Edge’s career can be defined by any number of things.
You need look no further than the Canadian-born legend’s pro wrestling resume:
* An 11-time World Wrestling Entertainment World Champion;
* One of the most decorated superstars in WWE history, having captured 31 championships in a career that spanned some 15 years;
* He was an integral part (along with his best friend Christian) of one of the greatest — if not the greatest — eras of tag-team wrestling in history;
* At 38 years young, he’s a WWE Hall of Famer, inducted by Christian.
Those are just some of his accomplishments. What can’t be measured are the countless fans he has won over along the way, the kids who ask for an Edge T-shirt, the fans who cart signs to live events professing their admiration for the self-proclaimed Rated-R Superstar; the people willing to wait for hours in line for a photograph, an autograph or just a simple hello.
Yes, Edge can be defined in so many ways. And deservedly so.
But Adam Copeland, the man behind the moniker, remains the humble Canadian today he was when he set out down that path of greatness.
While his former employer, WWE, possesses the rights to the name Edge, it’s Copeland who holds all the memories. The fact that he no longer controls the name he helped define doesn’t bother him.
“For me, Edge was just a character,” he said during a telephone interview this week. “I never introduced myself as (him). I never really worried about what people can advertise me as. It doesn’t really matter to me. I’ve always just introduced myself as Adam Copeland.
“I never really thought too much about it,” he added.
Since abruptly retiring from pro wrestling on April 11, 2011 at the urging of doctors, Copeland has kept busy, filming various projects, making occasional appearances and adjusting to life after wrestling.
His schedule now is vastly different from his days of travelling from city to city, sometimes country to country, all in the name of sports entertainment.
What then, is a typical week in the life of this retired superstar?
“It varies week to week now,” Copeland said. “Whereas before it was pretty standard … travel four to five days a week, and then try and recoup and refill the tank for two days, now … I’ll be gone for six weeks, then come back, have two weeks, then be gone for a weekend, then come back and have a week and a half. It’s kind of all over the place in that respect. I was gone for most of the summer, to Halifax to shoot (the television series) Haven.
“Did that, and put off my neck surgery to do this appearance for Tommy,” Copeland said.
That appearance would be the debut House of Hardcore show, which happens Saturday night in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The Tommy to which he refers is Dreamer, the legendary hardcore wrestler, the brainchild of House of Hardcore and one of Copeland’s best friends.
“Ah, Tommy, Tommy,” Copeland mused, when asked about his relationship with Dreamer. “He is a complete moron; and generally that’s what I seem to surround myself with,” he joked. “You get me, him and Christian into a room — and then you throw Kane in as the straight man — it’s just … ridiculousness,” he offered, before turning serious.
“We’ve travelled a lot together,” Copeland said of Dreamer. “I’d be on generally last, and pretty exhausted after a 40-minute match or something … pretty beat up. Tommy would always grab the keys and drive and he’s not the greatest driver. He’s afraid of very weird things like purple lightning at night, tornadoes and fog … it’s a bad combination for driving, but I just let him.”
“Great stories, great memories … and he just always has the ability to make me laugh,” he added.
Helping out his friend with his debut show was a no-brainer for Copeland.
“When (Dreamer) was talking about doing the show and everything, I was like ‘well I’m supposed to get neck surgery, we’re trying to do it sometime in October, but maybe if we push it back till November, I can get the show in, do that and then … I can enjoy my October and then go under the knife.’ ”
Neck surgery is pretty serious business. Putting that off in the name of friendship speaks loudly of the relationship.
“There are few people I can honestly say from the industry that I’ll maintain contact with. You can probably count them on one hand, maybe if you’re pushing it, two,” Copeland said, emphasizing the words probably and maybe. “And Tommy would be one of them, without a doubt.”
Obviously fans won’t be treated to a Copeland match, but that doesn’t mean he won’t contribute.
“It’s strange in a way, because it’s my first non-WWE thing I’ve done since, like ’97,” he said.
Asked if he has had any ill feelings come his way from his former employer over doing the House of Hardcore gig, he quickly answered no.
“Haven’t heard a thing,” Copeland said. “All I hear is from people saying ‘it’s on the Internet,’ which, it’s got to be true then …” he said, sarcastically.
While on the subject, he quickly cleared up a rumour that eminated from his recent WWE SmackDown! appearance in Philadelphia, after which he was reported to have have been offered another contract by WWE.
“I wasn’t offered another contract. I don’t know where people get their news from,” he added, calling the appearance “another day at the office.”
If there are bad feelings out there, Copeland said, “nobody has said anything to me.”
The site of the House of Hardcore show, the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, is a place Copeland is very familiar with.
“(I’ve) been in Poughkeepsie, actually at the Mid-Hudson, quite a few times over the years with WWE,” he said. “I know that building and the parking at the side. I always remember places by the parking. I remember the parking there for the boys was really bad,” he added, even managing to remember his his last appearance there. “I think the last time I was there, I wrestled Randy Orton.”
