Edge: An Old Friend on a New Path

Though it feels like a lifetime ago, this year’s Royal Rumble produced one of the most stirring moments in recent wrestling memory. Nine years removed from being forced into retirement, Edge returned, soaking in an explosion of emotion and entering the Royal Rumble match. The audience’s reaction spoke volumes, creating a raw excitement befitting this moment, a visual that fans never expected to see. Months of rumors and reports couldn’t make this predictable, Edge was now officially back. Best of all, he looked right at home too.

Edge’s arrival provided a jolt to an already memorable Royal Rumble match, performing admirably before crossing paths with a familiar face. An old ally would soon become a rival, as Edge eliminated Randy Orton and swiftly planted the seeds for his WrestleMania destination. Edge didn’t win the Royal Rumble but he certainly stole the headlines, with his return capturing the audience’s imagination almost immediately. The current landscape wasn’t without legends or nostalgia but there was a different feel to this instance, an authenticity that transcended those descriptions.

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In truth, Edge never got the chance to conclude his own story. Instead, it was unforgettably taken from him. As a result, fans found themselves in a similar position, left without closure after Edge’s hall of fame career. That element always felt palpable in Edge’s sporadic appearances too, with his mere presence commanding immense respect. There was a connection beyond that though, a pure adoration that felt unique even among mega-stars. Though he’d been a focal figure for years, the audience never viewed Edge as just another cog on the wheel.

Edge retired as the World Heavyweight Champion, his time as a headline act still ongoing and from the outside looking in, without an expiration date in sight. Naturally, fans were left wanting more, a feeling that seems to be increasingly rare. All of these factors created that Royal Rumble visual though, a truly striking sigh of relief, the united celebration that finally, Edge’s career could continue. Initially, the Orton matchup seemed more like a formality, with 24 hours of fantasy booking immediately following the Rumble’s close.

Dream matches were now available, generational clashes that once seemed impossible. First though, Edge had to officially get this portion of his career underway, defeating Orton at WrestleMania. However, that perception would be incredibly short-lived as in just one RAW segment, Edge and Randy Orton laid the foundations for a programme that could live long in the memory. The potential was clear from that starting point and thankfully, it’s been maximized since. Edge and Orton have a unique chemistry but in recent months, they’ve achieved an immense amount considering the circumstances.

This feud was always going to be rooted in their history but in execution, Edge and Orton have added far more depth than their tag team ties alone. On sheer star-power, this match carried weight, but an incredibly compelling character clash has added layers that have kept this path fresh throughout. Preaching grit, Edge hasn’t been stuck as the silent, sympathetic babyface opposite Orton but instead, he’s come armed with his own verbal weaponry. Edge has made believable critiques of Orton, separating them even further from the briefly reunited allies seen at Royal Rumble.

These two characters may be connected but they feel truly at odds right now, polar opposites with a degree of complexity that frankly, is seldom found in modern rivalries. On paper, this moment could’ve felt like a routine comeback win but with WrestleMania just days away, it actually feels like the most engrossing element of this year’s event. That’s a credit to the performance of both men, refusing to rest on their laurels and instead, making the most of every minute of TV time sent their way.

Orton’s performances here have rightly received praise but in Edge’s case, this whole process has been incredibly promising. After almost a decade away from full-time appearances on WWE TV, Edge has slotted straight back into the position he once filled, a position that ironically, had almost vanished in his absence. There’s an art to Edge’s role here, painting a picture that allows marquee matches to flourish without a title belt or blockbuster stake. That’s been sparse in recent years but it’s rich in this match, a direct example of Edge’s impact.

It can’t be overstated how seamless this return has already been, with Edge immediately re-establishing himself as one of the most dynamic performers and personalities in all of WWE. That feat has appeared incredibly easy in Edge’s hands but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Many years have passed and yet no adjustment felt necessary, Edge simply fit right in but not as an ordinary piece of the puzzle and instead, a standout player once again. That speaks to Edge’s original skill set as thus far at least, it’s aged rather gracefully.

Assisted by staggering resumes, name value and a Last Man Standing stipulation, Edge and Orton have crafted a fresh story, utilizing the past but not relying on it. Just as expected, this isn’t a matter of nostalgia at all, this is simply the re-introduction of a headline act that at long last, gets a chance at closure. Dream matches await Edge during the upcoming years but the optimism for those couldn’t be stronger after seeing the inspiration in his work opposite Orton.

He’s clearly thankful for this moment and though the dynamic with Orton is unique, it speaks to Edge’s value that he’s already created such interest and excitement. If Edge is a junkie for his connection to the crowd, the feeling is mutual. There’s a real sincerity to this return and the response proves exactly that, fans believe in Edge’s pursuit here, both inside the ropes and out. Nine years ago, Edge left his final WrestleMania as champion and after over a decade of appearances, his time on that stage appeared complete.

With some wonderful memories behind him though, Edge now looks to create some new ones. This year’s WrestleMania won’t be like the ones seen in Edge’s highlight reel but the circumstances can’t spoil this story, they can only take a shine off it. Whether it’s a packed stadium or an empty Performance Center, Edge is back, and no one knows what matches are in his future. After years of reflecting on his career in retrospect, there’s a real beauty to that mystery, an excitement to the possibilities.

Edge’s journey is back in motion and the destination is once again unclear. If this starting point is anything to go by though, some special years are in Edge’s future. There may not be a ton of matches in that time, but I sense we’ll remember and, in some cases, cherish the ones we get. Wrestling fans are familiar with comebacks, they aren’t uncommon but yet, there’s an energy to this that’s different. A palpable passion, an unrestrained intensity. That makes the story with Orton even more compelling, it’s honest.

The fans won’t be in attendance for this particular moment but Edge’s connection with the audience hasn’t wavered an inch. Ideally, packed stadiums are indeed back in Edge’s future but that’s for the future alone as right now, WrestleMania is the only focus necessary. An Edge singles match is just days away and for many onlookers, it’s the most exciting part of this entire event. If that alone doesn’t make you intrigued by this next chapter, I’m not sure what will.

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