WrestleMania 36 will mark the first time WWE has no live crowd for its signature show, and it will also be a two-night event. The company has decided the show has to go on, and so did we. WWE offered to media the interviews they couldn’t have done, and we will share them with you all week long. Legends, main roster, and NXT wrestlers, this week is all for them.
Shortly after WrestleMania 27 in 2011, Edge announced to the world he was retiring from wrestling in a heartfelt speech. Edge had a history of neck injuries, and it was thought they had finally caught up with him, and it was believed him wrestling again was as close to impossible as the wrestling world could ever get. However, as all good stories, and a wise WWE champion once said: “Never give up.”
On January 26th, 2020, WWE’s Royal Rumble event took place in Houston, Texas at Minute Maid Park. As the Rumble match edged to its climax, and the 21st participant was about to come out, the words: “You think you know me?” blasted through the arena, and after nine years out, Edge made his return. The live crowd and the millions watching around the world went berserk as they watched ‘The Rated R Superstar’ wrestle again.
Now, Edge is gearing up for a Last Man Standing match with an old nemesis/friend, Randy Orton. Days before the ‘Show of Shows’, Edge answered questions about his return, the unusual circumstances surrounding WrestleMania, and much more.
Being Back in the WWE Universe:
“You know, for me, I had to quickly wrap my mind around the idea that WWE, and wrestling was done for me, in 2011. If I didn’t wrap my mind around that, if I didn’t accept what everyone told me, which was: “You can’t do this,” I think it would have been very unhealthy. So I needed, very quickly, to find things to do and to move on with life and to try and finish off that chapter. The book was still continuing, but that chapter was done.
So as the years past, I was feeling really good, and I started putting the work in, that I thought could be needed to come back, and to go through the whole process of coming back and getting the clearance to come back, that was such a challenge for me, and I thrive on challenges. So then it became the challenge to do something no one has ever done before in any sport or any form of entertainment, which was come back from a triple fusion neck surgery. So that challenge got me through, and once I got back into the fold, and that night at the Royal Rumble, that’s when it all started becoming real. Now it was more than just the challenge and the cardio, and the reps, and getting into a ring in an empty warehouse with friends. Now it was real and truly one of those tangible things, and it was odd.
It is a very new crop of talent that I was excited, and still am excited to be able to go: “Right, I cannot wait to get in there with that person, that person, and that person.” But it was all just this whirlwind thing. I flew on a private jet, I was all secretive, they shuttled me in, in a golf cart and they threw me in this dressing room. It was all just so crazy and whirlwind, and it wasn’t until I got home that I went: “Okay, that happened.” (Laughs) And all of that work put in, it paid off, and now we’re back. Now we’re doing this thing, and from a creative outlet, man, that is so exciting for me because I love telling stories.
I love being involved in the storytelling process, that’s what I get off on, and that’s why acting was so much fun for me because I was still a part of telling and crafting stories. I’m very hands-on with all of these things. I like to be involved in every process of it, from the ground up. So to get back, be in the WWE where I am given that opportunity, and trusted with those things. To be involved in every aspect, whether it’s a camera angle, my gear, my trench coats, whether it’s the music – I’m involved in all of that, and I love that process. I need that in order to be the best dad at home if that makes sense. I have that creative outlet, and I get that out of my system, and when I’m home, I’m dad. I don’t have that creative glut, basically, because I’m still doing my thing. I’m still being Adam, but more importantly, by being Adam, I can be the best dad.”
Thoughts looking back on Royal Rumble 2020:
“You know, I don’t know if I’ve fully wrapped my mind around this whole journey, to be honest, and let alone the moments before the Rumble. I’ve always said that I’ve never been nervous before a performance because if there’s one place in my life, if there’s one place where I knew where I was fully confident in all the variables, it was inside a wrestling ring. No matter what goes down, I am prepared. So I never felt nerves. This, however, at the Royal Rumble, that was the first time I ever felt nerves. I wasn’t sure what to do with those nerves, because like I said, I had never had them.
