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Christian Cage

Christian in March 2015

Birth nameWilliam Jason Reso
Born(1973-11-30) November 30, 1973 (age 44)
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
ResidenceTampa, Florida, United States
Spouse(s)Denise Hartmann (m. 2001)
Children1
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Christian[1]
Christian Cage[2]
Conquistador Dos[3]
Male Nurse[4]
Billed height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)[1]
Billed weight212 lb (96 kg)[1]
Billed fromTampa, Florida (WM18, TNA)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada[1]
Trained byDory Funk Jr.[2]
Ron Hutchison[5]
Debut1995[5]
Retired2014

William Jason Reso (born November 30, 1973) is a Canadian actor, podcaster and retired professional wrestler. He is best known for his time in WWE under the ring nameChristian, a shortened version of his original ring name Christian Cage that was also used during his tenure in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.

Reso was trained by former professional wrestlers Ron Hutchison and Dory Funk Jr., and made his wrestling debut in May 1992. Reso wrestled in Canadian independent promotions early in his career, where he frequently competed in singles and tag team competition with longtime best friend Adam Copeland. In 1998, Reso signed a developmental deal with the World Wrestling Federation and was rebranded as the storyline brother of Edge, Copeland's WWF persona. Reso made his debut the following year and immediately captured his first title in the company, the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship. He and Edge gained notoriety as a tag team for their participation in Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches and winning the WWF Tag Team Championship on seven different occasions. The team parted ways in 2001, after which Reso held various heavyweight singles titles. In November 2005, Reso signed with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) under his Christian Cage ring name, where he won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship twice. Reso left TNA in late 2008 and re-signed with WWE, where he won the ECW Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship twice. He is the twenty-third Triple Crown Champion and the eleventh Grand Slam Champion in WWE history.

Early life[edit]

Reso was born on November 30, 1973 in Kitchener, Ontario,[2] the son of an American father and a Canadian mother.[2][6] He played ice hockey and was a wrestling fan as a child.[6] Reso lived in Huntsville and East Luther-Grand Valley,[6] before moving to Orangeville; here, he met Adam Copeland, who became his best friend and eventual tag team partner.[5][7] The two attended Orangeville District Secondary School together, from which Reso graduated.[5][7]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career (1994–1998)[edit]

In September 1994, Reso enrolled in a wrestling school at Sully's Gym, run by Ron Hutchison.[5] One of Reso's early ring names, Christian Cage, was a combination of the names of Christian Slater and Nicolas Cage.[5][7] Christian's wrestling career began in June 1995 in a match against Zakk Wyld, which resulted in a draw.[5] In 1997, he was a part of Thug Life, a stable that included Joe E. Legend, Zakk Wyld, Rhino Richards, and Sexton Hardcastle (Copeland). As a tag team on the Canadian independent circuit, Copeland and Reso were known as High Impact and later The Suicide Blondes. The duo held titles in numerous promotions, and competed in the United States and Japan.[8] Reso won the East Coast Wrestling Association (ECWA) Heavyweight Championship on July 18, 1998, which he held until October 15, 1999.[9]

When Copeland received a tryout match with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), Reso went with him. They faced off in an untelevised tryout match, which Copeland was booked to win. After the tryout, Copeland signed a contract with the WWF.[8] Once Copeland was promoted from his developmental status to touring with the WWF, he put in a good word for Reso and got him invited to the WWF-affiliated Dory Funk, Jr.'s Funking Conservatory training camp in 1998.[10] After completing his training at the conservatory, Reso signed a contract with the WWF to become a full-time performer.[8]

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment[edit]

Edge and Christian (1998–2001)[edit]

Main article: Edge and Christian

When Reso came to the World Wrestling Federation, he shortened his ring name to Christian.[5] He made his television debut on September 27, 1998 at the Breakdown: In Your Housepay-per-view (PPV) event, distracting Edge during his match against Owen Hart to reveal his allegiance to Gangrel.[11][12] He won the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship in his debut match against Taka Michinoku on October 18, 1998, at the Judgment Day: In Your House PPV event.[5][13]

Christian, given the character of a vampire, formed an alliance with Gangrel and Edge, who (in storyline) was finally persuaded to join what became known as The Brood.[14] At Rock Bottom: In Your House, The Brood defeated The J.O.B. Squad in a six-man tag team match, then they briefly feuded with The Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness, later joining the team. Upon learning that Christian was beaten into telling Ken Shamrock the whereabouts of Stephanie McMahon, The Undertaker punished Christian by flogging him.[14] More loyal to The Brood than to The Ministry, Edge and Gangrel betrayed The Undertaker and rescued Christian from sacrifice later on.

