Edge to AEW was a rumour that had begun swirling after the Rated-R Superstar was spotted visiting doctors in 2019 and 2020. After a decade of doing nothing in the ring, he hit a spear out of nowhere at Summerslam 2019, forcing fans to consider what was previously unthinkable – Edge returning to the ring.
His home had been WWE for over 20 years and it seemed impossible he would move to anywhere else. However, AEW had given many older superstars a new lease on life and would be the perfect place for a legend to restart his career and write a new chapter in his life.
Edge never ended up signing for AEW (although his former partner Christian Cage would debut with the promotion in 2021, also coming out of retirement) and instead made an incredible return at the 2020 Royal Rumble.
However, his run has not been exactly what people had hoped. The old Edge that everyone knew and loved didn’t appear and he was booked into oblivion (including some horrific injuries that kept him out for almost a year) and WWE wasted one of their biggest stars of all time.
Should Edge have signed for AEW or was he right to stick with what he knew with WWE? Keep reading to find out and let us know in the comments what you think!
He Was Forced Out Of Wrestling Due To Injury In 2011
At the 2020 Royal Rumble, WWE Hall of Famer Edge made a long awaited return to WWE. He had spent almost a decade out of the ring after being forced to retire due to injury after Wrestlemania 27. His neck was in terrible shape and one bad bump could have left him in a wheelchair for life, if not killed him. It was an easy, yet hard decision to make, and his retirement speech was one of the most emotional of all time.
Unlike most wrestling retirements, Edge would stay retired. The former WWE Champion’s neck was in such bad condition that he could not risk it. We’ve seen former stars step into the ring once more despite doctors orders (Ric Flair’s Last match being the most recent and worst examples) and it never goes well. With the doctors forcing him to retire, Edge seemed content with his career being over, even if not on his own terms.
He did not leave showbusiness completely. He had a very successful acting career, staring in a number of TV series including Vikings and Haven. While he was forced out of being a professional wrestler, the WWE Hall of Famer made a great life for himself which included marrying former WWE Women’s Champion Beth Phoenix and having children.
However, rumours began circling and before too long it seemed certain we’d see Edge in the ring again – but who would he be wrestling for?
His Return Was Incredible, But The Follow Up Was Lacklustre
Edge returned to wrestling 9 years after his retirement at the 2020 Royal Rumble. His return was incredible, with nobody in the building expecting the famous “you think you know me” to hit before the hardcore sounds of Metalingus banging through the arena speakers.
He performed incredible for somebody with so long out of the ring, sporting a now greying beard which added to his look. He seemed back to his best and looked like he hadn’t lost a step in his time spent in Hollywood when his neck was in dire need of some rest.
While doctors thought he would never wrestle again. However, a bike accident he suffered mountain biking with fellow WWE star Sheamus convinced him to get his neck checked, which led to doctors discovering that he was healed and his neck was as good as new.
He had a new lease on life and a score to settle. No longer was he forced to retire on doctors terms. He could go out on his own instead. However, his run was less than impressive. He came third in the Royal Rumble and followed it up with a feud with Randy Orton.
Now, the pair had good matches. Being former rivals and tag team partners, they had excellent chemistry. But people had seen it before. He also suffered an injury after the Orton matches which kept him out until the next Royal Rumble, giving fans very little to be impressed by in his short return to the ring.
He returned the next year and won the Royal Rumble, but didn’t win the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. Instead, he lost to Roman Reigns in a triple threat match also involving Daniel Bryan, suffering the ignominy of losing at Wrestlemania after both his Royal Rumble wins.
He would have some good matches with Seth Rollins but his run was largely forgettable. He did form his own spooky stable – Judgement Day – bit was soon usurped by Finn Balor and kicked out, adding another embarassing notch in a disappoitning return for Edge.
However, he almost never returned to WWE, with AEW wanting Edge to make his big return at AEW Dynamite.
Edge Nearly Joined AEW Before His Royal Rumble Return
While it may seem like a certainty that he would have signed for WWE once he was cleared to wrestle, at times it looked Edge to AEW could be on the cards.
