Judge Paul Pritchard is one step closer to the edge, and he's about to break.
You Think You Know Me?
On April 11, 2011, only days after he had successfully defended his World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio at Wrestlemania 27, Edge entered the ring to announce his immediate retirement from the sport. Everyone watching RAW on TV, not to mention the thousands in attendance, were stunned. There have been many moments where wrestlers have retired, only to return a few months later. This was different; this wasn't kayfabe, this was real life dictating that—should he continue to wrestle—Edge could end up paralyzed due to the effects of breaking his neck several years earlier.
Those who don't follow the sport, or fail to appreciate it—usually those same people who label it fake, without taking into account that it's very difficult to simulate a suplex or take a bump from the top of a ladder—probably had no idea why the sight of a man still in his prime having to walk away from the sport he loved touched so many fans. Put simply: Edge is one of the greatest WWE Superstars of all time. Forget the multitude of titles he has held in the WWF/WWE (he won thirty-one for those who didn't know, including four WWE Championships), it is the quality of his matches and unerring ability to read an audience that saw him held in such high regard.
To commemorate his remarkable career, WWE has released You Think You Know Me? The Story of Edge, a three-disc set that kicks off with a near two-hour long documentary recalling the wrestling career of Adam Copeland, a.k.a. Edge. What's interesting, though not wholly unexpected if you have followed pro wrestling since the Attitude era, is how the first half of this documentary is very much a story of both Adam Copeland and William Jason Reso, a.k.a. Christian. These two friends since sixth grade shared a dream of making it as WWE Superstars, having grown up idolizing the likes of Hulk Hogan and Bret "The Hitman" Hart. The story they tell of how their schoolboy dream became reality is astounding and—whether you enjoy the sport or not—actually inspirational. That these two lifelong friends achieved their dream of being WWE Tag Team Champions—together, no less—is a tale of ambition and sacrifice, and is told beautifully. Members of Copeland's family talk of his passion for wrestling—born from the death of an uncle—while fellow wrestlers Mick Foley, William Regal, CM Punk, Michael Hayes, Rhino, and John Cena talk about his amazing ability to construct matches that pushed the envelope and enthralled the crowd.
Those familiar with the Ruthless Aggression Era will recall how Edge became the most despised man in sports entertainment when news broke of his relationship with Lita, who, at the time, was dating fellow wrestler Matt Hardy. Rather than duck the controversy, not to mention the bad blood this real-life feud caused, You Think You Know Me? tackles it head on. With both Hardy and Lita weighing in with their views, we are given an insight into how Copeland became ostracized by most of the locker room (bar a handful of loyal friends), and how (despite showing remorse for the pain his actions caused) he took the crowd's booing and channeled it into giving them a heel that would be worthy of their derision.
What's remarkable about this documentary is just how much Copeland changed the character of Edge over the course of his career. Much like The Rock, or Chris Jericho, Copeland was keenly aware of the audience's expectations and knew precisely how to get a reaction. From a member of The Brood (with best buddy Christian, and the long-forgotten Gangrel), to his goofing around with Christian during their reign at the top of the tag team division (who can forget their five-second poses for "those with the benefit of flash photography"?), to a singles career that stands up with any of the greats. Equally comfortable being a face or a heel, Copeland also knew when it was time to help up-and-coming stars, as is evident from the time he took Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins under his wing. More important than any of that is how Copeland realized from the very start that it didn't matter if he won or lost in the ring—it's all about putting on a show, and, more so than anyone else, Edge always put on a show.
Along with the documentary, Disc One includes a handful of extras, which includes a very raw promo delivered by Edge during his heated feud with Matt Hardy. We also get what amounts to a deleted scene, which briefly discusses Copeland's time in WCW, before the then-WWF came calling.
Discs two and three of the set are made up of twelve matches, handpicked by Copeland that offer a good—if brief—overview of his career. The immediate highlight is a match from 1995, in which Copeland, fighting as Adam Impact, and best friend Reso, who goes by the name Christian Cage, stage a bout on a remote Indian reservation. With Matt Styker joining Copeland on commentary, we get a frank and fun discussion on the realities of making it as a pro wrestler. The rest of the matches offer perfect examples of why Edge was so well-loved; as his encounter with John Cena in a TLC match shows, Edge would put his body on the line repeatedly, simply to entertain the fans.
The full list of bouts included reads as follows:
• Adam Impact vs. Christian Cage (South Indian Lake, 1995).
• Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. T&A vs. Too Cool in a match for the WWE Tag Team Championship (King of the Ring—June 25, 2000).
• Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero in a No Disqualification match (Smackdown; September 26, 2002).
• Edge vs. Randy Orton in a match for the Intercontinental Championship (Raw; July 19, 2004).
• Edge vs. Matt Hardy in a Loser Leaves Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Raw; October 3, 2005).
• Edge vs. John Cena in a Tables, Ladders & Chairs match for the WWE Championship (Unforgiven; September 17, 2006).
• Edge vs. Shawn Michaels in a Street Fight (Raw; January 22, 2007).
• Edge vs. Undertaker in a match for the World Heavyweight Championship (Wrestlemania; March 30, 2008).
• Edge vs. Christian in a Pick Your Poison Match (Raw; May 17, 2010).
• Edge vs. Kane vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio in a TLC match for the World Heavyweight Championship (Tables, Ladders, And Chairs; December 19, 2010).
• Edge vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Big Show vs. Kane vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Wade Barrett in an Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship (Elimination Chamber; February 20, 2011).
• Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio in a match for the World Heavyweight Championship (Wrestlemania; April 3, 2011).
While I could have happily sat through a few more matches, it's hard to argue with the quality of You Think You Know Me? The Story of Edge, as wrestling fans are given an excellent retrospective on a true legend.
The "Rated R Superstar" is rated N, for not guilty.
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