Adam "Edge" Copeland's journey as a WWE wrestler — through his early retirement and recent return to the ring — is a story of determination and triumph that could be the basis for, say, a kickass Iron Maiden song. In 2011, it came as a shock to fans when he announced that he was hanging up his boots under the instruction of medical professionals due to a diagnosis of cervical spinal stenosis. Though he remained present in the WWE in different capacities, including earning a Hall of Fame ring in 2012, Edge was inactive from wrestling, spending most of the decade appearing in shows like Haven and Vikings.
Then something magical happened at the beginning of 2020, one of harrowing year's few bright spots. In January during WWE's annual PPV event The Royal Rumble, Edge made a surprise return at #21, shooting to the ring in an emotionally charged event that electrified the crowd in Houston, Texas. Soundtracked by his standby theme of Alter Bridge's "Metalingus," it was a heavy moment, and one that spoke to the emotional heights wrestling can reach.
Edge has been about metal music and culture from the jump. Early in his career he was a part of "The Brood," a faction with later tag-team partner Christian and Gangrel that portrayed a clan of vampires, bringing a chalice of blood to the ring. Later on, Edge would come to the ring to Rob Zombie's "Never Gonna Stop," a song that came close to summing up his rise in popularity at the time. It would then be followed up by "Metalingus," which boasts the band's heaviest riff to date and has remained one of the most iconic intros for any wrestler.
This Sunday, Edge will be in the main event at Wrestlemania 37 in a triple threat match for the WWE Universal Championship against current champion Roman Reigns and challenger Daniel Bryan. The match serves as a testament to the work Edge has put in over the last decade. "I plan on making this last chapter a lot of fun," he says. "I think people are going to enjoy it."
We spoke to Edge about bringing heavy metal into his wrestling persona, who has the worst taste in music in WWE and more. You can watch Wrestlemania 37 this weekend on Peacock.
I FEEL LIKE FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, METAL INFORMED A LOT OF WHAT EDGE IS AS A CHARACTER, ESPECIALLY WITH THE BROOD. CAN YOU SPEAK TO HOW YOU SAW HEAVY METAL INTERSECTING WITH WHAT YOU WANTED TO PRESENT AS A WRESTLER?
EDGE Oh, absolutely. Heavy metal and rock music was the bedrock for Edge — it's where it all came from. Everything about creating that character in the beginning, metal was such a huge part of what I wanted to convey. There was a little bit of a Type O Negative vibe, some Nine Inch Nails in there. And then there was also Blade in there, and the Lost Boys. Then there's the visuals: the circle of fire, and that's something that you could see at a metal show. It became part of our presentation. I'm also wearing a PVC trench coat, we all got long hair and we're spitting blood so there's elements of KISS, Marilyn Manson and Bowie.
Then when I look at what the genesis is of Edge and Christian, well, that's sort of based off Bill & Ted. Which is so heavily influenced by the music, by the soundtracks. You think of the Bogus Journey soundtrack, it's ridiculous. Faith No More, Megadeth, Kiss. It's amazing! And really, heavy metal became a template for a lot of the decisions where to go. When I broke off from Edge and Christian, Rob Zombie was my entrance music and that was important to me. Because that sets the tone, and it also sets the tone for me as a performer because I need something that is going to jump me up. I had some great advice from [wrestler] Michael Hayes, which was "the more you give the audience, the more you're going to get back." So from that day forward, I came flying through that curtain and I ran side to side, but the music is what's going to help me do that. From Rob Zombie then to Alter Bridge, and I realize now the serendipity of getting that song and those lyrics, and that riff and Myles [Kennedy, Alter Bridge singer] peeling the paint off the walls, that's when I realized this is now my music for the rest of my career, because it just fits.
And I know it fits when I have fans come up and ask, "Did you sing that?" [Laughs] Seriously, when people start to relate to you through the music like that, you know it's the right place to be.
I THINK AS A KID YOU ALWAYS ASSUME THE WRESTLER SINGS THE THEME.
It's all Michael [Hayes]'s fault! [Laughs]
STRAIGHT UP, THAT ROB ZOMBIE SONG WAS SORT OF MY INTRODUCTION TO METAL. I REMEMBER WATCHING SMACKDOWN AS A KID, HEARING THAT THEME AND THEN GETTING MY DAD TO TAKE ME TO BUY THE FORCEABLE ENTRY SOUNDTRACK. WRESTLING JUST KIND OF HAS THAT EFFECT.
