A Song for Whoever: Edge & Larry Sweeney Edition

BOSS LADY RAY: There isn’t much I can say about Edge and his shock retirement that hasn’t already been said this week. We can’t, however, let it pass without comment. The outpouring of love for Adam Copeland over the past seven days has been astonishing. I’m not for a second suggesting he doesn’t deserve it. Quite the opposite. I just mean it’s been a long time since I’ve seen such universal affection for a single wrestler.

At 3:00am on Tuesday morning, the wind blowing through a forgotten, open window woke me up. I was suddenly struck with insomnia. To entertain myself I opened Twitter to see if anything interesting was happening on Raw. Edge was retiring. I assumed it was a story. There have been so many false goodbyes in the WWE lately and there were no signs of injury at Wrestlemania. But the more my Twitter feed refreshed, the more it became apparent that it was a very real farewell. I resisted the urge to turn on the television. Feeling sleepy again I went back to bed. When my alarm woke me up I returned to Twitter to find it awash with mournful messages tagged with #ThankYouEdge. Clearly I hadn’t just dreamt it.  Before I’d even got up I navigated my way to YouTube on my phone and watched the speech North Americans had been reeling over four hours earlier. I had a little cry.

.....as did he.

One of the things I’ve really been taken aback by this week is just how well respected and very much needed Edge is backstage. Curt Hawkins’ video tribute was especially lovely.

It must be an incredible feeling to make the difficult decision to take your ship to shore for the final time, knowing that not only your audience are going to miss you, but that your peers will miss you even more. The extended send-off WWE sprung on Edge on this week’s Smackdown was even more touching than his big announcement on Raw. And yes, I definitely cried.

The thought that keeps coming back to me is that Edge can’t possibly retire because he’s one of the new guys. But he isn’t. He’s 38 this year. He was already established in The Brood when I started watching some thirteen years ago. He’s one of the most decorated Superstars in the WWE. So why do I keep thinking of him as one of the new guys? I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because Edge’s retirement feels untimely. We’re not used to wrestlers being given medical advice to quit and actually listening. We’re not accustomed to seeing wrestlers retiring without their bodies and faces looking twenty years older than they really are. Sad as I am to see Edge go, I’m thrilled I won’t be seeing him dragging a broken carcass around the ring ten years from now. I’m happy he gets to go hiking in the mountains with his good lady and a couple of dogs. Live the dream, make your money and get out while you can still enjoy it.

This is the first generation of wrestlers who have the sense and the future prospects to retire when their body tells them to. It’s a relief to me. This is why Hulk Hogan’s comments that there is somehow something weak about retiring before dropping dead in the ring are infuriating. Hogan’s generation haven’t retired because they don’t know what else to do but wrestle. They had no options of second careers so they just kept going. Is this ideal? No. It’s terrible for them and embarrassing to watch. So why on earth would Hogan feel the need to denigrate Edge’s very sensible decision? Maybe envy, but probably just irresponsible stupidity. I could not despise that man more.

This new generation of educated and media savvy performers have something to fall back on at the end of their careers; whether that’s at the end of an illustrious career or one cut short because of injury as Edge’s has been. Once he’s finished being off the radar, I have no doubt he’ll be back in some way, shape or form. I only realised this week that Edge had been part of the creative team during the time he was recovering from the spinal fusion surgery he underwent seven years ago. My guess is that the door is very much open to him whenever he decides to walk back through it again.

Regardless of the fact that professional wrestling results are predetermined, what they do in the ring requires real physical effort. Wrestlers are athletes in every way apart from the fact that they know when they’re winning and when they’re losing. How many professional athletes do you know who continue in their sport beyond maybe their late thirties? A lifetime of athletic exertion takes its toll. In the words of that esteemed philosopher Kenny Rogers “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” Edge is declaring himself out and walking away from the table with his body and his dignity fully intact. I couldn’t be prouder. Thank you, Edge. This one’s for you…….

SIDEKICK ANDREW: