So it seems, dear readers that my so called partner in crime, one Mr. Phil Gordon, has this ridiculous notion that I, the star of Cable 14 in Hamilton, the one and only man who is just Too Magnificent lacks the ability to enjoy anything that is after the year 1992. This, fans, is to show you and everyone else that much like, well, pretty much always, Phil Gordon, is wrong.
Recently, WWE held it’s Backlash pay per view event, which took place live from the Performance Center in Florida. On that card, the main event was a match that pitted The Viper, Randy Orton, against the recently returned Canadian superstar Edge. This match, billed as “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” put both competitors under a considerable amount of pressure to perform, and in the humble opinion of this writer, perform they did.
Now, one could argue that there are several hundred matches that one could choose as WWE’s greatest match ever. But truly, it comes down to the opinion of the person watching the matches. Matches like Bret Hart v.s. Mr. Perfect from SummerSlam 1991 for example. Or the Fatal 4 way from WrestleMania 2000. Or Shawn Michaels v.s Chris Jericho from WrestleMania 19. Or Triple H vs Chris Jericho from the previous year. Dusty Rhodes against Ric Flair from Starcade 83… The list goes on and on. Steamboat vs Savage from WrestleMania 3. All the way to modern day. Some of the matches between Bray Wyatt and the former Dean Ambrose were considered classic.
But there is something about Randy Orton and Edge that just has always seemed to stand out. Right from the beginning through Randy’s rise to stardom. From his days with Evolution to his betrayal by those very three men within that group, to Rated RKO. Orton has gone on record to say that Edge saved him many, many times from some of the bad decisions he made. He has stated that Edge helped him out of a deep hole on more than one occasion, even going as far as to call Edge a brother. This, ladies and gentlemen is what heightened the shock factor so much just after Edge’s triumphant return to the Royal Rumble after a 9 year hiatus. Nine years of Edge constantly trying to take his “what ifs” and make them a reality. This was a dream that he would realize that night, and the crowd reaction was second to none.
So when Edge and Randy Orton stepped foot into the ring on Monday night RAW the night after this great event, when Randy went out of his way to present Edge with what could possibly be called their greatest what if, the excitement in the building was at an all time high. But the masterful skill of both of these men, would take it just that much higher, and then, in the blink of an eye, bring it crashing down.
Fans literally went from pure elation and jubilation to anger and disbelief. Some would even call what happened next, disturbing as Orton would hit his patented RKO out of nowhere.
This is what would ultimately result in their last man standing match at WrestleMania, and as my colleague and co-host talked about, that was one hell of a great match, and it escalated things to a whole new level as far as it being personal is concerned. From Orton almost ending Edge’s career before it even got restarted, to bringing Beth Phoenix, his wife, and his even his daughters into the mix, things just started to become darker, and darker and more and more heated. So, a last man standing match just seemed like the next logical step right?
And boy did they not disappoint. Fans all over were voicing their opinions on how a last man standing match at the Performance Center in Florida could come close to some of the greatest WresteMania matches of all time. Oh, but just like most often is the case, The Apex Predator and the Rated R Superstar came together and surprised even the harshest of critics.
Mercilessly going all over the building trying to one up each other, trying to find the perfect weapon, the perfect prop, from the many rings to the machinery, to the trailers, to the bone shattering chair shot that propelled Edge to victory. The match, was one of the most unforgettable matches in a time when wrestling companies all over the globe are struggling due to other worldly happenings. This match, is one that is still being talked about today, and Edge drew first blood.
Which brings us to the next stage. With both men trying to gain the upper hand, with Randy even going as far as to bring Beth Phoenix to talk in the ring. Promo after promo, more personal attacks, all with the perfect, slow burn… The kind of burn that you enjoy like straight whisky as it goes down. The warm feeling in the pit of your stomach. But week after week, there was just enough material to turn that warm feeling into that unpleasant, yet exhilarating feeling that you get when you descend a huge hill on a roller coaster. Just enough that was disturbing, enough to make you think, enough to make you question if you are supposed to be enjoying what is unfolding on your screen.
It’s in that very moment, that both superstars know they have the audience in the palm of their hands. Then, comes Backlash.
Now, in the lead up to the main event that night, the commentary team did a great job of explaining how things were going to work. They let the viewer know that things were going to be different. Different camera angles, a different feel, a different atmosphere, enhanced audience audio. All of this was laid out for the fan at home.