In 1999, Christian and Edge parted ways with Gangrel, who associated himself with The Hardy Boyz (Jeff and Matt Hardy) to form The New Brood; as a result, they began feuding with The Hardy Boyz, and went on to compete in a ladder match at the No Mercy PPV event on October 17, 1999, for the managerial services of Terri Runnels and $100,000, which The Hardy Boyz won.[15] At Survivor Series, Edge and Christian and The Hardy Boyz faced Too Cool and The Hollys in a Four-on-four Survivor Series elimination match where they lost. At Armageddon, Edge and Christian competed in a 8-team battle royal which was won by The Acolytes. At Royal Rumble, Christian competed in the Royal Rumble match where he was eliminated by Rikishi. At No Way Out, Edge and Christian defeated The Hardy Boyz in a tag team match to determine the number one contenders to the WWF Tag Team Championship. On April 2, 2000, at WrestleMania 2000, Christian and Edge defeated The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) to win their first WWF Tag Team Championship in a Triple Threat Ladder match, which ultimately led to the creation of the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match (TLC).[16][17] At Backlash, Christian and Edge defeated D-Generation X to retain titles. At Judgment Day, Edge and Christian and Kurt Angle lost a Six-man tag team match to Rikishi and Too Cool. They lost the tag titles to Too Cool soon after, but won them back in a four corners elimination match at King of the Ring. At Fully Loaded they defended the titles against The Acolytes Protection Agency (Faarooq and Bradshaw) where they got disqualified but retained the titles.

Following their victory, Christian and Edge portrayed themselves as villains, shifting their in-ring personas from borderline goth to a comedic pair of "cool dudes." During this time, their trademark became the "five second pose", where they performed a pose in the ring for five seconds "for the benefit of those with flash photography" to mock, insult, or amuse the fans.[5][18] At the SummerSlam PPV event on August 27, 2000, the duo successfully defended the tag team title in the first-ever TLC match against The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz.[19] At Unforgiven, Edge and Christian defended the titles against The Hardy Boyz in a steel cage match where they lost the titles and were not allowed another title shot. At No Mercy, Edge and Christian under Masks of Los Conquistadores defeated The Hardys for the titles. The next night on Raw is War, The Hardy Boyz dressed as the Los Conquistadores and defeated Edge in a handicap match after Christian was taken out backstage to regain the WWF Tag Team Championship. At Survivor Series, Edge and Christian teamed with Right to Censor's Bull Buchanan and The Goodfather in a Four-on-four Survivor Series elimination match where they lost to The Dudleys and The Hardyz. They regained the tag titles at Armageddon in a Fatal Four-Way match but lost them 8 days later to The Rock and The Undertaker but won them back days later on Smackdown thanks to special guest referee Kurt Angle. At the Royal Rumble PPV event on January 21, 2001, Christian and Edge lost the WWF Tag Team Championship to The Dudley Boyz.[20][21] The following month on February 25, 2001 at the No Way Out PPV event, they were unsuccessful in regaining the titles,[22] but eventually recaptured them on April 1, 2001 at the WrestleMania X-Seven PPV event in the second-ever TLC match.[23][24] Christian and Edge were defeated by The Brothers of Destruction (Kane and The Undertaker) for the WWF Tag Team Championship on the April 19, 2001 episode of WWF SmackDown!.[25] At Backlash, Christian was part of Triple threat match for the WWF European Championship which was won by Matt Hardy. At Judgment Day, Edge and Christian competed in a Tag team turmoil match which was won by Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. Days later, on the May 24, 2001 episode of Smackdown, Christian and Edge competed in a fatal four-way tag team TLC match for the WWF Tag Team Championship in which Benoit and Jericho retained the titles.

