I've been a fan of professional wrestling for as long as I can remember. I recall my dad putting it one night, thinking I'd find it cool to watch, and I've been hooked ever since. I can tell you my first live event down at the Wildwoods Convention Centerwhich featuring Ivan Putski, where I got so scared by a guy threatening to throw the ring steps into the crowd, I made my dad move from our prime ringside seats all the way to the back of the arena (I was only like 4). I remember my first big event being Hulk Hogan main eventing against the Magnificent Muraco with Mr. Fuji in his corner. Almost as much as movies, wrestling has been a big part of who I am, as I've never been one to shy away from my love for it, whether it was cool or uncool at the time.
Over the years, I've ordered and watched more pay-per-views than I could bother to count. I've watched the weekly programming, both out of devotion and habit. I've been to several WrestleManias already, with many more in my future. I am a die-hard wrestling fan, so, when I was offered the chance to talk to Adam Copeland, better known to fellow wrestling fans as Edge, I couldn't help myself in taking WWE Studios up on it.
Edge is starring in their new film, BENDING THE RULES, opposite Jamie Kennedy, and whatever you may think of wrestlers in movies (Hulk Hogan's track record is enough for your justifiable doubt), I've got a feeling Edge may fall more along the lines of The Rock or "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who have been able to make the transition to Hollywood a lot better. All you need to do is catch a glimpse of some of his his villainous championship run as the "R-Rated Superstar," and you'd know the charisma he brought to the ring could easily translate to the screen.
I've been a fan of Edge's for quite some time, so it was cool to be able to talk with him about the new movie some, but moreso his career in wrestling. Enjoy...
Adam “Edge” Copeland: Hello.
The Infamous Billy The Kidd: Hey, Edge, how are you this morning? Or I should say afternoon?
Edge: Did you say “This morning?” Is it morning still?
The Kidd: (Laughs) No, the times start to all blend together after a while.
Edge: I feel like it might be, but… (Laughs)
The Kidd: No, it’s afternoon. So good afternoon to you. I did want to say that I have been a fan of yours for a while. I’ve been a fan of the WWE and wrestling in general for a while, so over all I was really sad to hear of your retirement due to all of the medical issues that kind of built up over time, but with that said I am also very happy for you to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year.
Edge: Cool, thank you. Yeah, it was kind of a whirlwind year in that respect where a lot changed and not in a bad way, just a lot changed. Everything is completely different than it was last year.
The Kidd: Were you expecting to kind of get that nod as soon as they bestowed it upon you?
Edge: Oh heck no. No, I didn’t really put much thought into it honestly, but I did assume it would be like a few years down the road kind of thing. I thought “Okay, at some point it will happen,” I just didn’t assume it would be the next year.
The Kidd: Let’s talk about BENDING THE RULES, which isn’t your first entry into acting. You’ve done some TV work before and you did the HIGHLANDER film a few years ago, but this is your first lead role. How does this film get to you through WWE Films? I’ve been curious as to how their model is set up in that they have always used a lot of the talent, the wrestlers, the superstars if you want to call it that, into building these films around. Is this something that kind of gets developed for you or is it something that they kind of come to you and see if you are interested in? Or is this something like “We’d like you to do this” and that’s that?
Edge: I think this one might have been developed a little bit toward what maybe my strengths were perceived as. I think it was “Hey, would you be interested in doing one?” “Yeah, for sure. Why not? Let’s give it a shot.” And then write it toward something that I would maybe be better at as opposed to getting me to try and play some kind of dramatic role. So that was kind of the process, at least on my end and what I was privy to. So far it seems like the model is setup to where it’s guys with a little bit more maybe of an established career and face that has been in them, whether its myself or Triple H or Big Show or John Cena or Kane; it’s like guys that our audience know pretty well.
The Kidd: How different is it between acting in front of the camera and… Not acting, but I guess performing in the ring, because you still have lines, you are still selling moves and what not, so what goes into the preparation for each and how does that differ where still essentially you are trying to get an audience to just buy into a character?
Edge: Well I think that’s were the key similarity lies, is that you’re trying to get people to invest into a character that you’re portraying. Where the differences fall is that I think the closest similarity that you could, from an acting perspective, draw to wrestling would be theater where it’s live. Once you do it, whether it worked or not you get that instant reaction and know “Okay, well that worked” and keep along that road or that route. With acting it’s one of those things where I didn’t necessarily know if it did. There’s a lot of trust involved in the fact that “Okay, the director knows what he wants. He knows what he sees. I trust his vision, because I don’t know this realm.” I don’t know acting, so you really just have to trust and trust that they have a vision and they know what they want, so they will go with the shot or the take that they think was best. With wrestling there isn’t that, it’s out there and either it worked or it didn’t and there’s no taking it back. Generally there’s a lot of ad-lib involved with live TV and things like that whereas with acting in front of the camera it was if you screwed up a line well you’ve got another take and you also had a script to be able to study, so it wasn’t all ad-lib and flying by the seat of your pants, which I like both aspects actually.
The Kidd: There’s definitely some glimpses of the Edge persona in Detective Nick Blades. How much of that is built into the script already and how much freedom did you get to just interject some of these character traits into this new persona, which is still kind of building upon what you had been known as?
