2014 Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Candidate Profile: Adam “Edge” Copeland

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Induction into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame is among the most prestigious honors that can be bestowed upon someone in the professional wrestling business. Unlike the WWE Hall of Fame which is largely controlled by one man’s opinion, the inductees Observer Hall of Fame inductees are voted on by a panel of major past and present wrestlers, management figures, writers, and historians.

The criteria for the Hall of Fame is a combination of drawing power, being a great in-ring performer or excelling in ones field in pro wrestling, as well as having historical significance in a positive manner. Longevity should be a prime consideration rather than a hot two or three year run, unless someone is so significant as a trendsetter or a historical figure in the business that they cannot be overlooked.

To be eligible, a performer must have reached their 35th birthday and completed ten years since their debut as a full-time performer, or be someone who has been a full-time pro wrestler for at least 15 years.

Candidates on the ballot are grouped into the following geographical regions: Continental U.S. & Canada, Mexico, Japan, Europe, and Australia/ Pacific Islands/Caribbean/Africa. A wrestler must receive at least 60% of the vote from their region to be voted in. There is also a section on the ballot for non-wrestlers who have played an important role in the industry. Cracking the 60% threshold is no easy feat as some of the biggest names in history are not in.

Any wrestler/non-wrestler receiving less than 10% of the vote will be dropped from the ballot. Starting this year the Hall of Fame will institute a 15-year rule for candidates who have been on the ballot since 2000. If they fail to garner at least 50% of the vote then they will be removed from the ballot.

The thing I enjoy most about Hall of Fame season is reading and listening to the passionate arguments from fans and voters alike as they push their favorite candidates.

Today, I will take an in-depth look at the career of Adam Copeland, better known as Edge. As one of WWE’s biggest stars and best overall performers of the last 15 years, I am going to examine his career in a few key areas in order to better support his candidacy.

Longevity on top
The following is a list of every Edge PPV match from 2006-2011. Unless otherwise noted, all asterisks indicate a main event. I define a main event as the final match of a show. I began with 2006 since it was the year he became a legitimate main eventer.

2006
New Year’s Revolution- Intercontinental Championship Match vs. Ric Flair
Royal Rumble- WWE Championship Match vs. John Cena
WrestleMania 22- Hardcore Match vs. Mick Foley
*Backlash- Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship vs. John Cena and Triple H
ECW One Night Stand- with Mick Foley and Lita vs. Terry Funk, Tommy Dreamer, and Beulah
Vengeance- WWE Championship Match vs. Rob Van Dam
*SummerSlam- WWE Championship Match vs. John Cena
*Unforgiven- TLC match for the WWE Championship vs. John Cena
Cyber Sunday- with Randy Orton vs. Shawn Michaels and Triple H
Survivor Series- Elimination Match with Randy Orton, Gregory Helms, Johnny Nitro, and Mike Knox vs. Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, and CM Punk

2007
New Year’s Revolution- WWE Tag Team Championship Match with Randy Orton vs. Triple H and Shawn Michaels
Royal Rumble- One of the final four participants in the Royal Rumble Match
WrestleMania 23- Money in the Bank Ladder Match vs. Ken Kennedy, C.M. Punk, King Booker, Jeff Hardy, Finlay, Matt Hardy, and Randy Orton
*Backlash- Fatal Four Way for the WWE Championship vs. John Cena, Shawn Michaels and Randy Orton
Judgment Day- World Heavyweight Championship Match vs. Batista
One Night Stand- Steel Cage Match for the World Heavyweight Championship vs. Batista
Vengeance- Last Chance Match for the World Heavyweight Championship vs. Batista
*Armageddon- No DQ Match for the World Heavyweight Championship vs. Undertaker and Batista

2008
Royal Rumble- World Heavyweight Championship Match vs. Rey Mysterio
No Way Out- World Heavyweight Championship Match vs. Rey Mysterio
*WrestleMania 24- World Heavyweight Championship Match vs. Undertaker
Backlash- World Heavyweight Championship Match vs. Undertaker
Judgment Day- World Heavyweight Championship Match vs. Undertaker
*Extreme Rules- TLC Match for World Heavyweight Championship vs. Undertaker
Night of Champions- World Heavyweight Championship Match vs. Batista
*Great American Bash- WWE Championship Match vs. Triple H
*SummerSlam- Hell in a Cell Match vs. Undertaker
Survivor Series- WWE Championship Match vs. Triple H and Vladimir Koslov
*Armageddon- WWE Championship Match vs. Triple H and Jeff Hardy

