A look at who could replace Edge atop the wrestling mountain and where Adam Copeland goes from here.
This really isn’t anything too new for the WWE. We’ve seen it before – a top guy goes down with an injury or quits and somebody else hopefully steps up. When Triple H went down with his quad injury, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit stepped up huge. When Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior ditched in the 90’s, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels took the reigns. With Edge’s stunning news last week regarding his WWE future – or lack thereof – WWE enters into a very delicate time. Sure, there are a load of young talents and new names that haven’t had a run on top yet. There are some veterans ready to jump into the role for the time being. The question is, who is going to heed the wise words of Jim Ross and step up into that role?
Christian. This one is obvious. He’s Edge’s best friend and a ready made replacement. He frequently works great matches and is great in a gimmick pinch. I wouldn’t be shocked if Edge himself went to management and hand picked Christian as his replacement. The other benefit of Christian is that he is someone who easilly transitions from face to heel depending on business needs, much the way Edge was. The big question mark with him is drawing power. Edge wasn’t a massive draw – and Christian is frequently seen as being in Edge’s shadow. Can Smackdown afford to have a champion who, despite all of his skill, doesn’t force people to want to tune in to a taped show rather than reading spoilers?
Alberto del Rio. He’s been shotgunned into the top heel role. Now that we know what was happening with Edge behind the scenes, the reason for his match with del Rio opening Wrestlemania becomes more apparent. I still don’t think there is a world of faith in del Rio at this time, and the ho-hum level of interest in his "road to Wrestlemania" was the weakest I’ve seen from a Rumble winner in years.
Chris Jericho. He’s said he’ll come back to WWE after Dancing With the Stars is over. Edge and Jericho were practically interchangable for years, with the only difference being that Jericho is far less injury prone. He’s dependable, consistent, and like Edge and Christian, can be a face or a heel with equal effectiveness. He’s also a veteran who has proven HIGHLY capable of giving rubs to young guys, such as…
Wade Barrett. The heel IC champ and the man teasing a break up of his Corre faction. He has more than proven the ability to work a solid feud and WWE invested LOADS of live TV time for Barrett on Raw, so to allow him to toil away in a faction on Smackdown would be a waste. Wade Barrett is a damn fine choice, and similar to del Rio, he has an international marketing appeal to him.
Cody Rhodes. Think I’m crazy? He’s been probably the best and most consistent Smackdown performer in the last quarter. His promos in his new persona are chilling, his feud with Mysterio has been interesting, and his match with Mysterio at Wrestlemania was one of the top matches on the card. I don’t see him as a World Champion yet – but if Barrett moves up to contend for the big belt, an IC Title run for Cody can’t be far behind…
Triple H. He’s waiting for The Undertaker, sure, but there’s 11 months until that happens. He’s supposed to be a big leader in the corporation now, so when the company needs help, why shouldn’t HHH be expected to step up and carry the flag? If del Rio or Barrett is the main heel, Triple H can be the face. If Christian or Jericho is the main face, Triple H can damn sure be the heel awaiting Taker’s return.
Someone from Raw. Why not? If S(h)eamus isn’t going to have a long program with the US Title (though Sin Cara’s start may result in Seamus’s reign lengthening), why not bring him to SD to lead that show? He’s a two-time WWE Champ, but the chances of him so much as sniffing the big Raw title again with Miz, Cena, Orton, and Punk (and R-Truth?) over there are minimal. John Morrison could benefit from a taped show so Kevin Dunn can add some ‘canned crowd’ to the TV show for him, giving the illusion that he’s really over. Aren’t we due for a draft?
Dolph Ziggler. Ah, the wild card. His feud with Edge was fairly good, and he’s paired with the one-ton human heat magnet in Vicki Guerrero. One could argue he’s already stepped it up recently – perhaps this is the next logical step, even if he does look like the Beverley Brothers missing link.
What I Don’t Want to See. Shock for shock’s sake. It happened when Jack Thwagger became World Heavyweight Champion despite a) having never had a major role in a major show, b) having never had a meaningful run with a mid-card or tag-team title, c) having not had an intensely memorable feud. You can make the argument that the ECW Title reign was meaningful (it was as far as that belt could go) and that his feud with Tommy Dreamer was adequate – but not World Championship adequate. Kofi Kingston would be a shock – but I don’t think it would be well received long term. Santino Marella would be the shock to end all shocks, and it would be DAMN entertaining, but you have to build him a little more first. (Still, you can’t tell me you didn’t stand up and hold your breath when he started the cobra against del Rio at the Royal Rumble…you believed it was possible for a spilt second and you know it!) I also don’t want to see Big Show and Kane retreads. Both men are solid, consistent performers, but as World Champions go, they are ONLY as interesting as their opponents allow them to be.
YOU can log on to the Wrestlezone Forums to discuss who YOU think would be the BEST choice to take on Edge’s role as Smackdown’s Top Dog. There is even a poll in the discussion thread, so if you just want to register and vote without posting, that’s cool too! Vote and discuss here: http://forums.wrestlezone.com/showthread.php?t=164427
Another conundrum exists – what to do now with a guy in Adam Copeland, who clearly is beloved by fans and still has a desire to work, even if his body lacks the safe ability to do so? Well, that’s where we go from here.
Smackdown GM. Teddy Long has been a great fixture for so long, because unlike the Raw incarnation pre-laptop, Teddy has allowed the talent to speak for itself and just work. Outside of Teddy, the played out "evil GM" role has been absent on SD overall. So why not install Edge as the "Rated-R Commission-ar?" (Cheesy, I know, but it still rhymes.) He would be a nice foil to Vickie Guerrero, could do what he does best and be on the mic, and could still hold a presence in the locker room as a veteran. He wouldn’t have to do house shows – just tapings and PPV’s.
Raw GM. Edge can do live TV just fine, and eventually, the anonymous Raw GM storyline will run its course. Edge would work out well for the reasons you see stated above. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see CM Punk trying to maneuver authority around a presence like Edge?
Commentator. Sadly this is a long shot. Edge would be AWESOME on commentary because he’s intelligent, clear, knowledgable, funny, and above all else, relevant and qualified. People know he knows what he’s talking about. The issue here is that the annouce booths are stacked. Raw has JR, King, Michael Cole, and Josh Matthews. Smackdown has Matthews, Todd Grisham, Booker T, and Cole when he goes over to SD. Two wrestlers in the same booth is overkill (Piper and Savage showed us that a long while back) so Edge and Booker would overpower either Matthews or Grisham. Now if The Bookah-man decides to leave the announce table to take on the trainer and development role full time, then we’re in business here.
Scout / Trainer. Absolutely. He was hired by the best talent scout maybe in WWE history in Jim Ross. Edge would be money in this role, scouting talent. He could help run the minor leagues, or be an on air trainer with Austin and Demott on Tough Enough. Just don’t put him in Finlay’s old spot with the women. He’s got a, er, reputation…
Until next time, Edge-heads, don’t forget to jump on the Wrestlezone Forums and join us every Monday for Raw, every Friday for Smackdown, and every PPV for our forums live discussions!
Chris W. Fitzpatrick
Wrestlezone Forums Moderator