Most of the professionals wrestlers I have met during my 20-plus-year career have all shared a common dream. We got hooked on wrestling by a certain wrestler and we wanted to follow in that person’s footsteps.
We would all emulate our favourite superstar with our friends growing up. Most of those friends would grow up and pursue other things, but some eir path to making it in the wrestling world.
The road each individual takes to achieving that dream can differ greatly. My path was pretty simple: I was a huge fan. My favourite wrestler — the one I aspired to be like — was Dusty Rhodes.
As a boy, I went to many shows. I was at the inaugural WrestleMania in New York, cheering on Hulk Hogan. I saw an ad in a newspaper seeking people wanting to be in a movie, playing a professional wrestler, no less. I auditioned, didn’t land the part, but I did meet WWE Hall of Famer Johnny Rodz — the man who would become my trainer — there and the rest is my hardcore history.
The only other person I know whose story is similar to mine is that of newly elected WWE Hall of Famer — Canada’s own Edge. As a young boy, Adam Copeland got hooked watching wrestling. His favourite superstar was Hulk Hogan. He, like me, attended many shows, including WrestleMania Vl in Toronto, where he cheered on Hogan. He saw an advertisement in the Toronto Star about an essay contest in which the winner would receive free wrestling training. He won the contest, met his trainers — Sweet Daddy Siki and Ron Hutchison — and, well, the rest is his Rated R Superstar history.
Edge and I first met in 2001 in Los Angeles at an independent show. Edge and his tag-team partner, fellow Canadian Christian, were under contract with WWE and working for a small company at its big yearly show. I was also brought in to help raise the attendance.
We were both tired and hungry. I said “Hey I saw an IHOP down the road. You guys want to go?” Before the food even came to the table, we had hit it off. We discovered we had many mutual friends — most notably Rhino and The Dudley Boys — and talked about working with them, made fun of them and had a very fun meal.
We dressed in same small locker room later at the show. The show concluded and we said our goodbyes. Later that year, I joined WWE. In the years that followed, Edge and I would share many days and nights travelling the world together, sharing laughs, heartaches and becoming family. In all of that time, Edge and I never had an argument.
We would drive hundreds of miles and never put the radio on. Instead we would just tell stories or we would talk about our matches or show pictures or videos of our dogs. He would ask how my kids were doing or we would talk about current news headlines from sports to current events.
And on rare occasions when we would want to listen to music, I would drive and he would plug in his iPad and he would be the DJ. I think I can safely say that if there is any other path he could have taken, it would have been rock star — except for the fact that he can’t sing. Not even a bit.
We shared rooms together, and heck, a few times even beds, at hotels where rooms — and places to sleep — were at a premium. I was with him more than I was with my own family for many years on the road.
Edge’s marvellous career was cut short by a neck injury. At the time, he was at the top of his game — the WWE’s heavyweight champion. But he was forced into retirement at the orders of doctors. It came down to this: he was told if he took one more fall or bad move, he could end up paralyzed or worse — dead. He went out too soon, but he went out on top of the industry.
The neck injury was just one of many he sustained in his illustrious career.
I was with him when he tore his pectoral muscle. I was also with him when he tore his achillies tendon. I could see how beat up he was after matches. Watching him in the ring, you couldn’t tell, but he walked like a 90-year-old with crippling arthritis after.
I would help him carry his luggage to rooms because he had little to no strength in his arms, yet night after night, he go into the ring and do what he most loved doing since he was a kid.
I am very proud to see him being inducted in WWE Hall of Fame this year, but even more proud to call him my friend.
To this day, he randomly sends me text messages: “You miss me?” I always say of course, because I truly do.
Imagine if little Adam Copeland hadn’t picked up that newspaper that day. I, for one, am glad he did because the wrestling world was a better place every time Edge performed. I hope his childhood friend, Christian, gets to induct him in the Hall this year. I wish I could induct him, but I know that won’t happen.
So I take this opportunity to say congratulations, Edge. You not only achieved all of your personal goals, you exceeded them. You made your country proud and you will receive the highest honour that can bestowed upon a career in this business. And nobody deserves it more than you.
Thanks for reading.
Tommy Dreamer is a legendary and influential pro wrestler and a father and husband who has worked for World Wrestling Entertainment, Extreme Championship Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action. Follow him on Twitter — @THETOMMYDREAMER — and check out his website at www.thetommydreamer.com. He can be booked for live appearances through his website.
NOTE: Originally published in The Kingston Whig-Standard on Jan. 21, 2012. All rights reserved.