Edge: I felt like this character was closer to Adam Copeland than it was to Edge and obviously there’s elements of myself in the Edge character, but I don’t know this character felt way closer to home to what I’m actually like than closer to home what the character of Edge is as confusing as that may have just come out. (Laughs) But with Blade he’s a pretty good guy, he’s just made a couple of mistakes here and there, a pretty mellow… If you get in his face, he’ll probably knock it off, but for the most part he’s a pretty good guy. He’s pretty laid back, pretty mellow. One of the first things I thought of in reading it I was like “Okay, so this guy is the Big Lebowski, but he can fight.”
The Kidd: (Laughs) To an extent I can see that perspective on it and taking that one step further, which is actually going to be my next question. I remember hearing awhile back and I don’t remember who to credit, but it was basically like the best in ring characters are extensions of the performer’s personalities just “turned up to 11” like with the SPINAL TAP route. How much of Adam Copeland really makes up Edge? Conversely how much of Edge rests then in regular Adam Copeland?
Edge: There’s not too much Edge in Adam Copeland, but there’s a little bit of my sarcasm and my sense of humor I guess, but I’m not a sleazy raving maniac like the character of Edge could be. There’s definitely aspects of this kind of rock and roll outlaw character that Edge was more or less and I love that kind of music and know pretty much any kind of fact you can think of about a band or about music, so that aspect of it is like me. But that’s kind of where it ends. I always looked at it as the character of Edge gives me complete free reign with no borders where you can get away with anything, just a complete… no social qualities, no redeeming qualities whatsoever…
The Kidd: You went face for a little bit at times.
Edge: Yeah, but I mean it’s not like it really changed a whole lot to the character, it was just the people I was working against that changed.
The Kidd: To go to that idea of playing to your strengths and moving into a role that plays to your strengths I’ve kind of gotten the feeling from watching wrestling over time that some times like putting you into an Edge character what will work or someone like Dwayne Johnson playing The Rock, something that works as an extension of them is really what the audience accepts as oppose to just kind of sticking a guy in a role or a gimmick that doesn’t really play to who they are. Is there kind of a miscasting at times that goes into what makes some personalities rise or fail in the industry at large?
Edge: You mean from a wrestling perspective?
The Kidd: Yes.
Edge: Yeah possibly, but I think it’s one of those things where if you’re good enough you’ll figure it out and you’ll figure out what works for you. I don’t know, when I first came in I didn’t have a character. They didn’t know what to do with me and I didn’t necessarily know what to do with me, but I figured it out and I always kind of drew the comparisons to movies. It was like “Okay, the Brood. I get it, we are the Lost Boys.” “Okay, Edge and Christian. We are Bill and Ted.” “Okay, now I’ve got to figure out what this next thing is going to be” and for a while tread water a little bit and then I really kind of looked at the whole Rated R thing as the Richards or Guns N’ Roses of wrestling, but initially I didn’t really have a character. So was I miscast? I don’t know. I think it’s one of those things where you through people out there and then their strengths will eventually find their way to the forefront if they are willing to take some chances and let’s face it, if they’re good.
The Kidd: Do you think that wrestling has become a little too scripted in terms of it’s presentation? It didn’t always used to be like that and you’re a little bit older than I, but I know you grew up kind of around the time of Wrestlemania Six, Seven, and Eight in terms of your interest on wrestling at large and guys like Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper. These were guys that kind of were able to wing it a little bit and as a result it comes across a lot differently now than it did then. Do you think guys are being given free reign a little bit to kind of get their characters over?
Edge: I think to an extent. I think you can tell the guys that do adlib. I was happy with the fact that I was one of those guys and Jericho was one of those guys and Punk is one of those guys. The guys who are good at it you can tell. I do also think that there’s always that little bit of rose tinted glasses. People look back so fondly on it, but if you look back at some of those promos and you almost wished that they could have had someone to reign it in, because a lot of them are rambling and nonsensical.
The Kidd: The Ultimate Warrior.
Edge: Man, like “What’s going on?” But here’s the thing, the programming changed. Okay, so when I’m growing up there’s one hour on Saturday mornings to fill. There’s a whole lot more content to have to fill now, so now you have a lot more speaking. There wasn’t such a thing as a ten minute promo before. There wasn’t. That wasn’t the case. It would be a quick cut back to Mean Gene talking to Sid Justice for 45 seconds.
The Kidd: Or those little picture in picture ones during the match.
Edge: Yeah, and there wasn’t as much programming. So you’ve got to think of it in those terms. You’ve got four hours to fill and more every week, so naturally the promos are going to be longer. Even if you threw some of those guys out there for ten minutes with no guidelines I don’t know how good they all would have turned out you know? I think there’s obviously guys that no matter what are going to be gifted at it. Piper, Jake The Snake, those guys I mean are a class unto themselves, but then go back and watch some of the other guys. (Laughs) You want to think back to it fondly, but, man, there are some guys that were horrible.
The Kidd: Following along those same lines in terms of filling the programming, is it detrimental at times to long term development and getting storylines or feuds over, you know things that used to take or used to be about to go over the course of several months kind of now get resolved week to week or pay-per-view to pay-per-view?