So I was standing at the bottom of the stairs at what was our Gorilla Position at that baseball stadium, and I had just gotten good luck from Beth and Jay (Christian), and then ran into Lance Storm, and he gave me a little motivational speech, but it was Hurricane that was sending people out. He and I have known each other for a very long time, and I think he saw a look in my eyes that he’s never seen before. So he said: “Hey man, you’ve done this a thousand times, you’ve got this. Just go crush it.” It was so nice to have that circle of very close friends because there’s a lot of new people in the company now that I don’t know. There’s a lot of people that I haven’t interacted with. That I’ll build relationships with, but until now, I haven’t been around, I’ve been gone nine years.
So to go from Beth and Jay, my two closest confidants in the world, to Lance to Hurricane, I mean, they have and always will be in my close tight circle. So that was comforting, and once the music hit, then it was, you can’t explain it. You truly can’t. You can’t do it justice. You can’t put your finger on it. There is no way to explain this melting pot of things that all came together to make this perfect storm. Nine years off after being forced to retire. It’s a story that’s never happened before, and to be in the centre of that, it’s just overwhelming. It really is, and your emotions can’t really cope with it or adapt to it, you have to ride it, and it’s what I did that night. But I don’t know if I still, as I said, fully wrapped my mind around the whole thing. It’s still surreal.”
Being a part of RAW at the Performance Center:
“It was very strange. I can’t lie. It was very strange, but again, almost par for the course with this whole story. That’s how I looked at it. Like, of course, this is happening. I’ve come back after nine years off, and you know, Beth has said this; it’s the resurrection of Edge. If I’m looking at this from a purely selfish, just the singular, my story standpoint, I’m never supposed to do this again. I’ve been told that “That’s it. It’s done.” Somehow, I worked my way back into being able to do this again, and as all of this happens, this crazy, miraculous comeback, then all of this happens. It almost seems apropos just because of the craziness of the whole situation. It almost (laughs)… you can’t write this stuff. So getting there the other night, it almost felt like the next natural chapter of this thing because it’s so unnatural.
It was weird, and it was surreal, and what I had to do fairly quickly was adapt to how I was going to do this. How do you do a promo to an empty room? Well, this is a theatre monologue, if I treat it that way, and on the fly, figure out where am I going to look? Okay, I’m going to look down the barrel of the camera, and I’m going to talk to Randy. I didn’t think about that. I didn’t map it out beforehand. I just went with my instincts. And I will say, having done nine years of acting since I retired and having done all those reps, scenes, and working with all those actors, it’s all paying dividends now because once I got into the situation, I felt like “This is what I do.” Since I retired, I did 99 episodes of TV. That has been so instrumental in what I’ve been doing since I’ve come back to wrestling, and I feel the difference. I feel the difference in my promos. I feel the difference with everything I bring to the table now.
When young wrestlers or anyone asks me for advice, I tell them to take acting classes. It’s an investment in yourself. The absolute best thing you can do, take acting classes because we are part actor. We’re part everything, and what I can say since coming back is having all of that experience has been massive for me. So back to the question as I get verbal diarrhea. It was strange the other night, but once I got going, and it was funny, the package was playing on screen, and I looked at our camera guy, and I said: “I’m gonna be coming pretty much to you down the barrel,” and he was like “What?” I was like, “Yeah”… and he just went, “Okay.” (Laughs) And then it just went where it went, and it was a great challenge, and man, I get off on that. This whole thing, coming back from something you’re not supposed to come back from at 46 years old, cutting promos to empty rooms. It’s all a challenge, and I truly thrive on that stuff.”
