2020 was perhaps the only year to both simultaneously be the longest and shortest year of our lifetimes. Therefore, it is odd to think about Edge‘s genuinely heartwarming Royal Rumble return in 2020 as both feeling like a lifetime and a minute ago, at the same time. Whereas it is usually unheard of to say a year peaked in January, that argument can definitely be made for 2020 and Edge’s surprise return only fuels that argument. Whether it feels like a minute or a year since, today marks one whole year (that being twelve calendar months) since Edge made his WWE return. So join us as we journey back through 2020 (sorry) to revisit the return that many believed was impossible.
Edge and the Retirement That Broke Hearts
Rewind to WrestleMania XXVII way back in 2011. Edge had just successfully defended his World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio. A long-time veteran of the WWE, having served well over a decade, the then-37 year old Edge showed no signs of slowing down. That reign as World Heavyweight Champion was his seventh, a record, and – combined with his WWE Championship reigns – made him an eleven-time World Champion within the WWE. His world championship record is one to rival the likes of Triple H, John Cena, Ric Flair and long-term friend-and-foe, Randy Orton. All of this long-term success, combined with his victory over Del Rio at WrestleMania, meant that what would come next would shake the WWE to its very core.
On April 11, 2011, Edge would effectively retire from the professional wrestling – vacating his World Heavyweight Championship before transitioning into a career in television, featuring in such shows as Haven and Vikings. Of course, he would also c0-host the largely entertaining Edge & Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness alongside long-time friend and tag team partner, Christian. His retirement was not the “work” many thought it was; it was a genuinely heartbroken Edge, confirming to the audience that he could work his dream job no more. In 2012, he would enter the WWE Hall of Fame, further confirming the audience’s fears; that they had seen the last of Edge inside a wrestling ring (at least an active wrestler). Fast-forward to 27 January 2020.
The Return That Was Not Meant to Be
Royal Rumble 2020. A little older, a little grayer; but the same old Edge who was – despite being a top heel throughout the majority of his solo run – a truly beloved WWE superstar was finally back. Perhaps the number 21 – his Royal Rumble number in 2020 – is to be symbolic. As we all know, Edge’s return would come to a heartbreaking halt, thanks to a tricep injury gained during the match billed the Greatest Wrestling Match Ever against Randy Orton at BackLash. Maybe the number 21 symbolizes that 2021 is going to be Edge’s year. If he can stay healthy and avoid any further injury, there is no limit as to what he can achieve. Whereas he is certainly in the late autumn of his career, Edge can still achieve anything because even now, he remains a highly talented and popular performer and largely maintains the backing of the WWE Universe.
In terms of shocking returns, it may well go down as one of the best ever. Yes, there were rumors during the week of Royal Rumble 2020 that Edge was about to return – but they did not lessen the impact. The nature of Edge’s injury – that being a serious neck injury – is usually one that finishes careers off for good. Just like Daniel Bryan‘s return two years earlier, it was one that many believe would never happen and if you were to re-watch Royal Rumble 2020 and read the expression on Edge’s face as he storms down the ramp – the sheer emotion he displays shows that maybe he never saw it possible. Nine years is a long time to be retired in pro-wrestling and as time went on, as one year became two and two years became four, it looked like Edge would never wrestle again. But he did and he went on to have an excellent appearance in the Royal Rumble and a very good feud with Randy Orton. We can only hope 2021 brings us new feuds and matches for the Rated R Superstar.
What Lies in Store in 2021
On last night’s episode of Monday Night RAW, Edge announced he will be returning once more in the 2021 Royal Rumble match. The Edge of today is different to the Edge of 2011. Older, wiser, and maybe a little bit slower, but the heart is still there. Now a family man happily married to former Women’s Champion, Beth Phoenix and already wearing a WWE Hall of Fame ring, alongside being an eleven-time World Champion, Edge has nothing left to prove. He is here to go out on his own terms; his career won’t go down in history as one brought to a tragic, premature end by an injury. When the time is right, Edge will choose how his career should end and – for as long as we still have him – we should enjoy the ride.
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