Edge: Well now you’re talking about a whole society changing. Life just moves faster now. When I was growing up I had three channels and I didn’t know what happened in the Philippines instantly if it happened. Now you can be on the internet and find out what’s going on in Zimbabwe. It’s changed. Life has changed. Society as a whole has changed, so obviously the product has to change in order to keep up with that. If you tried to… We are doing a year long program right now with The Rock and Cena. If Rock were there every week, how are you going to fill that?
The Kidd: It would get a little bit stale after a time.
Edge: It would with all of that programming and all of those hours. You were able to do it with Savage and Steamboat, because there was only an hour worth of TV every week. People don’t look at the broader picture a lot of the time.
The Kidd: Before you moved out into your solo career, you were kind of right in the middle of the last great period of tag team wrestling in the WWE. TNA has kind of done some things recently with the The Beer Money and America’s Most Wanted, things were kind of built around that model to an extent, but there hasn’t been anything like the period with Edge and Christian and the Hardy Boyz and the Dudleys as far as the height of tag team wrestling for quite some time. Can you just talk a little bit about at the time did you guys know how special these feuds and these matches would be looked upon down the road or was it kind of just like “We are six hungry guys. Let’s put it all out there and make names for ourselves?”
Edge: I guess there was a little bit of both. There was a little bit of that “Okay, I think we might have caught lightning in a bottle here” feeling to it. Six guys with the same mentality at the same time, and that was our goal, was to go “Okay, we want to make tag team wrestling important again. We want to try and bring it back to the golden years of The Heart Foundation and the Bulldogs and Demolition and Strike Force and Road Warriors and Brain Busters and Rockers and all of these teams.” We felt like we accomplished that. I don’t think going forward what kind of impact it’s going to have. I didn’t necessarily foresee that we’d create a type of match that would then get its own pay per view and be one of the first things that people always asked me about “So how about those TLC matches?” I mean I never really thought that far in advance, but we knew we were doing something different.
The Kidd: One of the other high points of your career I think was really the feud with John Cena and I think you had kind of been around the world title for a while, but the John Cena feud I think is what elevated you and right around that time there was kind of a shift in the audience. You were still this personality that was now drawing fans in and John Cena was getting booed continuously through now where there was kind of this shift and this turn. Were you surprised by how incapable you were of shaking the fans’ support and trying to get over as this villainous character no matter what it is that you did or said?
Edge: You know I kind of was proud of the fact that I thought I did keep him on his side. I felt like it was after ours that they really jumped off the bandwagon. They were already kind of starting to bloom when he was wrestling [Kurt] Angle, but Angle was out there basically out wrestling him every night and that’s no fault to John, that’s just… As a heel, you have to get out wrestled, so the baby face looks better. He’s supposed to and I had no problem with that. There are definitely some cool elements to it like going up and slapping his dad and stuff. I mean that was funny stuff, but generally I was happy with the fact that for the most part he got cheered against me I felt. There the occasion in Toronto obviously, but it’s my home town so I expected it there. It’s interesting, from there it really changed. So maybe that was the birth of it. I honestly don’t know, but I always pride myself on the fact that I got the majority of the audience to hate me.
The Kidd: Do you think John Cena gets a raw deal kind of from fans? I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about John Cena as far as like the work ethic and everything he does as far as the over all company, but there’s just this failure I think to connect with a certain part of the audience moving forward. I’m kind of just wondering how…
Edge: I think what it is honestly is he has been told he is the one that’s supposed to take this role. I think there has to be that guy and I think he’s been given that role and he’s making sure that he sticks to it and he’s probably being told to stick to it, like “You are going to be the face of this. You need to be the guy that we can take to sponsors. You need to be the guy that’s not dangerous for kids to watch. You need to be that guy” and in doing that sure it will pigeonhole him and alienate him to a certain audience, but looking at the broader picture a lot of the audience does like what he does. I mean think about it, back when I was growing up Hulk Hogan was this huge hero and if he did what he did then now it’d be the same reaction. He would be getting booed out of the building, so there needs to be that guy and John just happens to be that guy.
The Kidd: This isn’t the first Wrestlemania that you’ve missed in your career, but it’s definitely one that as a result of different circumstances… You’re going to be there, because you’ll be at the Hall of Fame, but what do you anticipate it’s going to feel like being there, but not participating and not being involved?
Edge: That might be the first time where I get the itch to go “Man, that’d be kind of cool to be in there,” because I haven’t yet. (Laughs) And maybe it wont’ happen, but I’m not really going to know until I’m sitting there watching it. I don’t know. I think I’ll probably just enjoy it like everybody else.
The Kidd: Well I will be there. I have my tickets to Wrestlemania. This will be my fourth Wresltemania attending. I’ll be at Axxess as well, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to bump into you, but thank you very much for talking the time to talk to me today.
Edge: Thanks man, I appreciate it.
The Kidd: Alright, thank you.
Edge: Take care. Bye.
BENDING THE RULES opens in select cities this Friday, March 9.
"The Infamous Billy The Kidd"
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