April 14, 2011
My personal memories of Adam "Edge" Copeland
By JOE E. LEGEND - For SLAM! Wrestling
"...And the book of Legend was opened..."
Hey folks. Once again, I must make a detour from the life and times of little 'ol me to concentrate on another more (sadly for me) relevant topic.
The sudden retirement of Adam "Edge" Copeland.
I would have had this to you days ago, but I'm currently on tour in the UK and my Internet access has been fairly limited as has been my free time due to travelling commitments.
By the way, I still have to hit you with a post-Mania column as well, but this seems to require more alacrity.
So... where to begin?
How about the early '90s?
Yes, it was a simpler time then. A time of grunge bands, mullets and TL Hopper. A time where a small, dirty gym run by two of the best trainers in the world were getting ready to unleash a couple of the bigger pushed stars in the modern wrestling game.
I got to Sully's first (name of the gym) and had been training for about a year and a half when Ron Hutchison and Sweet Daddy Siki (the aforementioned best trainers) decided to run an essay contest in the Toronto Star called creatively enough... "Why I want to be a wrestler". The winner of the contest would receive free training in just that vocation.
Honestly, a few of us there were a little bit bitter about the whole thing since we had made the sacrifices financially ($3,000) to come in and train and some guy was gonna just waltz in and get some kind of "free pass" for our expensive training. Who on earth would give a crap to read anything about wrestling by some guy... oh. I guess being that I'm getting paid to write a column defeats my argument there, eh?
Either way, we wanted to be sure this "writer" was gonna toughen up when he had to do more than tell us about his dream on paper, he had to live up to expectations on the mat.
I know, who were we at that time to be judging anyone else on how they get in? Adam simply found a loophole in the payment plan and exploited it. Any one of us would have done the same but didn't, so chalk it up to jealousy.
Anyway, Siki and Ron declare a winner, his essay published in the paper and the following Saturday, we have a new student arrive at Sully's.
In walks Adam Copeland.
About 6'4" and I want to say roughly 220lbs. HARDCORE mullet and a real look of awe on his face. When some show up, they get this look of "what have I gotten myself in to?" type of fear stare, others just look nervous or some look arrogant as if they own the joint.
Adam showed up looking at the ring like it was an actual portal to his future.
He did the usual warm-up drills with us and as with most, got fatigued fairly quickly as it's a whole different type of training for those attempting it for the first time.
Then we got in to the ring and he was instructed to take his first bump.
Now, Adam has a fairly big set of peepers, but when he hit the mat and the wind was forced out of his lungs, he looked like Ren! Everyone laughed and he slowly got to his feet and struggled to get his wind back. All of us found a certain satisfaction in him not getting everything perfect the first time around and I think he knew it. The reason I say that is without warning, he went and hit another bump straight away before anyone told him to.
And it was VERY good.
He got up and hit a third and it was borderline textbook.
More than anything I think he did that to prove a point to us (kids, I came to play) as much as to prove to himself that he not only deserved to be there, but was SUPPOSED to be there. Kind of a metaphor for his career.
We weren't overly close, but we got along.
Anyways, I went to Japan for FMW and gave a call to my pal Keith one night and asked him how things at the gym were. He told me about this and that, but kept returning to the subject of the new guy who he was hanging around with more and more.
I got home and, of course, the guys were all asking about Japan and all that. We ALL wanted to do this game and were excited for anyone who was moving forward at it. I just happened to be blessed enough at the time to get the first break. EVERYONE there was talented enough to go and do well so I don't want to give the impression that I was above everyone.
But anyways, Adam only had a few questions about Japan and oddly enough, most were asking about how hot the girls were there. I was MORE than happy to speak on that subject (the same questions about workrate and crowds and such were getting kind of old) and I think this is the first reason he and I became more friends than just mates at the gym. Strange, eh?
So I kept going out and getting work in various places like Winnipeg and such and always coming back to Sully's to tell most about the wrestling and Adam about the girls.
Soon I was able to get us all on some shows and the road trips started in earnest.
We all had a LOT of laughs working for Malcolm Monroe in Detroit, Tony Condello in Winnipeg (if you see Adam's first match for him on TV, you'll see him jump over the top rope and trip! Like a skinny, blond SHOCKMASTER!) and various Canadian indies.
No one believed that "Adam Impact" (I know, great name... we've all been saddled with them) could be a heel. But I came up with a tag team gimmick for us and not too long after I told him about it, he went and had PAGES of designs on ring gear and ideas for team moves. It's a good point to make as it indicated that while he is possibly the most lucky person I've ever met with an innate ability to be in the right place at the right time, when that time and place came he was always the most PREPARED!
When "Lady Luck" knocked, Adam was at the door with flowers, candy and her favorite dirty movie and made an evening of it!
