WWE Hall of Famer Edge is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. He was the youngest ever Hall of Fame inductee when he went in in 2012, which came at the end of a long and storied career that was cruelly ended by a near-paralysis inducing injury that could have killed him.
Despite being still in his 30s and in his physical prime, Edge was forced to walk away from wrestling in 2011 due to injury. A neck injury could have put him in a wheelchair if he took any more bumps, so to be safe he was advised by doctors to retire immediately.
It was one of the most emotional retirements in wrestling history. Edge was an 11 time world champion and had held 31 championships during his incredible career – a record in the WWE. He had been a top heel, a hero babyface and a tag team icon, spanning mutliple generations and enteraining millions of fans over a decade and a half in the WWE.
Befitting of a legend like Edge, his last match in the WWE came at the biggest stage possible and provided the perfect way for him to walk out of the business on a high, before he was wheeled out in stretcher unable to feel his legs.
Edge’s Last Match Before Retirement
Edge’s last match in WWE before he was forced into retirement was on the grandest stage of them all. Edge defended his World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio at Wrestlemania 27, on April 3rd 2011.
The match opened the show, not counting the two dark matches on the show (Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus and a Battle Royale, won by The Great Khali). Alberto Del Rio had won the Royal Rumble earlier that year, beating out 39 other men in the biggest Royal Rumble match up to that point in time.
Del Rio was accompanied by his personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez and his bodyguard Brodus Clay. To help even the odds, Edge brought his former tag team partner and fake brother Christian to the ring with him, keepin the peace at ringside if Del Rio’s entourage decided to make trouble.
In what would be his last match for nearly a decade, Edge defeated Alberto Del Rio in 21 minutes to defend his World Heavyweight Championship. This was not expected to be his last match and he planned to spend another year wrestling before retiring for good. He instead wanted to turn heel and feud with Christian to end his career, something he never got to do in the WWE.
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 Returned To The Ring In 2020
Edge made a shock return to the ring at the 2020 Royal Rumble, nine years after being forced to retire. He had hinted at a return the year prior, hitting a spear on Elias at Summerslam 2019. This was the first time he had hit his finishing move since his retirement, not being permitted to do anything physical due to the nature of his injury. The fact he hit a move in the ring gave fans hope he could be back for good.
However, Edge denied any speculation and seemed sincere that his neck was still awful. He reassured fans he would never be back in the ring and seeemed content with his career. Edge had moved, taking on multiple acting roles and being a full-time father to the children of himself and Beth Phoenix.
However, he then made a shock appeared in the 2020 Royal Rumble and the crowd erupted. It was an emotional moment and one of the greatest Royal Rumble returns of all time. Fans and wrestlers alike were in tears as the Canadian star made his emotional return, hitting spear after spear before soaking in the adulation from the fans.
He didnot win that match after entering at number 27, and would suffer an injury not long after which would keep him out for the majority of the year. Luckily, Edge was back in time for the 2021 Royal Rumble where he entered at number one and lasted all the way to end and won the whole thing. This would book a match with Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania, which he would be unsuccessful.