'At a time like this, it’s very important': WWE's Edge on why WrestleMania needs to go on – even without a crowd
After a nine-year absence, the Rated-R Superstar will take on Randy Orton at WrestleMania
For the first time in WWE history, WrestleMania will have no live audience. As the coronavirus outbreak threatens more sporting contests and social distancing becomes more important, even one of professional wrestling’s biggest annual events couldn’t be spared.
But according to WWE Superstar Edge, who recently returned to the squared circle after a nine-year absence, fans should still tune to watch the live two-day event which will be streamed on the WWE Network on Saturday and Sunday, April 4 and 5. He will take on one of his former tag team partners, Randy Orton.
“This year more than any year we are all in the midst of something we have never experienced before. The world really needs outlets,” he says. “Whether that is books, whether that is movies, whatever it is, just to be able to try and forget and laugh and have fun and remember what it is to be human. That’s why we’re doing this.”
He also feels as though it’s his job as a performer to help keep fans entertained, even if it’s only for a few hours.
“As long we can try and be as responsible and as safe as we can, why wouldn’t we try and do this for everyone? As a performer, that’s what we want to do. It’s a privilege, it’s an honour, it’s also a responsibility – and it’s one that I know all of us don’t take lightly. There’s a reason the show is going on,” he says.
The Rated-R Superstar, as he’s known in the ring, had to cut short his career after a neck injury forced him into early retirement in 2011. But he made a surprise return at the Royal Rumble in January. Being away from the ring for almost a decade, he recalls feeling something he hadn’t before.
“I’ve always said that I’ve never been nervous before a performance because if there’s one place in my life, if there’s one place in the world, where I knew I was fully confident in all of the variables it was inside a wrestling ring. At the Royal Rumble, that was the first time I ever felt nerves.
“Once the music hit, then it was just… you can’t explain it. You can’t do it justice. You can’t put your finger on it. There is no way to explain this melting pot of things that all came together, after nine years being off and being forced to retire,” he says.
These days, a lot has changed for Edge since he was last competing full-time in the ring. He’s not only a husband (to former fellow wrestler Beth Phoenix) but a father as well. The time that he was away has given him perspective in regards to the role sports entertainment can play in today’s world.
“I didn’t have [wrestling] for nine years, now I’ve come back and the gravity of that responsibility is not lost on me. Sure, it’s entertainment and yes, we’re jumping around in tights, but in a time like this it’s very important, I truly believe that,” he says.
He also knows that he can’t be the same risk-taker he once was and these days he has to be more careful. But he believes that with such a high-profile event such as WrestleMania, he can still entertain and help by offering some reprieve from today's world.
“At the same time, I’m trying to be as responsible as I can to mitigate as much risk as I can. I’m a dad, I have a mother-in-law who’s had heart surgery, so I have to be careful,” Edge says. “So I’m trying to do what I can, at my end, to still be socially responsible, but at the same time try to give some kind of break from what everyone is going through – and we’re all going through it.”
Updated: March 22, 2020 07:08 PM