After losing the tag team titles, friction arose within the team after Edge won the 2001 King of the Ring tournament on June 24 at the King of the Ring PPV event.[26] It was also during this time that Edge was becoming a fan favorite during "The Invasion" storyline. Christian turned on Edge shortly afterward,[27] resulting in the two feuding for Edge's WWF Intercontinental Championship for several months.[28]

Championship reigns and various feuds (2001–2004)[edit]

At Unforgiven, Christian defeated Edge to win the Intercontinental Championship but lost it back to Edge a month later at No Mercy in a ladder match. Christian resumed a singles career by winning the WWF European Championship from Bradshaw in October 2001.[29] On November 3 at Rebellion, Christian faced Edge in a steel cage match for the Intercontinental Championship but failed to win the title. At Survivor Series, Christian defeated Al Snow to retain the European Championship. At Vengeance, Christian and Test faced Scotty 2 Hotty and Albert in a losing effort. He lost the European title to Diamond Dallas Page in January 2002. At Royal Rumble, Christian entered the royal rumble match where he was eliminated by Steve Austin. At No Way Out, Christian and Lance Storm entered a Tag Team Turmoil match with the winners getting a tag title shot at Wrestlemania which was won by The APA. After a series of defeats, Christian announced he would quit the WWF, but Page persuaded him to reconsider, and adopted him as his protégé.[5] Christian betrayed Page and faced off against him for the European championship at the WrestleMania X8 event on March 17, 2002, in which Page defeated him.[5] He began throwing tantrums in his gimmick at the time whenever things did not go his way. During the same event, Christian defeated Mighty Molly to win the WWF Hardcore Championship, but lost the title to Maven later that night.[30]

Following WrestleMania X8, Christian formed an alliance with fellow Canadian wrestlers Lance Storm and Test in June 2002, calling themselves The Un-Americans. Together, Christian and Storm won the now named WWE Tag Team Championship, formerly the WWF Tag Team Championship (which was renamed due to the WWF being forced to rename itself "World Wrestling Entertainment"), on July 21, 2002 at the Vengeance pay-per-view event, but later lost it on the September 23, 2002 episode of WWE Raw to the team of The Hurricane and Kane.[31] He later formed a tag team with Chris Jericho, on October 7 WWE Raw Roulette, Christian & Chris Jericho competed in a Fatal 4-Way Tag Team TLC Match for the World Tag Team Championship but failed to win the titles, but a week later they won the World Tag Team Championship, the renamed WWE Tag Team Championship, on October 14, 2002.[31][32] Christian and Jericho lost the title in a fatal four-way elimination match, involving the teams of The Dudley Boyz, Booker T and Goldust, and William Regal and Lance Storm, on December 15, 2002 at the Armageddon PPV event.[33]

In 2003, after receiving advice and endorsement from The Rock, Christian self-proclaimed himself as the new "People's Champion", and began calling his fans "The Peeps".[34][35] On the May 5 episode of Raw, Christian faced Goldberg but it ended in a no contest when 3-Minute Warning got involved which led to a rematch on May 12, where Christian lost to Goldberg in a Steel Cage match. He went on to win a nine-man over-the-top-rope battle royal at the Judgment Day pay-per-view event on May 18, 2003, for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship, the renamed "WWF Intercontinental Championship".[28] The following night on Raw, he appeared on Chris Jericho's talk show, The Highlight Reel, sporting a new haircut and ring attire.[36] Christian lost the Intercontinental Championship to Booker T on the July 7 episode of Raw.[28] He regained the title at a house show on August 10, after Booker was legitimately injured.[28] At Unforgiven, Christian defeated Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam to retain the title in a triple threat match. A week later on the September 29 episode of Raw, Christian lost the Intercontinental Championship to Rob Van Dam in a ladder match. at Survivor Series, Christian was a part of Team Bischoff taking on Team Austin during the match Christian eliminated Bubba Ray Dudley and later on Christian was eliminated by Shawn Michaels; in the end Team Bischoff won the five-on-five Survivor Series elimination match. A month later at Armageddon, Christian and Chris Jericho defeated Trish Stratus and Lita in an intergender tag team match billed as the "Battle of the Sexes".

Also in 2003, Jericho and Christian began romances with WWE Divas Trish Stratus and Lita, respectively. As part of the angle, it was revealed to be a bet over who could sleep with their respective female first, with a Canadian dollar at stake.[37][38] Despite the bet, Jericho continued his relationship with Stratus, which ultimately resulted in Christian and Jericho turning on each other. At Royal Rumble, Christian competed in the Royal Rumble match where he was eliminated by Jericho, At the WrestleMania XX pay-per-view event on March 14, 2004, Christian faced Jericho in a singles match with Stratus on Jericho's side. Stratus, however, accidentally struck Jericho, allowing Christian to defeat him.[39] Stratus then joined forces with Christian, becoming his on-screen girlfriend in the process. At Backlash, Christian and Stratus faced Chris Jericho in an Intergender handicap match which Jericho won, During a steel cage match against Jericho on the May 10, 2004. episode of Raw, Christian suffered a severe back injury, causing him to miss almost four months of in-ring action.[7][40] He returned on the August 30 episode of Raw, resuming his feud with Jericho ending in a ladder match for the vacant Intercontinental Championship at Unforgiven.[41]