Despite not having the thousands of fans in attendance in a huge arena as is the norm for WWE events of this calibre, instead, fans were treated to an experiment if you will. They were treated to the classic matches of old. Close up camera shots, different angles, close up face shots and even a bird’s eye view from the top of the center, which if memory serves me, has not been seen in quite some time.
Now, I may be in the minority here, but all of this combined, made this match so much more enjoyable for me as a fan. You had some of the old, coupled with aspects of the new way of filming. Look back on matches like Perfect and Hart from Summerslam 1991 as I mentioned above and then go back and watch portions of this match. You’ll see and understand what I mean. For the younger viewers out there, I would even bet that you’ll notice the differences right away.
Another great thing, is the fact that they kept things serious. The tone of the match didn’t change. The atmosphere didn’t change. Randy, in his signature style did his very best to slow things down, which to be honest is a lost art in wrestling today. Wrestler’s in this generation focus so much more on the most impressive moves. They have to have everything perfect. They have to have that memorable spot. For the most part, they do. They do a great job of ensuring the next big spot is memorable, that they can build and build until that moment… But if they spent as much time as they do focusing on their moves, and instead put focus on things like psychology and telling a story, I for one feel that matches would be just that much better.
By Randy taking his time, and using deliberate, methodical and slow movement, this highlighted the huge moves when they happened and really made them stand out. Edge’s spear… The Edgeucution, Orton’s vintage DDT. All of them were made just a little more special by the methodical pace of the entire match.
Add in the little things like the enhanced audio and the camera angles, and what you have is a true spectacle, worthy of being in the running for if not the best match, then a really, really great match. A match, dare I say, unlike most of what fans are accustomed to seeing on the weekly episodic programs on Monday and Friday nights.
Let’s not forget, that there is another thing that most fans may not have realized. That being, that WWE provided fans with two of the best matches in a long time during the same week. The Friday night prior on Smackdown, fans were treated to a one on one encounter between The Phenomenal AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan. This match, despite having roughly about 8 commercial breaks, was and is a classic any way you look at it, with two of the most technically gifted wrestlers in the world. If only WWE could learn that having a ridiculous amount of commercial breaks during matches (or any commercials during matches) needs to come to an end, it would be a glorious, glorious day. But, what do I know?
Back to Edge and Orton. Another great thing that I thoroughly enjoy about Randy, is his ability to talk during a match. He does all that he can to further highlight the seriousness of the encounter by keeping things personal just in what he says while Edge is on the mat. This is exactly what this match needed. This writer has never been a fan of comedy style wrestling. At least not in high doses. If a match is built to be serious, it should be kept that way. If a match is meant to be filler, then sure, put a little comedy in there. I’m sure if you ask someone like Colt Cabana, he will be happy to tell you all about comedy considering most of his entire career has been a joke. (In this writer’s opinion.)
With that being said, this match, to me had the perfect mix of theatrics, physicality and personal vendetta from both men that truly made it one for the history books. A match that even the legendary Undertaker stated brought a tear to his eye.
With a move that hasn’t been seen in years, Orton secured the victory after a punt, and the redemption story of Adam “Edge” Copeland could possibly be over. Or at least that is what Orton would like to believe.
Since that match, there has been many interesting things that have occurred. From the in ring (albeit brief) return of Christian, which saw him fall victim to one half of Evolution in the Dirtiest Player in the Game, Ric Flair and The Viper, which also resulted in him receiving the same punt that Edge received the night before.
The following week, Edge advised that while he suffered torn triceps, when he returns, things between the newly re-crowned Legend Killer and the newly christened Rated R Superstar are far from finished.
What does the future hold for these two men? Perhaps a second Greatest Wrestling Match Ever? Perhaps something even more personal? More sinister? More dark? One thing is for sure, personally, I hope that Edge v.s. Randy Orton is something that carries on for a long, long time. The promos that have been cut throughout this entire feud have been some of the best, most heartfelt promos that I’ve had the pleasure of hearing and I can’t wait to see what is still to come.
Do you think that Edge and Orton delivered the”Greatest Wrestling Match Ever?” or do you feel that they missed the mark? Feel free to let me know! Be sure to subscribe! And please read and enjoy. After all, one doesn’t write the greatest wrestling blog ever, every day, right Gordon??? You’re up!