Now, I would love to go in to some detail of the various nefarious things we all got up to, but I'm worried that kids will be reading this and we will scar their little minds. Not to mention that Adam might write another book and I don't want to destroy all of his content here!
Since you know most of his stuff, I'll skip to his first WWF (at the time) tryout.
We had done an indy show in our new tag team gimmick "SEX & VIOLENCE" (look at us, GUESS who was "Sex" and who was...well..."Me") and I think it's the first time we had done the team thing in Canada. Adam had changed his ring name to "Sexton Hardcastle" (if EVER there was a name for a male stripper!) and we were a sort of "Hollywood Blonds" type of a deal. Just a pair of jerks who had a great time BEING jerks! (Similar story to the New Age Outlaws!)
Anyway, Carl DeMarco, who was head of WWF Canada, was in attendance that eventing and thought there was something special in Adam. He got Adam a "dark match" in Hamilton's Copps Coliseum and ALL of us at the gym made it a point to attend.
We all sat close to ringside and wanted to make as much noise as possible to the office could see how "over" he was and better his chances of a job.
Yeah, we thought six people cheering would sway an office looking that he was the new "Hulk". We may have been a little naive, but our hearts were in the right place.
Adam came to the ring to wrestle Sparky Plugg.
Adam is a HEEL? In WWF? He's too skinny! This is a disaster! He's wrestling a guy no fan cares about and he's a villain. This isn't a tryout, it's a waste of time!
But Adam did well!
On a side note, he did almost all of MY offense!! When I asked him afterwards why, he said, "Joe, all I really do is stuff by Michaels and Bret. Wouldn't be a good move to do that here and your stuff is well... cool."
Couldn't argue the logic there. Make sense AND massaged my ego. Knowing now what I didn't know then, it's no surprise he did as well in getting along backstage as he did in the ring. He's a guy who knows how to handle himself.
Anyways, Adam got his WWF contract and I'm pretty sure you know the story from there.
I never like to see anyone go out in any other fashion than how they want and while I can be sure this ISN'T how he wanted to go out, it's still better than most.
Adam was smart with his money and he won't need to beat himself to death on the indy circuit and risk getting crippled.
Adam was smart with his career and always put the company over. He has a lifetime deal with WWE in SOME capacity and will always have an open door to return as the mood strikes.
Adam had been good to most of the people there it would seem (maybe Matt Hardy would disagree) but from what I've seen, it would appear that the majority are really sad to see him go. Almost anyone else would be hurried out the door by the talent in order to try and get his spot at the top of the roster. Says a lot in a very selfish game that they wish he could stay.
Adam and I fell out once over something to do with my wedding. I will not go in to detail about it as it's in the past and shall remain there. But suffice to say, water under the bridge and we are pals again.
The way it should be.
Our careers went in VERY different directions and for me to say I'm satisfied with mine and not just a little bit jealous of how well he's done would be a lie. He's was blessed with talent both in the ring and interpersonal. When he got to WWF, they gave him free reign over his gimmick and how to bring it out and portray it on camera. But Adam accepted these not as gifts, but as opportunities to build on and grow. He came from a single parent family (raised by his mom, a wonderful lady) found a way in to the business despite the fact that financially he couldn't afford it. Got past all of the "he's too skinny" presumptions and succeeded in spite of all of it to be the most decorated performer in the company's history.
Now the premium shouldn't be on the fact that he held a lot of belts as that portion of the business is bent and he actually didn't "win" any belt.
The premium should be put in the fact that he won over the office, the locker room and the fans in spite of insurmountable odds and became the face and image that the company felt best represented the strongest performer on their roster.
I think that speaks volumes.
Adam, we've already spoken via text so you know my thoughts in private. But here in pubic please let me state for the record how much I enjoyed your company away from the ring, your abilities in it and your friendship around it. I mentioned to you in an airport years ago in St. Louis that I didn't know the whole deal at the time regarding your dad, but that I was proud of you for the man you had become in spite of his absence and how I believed you would eventually BE the great dad you always wanted to have.
My friend, the arena is closed and "Edge" has left the building.
Now is the time for another opportunity for Adam Joseph Copeland to seize and I'm sure you will. You spent much of the past 13 years being a member of and eventually leading the WWE "family."
Maybe it's time for you to lead a new generation of the Copeland family to great things.
I love ya buddy!
All the best and God Bless.
Joe Hitchen (not Legend this time, this is personal)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Joe E. Legend's column will run whenever he delivers on SLAM! Wrestling. Be sure to visit every day to see if he's come through!
For more on Legend's career, see his biography in our Canadian Hall of Fame. The best place to figure out where he is in the world at the moment is his website www.legendwrestling.com. Email Joe at email@example.com.