If Edge plans to continue wrestling, he should look to do so outside of the WWE.
Who, in WWE, is worthy of claiming Edge’s scalp? That is the question I ask of anyone who says Edge should stay with WWE.
The Rated R Superstar has made it clear he plans on retiring soon. Even if he didn’t want to retire, he’d have to soon. A man with a history of severe neck issues nearing 50 years of age, time is not on Edge’s side. So surely, some would argue, he should stay with WWE. All the memorable moments of his career (other than wrestling as Sexton Hardcastle) have been under the WWE banner, whether it be the Spear from the top of a ladder to Jeff Hardy, the live sex celebration, or his return after 9 long years away from his passion. It’s all been with the fed. To start afresh now would be a waste, unnecessary. To that I say, did you even read the sentences before this?
Edge has contributed so much to the wrestling industry. Moment after moment, at the cost of his own health, mental and physical. He’s been part of many wrestling fans’ youths and childhoods, he’s pioneered forms of wrestling, he’s given hope to so many, been a hero to even more. He’s Edge. His career may not hold as much notoriety as say, the Streak, but it should still be treated with the respect and value it deserves. The opportunity present here cannot be wasted like the Streak was. In ending Edge, you can make someone else.
But no one in WWE, in this writer’s opinion, would be worthy of the honor. And I know some might argue that therein lies the point of giving someone Edge’s retirement-give it to someone who needs a shot in the arm, have it be that first big step in a momentous run. But the wrestler in person needs to have potential and needs to make sense. Wrestling is, let’s not forget, an art form. It’s about telling stories.
Dominik Mysterio has been floated around as a potential last feud for Edge. Before the endless feud with the Judgement Day Edge was seemingly put to bed at Wrestlemania, this writer might have agreed with the idea. The younger Mysterio has the kind of nuclear heat that’s hard to come by, and retiring a star even lapsed and non-fans recognize would permanently establish him as one to watch.
And yet, no. The nature of Edge’s feuds, how drawn out they can be for health reasons, has made any involvement of his with Judgement Day members feel like an odyssey to get through. Do we really want to dig that skeleton up for another six months?
Grayson Waller has also been suggested as a potential successor. And if we were talking about NXT’s Grayson Waller, I’d also say this would be a good idea. In WWE’s third brand, Waller was a reliable, established act, great in-ring, with a talk show segment that always drew heat, great promos, etc. He even had a sadistic side, as shown by his unrepentant attitude to injuring the eye of Apollo Crews, almost blinding the former Titus Worldwide member. It was like Edge was looking in an Australian mirror.
But since he’s come to Smackdown, you might be forgiven for asking, who the hell is Grayson Waller? Most of this, it has to be said, cannot be blamed on Waller. Sustaining an injury just before his jump to the main roster, being at the whims of a senile old alleged sex offender, and his most notable segment to date being an absolute slog of an exchange with Cena at Summerslam, it doesn’t feel like fate or creative is behind Waller at the current time. With a year’s build, he might be a worthy successor to Edge. But Edge has made it clear we don’t have a year.
And finally, perhaps the most controversial of the proposed successors to the Ultimate Opportunist’s throne, Austin Theory. Theory is undeniably a controversial figure, much like Edge was in his youth, but the similarities, at least in my eye, end there. Edge has, since early in his career, had a personality, a driving force, something that makes him stand out. Theory is just Generic Heel Template 5.
There needs to be a narrative, there needs to be themes, and there needs to be…something. And Theory, in recent times, has been the opposite of something. Like a black hole of relevancy and interest, you’d be forgiven for thinking the US title had stopped existing while Theory held it because, for all intents and purposes, it did. Aside from a match against Cena and some stellar defenses against Rollins, Theory’s title reign has been nothing. He is nothing. Mysterio beating him for the title felt like a mercy kill.
Theory has no defining traits. He doesn’t take selfies in the ring anymore, he’s no longer visibly associated with Vince McMahon (thank god for that), and none of what he says or does is original in any sense. He is just another heel. And that, in a nutshell, is why Edge shouldn’t stay with WWE.
If this is the final stretch of the former Brood member’s career, if we really are in the winter of Sexton Hardcastle as a performer, it needs to be spent elsewhere. Edge still has so much to give to the industry before he goes and can do so much to help young careers. But he cannot do that with stars who haven’t been built up well enough to receive the boost retiring him could bring, stars without the capacity to hold his superior star power. And he cannot help the industry in a company that only cares about how much money the industry can bring them, not about the art that the industry produces.
If Edge wants to end his career in a satisfying manner and avoid the same fate as, for example, Kurt Angle, he should not stay with WWE.