2009
Royal Rumble- No DQ Match for the WWE Championship vs. Jeff Hardy
No Way Out- Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship vs. Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Undertaker vs. Big Show vs. Vladimir Kozlov
*Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship vs. John Cena vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Mike Knox
Edge becomes the only wrestler to compete in two chamber matches on the same show, losing the WWE Championship in the first and winning the World Heavyweight Championship in the second. 
WrestleMania 25- Triple Threat Match for WWE Championship vs. John Cena vs. Big Show
*Backlash- Last Man Standing Match for the World Heavyweight Championship vs. John Cena
*Judgment Day- World Heavyweight Championship Match vs. Jeff Hardy
*Extreme Rules- Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship vs. Jeff Hardy
The Bash- Unified Tag Team Championship Match with Chris Jericho vs. Carlito & Primo Colon and Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes

*Royal Rumble- Edge wins Royal Rumble Match by eliminating John Cena
WrestleMania 26- World Heavyweight Championship Match vs. Chris Jericho
Extreme Rules- Steel Cage Match vs. Chris Jericho
Over the Limit- vs. Randy Orton
*Fatal Four Way- WWE Championship Fatal Four Way Match vs. Sheamus, John Cena, and Randy Orton
Money in the Bank: RAW Money in the Bank Match vs. The Miz, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, John Morrison, Mark Henry, Evan Bourne, and Ted DiBiase
*SummerSlam- Elimination Match with John Cena, Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, John Morrison, R-Truth, and Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett, Darren Young, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Michael Tarver, and Skip Sheffield
*Night of Champions- Six Pack Elimination Match for the WWE Championship vs. Randy Orton, Sheamus, John Cena, Wade Barrett, and Chris Jericho
Hell in a Cell- vs. Jack Swagger

Bragging Rights- Elimination Match: Team SmackDown (Big Show, Edge, Rey Mysterio, Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, Kofi Kingston & Tyler Reks) beat Team RAW (The Miz, CM Punk, John Morrison, Sheamus, Santino Marella, R-Truth, & Ezekiel Jackson)
Survivor Series- World Heavyweight Championship Match vs. Kane
Tables, Ladders and Chairs- TLC Match for the World Heavyweight Championship vs. Kane, Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio

 

2011
Royal Rumble- World Heavyweight Championship Match vs. Dolph Ziggler
Elimination Chamber- Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Big Show vs. Kane vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Wade Barrett
WrestleMania 27- World Heavyweight Championship Match vs. Alberto Del Rio

From 2006- 2011, Edge competed in 52 PPV matches. 16 of those were in the main event position with 20 other PPV outings being a match for either the WWE/World Heavyweight Championship, including every appearance from WrestleMania 24-27. On the rare occasion that he was not challenging for or defending the WWE/World Heavyweight Championship, he was working with top talent in one of the most heavily promoted matches on the card. What this shows is a remarkable track record of consistency on top.

However, a closer look at his PPV record reveals that Edge was becoming a major player as far back as 2004, even headlining the 2004 Survivor Series and 2005 New Year’s Revolution PPVs, bringing his overall total to 18 PPV main events.

Truthfully, his PPV record is not an accurate barometer of his main event stature since he was usually the featured performer on the SmackDown brand every week, wrestling numerous television and house show main events.

When comparing his longevity on top to that of peers Eddie Guerrero and Chris Jericho, Edge’s WWE career blows theirs away. Although Guerrero and Jericho were huge stars with major championship runs, they eventually transitioned back into the midcard.

Edge remained a headliner from the moment he won his first WWE Championship in 2006, never being phased down the card.

Major championships and awards
11x world champion (4x WWE Champion and 7x World Heavyweight Champion)
5x Intercontinental Champion
1x United States Champion
14x Tag Team Champion
2x Money in the Bank winner
2001 King of the Ring
2010 Royal Rumble winner
2012 WWE Hall of Fame inductee
2013 recipient of the Lou Thesz Award- George Tragos/Lou Thesz International Wrestling Museum

Edge has amassed an extremely decorated résumé. Not only does he hold the record for the most Tag Team Championships, but he also holds the record for holding the most championships of any wrestler in company history. He is No. 5 on the all-time list of most world title reigns recognized by WWE behind Ric Flair, John Cena, Triple H and Randy Orton.