That's very cool to hear, because I needed to really feel it, to bite into it to get across what I needed to get across. My initial music, I didn't really dig. The Brood music I loved. When it came time for Rob Zombie, I got an advanced copy of The Sinister Urge, and I could choose between four tracks. And it was like, "Never Gonna Stop," that's the mantra. Gotta keep going, gotta keep getting up. Little did I know that would be a recurring theme throughout my career. But then years later, Alter Bridge, they hit every aspect of my career.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE THE FIRST TIME YOU MET ROB ZOMBIE?
[Laughs] It was Ozzy and Rob Zombie on the Merry Mayhem Tour in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It might've been the opening night of the tour — it was coordinated with WWE. Went out there and I was already using the music and that's where we first met. So we're backstage having a tea together. [Laughs] Which sounds very un-metal, but I'm having a tea with Rob Zombie. And his wife Sheri, and I know Zakk Wylde, and he's there so we're catching up. Then Rob said, "Hey man, come up onstage, come up in your gear." Any other time I would have felt so strange and awkward about that, because when it's outside of the realm of wrestling it's like, "Wait, I'm going to wear tights and everyone else isn't going to be wearing tights? That's awkward." And then I looked at his stage, and I thought, "I'm going to be one of the most normal things up there." So sure, I'll put on my gear! That was the first night I met him. Since then we've had sandwiches in a deli in L.A. It's become a nice friendship. He's a very intelligent and nice guy.
I KNOW YOU'RE A BIG FAN OF FOO FIGHTERS. HOW DID YOU GET LINKED UP WITH THEM AND MANAGE TO GET "WALK" FOR YOUR HALL OF FAME SONG?
I've always been a huge fan. From the moment the first album came out, I thought, "Holy, that's Dave Grohl?" Every album that came out, all I could think was, my god, how did these songs not see the light of day before now? How do you write "My Hero" and not have that available to the world before then? Over the years I think it just became very well known that I'm a very big fan of the Foo Fighters. Over a few years, went to a few shows, met the guys, became buddies and it kind of just gravitated from there. Similar sensibilities, similar sense of humor, similar age groups, influences, all of those things. Fast forward to my Hall of Fame, WWE asked what song I wanted for my Hall of Fame package. I said, "'Walk' by Foo Fighters." They said, "OK, they say no to us all the time," but sure enough I go out for my Hall of Fame and there's "Walk." Fast forward a bunch of years later, we're doing a documentary on my comeback and I'm watching and the ending montage and it's "Walk." Again, another song whose lyrics kind of encapsulate this thing happening.
IT'S CRAZY HOW MUSIC DOES THAT. THE RETURN TO THE RUMBLE LAST YEAR, THE WHOLE SURPRISE OF IT ALL AND THE WAY THAT ALTER BRIDGE RIFF JUST KICKS IN, YOU COULDN'T ASK FOR ANYTHING MORE FITTING.
Yeah. The lyrics and everything, it added more weight. I think what I learned with this incarnation of Edge is there's not a lot of filter on it. A lot of what you're seeing is Adam. That night in particular, there's no way you could cover those kinds of emotions or try and bottle them — you just gotta let them out and let the audience in to let them know how special this is as a performer. And how much it means to you. Anytime that riff hits, I shoot to a different place entirely. And I've found, if you can do that, the audience is going to feel it and give it right back to you. Whether it's cheers or boos it doesn't matter. So, again, back to the first point: Music is where this all leaps from.
WHAT ARE YOU JAMMING LATELY?
There's the standards. It's always going to be Foo Fighters, and it's always going to be some Metallica, some Maiden, some Megadeth, some Machine Head, some Amon Amarth. Sabbath, some Faith No More, the Cult, I mean I can keep going. [Laughs] Pantera — that's always going to be on my workout mix. But then there's some times where I need to chill, and that's probably going to be a Pearl Jam moment or Avett Brothers. But when I need to get fired up, that's when I turn to heavy guitars and lots of drums. That's my go-to pocket. It's the first thing I do — gotta get the music going, gotta get in the zone.
YOU'VE ENCOUNTERED A LOT OF PEOPLE IN WRESTLING. WHO HAS THE WORST TASTE IN MUSIC OUT OF ANY WRESTLER?
That would be my old partner Christian. He ... you name a boy band, he knows the lyrics. But he loves Stone Temple Pilots and Lenny Kravitz. But he can recite every Peabo Bryson song. He can sing you "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. He has an eclectic, not great taste in music, if I'm being brutally honest. When you can sing a New Kids on the Block album to me, then we probably have differing opinions on music taste. [Laughs]