Thank You Edge and Sometimes It’s Not About You

The WWE Universe was shocked to hear that current World Heavyweight Champion Adam “Edge” Copeland was hanging up his spandex due to injuries.

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After a teary speech and a title relinquishing ceremony, the 37 year old Edge moved into the next phase of his life, which involved a lot of ice cream, leaving fans and detractors impressed by his decision to put his health above entertainment.

Well…most of them.

Many message boards were littered with messages claiming that Edge should have continued on to the next WWE Pay-Per-View and competed in the ladder match he was booked in, despite his claims that he was losing feeling in his arms and would likely end up in a wheelchair if he continued. I’m guessing that jumping off of a 15 foot ladder is not what the doctor had in mind. Fans claimed that they were promised this match and WWE should deliver, Edge’s injuries and retirement be damned.

I have always been a wrestling fan, but I guess I’ve always been a human being first. I understand that wrestlers put themselves out there in a medium that is “fake” in the name of entertaining people. It’s like every other TV show, except that unlike on say, Saturday Night Live, if someone messes up on the broadcast, someone could end up crippled. Edge has suffered numerous injuries during his career, including a damaged achilles tendon and a broken neck.  No one wants to lose their quality of life if they don’t have to, so it was a wise move to end it all before ending up another wrestling statistic who ends up dead before their time because they couldn’t give it up.

Everyone likes to point fingers at WWE Chairman of the Board Vince McMahon for these tragic early deaths but it’s partly the fault of the fans themselves. The WWE Universe complains online constantly when one of their beloved wrestlers takes time off for injury. Paul “Triple H” Levesque took 10 months off to rest up and heal minor injuries and was met with scorn from the Internet Wrestling Community for not working through the pain. Same goes with TNA Knockout Mickie James, who is expected to perform at their next PPV event despite currently suffering a seperated shoulder. Fans want to see the wrestlers do their thing, despite injuries or life threatening situations. WWE superstar John Morrison is known for his death defying leaps but fans want more, more, more. What’s the next leap? What will he jump off of next? Why not be impressed by the current stunt before wanting higher, faster, scarier? The need to top the last spot is part of what caused former WWE and TNA World Champion Jeff Hardy to spiral down into a painkiller addiction that spawned an arrest in late 2009 and an alleged drug hazed breakdown at a recent TNA PPV.

Fans want to blame the company and the media, but we are just as much to blame. We forget basic human decency in favour of the colosseum style of fandom, wanting more blood and gore. Fans complained about the chair shots that caused brain damage but complain about the ban. While I am in no way saying that wrestlers shouldn’t take responsibility for their actions and use medications responsibly, I do think we as fans need to step back and start looking at wrestlers as people and less like cartoon characters.

So, as a fan I will say thank you to Mr Copeland, who entertained me for 13 years and covered every wall in my teenage bedroom. You kept me amused with your hilarious promos, athleticism and ridiculous good looks. It sucks but at least you can enjoy the next part of your life.  You entertained me for as long as you could and you don’t owe me anymore (unless you REALLY want to do my yard work topless…what? No? Okay).  I hope your post-wrestling life is everything you want it to be.

As for the fans of the WWE, I promise you’ll be okay. Wrestlers come and go and somehow the product chugs along, like any other soap opera or sports team. You’ll find someone to fill that void and if not, you’ll find a new TV show to love. But condemning a person that wisely chose his health over a lifetime of pain is stupid and likely, so are you.