The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever.
To some it might seem premature, preposterous, ludicrous, unfair and perhaps unattainable. To Edge, that billing is a nonfactor. He believes, after all, that professional wrestling is an art, and art is subjective.
"I'll preface all of this with saying there's no such thing as the greatest match ever," Edge said. "You're not going to be able to say definitively, what is the greatest song of all time? What is the greatest painting of all time? What is the greatest movie of all time? What is the greatest band of all time? It's impossible, because there's no general consensus -- you can have great matches, but what is the greatest is going to be different to almost everybody."
So why use the moniker at all? It's all about business and marketing.
"Vince [McMahon] is a promoter, and he's promoting, but it's like hyperbole. I mean, to me [the greatest match is] not possible. So that takes that pressure out of my mind immediately."
Edge recently returned to WWE action for the first time since 2011. Eight days after appearing at WrestleMania 27 as World Heavyweight Champion, Edge stepped into the ring on Monday Night Raw and tearfully told WWE fans that he had no choice but to retire from in-ring competition because of damage to his neck.
From that point on, Edge made appearances here and there on WWE programming but largely stayed away from the pro wrestling bubble. He started a family with his wife, fellow WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix, and has two daughters, Lyric and Ruby. He pursued acting and was cast in movies and TV shows, including "Haven" and "Vikings."
But he never fully let go of his passion. As chronicled in his WWE 24 documentary on the WWE Network, Edge was given a glimmer of hope by doctors that he could one day return to the ring. He started to feel better. Aches and pains were diminishing. Quality of life was improving.
He decided to get in the ring and take a bump, and other than the expected painful jolt of his body hitting the canvas for the first time in several years, Edge felt good. So good, that the comeback became a reality.
Edge received a hero's welcome at the 2020 Royal Rumble as a surprise entrant. He returned to the ring again in a Last Man Standing match at WrestleMania 36 against Orton. They battled all over the WWE Performance Center, and ultimately, Edge got the win.
So how did we get to The Greatest Match Ever? Edge said he found out about the moniker around the beginning of May from Raw executive director Paul Heyman and McMahon. At that moment, he wasn't quite sure how to react with the information being presented.
"I just laughed because I didn't think it was serious," Edge said. "Then I realized fairly quickly it was. Then my reaction was, is this wise, because anytime you say something the greatest ever beforehand, you're setting yourself up for failure. And I don't ever want to think that way. I need to think the opposite of that. I can't control the court of public opinion. I need to do and be proud of the work that I put in.
"All I can do is take it as if this is all just a bonus and in a weird way, a compliment. Or it's a giant rib. I don't know."
It was clear from the start that expectations for this match are incredibly high. But in just his second match back, is Edge ready physically and mentally to reach that level?
"If I were to look at it on paper and go right, first proper wrestling match back in nine and a half years and they want to bill it as the greatest wrestling match ever ... I mean, that's pretty pressure filled," Edge said. "But I can't look at it that way, I really can't. I just have to understand that it's promotion and it's hype. I always go out with a mindset to try and have the best match that I've ever had. So I don't look at it in terms of a contest -- will it measure up to Steamboat vs. Savage or will it measure up to Shawn [Michaels] and [The Undertaker]. All I can do is measure up against myself, and especially at this juncture in my career, I'm just happy to be out there.
"This shouldn't even be happening. Let alone for the company, and let's call it straight, Vince, to think that he can bill this the "Greatest Match Ever." Would I have preferred they not billed it as that? Absolutely. But I also know there are times where heels get dug in the sand and there's no changing it."
The marketing may not have been how Edge would've liked, but the angle getting there with Orton has been much more in line with Edge's vision.
"I've been given a lot of freedom, in terms of writing my promos, and in terms of storyline, but [the way] the match is being billed was one that I realized that was not going to be able to get changed. I'd rather be in the arena, doing the sweating and doing the fighting, and rather than, commenting on someone else in there trying to do it. "
Putting together a typical match isn't simple, so what goes into creating a match like this? Because of the paradigm in which he views the moniker, Edge is approaching this match in a way he would even if it wasn't there.
"I just need to go out there and do my thing and try and do it the way I want to do it, which is with a lot more storytelling and a lot less [having a] crutch on [things like] ladders and tables and things of that nature," Edge said. "Go out and tell a story that will involve selling. It might be a different Edge than people are used to seeing, and there might be a bit of a learning curve for everyone watching to go, OK, this is what he's doing this time around. It's not going to be a choreographed dance with a lot of flips. I never really worked that way, but it's especially not going to be that way now.
"I want my matches to look like wrestling matches where the two guys are trying to beat each other, instead of working together to do some kind of crazy choreographed thing. I've been in matches like that, too, so don't get me wrong, but where I'm at now that's what I want to try and accomplish."
Setting aside the branding and hype around his own match to come against Orton, what does Edge consider the "Greatest Wrestling Match Ever," up to this point?
"It'll change daily," admits Edge. "One day, it could be Bret Hart vs Dynamite Kid from Landover, Maryland, a 12-minute match for Coliseum home video. The next day could be Stan Hansen-Andre the Giant in All Japan, where Andre worked the arm to take away the Lariat. The day after that, it could be Terry Funk and Nick Bockwinkel. Then it could be Mr. Perfect and Bret Hart. Taker-Shawn, whether it's Bad Blood or it's the WrestleMania ones. Barry Windham and Ric Flair in Battle of the Belts 2.
"[There's] never going to be one greatest match. It always changes, and it depends on the mood I'm in and depends on what I want to watch. There's not just one match that I go to and say OK, that's the one."
Despite the subjectivity of the billing, one thing is for certain: Orton needed to be his opponent for this match.
"There was a reason that this whole incarnation of Edge started with Randy," Edge said. "I know people want to complain about, 'when are you going to work [with] new guys?' ... Pump the brakes. Just remember here that I've been off for nine years. So, for me, I needed to know exactly where I was. And there's nobody better for me to do that with than Randy. Because Randy is still at the stage where he can get in there with anyone and have a good match. ... I needed a sense of comfort to be able to take a lot of the questions off the plate for me."
So when push comes to shove, can one WWE Hall of Famer in Edge and another guaranteed future Hall of Famer in Orton, with no fans in attendance, during a pandemic, possibly pull off The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever?
"There's Mount Everest, go climb it, without any equipment or a guide ... go," Edge said. "Well, I'm doing it with Randy. I'll give it a shot."