Captain Charisma (2004–2005)[edit]

Christian's gimmick became that of a cocky, obnoxious and overconfident villain, dubbing himself "Captain Charisma" in October 2004. At Survivor Series 2004, Christian debuted "Just Close Your Eyes" by Waterproof Blonde as his theme song. On December 6, 2004, he was forced to wrestle as Captain Charisma, complete with a superhero costume, by Chris Jericho, who was general manager for the night.[42] Christian was often accompanied by Tyson Tomko, whom he called his "problem solver", and usually won his matches with interference from Tomko. Christian was loosely paired with Edge again several times in late 2004 and early 2005. Despite being a villain, he acquired a fanbase, who he referred to as his "Peeps",[43] "Peepulation" (a play on the word "population")[44] or the "Christian Coalition".[45] at New Year's Revolution, Christian and Tyson Tomko faced Eugene and William Regal for World Tag Team Championship but failed to win the titles, At the Royal Rumble Christian competed in the 30-man Royal Rumble match where he was eliminated by Batista.

In April 2005, Christian participated in the first-ever Money in the Bank ladder match at the WrestleMania 21 PPV event on April 3, 2005.[46] Following this, Christian, who had an encounter with SmackDown! superstar John Cena at the start of the year, began commenting on Cena, claiming he was a better rapper than Cena and denouncing him as "poseur". Christian was noticeably cheered during these segments.[7] Soon after Cena, then-WWE Champion, was drafted to the Raw brand, where Cena successfully defended the WWE Championship in a Triple Threat match against Christian and Jericho on June 26, 2005 at the Vengeance PPV event.[47]

On the June 30 episode of SmackDown!, Christian was drafted to the SmackDown! brand in the 2005 WWE Draft Lottery. He replaced The Big Show in a six-man elimination match for the newly created SmackDown! Championship, and lost to John "Bradshaw" Layfield.[48] Soon-after, he was given his own interview segment on SmackDown! called The Peep Show.[49] On July 24 at The Great American Bash, Christian faced Booker T in a losing effort. On October 9 at No Mercy, Christian competed in a fatal four-way match for the United States Championship which was won by Chris Benoit.

On October 31, 2005, Reso's contract with WWE expired.[49] According to wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, he was asked on the spot to sign a new contract but declined.[49] His last match occurred during the tapings for the November 4 episode of SmackDown!.[49] Despite his quitting, Christian appeared on the October 31 episode of Raw and at the Taboo Tuesday PPV event on November 1, 2005, fulfilling his obligations to the company, as he was one of five SmackDown! wrestlers eligible to be voted Snitsky and Chris Masters' opponents by the fans.[50][51]

Before leaving WWE, Reso filed to trademark the nickname of "Captain Charisma", which allowed him to use it as Christian Cage in TNA. However, after WWE disputed the trademark claim by citing a provision in the terms of his old contract, Reso stopped officially using it on TNA programming by the summer of 2006. From early 2007 onwards, he began calling himself "The Instant Classic", although he continued to be referred to as "Captain Charisma" in off-screen appearances and sometimes wore his "Captain Charisma" entrance jumpsuits to the ring at live events.[52]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling[edit]

Instant Classic (2005–2006)[edit]

Reso made his debut in the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) promotion on November 13, 2005 at TNA's GenesisPPV event under his old ring name Christian Cage.[53] Cage then made his way the ring, where he grabbed a microphone and announced his intentions to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship held by Jeff Jarrett, after taking a few shots at his former employer.[53]Coach Scott D'Amore and Bobby Roode of the villainous Team Canada alliance then made their way to the ring. D'Amore then offered Cage a position in Team Canada (since Reso is Canadian) and even giving him a Team Canada T-shirt and telling Cage to take his time on making a decision.[53] Later in the night after the main event, a six-man tag team match pitting the team of Jarrett and America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm) (AMW) against Rhino and Team 3D (Brother Ray and Brother Devon), Cage ran down to the ring while Team Canada (D'Amore, Roode, Eric Young, and A-1), AMW, and Jarrett were assaulting Rhino and Team 3D.[53] After Cage entered the ring, he removed the jacket he was wearing to reveal the Team Canada T-shirt he was given earlier by D'Amore. D'Amore immediately rejoiced that Cage was seemingly a member of Team Canada until Cage turned on D'Amore and performed his Unprettier maneuver; Cage's act also solidified his character as a face.[53] Cage, Rhino, and Team 3D attacked AMW and Team Canada and threw them out of the ring; they then forced the remaining Jarrett through a wooden table after Cage removed his Team Canada shirt to reveal a hidden TNA T-shirt.[53]