Entertainment as escapism, now more than ever:
“In today’s climate, you’re never going to appease everyone. You just need to accept that and understand that. Here’s how I look at things. Right now, the world is on its head, and in times like this, I truly feel the world needs those things to help. It needs entertainment. It needs books. It needs something. Here’s how I’ve always looked at this job, my responsibility is to help you forget about your responsibilities for two or three hours a day, or during that show. That is a huge responsibility. It’s a privilege, and I don’t look past it. I didn’t have it for nine years. Now I come back, and the gravity of that responsibility is not lost on me. Sure it’s entertainment. Yes, we’re jumping around in tights, but, in a time like this, it’s very, very important. I truly believe that.
Now, at the same time, I’m trying to be as responsible as I can to mitigate as much risk as I can. I’m a dad; I have a mother in law who had open-heart surgery a year ago, I need to be careful. So that’s why when going to RAW, I got in my pickup truck, and I drove. All I had to do was get out and get gas. I brought a cooler full of my own food, prepared by myself. I stayed at my condo in Orlando. I didn’t stay at a hotel. I’m trying to do what I can on my end to still be socially responsible, but at the same time, try and give some kind of break from what everyone is going through, and we are all going through it. And I’d like to think there’s enough people out there that understand and appreciate what we’re trying to do.
To me, it’s not a money thing, it’s just, I have a job, I’ve signed a contract, and I work for a company. If I work for a company, any company, let alone the company that put me on the map and gave me every opportunity in the world, I’m gonna be there for work. I will also do what I can to be responsible for my family, and I truly think, almost more than any other time, it’s important for a company like us to do what we do. As long as we continue to do what we’ve been doing, and that’s try and remain as responsible as we can to do it.”
What should people be watching on the WWE Network:
“You can go down any wormhole, that’s the beautiful part. You wanna watch a bunch of Macho Man matches, just punch in Macho Man and wait for the magic. For me, personally, what I really love is the documentaries. I love the 24’s. I love the Ruthless Aggression series that’s out right now. I just finished watching the Nigel McGuiness documentary, and I know Nigel, and I like Nigel, but I didn’t know because I was going through my own story while he was going through his. It’s hard when you’re in the thick of your own thing to understand what’s happening to other people, so that was eye-opening. That’s the reason WWE is, for lack of a better term, the last man standing. It’s the production, and it’s the work those people put in in production. The Adam Pennucci’s of the world, the unsung heroes that nobody knows about. Those guys and girls are putting in hours that you would not believe, and that’s why you get that product that we have.
Sure, you can watch Mid South Wrestling, NWA Mid Atlantic Wrestling. If you decide you wanna watch some Von Erich’s, you have World Class, I mean, it’s all there. If you watch wrestling and there’s something you wanna see, it’s all there. But then you get these documentaries, and you get some behind the scenes stories as to why some of these things took place, or how they took place. To me, that’s fascinating, because I always like to understand the layers and why choices were made, and why things were done, and in hindsight why some maybe weren’t the right decisions. Those are things that are all there, especially now, when there’s quarantines and social distancing and all these things, what a time to go down those wormholes.
Also, what it did, and I realised this after I retired, is I would have young kids come up to me. That probably had just been born or were maybe three years old when I retired, who could start quoting to me things I did in matches that they’d seen or watched. They would say that their dad’s told them to check stuff out and they’d watch it on the Network, and that’s when it really dawned on me, what it could do. There’s kids that can watch Andre The Giant and understand what he meant to the entire industry. And there’s people that can go back and watch The Undertaker’s debut at Survivor Series, to fully grasp what he means to the company. You didn’t have that before, it was VHS tape or maybe other ways, but it’s all right there at your fingertips. And let alone, the little bit out there stuff like The Edge and Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness! (laughs).”
What original WWE Network show he would create:
“An Edge and Christian movie, involving the zombie apocalypse, and as Christian is about to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, the zombie apocalypse breaks out throughout the arena. And then the chase is on, and we wrote a movie. I think that would be fun. Just a completely stupid, ridiculous, Edge and Christian movie, with cameos by Kurt Angle, Steve Austin. Just whoever we have relationships with. Of course, Tommy Dreamer. I think that would be so much fun and absolutely ridiculous.”
