Edge: The Maturation Of The Ultimate Opportunist On WWE SmackDown

The ‘Rated R Superstar’ may once have been for mature audiences only, but this week’s SmackDown showed Edge's character has simply matured

At times, WWE love to rewrite certain aspects of their own history in the hope that us fans don’t realise – this much we know beyond any doubt.

The reoccurring issue is the history the company tries to rewrite hasn’t happened all too long ago. And we point it out. But they keep doing it.

It’s pretty annoying at times – especially when it clearly changes the course of a storyline.

After Edge’s marvellous return to in-ring action last year, and given WWE’s penchant for pretending certain things didn’t happen just to suit the story they want to tell, I was expecting to see the narrative completely disregard what made the ‘Ultimate Opportunist’ Edge just that.

How could WWE have this man who took something that was seemingly impossible (a return to the squared circle), make it happen (something I’m sure 99.999999% of us wanted to happen), and not reference the fact that he was, once upon a time, the biggest piece of trash in the company?

Steady now, I mean that in terms of what he did as a heel in storylines.

Naturally, for much of last year when Edge was on our screens, the ‘Ultimate Opportunist’ moniker wasn’t mentioned all too often. (That’s to my recollection, at least. But then again, I have the memory of a very forgetful goldfish so I could be very wrong.)

Coming out of winning the men's Royal Rumble matchup, however, and with the future of three world titles in the palm of his hand, that dastardly old nickname has been mentioned with more regularity.

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Famously, Edge’s theme starts with “you think you know me,” and it turns out that maybe we don’t.

I firmly believe this is a new Edge that we’re getting to know here in 2021. Just ask the man himself, he told us a few times during this week’s SmackDown.

“I’m not one to judge, I’m called the ‘Ultimate Opportunist’ – but to me, Roman is making the smart play here (by not being in an Elimination Chamber match tomorrow). “

“What you saw (Roman) was a guy (Edge) playing you like a fiddle and you didn’t even realise it. “

While some people may construe Edge’s opinion that Roman Reigns is being the smarter world champion in WWE today as The Rated R Superstar being a bit of a dick in the context of a Bill Goldberg promo here in 2021, I believe the Edge character has simply matured during his time away from the ring.

To me, a 28-year-old, the old Edge as the ‘Ultimate Opportunist’ was a sly Superstar, the slyest of them all, who would wait for the perfect opportunity to strike and then do just that without asking any questions. It was all about opportunism and getting out of there as quickly as humanly possible.

Yes there was plotting and planning, but he was really horrible in the way he did his business, wasn't he? 

Think back to the internet-smashing Money in the Bank cash-in at New Year’s Revolution; the cash-in on a beaten and bloodied Undertaker; using Messrs Hawkins and Ryder as distractions for his benefit; the championship win at Survivor Series 2008; No Way Out 2009 – the list could go on.

The old ‘Ultimate Opportunist’ had only one formula: Do whatever it took to steal/keep gold. Run away. Deal with the consequences later.

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Today, and older and wiser head has changed the very definition of what he is all about. He’s all about using an opportunity to get inside a potential opponent’s head without resorting to underhanded means. 

The way Edge’s promo on this week’s SmackDown was spun was pretty brilliant, in my opinion. Roman Reigns isn’t the one inside Edge’s head – it’s Edge that’s inside Roman’s.

Roman knows that to be ‘the’ main event of WrestleMania 37, he needs a matchup with Rumble-winning Edge to get there. The Tribal Cheif's insecurities are starting to get the better of him. 

“What you saw (Roman) was a guy (Edge) playing you like a fiddle and you didn’t even realise it. “

I love it, Maggle.

This point was hammered home even further when the 11-time world champion said the following on commentary: “I’ve been gone for a long time so people might have got desensitised to the fact that I am the ‘Ultimate Opportunist’. I play mental games – that’s what I do – that’s how I made my mark, that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

Edge was never about that mental game life back in the day. But he sure as hell is now. 

It’s a very clever way of WWE using Edge’s unforgettable (and sometimes unforgivable) past inside the ring for a Superstar who, in my mind at least, can’t be booed today.

Yeah, Edge isn’t in the same category as other older returning Superstars of the past looking for a big payday at the expense of the stars of today in my book. He’s a man who had the thing he loved taken away from him before he was ready for it to be taken away. He's fought to get it back, and now he is back, with his intentions very much in the right place by all accounts.

This 2021 version of Edge is still very much steeped in his dishonourable past but has a dash of honour and credibility to his now cleaner name.

Edge is still an opportunist. He’s still a thinking wrestler’s wrestler. He’s just going about his business in a much nicer way than before. 

He's matured. There's been undeniable character development here. 

Thank you WWE for not disregarding a large, and pretty monumental, chunk of your past. Thank you for acknowledging it, and making it work under different circumstances. 

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Ross Tweddell

Written by Ross Tweddell

Written and video journalist for Cultaholic Wrestling | twitter: @rossonrasslin | instagram: @rossonrasslin