Edge's WWE WrestleMania History Is Golden, But There Was A Missed Opportunity
"The Rated-R Superstar" has a chance to make history once more
There are some who believe Edge should've headlined WrestleMania 22, a full decade and a half ago. And they may have a point.
In January of 2006, "The Rated R Superstar" became the first man to convert a briefcase into a championship belt. That he did so by cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase on extremely polarizing WWE champion John Cena only enhances the legend.
Edge found SuperCena's kryptonite - kicking him while he's down.
Edge's WWE title win (his first world title win of any sort, in fact) was a shot of freshness when one was certainly welcome. Raw the next night did a massive rating (up 16 percent from the prior week), thanks in part to a questionable "live sex" celebration with valet Lita that did Raw's best segment number in close to 11 months.
It seemed for all the world like Monday Night Raw had a new lead villain, one that could anchor the card going into WrestleMania 22 in Chicago.
Instead, Edge dropped the championship back to Cena three weeks later at the Royal Rumble. There were other plans for 'Mania Sunday, and they didn't include Edge in the big title picture.
His consolation prize was to send Mick Foley flying backward through a flaming table, the "Hardcore Legend" sandwiched between searing lumber and a 240-pound spear.
Up through that harrowing moment, Edge may have been presently beltless, but he did have another good thing going for him: he was undefeated at WrestleMania.
In prior instances, Edge joined brother/friend/loan co-signer Christian in winning a pair of ladder/TLC matches at WrestleManias 2000 and X-7, respectively. He then went on to defeat Booker T in a match where a shampoo commercial hung in the precarious balance.
After missing 19 and 20 due to recovery from spinal surgery, Edge rebounded strongly in time for 21. He won the first ever Money in the Bank ladder match, in what some consider the best of the match's entire chronology.
Once Edge served up the "Foley flambe" in Chicago, he reached 5-0, making him the first wrestler to amass five straight wins to open one's personal WrestleMania history since...
Well, since The Undertaker.
Edge eventually did get that World title match in a WrestleMania setting, albeit two years after most would've originally designated him for the spot. At WrestleMania 24 in Orlando, World Heavyweight champion Edge would defend the gold against a man he'd once captured that belt from in one-sided fashion: the "Dead Man" himself.
Edge vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania for a World championship, with the legendary Streak also on the line, is a pretty easy sell.
It's just a shame that WWE barely missed out on a trick here.
With the benefit of hindsight, they'd certainly want to amend something that happened at WrestleMania 23.
When The Undertaker's Streak ultimately died out at the hands of Brock Lesnar in 2014, WWE cameras couldn't catch enough astonished, incredulous expressions from those present inside the Superdome.
Understandably so; the Streak had been built to such mythic levels that it was even shocking that someone like Lesnar (one of the most decorated *and* frightening wrestlers to ever set foot inside a ring, mind you) unambiguously shattered the legend for all to see.
But going back to WrestleMania 23, The Streak continued to thrive, as The Undertaker dethroned then-World champion Batista in one of the better "hoss fights" one could remember.
The Drax-sized notch bored into Undertaker's belt in 2007 was the 15th overall, with no blemishes in sight.
That same evening, WWE could well have had Edge extend his own WrestleMania streak, but it wasn't to be.
At WrestleMania 23, Edge was part of yet another Money in the Bank mad scramble, pitted against seven opponents: Matt and Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, King Booker, Finlay, CM Punk, and Mr. Kennedy.
Quite a few of those names would've made reasonable choices for case-totter, but it wasn't going to be Edge on that night.
Instead, the survivor of years worth of ladder-based mayhem didn't even make it to the match's final stage, as Jeff Hardy took him out, putting him through a bridged ladder. A stretcher job followed, and, barring a miracle, Edge wasn't going to come running back out to scale the rungs in the closing scene.
No, those honours went to Kennedy, who at the time, had a good bit of momentum as a heel on SmackDown. Fans caught on to the uniqueness of the self-intros, as well as Kennedy's general bombast.