While Edge never had the lengthy single title runs that Cena, Punk, Triple H, and Orton did the fact that we was given the ball to run with on so many occasions proves that management had the utmost confidence in his abilities to portray a credible champion.

Next, I will take a look at Edge’s significant finishes in the Observer’s year-end awards since these are generally considered to be the most respected mainstream international pro wrestling awards. Keep in mind that this is not a full record. However, it does give us a better gauge of how he was generally perceived during his career.

Wrestler of the Year
2006-2nd place
2007- 10th place
2008-2nd place

Tag Team of the Year
1999- 5th place with Christian
2000-1st place with Christian
2001- 7th place with Christian
2002-5th place with Rey Mysterio
2004- 14th place with Chris Benoit

Match of the Year
1999- 2nd place with Christian vs. Hardys 10/17
2000- 3rd place with Christian vs. Dudleys vs. Hardys 8/27, 13th place with Christian vs. Dudleys vs. Hardys 4/2
2001- 15th place with Christian vs. Dudleys vs. Hardys 4/1
2002- 1st place with Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle 10/20, 10th place vs. Eddie Guerrero, 17th place vs. Kurt Angle 5/19
2006- 15th place vs. John Cena 9/17, 16th place vs. Mick Foley 4/2
2007- 7th place vs. John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton 4/29
2008- 8th place vs. Undertaker 3/30, 12th place vs. Undertaker 8/17

 Feud of the Year
1999- 7th place with Christian vs. Hardys
2000- 6th place with Christian vs. Hardys
2002- 2nd place vs. Kurt Angle, 4th place with Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, 16th place vs. Eddie Guerrero
2005- 5th place vs. Matt Hardy
2006- 3rd place vs. John Cena
2008- 2nd place vs. Undertaker

Best on Interviews
2000- 9th place
2004- 16th place
2005- 12th place
2006- 2nd place
2007- 3rd place
2008-3rd place

One thing that stands out most when looking at this list is Edge’s consistency of being a big match performer. Even in 1999, when there were far bigger names on top, Edge knew how to deliver a show stealing performance. Edge had tons of PPV quality matches on television that were not even factored into the equation.

We can clearly see that he was one of the best tag team wrestlers of his era, winning a record-setting 14 Tag Team Championships and cracking the top ten from 1999-2002.

Edge’s consistency on the microphone is no surprise, cracking the top ten on four occasions. He became more comfortable as a talker and overall character as his career progressed, which greatly elevated his stock within WWE. While he could have remained a party-oriented goof with Christian, he transformed himself into one of the best pure heels to ever grace a WWE ring thanks in large part to his promos.

His Feud of the Year history is interesting as it shows that Edge was often involved in some of the most compelling programs going on at that time.

Consistency as a great performer
This is perhaps the strongest area of his candidacy. A 2013 study conducted by Observer readers Chris Harrington and Leonardo Mendez found that Edge ranked No. 14 in having the most matches rated at ****or higher in the Observer’s history dating back to 1986. Edge also holds the unique distinction of having the most matches rated ****or higher on either WWE or WCW PPV shows of any wrestler in history.

Edge was able to have consistent great matches against a wide range of opponents over the course of his 14-year WWE career. In addition to his epic battles alongside Christian against the Hardys and Dudleys, which took tag team wrestling to its highest peak ever in WWE, he had equally tremendous singles matches against Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Undertaker, John Cena, Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, and others. He is credited with having the last truly great matches of both Ric Flair and Mick Foley’s careers.

There seems to be a knock on Edge that he was nothing more than a ladder match performer, which is silly since many of his greatest matches occurred when there was not a ladder in sight.

However, no other wrestler has been involved in as many great ladder matches as Edge. While Shawn Michaels was responsible for putting the gimmick on the map in WWE, it was Edge who took the concept farther than anyone could ever imagine.

I do not believe that a wrestler should be penalized for mastering a specific style of wrestling. After all, there is a good reason why Mick Foley is called the “Hardcore Legend.”

Respect from peers
I believe that the true measure of a wrestler’s legacy is how they are viewed among their peers. Let’s look at a few examples of how well thought of Edge is within the business.

–During his 2012 Hall of Fame induction speech, Edge revealed that upon finding out about his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame earlier that year, he was personally contacted by both Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart who told him that he was deserving of the honor.

–Edge was one of Jack Brisco’s favorite wrestlers at the time of his passing in 2010. Edge even wrote the afterword to the newly expanded and revised edition of Brisco’s autobiography, Brisco: The Life and Times of National Collegiate and World Wrestling Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco.