Edge speared Elias at Summerslam 2019, the first bump he had taken inside a WWE ring for 8 years. It was a huge moment for the Canadian crowd who were shocked to see the WWE Hall of Famer hitting his signature move once again and it fuelled discussion on a potential return.
It was had AEW President Tony Khan on edge. Edge revealed that he spoke to Khan about joining AEW, even receiving an offer to wrestler for the promotion. However, he revealed in a WWE Network documentary that he turned down the deal, opting instead to sign for WWE and make his return to the ring at 2020 Royal Rumble.
In the WWE Network documentary, Edge said about meeting with Tony Khan about signing for AEW;
“SummerSlam happened and another company within the industry contacted me and said they were interested and wanted to know if I could wrestle. At this point, I didn’t know if I could. Before I did anything, I decided I needed to find out. Some discussions were had. The one thing I told them through all of this was, ‘When you give me your offer, I need to go talk to Vince.’ He’s done right by me my entire career. He gave me my chance. He trusted me to be able to pull off a lot of things, be a pillar for his shows, be a general. That goes a long way for me. I reached out to Vince and said, ‘I need to talk to you this weekend. It needs to be face to face, not through texts or phone calls.’ I went, sat down with him, and told him everything. It wasn’t trying to get a bidding war going or anything like that. WWE didn’t even know if this was possible. I didn’t know if this was possible. He said, ‘Well, this needs to happen here.’”Edge on AEW offering him a contract
Would Edge in AEW Have Been Better Than WWE?
It’s hard to say how well Edge’s AEW would have fared compared to what he did accomplish in WWE. All Elite Wrestling have had an amazing track record in the way they treat their legends, with the obvious example being the legendary Sting.
Sting was also forced to retire by WWE after suffering a neck injury at the hands of Seth Rollins at Summerslam 2015 (the same match where we saw the incredible Seth Rollins’s White Gear in action for the first time). The former WCW Champion was pushing 60 at the time and it eemed best for everyone that he hung up his boots for the last time.
However, 5 years later he debuted in AEW and he has been treated perfectly ever since. He has been respected and feared in the ring, but has been kept strong and wrestled in so many more great matches than anyone could have imagined. Being paired with Darby Allin has helped prolonged his career and he has been a top star in AEW since his debut.
Edge could have received very similar treatment, albeit being much less protected inside the ring than Sting. AEW would have viewed Edge as a top star, having his wrestle only the biggest and best superstars in blockbuster matches. He will have been reserved for AEW Dynamite main events, likely in tag matches, before huge high-profile matches on pay-per-view events.
Signing for AEW would have opened up a whole world of dream matches for the Rated-R Superstar. We could have seen Edge vs Kenny Omega, as the battle of the two Canadian stars. He would have made gold on the microphone with MJF and torn up the ring with someone as innovative as Orange Cassidy. And let us not forget the huge throwback match that would have been Edge vs Christian Cage, building up the heat with 25 years of storytelling in a match that would certainly be given all the time it needed.
In his WWE return, his first year was relegated to basically just facing Randy Orton. While they had some fantastic bouts, including a 40 minute long bout at Wrestlemania 36, it was a match we had simply seen before. The lack of imagination by WWE and poor booking was a staple of the Vince McMahon-product, and let down what was an incredible return that no-one ever thought they’d see again
However, you cannot ignore the injuries he suffered in WWE after his Royal Rumble return. After a pair of matches with Orton, including one dubbed by WWE as “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever”, he suffered a dreadful injury (in reshoots for that match, no less) that kept him out of the ring for almost a full year. It was a huge blow for someone who had waited 9 years to step inside the ring again and put a huge dampener on an already tepid year in wrestling, due to the global pandemic.
We can’t say if Edge would have been better in AEW or WWE. However, there would have been a number of dream matches he could have taken part in that simply cannot, and will not, happen in WWE. This is a huge shame but the price you pay for performing on the biggest stage, something Edge is most accustomed to in his long and successful career.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.