Cage made his first appearance on TNA Impact! during the November 19, 2005 episode by engaging in a verbal sparring bout with Monty Brown.[54] This led to a match against Brown to become number one contender to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on December 11, 2005 at TNA's Turning Point PPV event, which Cage won.[55] At TNA's Final Resolution PPV event on January 15, 2006, Cage participated in his first TNA PPV main event by teaming with Sting to defeat the team of Monty Brown and Jeff Jarrett.[56] Cage went on to defeat then-NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jarrett for the title on February 12, 2006 at TNA's Against All Odds PPV event.[57]

Cage had his first title defense against Brown on March 12, 2006 at TNA's Destination X PPV event; there Cage defeated Brown to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.[58] On the March 25 and April 2 respective Impact! episodes, Abyss, his manager Father James Mitchell, and Alex Shelley showed two pre-taped video packages that had been compiled in the weeks before the episodes. The first, on March 25, depicted Mitchell stalking Cage's wife Denise, confronting her, and even threatening that "they were coming".[59] The second aired on April 2, with Abyss, accompanied by Mitchell and Shelley, who was taping the segment with a camcorder like the previous video package, attacking Cage at his home in Tampa, Florida and nearly drowning Cage in his own pool.[60] This storyline led to Cage facing Abyss at TNA's Lockdown PPV event on April 23, 2006 in a Six Sides of Steel cage match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, with Cage prevailing. After the match, Cage attempted to attack Mitchell and gain revenge for all his recent evil deeds against Cage and his family. Abyss, however, stopped him, took a steel chain, wrapped it around Cage's neck, and attempted to hang him with it until he passed out. Abyss and Mitchell then stole the NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt and left the arena.[61] The storyline between Abyss and Mitchell and Cage continued until TNA's Sacrifice PPV event on May 14, 2006, where Cage defeated Abyss and regained the NWA title belt under Full Metal Mayhem rules.[62]

On June 18, 2006 at TNA's Slammiversary PPV event, Cage's NWA World Heavyweight Championship reign came to an end as he was defeated by Jeff Jarrett in a King of the Mountain match, which also involved Abyss, Ron Killings, and Sting.[63]Larry Zbyszko and refereeEarl Hebner intervened at the end of the match by helping Jarrett win.[63] The title was declared vacant until TNA's main authority figure at the time, Management DirectorJim Cornette, awarded the title belt back to Jarrett on the June 29, 2006 episode of Impact! on the condition that he defend it against the winner of a four-way match at TNA's Victory Road PPV event on July 16, 2006 involving Cage, Samoa Joe, Scott Steiner, and Sting.[64] Jarrett agreed to the condition, and at the event Sting became the new number one contender.[65]

NWA World Heavyweight Champion (2006–2007)[edit]

After Victory Road, Cage befriended the new number one contender Sting on the July 27, 2006 episode of Impact!, by asking for forgiveness for doubting Sting's agenda by coming to TNA in January of that year.[66] He went on to say that he had asked Jim Cornette the week before if he could be in Sting's corner in his match with Jarrett for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at TNA's Hard Justice PPV event, but had told him he needed Sting's approval.[66] Sting accepted Cage's offer, with interviewer and occasional ring announcerJeremy Borash announcing Sting's decision in a backstage segment on the August 3, 2006 episode of Impact!.[67] On August 13, 2006, Cage was in Sting's corner at Hard Justice as he faced Jarrett, with Scott Steiner in his corner, for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. During the contest, Cage interfered to help Sting win numerous times, as did Steiner for Jarrett, until Cage turned on Sting by taking Jarrett's signature guitar and bashing it over his head—changing his character from a face to a heel.[68] He then allowed Jarrett to pin Sting and retain the title.[68]

