There’s nothing quite like a compelling comeback story to delight sports entertainment fans. Fans have long memories and deep emotional investments in old favorites, and there is no thrill like hearing familiar entrance music as a returning athlete takes the ramp after a long absence. When The Edge declared for the 2021 Royal Rumble, he was picking up where he left off in 2020, when he returned to the ring after a nine-year absence due to a precarious spine injury. After participating in 2020’s Rumble, Backlash, and WrestleMania 36, an injury from Backlash sidelined him for several months. In 2021, Edge came roaring back, winning the men’s 2021 Royal Rumble, defeating longtime rival Randy Orton the following night on RAW, and creating a furor of synergy by strolling into NXT and SmackDown. As the winner of the Royal Rumble, Edge has the victors privilege, at the moment: he can pursue any championship he chooses.
His next stop was NXT, where wife Beth Phoenix is on the announce desk. He called out current NXT champion Finn Balor and challenger to the belt Pete Dunne, saying that he was “intrigued” by the NXT belt, which he had never held, and seemed to be leaning towards a WrestleMania 37 match for the NXT championship against whoever held the belt by the end of NXT Takeover. However, his appearance on SmackDown later that same week hinted at a more high profile rivalry, with current Universal Champion Roman Reigns. Since his 2020 return, Reigns has crafted a new, dominant, ruthless heel persona, to great acclaim within the industry and with fans. His heel turn is revitalizing SmackDown itself, and the brands of Jey Uso and Kevin Owens. The days of karaoke contests on Miz TV are gone, replaced by Roman’s unhinged quest to dominate the roster and elevate his family’s honor by keeping the Blue Brand on red alert with his volatile attacks.
Reigns opened the February 5 broadcast of SmackDown calling Edge out…only to be enraged that Edge had not yet arrived. The Head of the Table was clearly not accustomed to being kept waiting. Reigns heaped abuse and complaints on Edge’s name in his absence, quite a different reception than the respectful silence to which Balor and Dunne had listened to Edge size them up on NXT. When Edge did show up, it was on his time, and he clearly relished that the Universal Champion was clearly shaken by his disrespect. The seeds of a feud-Roman’s anger at Edge’s tardy appearance, seen as a personal affront, and Edge’s insouciant revelry in taking the Tribal Chief down a peg-were all front and center, and the chemistry between the two was palpable and intriguing.
If Edge pursues a feud with Roman Reigns, it will have far more consequence than going the NXT route, and far more weight than the lackluster Goldberg v. Drew McIntyre feud that kicked off 2021. Unlike Goldberg, who first gained notoriety in WCW, Edge is a WWE/WWF veteran who was a key figure in the storied Attitude Era. He is a seven-time World Heavyweight Champion, four-time WWE champion, five-time Intercontinental Champion, former United States champion, and first Money in the Bank ladder match winner. He has the accolades, history, and scathing mic ability to be a compelling foil to the current alpha of the WWE, Reigns. Few, at this point, can legitimately demand respect from the accomplished Reigns, but Edge is a Hall of Famer who has held various titles in the company multiple times, and was an active participant in one of its defining eras and commercial heyday. He can toy with Roman in a way that no one else can.
Edge’s Royal Rumble win, and his victory against Orton on RAW prove that he is still championship material, and claiming the Universal Championship would be an upset to Reigns which would surely push him to his most drastic actions yet. A WrestleMania 37 match between the two would surely push both to the limits of their respective, evenly matched arsenals-both are even given to finishing with a spear. Will Edge, who has prior injuries to consider, be able to withstand Roman’s Superman punch, and survive his guillotine? Their personalities, abilities, and histories make this the match to wish for on the WrestleMania card.
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