In 2007, few would've batted an eye at Kennedy striking gold with the briefcase, before heartily introducing himself as World champion....champion. Many would've even sung along with the proclamation.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the planned cash-in.
Just days before Kennedy was going to go over on champion Undertaker on an episode of SmackDown, it appeared that the caseholder suffered a long-term injury at a WWE house show.
It was decided to have Kennedy then lose the briefcase on Raw the next night in a very brief match, ceding it to the enterprising Edge. Edge would then take Kennedy's place in the planned story, which necessitated a move to SmackDown on his part.
And indeed, Edge charged the ring on that week's edition of SmackDown, catching a thoroughly-spent Undertaker as he'd just completed a gruelling cage match against Batista. Once more, "The Ultimate Opportunist" struck at the perfect moment.
Given how each man's career would turn out since then, you could certainly argue that WWE made the wrong call at WrestleMania 23. Edge remained one of WWE's top guys until his forced retirement in 2011, while Kennedy (hamstrung by frequent injuries and a dumb statement made on a cable news program) washed out of WWE, and its general canon, in the spring of 2009.
Seeing as Edge was slotted into the angle relatively seamlessly (given the circumstances), they may as well have had him win the briefcase at WrestleMania 23 to begin with.
And if they had done so, WrestleMania 24 would've had much more at stake.
Not only would Edge be defending the World Heavyweight title against The Undertaker in a marquee match, but said match would have been Streak vs. Streak.
Yes, 15-0 challenging 6-0 for the World Heavyweight title.
It's easy to armchair book in hindsight, but you know this would've played into Edge's strengths as an insufferable, self-aggrandizing heel. Imagine the promos where Edge questions the potency of Undertaker's Streak, while playing up the strength of his own.
Mentioning how he went through 600 tables at WrestleMania X7, while Undertaker was lucky to have survived the ether-soaked cloth of Giant Gonzalez.
Or how Edge won the right to appear in a shampoo commercial, whereas the only "big-time" rub 'Taker could get was from hanging out with Fred Durst in Seattle.
Or that Edge beat Foley on his very first try, whereas Undertaker's lucky that he never had to face Foley at WrestleMania. Seeing as Undertaker struggled to beat Mankind for months in 1996, the Streak may have been over a lot sooner had there been a 'Mania meeting in there.
Through all this, Edge demands to know: where's my WrestleMania Streak DVD? Where's the acknowledgement of my WrestleMania dominance?
Instead, it was 15-0 vs. 5-1, and that's not quite as fun. The build was centred around Undertaker becoming number one contender (through one of the coolest Elimination Chamber finishes ever), and Edge playing the usual "beat the Dead Man" mind games, including holding a mock funeral on SmackDown.
The WrestleMania match itself was excellent, an appropriate show closer with a somewhat surprising ending. Instead of Undertaker Tombstoning Edge to his certain doom, he won via submission, snaring Edge into his MMA-inspired choke, Hell's Gate. As a finish, it seemed to catch the Orlando crowd off guard, but the hold caught on thereafter as a Taker staple.
The 16-0 graphic would've contrasted nicely to Edge's now 6-1 standing, and made the match mean a little bit more. Alas.
In each of the three Manias separating that night and Edge's retirement, "The Rated-R Superstar" once more battled for top gold.
The man who was once 5-0 at the event quickly fell to 5-4. At WrestleMania 25, he dropped the World title to John Cena in a triple threat that included Big Show. A year later, recovered from a Achilles rupture, the 2010 Royal Rumble winner fell short to nemesis Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 26.
His successful defence over Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania 27 was a pyrrhic victory, of course. A week later, the 37-year-old announced he had to retire, as a result of spinal stenosis.
That sets the stage quite nicely for WrestleMania 37. If Edge vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal title takes place on the second night of the Tampa card, it will come ten years to the day (April 11, 2011) that he tearfully abdicated the World Heavyweight title, and entered retirement.
The old gunslinger looking to erase the pain of that forced sunset by triumphing on the anniversary day, that's a perfect story to tell.
WWE may have missed out on Edge defending his "Streak" against Undertaker's, but they're not missing this one. And hey, this particular saga reads better, anyway.