Going into Wrestlemania 27, Edge was on top of the world. He was the World Heavyweight Champion on Smackdown and putting on some of the best matches in his career. He was gearing up for a huge match against Royal Rumble winner Alberto Del Rio before moving onto a world title feud with long time friend and tag team partner Christian.
Everything was on the up. Edge himself didn’t think he had long left of his career – he felt comfortable wrestling for another year before revaluating his career. However, once Wrestlemania 27 finished, that choice had been taken away from him and the realities of a life of pro-wrestling had become all too clear to the Rated-R Superstar.
Edge wrestled Alberto Del Rio at Wrestlemania 27 and successfully defended his World Heavyweight Championship against the Mexican superstar. He won the title at the previous years TLC, earning him his sixth run with the belt and tenth World Championship overall. This is a record for most World Heavyweight Championships, which will never be beaten as the belt was retired in late 2013.
In the same night, The Rock helped The Miz to defeat John Cena in the main event, setting up a huge main event of Cena vs Rock at Wrestlemania 28 and overshadowing what would turn out to be Edge’s last match in WWE (for now).
Edge had teamed with Christian briefly before Wrestlemania, against Del Rio and Brodus Clay, and was expecting to begin feuding with his former partner for the rest of the year. However, the week after Wrestlemania 27, Edge took some medical tests due to some numb feelings in his arm and faced some horrible news.
Edge has suffered neck injuries for the past decade. He first broke it during a ladder match with Eddie Guerrero in 2003, hearing a distinct “crack” as he hit the ground. He would go on to reinjure it multiple times, having multiple surgeries and neck fusions in an effort to elongate his career, although he always knew he was on borrowed time and made the most of what he had to become the most decorated wrestler in WWE history.
On Monday Night Raw on April 11, 2011, Edge shocked the WWE Universe by announcing his immediate retirement from the ring. Fans had known about his neck issues previously, but nobody was aware quite how serious it was. Edge gave a speech explaining why he had to retire and how one bump could paralyse him from the neck down, or even kill the Rated-R Superstar inside the ring.
Edge had to retire because he was suffering from cervical spinal stenosis. This meant that one bad bump could prove fatal and that the numerous neck surgeries he had previously had done nothing to prevent this. Too many extreme matches, like the TLC bouts he made famous alongside Christian, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudleys, had taken their toll on the Canadian’s body.
An MRI scan was sent to Dr. Joseph Maroon, a renowned neurosurgeon, and professor of neurosurgery at The Pittsburgh School of Medicine, who declared that Edge should never be cleared to wrestle again and that he had to retire immediately. WWE gave him the chance to say goodbye to the fans on Raw, and he took the chance with one of the most emotional retirement speeches of all time.
“If you’d ask me if I’d go back and do all this again. All the way back from being hired by JR. If you’d ask me if I’d travel all the roads, log all the miles, hop on all the flights, all the sleepless nights, all the surgeries, all the injuries, the metal rods in my teeth, all of it. If you ask me if I’d do it again…in a heartbeat.”
He vacated the World Heavyweight Championship, which was later won by his best friend Christian. Edge retired as World Champion, an honour very few wrestlers can claim.
Miracles do happen, however. Somehow, his neck got better. He was cleared to hit a spear on Elias at Summerslam 2019 which got Edge thinking about a possible return to the ring. He was cleared by every doctor he saw, who remarked how remarkable it was that his neck had healed itself in the 9 years since his retirement, where he had become an actor in multiple shows, like Vikings.
Nine years after he emotionally bid farewell to the WWE Universe, Edge shocked the fans at the 2020 Royal Rumble by returning to the WWE to wrestle again. He would not win the match, but would enter from number one in 2021 to win the match and go on to the main event of Wrestlemania, in a triple threat match against Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan.
He has had many great moments since his return, although he once again has realised that he has a limited window left to wrestle the dream matches fans want and that his career could be coming to a close – this time on his own terms.
Speaking to the Leafs Morning Take podcast, Edge said;
“I think it’s just because as the older I’ve gotten — and also the story. People know the story, right? I’m not supposed to be doing this, yet here I am nine years after being retired, doing it again. And I think we all understand it’s a pretty limited window you know. It’s closing, more and more every second. [laughs] Like, I woke up this morning, I was like, ‘I didn’t do anything! All I did was work out, and I really hurt today!’ So I think that’s probably why.”