After the event, Cage began a feud with Rhino one of Reso's real-life good friends. On the August 17, 2006 episode of Impact!, Rhino questioned Cage on his actions at Hard Justice; Cage replied saying he did it for the good of TNA.[69] He went on to explain later in the episode, during a sit-down interview with TNA commentatorMike Tenay, that he attacked Sting because he felt Sting did not show enough passion during the encounter to "get the job done" and win the title.[70] The next week on Impact!, Cage came down to the ring where he addressed his attack on Sting further, until he was interrupted by Rhino. After a small debate, Rhino attacked Cage, starting a brawl between the two which came to an end after Cage laid Rhino's head on a steel chair, picked up another chair, and bashed it over the outside of Rhino's head performing a one-man con-chair-to in the process.[71] This led to a match against Rhino at TNA's No Surrender PPV event on September 24, 2006, which Cage won.[72] A rematch was held at TNA's Bound for Glory PPV event on October 22, 2006, which Cage also won under 8 MileStreet Fight rules.[73] They had their final bout on the November 16, 2006 episode of Impact!, where Cage defeated Rhino in a Barbed Wire Six Sides of Steel cage match.[74]

Christian's old WWE enforcer Tyson Tomko (now going simply by Tomko) made his TNA debut on the November 23, 2006 episode of Impact! helping Cage in a match against Sting.[67] Cage, with Tomko at his side, set his sights on the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, now held by Abyss. At TNA's Turning Point PPV event on December 10, 2006, Cage fought Abyss and Sting in a three-way match for the NWA Title. Cage failed to win the match, as Abyss won to retain the championship after pinning Sting.[75]

Cage fought for the NWA Championship once again at TNA's Final Resolution PPV event on January 14, 2007 against Abyss and Sting, this time in a Three Way Elimination match. Cage prevailed this time around by pinning Sting after Abyss was already eliminated to win the championship.[76] After Final Resolution, Cage prepared for his title defense against the new number one contender Kurt Angle, who had defeated Samoa Joe in a 30-minute Iron Man match at Final Resolution to gain the opportunity.[76] Heading into their encounter at TNA's Against All Odds PPV event on February 11, 2007, Cage announced on the January 17, 2007 episode of Impact! that he had hired a special consultant to assist him in training for his bout with Angle.[77] This consultant was revealed on the February 8, 2007 episode of Impact!, who turned out to be Scott Steiner after he attacked Angle following a match pitting the team of Angle and Joe against Cage and A.J. Styles.[78] Cage went on to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Angle at Against All Odds with Joe as the unofficial special outside enforcer.[79]

Christian's Coalition and departure (2007–2008)[edit]

Main article: Christian's Coalition

On the March 8, 2007 episode of Impact!, Cage proclaimed that he, Tomko, and Scott Steiner were an "inseparable family", which he called Christian's Coalition.[80] After a short feud with Samoa Joe, culminating in a victory for Cage at TNA's Destination X PPV event on March 11, 2007 for the NWA Title,[81] Cage was announced as a captain of a five-man team for the Lethal Lockdown match at TNA's Lockdown PPV event on April 15, 2007 against Team Angle, led by Kurt Angle, during the March 15, 2007 episode of Impact!.[82] Team Cage, consisting of Cage, Tomko, Steiner, A.J. Styles, and Abyss, went on to lose to Team Angle, consisting of Angle, Joe, Rhino, Sting, and Jeff Jarrett at Lockdown.[83] A stipulation was added that the wrestler who got the pinfall would become number one contender for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and have their title shot on May 13 at Sacrifice.[84] Sting was the individual who gained the pinfall victory for Team Angle, and became the new number one contender.[83]

