playing the villain, I went, 'Oh man, OK, I gotta do this. I wanna sit down and share scenes with that guy.' I grew up on him, and that's my mom's favorite actor bar none. Some of my fondest memories of growing up were watching Cheers and Frasier with my mom. She passed away about a year-and-a-half before I had this opportunity for the movie, and during her chemo, she would say, 'I just wanna go home and watch Frasier.' So to get this opportunity I was like, 'OK, she's pulling strings somewhere. I'm doing this.'"
Edge called working with Grammer a "huge learning experience," and suggested that he'll be able to take some of the things he learned while working with him to other projects, including both movies and wrestling.
After retiring from pro wrestling in 2011, Edge made his shocking return to the ring in January as part of the 2020 men's Royal Rumble match. Although there had been whispers about a potential return after he got physical at least year's SummerSlam, Edge's return was still among the most shocking and joyous moments in WWE history.
Edge quickly entered into a feud with Orton and beat him in a Last Man Standing match at WrestleMania 36. The hallmark of their rivalry has been their raw and real promos, and Edge believes that his acting experience played a big role in helping him excel in that area:
"That's what's been really exciting about being able to come back and wrestle again because I feel like I have a whole new tool belt that I didn't have before. All I ever wanted to be was a wrestler. I never had aspirations to be an actor, but I also didn't realize the training that wrestling gave me to go into acting. I couldn't have known what acting would give me to bring back to wrestling. Now I do and it's really exciting.
"If there's any positives to pull from this pandemic, because you have to try and find them, for me the positive has been the promos in wrestling with the pandemic. I can dip into things that I didn't have before and try and bring them forward and try and bring more of a reality to the promos instead of the over-the-top kinda wrasslin' thing."
The Last Man Standing match was only the beginning of the feud between Edge and Orton, as they reconvened about a month later and began building toward Backlash. Despite the fact that it had been over nine years since Edge last had a normal singles match, WWE attached the tagline of "Greatest Wrestling Match Ever" to his bout against Orton.
Although such a label is subjective, there is no question that Edge and Orton delivered a fantastic match, and Edge took great pride in doing so:
"I think we blew away a lot of people's expectations. I think a lot of people almost wanted to see us fail [laughs]. And I feel like we had a hell of a wrestling match. I think it's impossible to say there's a 'greatest' anything in terms of entertainment or art. What's the greatest painting ever? What's the greatest song ever? What's the greatest band ever? What's the greatest movie ever? Chances are most people are gonna say something different.
"Once I take that out of the equation—don't get me wrong there's still that added pressure to that—but I think the added pressure was I truly haven't had a straight wrestling match in nine-and-a-half years. So, there's an element of truth in our promos that we can draw on because that's true. Can I do this in that regard at this level? I don't know, we're gonna find out. So, that for me was the biggest thing. It was a test for me to see where I was truly at. About five minutes in I realized where I was at and then it became fun. Then I wasn't even thinking about greatest wrestling match ever, this, that, the other. And the way I tried to look at it going into it was really to try and make it a love letter to wrestling. A love letter to this thing that I grew up loving."
Edge and Orton put on one of the best straight singles matches in recent memory, but Edge initially didn't have much of an opportunity to celebrate his accomplishment since he suffered a torn triceps during the match.
The 46-year-old veteran noted that his doctor told him his triceps was likely already partially torn going into the match since the tissue was "pretty diseased."
Edge has since undergone surgery to repair the injury, and he has a positive outlook about his health and eventual return, especially since the time away will allow him to continue evolving as a performer:
"I feel good all things considered. I know the drill. I've torn stuff before, and I know what I have to do. And then just nose to the grindstone and get back and try and continue this trip that Edge is on for this last incarnation of Edge. And that's a lot of fun. A lot of times I'll pull from characters that really touch me, and I look at Rocky Balboa, where Rocky was fighting Antonio Tarver ... I'm like, 'OK, there's a character that I can get from.' Logan, that's another character I wanna dip from. Even Mike from Better Call Saul, Jonathan Banks, there's pieces of each of those characters that I want to pull into this incarnation of Edge because I do want it to be different. I want the wrestling to be different and feel different and not just do the greatest hits."
In addition to adding layers to his character, Edge wants to continue to alter his in-ring style as well. He mentioned childhood heroes Bret Hart, Nick Bockwinkel, Curt Hennig and Terry Funk as those he wants to emulate.
Edge has made it clear that settling the score with Orton will be the first priority when he returns to the ring, but he has a lengthy list of desired opponents once the program with Orton is done.
Some of the names Edge mentioned include Seth Rollins, Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura, Matt Riddle, Apollo Crews, Damian Priest, Finn Balor, Tommaso Ciampa and Aleister Black.
A few of the Superstars Edge mentioned are currently in NXT, and while NXT has long been considered WWE's third brand behind Raw and SmackDown by many, that perception has changed over the past several months with NXT moving from WWE Network to USA Network.
Edge doesn't subscribe to the theory that NXT is a step down, either, as he said he would be more than willing to have a stint on the black-and-yellow brand:
"I'm wide open, I'll go anywhere, I really would. I'd love to go down there [to NXT]. I think what I want to do now would be completely different than a lot of what's going on down there, too. ... The only way to truly do that is to be in there with the talent. You can say it 'til you're blue in the face in the back and maybe some of it will stick, but when you're in there with those people, that's when it can truly happen. That was part of the process in wanting to come back once I found out that I could.
"I felt like I was just getting to that point when I was forced to retire. I was just working the Dolph Zigglers, the Drews [McIntyre] and the [Alberto] Del Rios and teaching them, and then it was just taken. Now those guys are veterans, so now I can get back in there with those guys and have a completely different match than I did 10 years ago. But then there's this whole new crop, so yeah, I'll go to NXT for sure. I'll go to SmackDown. I'll go to I don't care, I just want to get in there with talent that I think can really do something and learn something."
Edge referred to the second act of his wrestling career as a "bonus" since he never thought it would be possible for him to return to doing what he loves.
One thing the time away from wrestling did for Edge is allow him to discover another love in the form of acting. Because of that, Edge wants to continue acting and wrestling in the coming years:
"I definitely wanna keep acting because I realized in these nine years how much I love it and how much of a creative outlet it is for me. It really did make having to swallow that retirement pill much easier. If I can pull off both, that's ridiculous, that's a dream come true. Obviously there'd be a lot of juggling and things like that, but I would love that. Most importantly, as long as I can be dad and partner first and foremost, and then still pull off all of these other things, great."
The Rated-R Superstar added that he "probably" has about three years of wrestling left in him and wants to do as much and face as many of his desired opponents as possible during that time.
Edge acknowledged that he's going to be busy in the coming years, but he also expects it to be fun, which seems to be his biggest motivating factor at this point in his career.