NXT and NXT UK talent that impress him:
“There are so many talents, I mean, you could seriously point to everyone on the roster, you really can. Obviously, Ciampa and I have a very close relationship too. You know, we’re both neck guys, for a lack of a better term. So he’s picking my brain a lot, and I love it because he cares, and he’ll try the ideas too, it’s not just lip service. I love Gargano, and absolutely, right now, to me, the guy who is dialled in and has completely found what it is that he is supposed to do is Finn Balor. It’s exciting to watch him right now, man. To me, he, with Gargano, set the template for what an NXT match should be going forward. You got your workhorses like Adam Cole, who’s just out there week in week out, night after night, in the grind. You just have to tip your hat to that guy.
Keith Lee’s so impressive, and I would love to be able to get in the ring with that guy and show him exactly what he is and how he can be. Do you know what I mean? There’s so many, there really is. Velveteen Dream, to me, is this raw, completely natural character. He’s just found his character, and that is so exciting to watch. It’s not just all about moves or 84 superkicks, he has tapped into his character, and it is fun to watch to see where he takes that. The future’s good.
When I look at NXT UK, I love Moustache Mountain. You had Pete Dunne, who came from there, Walter, Imperium. I was watching those Imperium guys before they were Imperium, and I really enjoyed their stuff. I love Flash Morgan Webster. There is just a lot of really, really fun stuff happening. I remember being in their shoes, and that’s invigorating.”
What people should know about the Performance Center:
“Well, you know, I’ve spent some time down there, just in going down to NXT and talking to a lot of talent down there. You know, kind of sitting in on some of their sessions and being involved in Q & A’s with them and everything. The term is state of the art, but it really is. You can hold that Performance Center up to any NFL training combine, any team, any organisation. It stands up and probably above all of those honestly. Man, I wish they had that when I came in (laughs) because it’s basically a factory for wrestling, and there wasn’t that when I came in. You had to just go where you could to pick brains or to try and get experience. You had to find your gyms and come up with diets and workouts.
Now, everything is all under one roof. I mean, you could say that that is a negative. I don’t think it is. I think it gives the talent an opportunity to be able to concentrate on performance. Instead of worrying about where the next show is and how they are going to get to the next show, and putting gas in the car and things like that. Now there’s something to be said for that. Cutting your teeth and paying your dues, and I’m glad I did. But gosh, I would have been in so much better shape if I had that (laughs).”
Why people should tune into WrestleMania 36:
“I think this year more than any year because we’re all in the midst of something we’ve never quite experienced before. The world truly needs outlets, and again, whether that’s books, movies on your iPad. Whatever it is, just to be able to not go on your feed for a couple of hours, and just try and forget and laugh for a couple of hours, and remember what it is to be human. That’s why we’re doing this. There’s one reason, that’s the reason. It’s the same reason that I gravitated to professional wrestling when I was a kid. It made me forget about the bully at school. It made me forget about any kind of anxiety I had, anything that was going on in my life.
That’s what WWE was for me as a kid. It helped me forget about that stuff and get lost in the pomp and circumstance of these larger than life characters, and to see where these storylines would go. Now more than ever, I feel like it’s needed. As long as we’re all responsible. As long as we can mitigate the circumstances as much as we can. Try and be responsible and as safe as we can. Why wouldn’t we try and do this for everyone? And as a performer, that’s what we want to do. And if we can do that, and if people watch and can have fun for a few hours, then our mission is accomplished. It’s a privilege. It’s an honour. It’s also strangely a responsibility, and it’s one that I know all of us don’t take lightly. There’s a reason this show is going on… those are the reasons why.”
WrestleMania 36 will air on the WWE Network on Saturday, April 4th, and Sunday, April 5th.
Special thanks to DS Communication – All pics and videos courtesy of WWE