What, Copeland was asked, does House of Hardcore present for the wrestling industry?
“I think it can be a place that I know Tommy kind of wants it to be — where guys can have a little bit more freedom to maybe not have quite as many restraints,” he said. “That doesn’t mean light bulbs or any of that crap. I think it just (means) if guys want to go out and try some different things, they’ll have the freedom to do it.
“And I’m sure they’ll be told ‘hey, that didn’t work,’ but you don’t know unless you try. I think you’ll probably have the Young Bucks and (Brian) Kendrick and (Paul) London go out and try a million things,” he said of some of the stars on tap at the debut show. “Half of them might work, half of them might not, but it will be cool to watch the process of what does and doesn’t. Or where things should be tweaked.”
Which brings Copeland back to more of his reasons for wanting to be there, beside his friend Dreamer, on his big night.
“I told Tommy … ‘man I don’t mind helping out, helping guys put their ideas together in a way that makes sense, or helping guys after the fact if they want,’ and just kind of being hands-on with (Dreamer) in the back and help him out in that respect.”
That’s something that is a little foreign to the wrestling veteran, believe it or not.
“I’ve had a lot of young guys come up and ask me throughout the years, and it’s always nice to see them implemented and then when it works, it’s even nicer. It’s like ‘OK, good, I didn’t give bad advice.’ But I’ve never been in a backstage role where I wasn’t also wrestling, too. That could be kind of neat, just to, I guess for lack of a better term, kind of give back in that respect.”
And, of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a Hall of Fame superstar on hand for the fans.
“What I can do is still sign autographs, and meet people and take pictures and things like that,” Copeland added.
“I don’t know what I’ll be doing. I told him ‘you know, if you want to do a promo, we can do that too.’ It’ll be cool. Rhino’s there and he’s one of the handful,” he added, referring to those he considers his true friends.
Where Copeland goes after House of Hardcore, neck surgery and rehab remains to be seen.
“I have a couple of appearances and then I’m at the New York Comic Con with the Haven cast. Then from there I’ve cleared the docket just to be able to recuperate from the neck surgery and then I figured I’d take it from there.”
While some might shudder at the unknown, Copeland is not among them.
“I kind of like the fact that it’s wide open to go after whatever I want. It’s nice to not feel constrained and go ‘OK, well I have to get back to do this.’ No, for the time, this is my fourth surgery, and this is the first time where I can go ‘OK, I can just take my time, recuperate, not kill myself in the gym with rehab and therapy to get back. It’s my neck, so there’s not a lot of therapy I can do anyway. I just kind of have to sit there and let it heal. It’s a nice place to be … to kind of have the reins on my future.”
While he’s not sure what is next move is, Copeland is certain about one thing: he has no regrets.
“I think if I would have wrestled another five or seven years, I would have had regrets,” he said. “At this point, the rest of my body feels great. My neck will give me days, obviously, but I think once I get the surgery and they take the pressure off of my spinal cord, I’m going to feel like a million bucks. I’m much more active than other dudes my age, I know that. When I run into the guys, and they’re all limping, and kind of walking like Boris Karloff, and I’m running laps, I kind of look at it and go ‘yeah, I think this happened for a reason.’ From a physical standpoint, this is the healthiest I’ve ever felt.”
For those who wondered if anyone foresaw the abrupt end of his career because of neck injuries, not even the man himself was 100% sure.
“None of us did,” Copeland said. “I knew there were issues, but we didn’t the extent of what the issues were. It kind of caught all of us — me probably least of all just because I was like ‘whoa, something weird is happening here…’ I knew something (was wrong). No one else really knew because I didn’t tell anybody else. I think Christian was the only who knew because he rode with me. And he knows me. Him, I’ll confide in. And Tommy, there were nights where he carried my bags up for me because I had no strength in my arms. He knew, too. But generally, it was like you just go out, you do your thing and you don’t say anything and then you get back and you do it again.”
While a case can be made that having one’s career cut short by a neck injury is far from the storybook ending, there is no disputing the that Adam Copeland fulfilled his boyhood dreams. Heck, he lived them, exceeded them, lived them again and exceeded even those.
Not even he — as a young Hulkamaniac in Orangeville, or as a student under the guidance of influential trainers like Ron Hutchison or Sweet Daddy Siki — could have predicted what the future had in store. And what he had in store for the future.
“I knew certain things,” he said. “I knew I was going to get to the WWE. I never doubted that. I assumed I’d do good. I never thought it would get to the point that it did. At a certain point, I think it was like the third World title, it was like ‘huh,’ ‘alright.’ And then the eight past that was just like ‘OK, now it’s getting ridiculous. This is awesome, but never expected that’ … never expected to be retiring at 37 … never expected to be in the Hall of Fame by 38. Those are things you can’t expect. It just kind of things that’ll blow you away and (make you) kind of go ‘wow, that was pretty awesome.’ It was a charmed career.”
A charmed career, indeed. Defined by any number of things.