 –During his 2008 WWE Hall of Fame induction speech, Ric Flair told a story about getting a phone call from road agent Michael Hayes about wrestling Edge in a ladder match, noting that he ‘d done everything there is to do in wrestling aside from that. Flair told Edge (who was in the crowd) the following: It was one of the greatest experiences I ever had. Edge is a special guy. He has learned his craft and excelled at it. I’m proud to call you a friend Edge.”

–“He was strong at every single facet of being a top star, from pacing a match, pacing an interview, delivering lines of both scripted, and off the cuff promos. He excelled at comedy, but was just as good when things had to be biting and serious…It may not have been exactly what he envisioned his career ending being, but it was one of the most respectful endings to a career in a business that more often than not never pauses for such things, even with its biggest legends.”- Dave Meltzer, Wrestling Observer, April 18, 2011

–“I remember moments like when he defeated me for the WWE Championship in the Elimination Chamber. I remember everyone saying before he won that championship that he would never be anything more than a glorified tag team wrestler…Give the Rated R Superstar a proper sendoff because I’m not joking when he says he’s got to hang them up and he’s had a hell of a career.”- John Cena addressing the live audience on Monday Night Raw, April 11, 2011

–The fact that Vince McMahon allowed Edge to retire as world champion, something virtually unheard of in the wrestling business, speaks volumes about the level of respect he has for him. Not only did he allow Edge to address the fans on the April 11, 2011 episode of Raw, but the entire roster gave him a touching backstage sendoff. The episode of SmackDown that aired later that week was a show-long tribute to Edge’s career. Later that year they held an official Edge Appreciation Night (which can be seen in its entirety on the 2012 Edge: You Think You Know Me? Blu-ray) with guest appearances from Trish Stratus, Rhyno, Bret Hart, and Stampede Wrestling legend Sweet Daddy Siki. There is no other WWE Superstar that Vince has done that much for in regard to their exit from the company.

Lasting impression
When I look back at the WWE product of the last 15-20 years, Edge stands out from the pack.

With the exception of the Mr. McMahon character and the current incarnation of Brock Lesnar (who has an aura unlike anyone in the business today), there hasn’t been a better heel over the last decade than Edge.

While Triple H, Jericho, and Punk all had strong runs as top heel, they couldn’t measure up to Edge. With the exception of a few scattered periods, Orton has never been as great a heel as Edge.

Unlike the aforementioned names, Edge had the unique ability to get the fans to genuinely hate him. One of the keys to the success of the “Rated R Superstar” gimmick is that he created a character with no redeeming social qualities. He didn’t have a fancy catchphrase, nor did he set out to outwork the babyface as a cool heel. His goal every night was to ensure that the fans believed he was the most vile, cowardly guy on the roster.

And boy did it work. From 2006-2009 Edge never won a world title by pinning his opponent cleanly. He clearly understood his role as a heel.

Edge is also responsible for putting the Money in the Bank match on the map. As the “Ultimate Opportunist” he set the precedent for future winners to cash in at the most opportune moment possible.

Although it’s not a major point of contention, it’s worth mentioning that Edge is one of only five wrestlers in company history to specifically have a championship made in his likeness, the Rated R Spinner Championship, which for a few weeks replaced the original spinner belt he had won from Cena. The Rated R Spinner was mass produced and is currently available on WWE Shop.

In my estimation, Edge ranks next to Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels when it comes to excelling at every stage of his WWE career before becoming a top guy. Edge was a great Tag Team Champion, Intercontinental Champion, and both he and Lesnar were the last great King of the Ring winners.

Final thoughts
It’s a widely known fact that Edge was voted “Most Likely to be WWE Champion” in his high school yearbook. It says a lot that he went onto have the kind of career he did.

While it ended earlier than he anticipated, he had a storybook career from start to finish. For his longevity at the top and high level of in-ring consistency in WWE over a 14-year career, Edge is deserving of induction into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Class of 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “2014 Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Candidate Profile: Adam “Edge” Copeland

  1. Whoa, great article about Edge! I didn’t realize there was a lot I didn’t know about him. WWE fans suffered a great loss when he was forced to retire, and while I am glad he’s doing well with Haven, I miss his contributions he gave to the business.

    • Thanks for reading and I’m glad you like it. Yes he accomplished a lot and I still think there is a huge void in the locker room that hasn’t been filled since his departure. I posted this article on my Facebook page and another wrestling website and it has gotten a great response so far.

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