WWE Hall of Famer Edge recently spoke with ESPN to promote this Last Man Standing match against Randy Orton at WrestleMania 36 this coming weekend. Edge recalled how he took a spill while riding his bike when Sheamus came to town to film for his YouTube channel. That's when The Rated R Superstar knew he could get back into the ring.
"It started dawning on me that this could be a possibility when Sheamus came to town, and we were filming an episode of his Celtic Warrior workout show," Edge said. "He wants to do different challenging things that he hasn't done before, and I love to mountain bike. ... In the process of doing that -- this stupid competitive thing -- I'm flying down a mountain, I hit this one jump, and I wiped out.
"It's a pretty gnarly wipeout. I was going probably 20, 25 mph, landed on these stones, rolled right up to my feet. But I'm fine. I was all cut up, but my neck was fine. Couple that with doing all of these fight scenes over the years on sets -- some pretty physical stuff, especially with 'Vikings' -- and I thought, 'OK, I feel really good.'"
Edge, who was forced to retire in 2011 after a career-ending neck injury, met with his doctor but even though he had thought about a potential return over the years, no pro wrestler had ever returned from triple-fusion surgery.
He recalled, "My family doctor just said, 'Let's get some pictures on it, just see where you're at, and we'll see a spine specialist here in Asheville.' [I] did that, met with [the specialist]. He said, 'Keep doing what you're doing. Obviously, it's working for you,' and that's when I floated out the, 'But what about wrestling?'"
Edge said he eventually set up an appointment in Birmingham, Alabama with Dr. James Andrews' team and Dr. Andrew Cordover, who works closely with WWE.
"That's when we started to realize this could actually happen."
After being cleared there, he had to get the green light from WWE's medical team that focuses on head and neck injuries, led by Dr. Joseph Maroon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He got that clearance and then started getting into shape for the return at the 2020 Royal Rumble earlier this year. He revealed how WWE sent a ring to where he lives in Asheville, NC, and how he's been training with his wife, WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix, and The Revival's Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder.
"I talked to [Triple H], and I said, 'I can't go to a ring anywhere because people will start seeing me. I can't go to the PC.' So they sent me a ring," Edge said. "I got a warehouse space, and I set up a ring and basically had my own personal 'Field of Dreams,' and I just got in there and got to work. Thankfully, I'm married to another Hall of Famer who can pick up and body slam me, which you can't say for a lot of wives. The Revival, they both live in Asheville, so they'd come, and they'd get in there with me, and they'd put me through my paces.
"I was keeping up with them. I wasn't tired, and I wasn't sore, and I thought, 'OK, this is going to happen, and this is going to happen at a level that I wanted.' I didn't want to come back and be anything less than what I was. I'm going to have to work differently. I'm going to have different limitations ... I still want to be able to go in there and be able to go half an hour."
WrestleMania 36 was taped last week so Edge has already worked his first singles match in 9 years. There's obviously some disappointment as WrestleMania 36 was held with no crowd this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Edge said he was keeping it all in perspective.
"For so long, I never thought this would happen again, right? What that taught me is to appreciate it all," Edge said. "And no matter what it is, you pull the positives. That's all you can do. The positives are always there. ... And it's a strange time, but it's also a time where we can hopefully help people for a few hours enjoy themselves. And for me, as a performer, that's an honor and a privilege, and that's not lost on me after not being able to do this particular form of entertainment for nine years.
"Is it disappointing that it's not in front of an audience? Of course it is. I'm not going to lie. But at the same time, I look at the challenge, and I go, 'OK, how do you tell a compelling story?' And in my mind, I picture everyone at home and how they're going to react and how they're going to come out of their chairs and how they're going to get angry and just get lost in it. And if we can do that, then that's all we set out to do."
Edge sees big things to come for him after WrestleMania. He won't be joining the WWE road crew once touring resumes, but his second chance isn't ending with the match against Orton, and his "ultimate plan" goes past the single WrestleMania match.
"Physically, I wouldn't be able to keep up with that grind that all the youngin's are doing right now. I put in my 15 years of that, so now I can come back, and honestly, more than anything, I just want to help teach. And the best way for me to teach is to be in there in the ring with you and show you how to listen," he said.
He talked more about his in-ring future and it was noted that he won't be sitting back and working just a few matches.
"I have a vision. I believe if you can visualize it, you can make it happen. I have a vision for the whole thing," Edge said. "I'm not going to spoil it, though. When it is time to walk away, I want people to say, 'Oh, my God, I think he was better this time.' That's the challenge. This story has never been written before. No one has ever taken nine years off. No one has ever come back from a triple-fusion. It's a blank canvas, and the story I want to try and tell, I just want it to be compelling. I want it to be fun for everybody. Like I said in the first promo back, man, I just hope you come along for the ride with me because I am going to have a blast."
ESPN asked Edge about who he wants to wrestle. He named AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura, Aleister Black, WWE Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn, WWE NXT UK Champion WALTER, NXT Tag Team Champion Matt Riddle, Tommaso Ciampa, and The Velveteen Dream as talents he'd like to face.
"AJ Styles and Edge has to happen," he said. "In 25 years in the same industry, we've never touched. How is that possible? Guy like Roman Reigns, man, he's special. He's a leader, and he needs other leaders, and that's what I can be. We felt a little bit of that at the Rumble, too. Seth Rollins has to happen. Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Nakumura, Sami Zayn, Aleister Black for sure, Matt Riddle, WALTER, Tommaso Ciampa, Velveteen Dream. Give them all to me, man. I just want to come in and work my tuchus off and have fun."