Abyss was later kicked out of the group after he attacked Cage on the April 19, 2007 episode of Impact!.[85] Steiner was the next to leave the group, after he was attacked by Tomko following their tag team title match at the Sacrifice PPV event.[86] Cage was set to defend the NWA Championship against Sting at Sacrifice, however, on the May 3, 2007 episode of Impact! Angle was added to the match, making it a three-way match.[87] The day of the PPV, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), the owners of the NWA World Heavyweight and the NWA World Tag Team Championships, stripped Cage of the title and Team 3D of the tag team titles.[88] NWA Executive Director Robert K. Trobich stated the reason was that Cage refused to defend the NWA Title at NWA live events.[88] At the PPV event, Cage, still holding the physical NWA Championship belt, defended what was billed as the "World Heavyweight Championship" against Angle and Sting. Angle was the victor of said contest by making Sting submit, who had "technically" just pinned Cage at the very same moment, and was announced as the new "World Heavyweight Champion".[86] The Impact! following the event, Angle came to the ring with a new championship belt in-toe, and announced he was the new "TNA World Heavyweight Champion",[89] a championship that TNA had just introduced at Sacrifice.[90] Afterwards, Cage and Sting came to the ring and the three began to argue over who was the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion. Due to the controversial finish to their match at Sacrifice, the title was declared vacant by Cornette. A tournament was held for the title which culminated in a King of the Mountain match at TNA's Slammiversary PPV event on June 17, 2007.[89] Cage won entry into the match on the June 14, 2007 episode of Impact!, by defeating Abyss.[91] Cage, however, failed to defeat the four other men (Styles, Joe, Angle, and Chris Harris) and win the title, as Angle hung the title belt to become the new and undisputed TNA World Heavyweight Champion.[92]

After defeating Harris at TNA's Victory Road PPV event on July 17, 2007[93] and Tomko, Styles, and he losing to the team of Andrew Martin, Sting, and Abyss at TNA's Hard Justice PPV event on August 12, 2007 in a Doomsday Chamber of Blood match to become number one contender to the TNA Title,[94] Cage restarted his feud with Samoa Joe. The two met at TNA's No Surrender PPV event on September 9, 2007, where Cage defeated Joe by disqualification when Joe refused to release his Coquina Clutch submission hold he had applied.[95] The two had a rematch on October 14, 2007 at TNA's Bound for Glory PPV event with Matt Morgan as the special outside enforcer. There, Joe defeated Cage to end his 23-month-long undefeated streak by not officially being pinned nor made to submit.[96] Cage and Joe fought one more time on the October 18, 2007 episode of Impact!, with a spot in the 2007 Fight for the Right tournament to become number one contender to the TNA Championship.[97] Cage defeated Joe to gain entry.[97] Cage made it all the way to the final round of the tournament, where he fought Kaz on the November 8, 2007 episode of Impact!. Cage defeated Kaz, but due to interference from Styles and Tomko on Cage's behalf, the match was declared a no contest, with the finals being determined on November 11, 2007 at TNA's Genesis PPV event in a ladder match.[98] Cage, however, failed to win the tournament final the second time around at Genesis.[99]

Later in the night, Styles and Tomko helped Angle retain the TNA title during the main event as Cage looked on from the ramp.[99] Styles and Tomko were later announced as members of Angle's new group, The Angle Alliance, which led to a title match between the two on January 6, 2008 at TNA's Final Resolution PPV event, and also turning into a fan favorite in the process.[100] On the January 3, 2008 episode of Impact!, Tomko left both Christian's Coalition and The Angle Alliance.[101] Cage failed to win the title at Final Resolution, as a result of Styles' betraying and attacking him during the bout, thus ending Christian's Coalition.[102] Cage got a rematch against Angle on February 10, 2008 at TNA's Against All Odds PPV event with Samoa Joe as the special outside enforcer. He once again was defeated by Angle as this time Tomko interfered and cost Cage the match.[103] Cage teamed with Joe and Kevin Nash, known as The Unlikely Alliance, at TNA's Destination X PPV event on March 9, 2008 to defeat The Angle Alliance (Angle, Styles, and Tomko) in a six-man tag team match.[104] Cage, along with Tomko, were announced as opposing team captains for a Lethal Lockdown match at TNA's Lockdown PPV event, to be held on April 13, 2008, on the March 13 episode of Impact!.[105] Team Cage (Cage, Rhino, Nash, Morgan, and Sting) went on to defeat Team Tomko (Tomko, Styles, Brother Devon, Brother Ray, and James Storm) at the event.[106] Afterwards, Cage and Rhino began competition as a regular tag team, with the pair being involved in The Deuce's Wild Tag Team Tournament for the vacant TNA World Tag Team Championship. They, however, failed to win the tournament and the championship on May 11, 2008 at TNA's Sacrifice PPV event.[107] Cage and Rhino were involved as single competitors in a King of the Mountain match for the TNA Championship at TNA's Slammiversary PPV event on June 8, 2008, but failed to win the match.[108] Cage and Rhino went on to team with Styles, who had made amends with Cage and Rhino, in a losing effort against Angle, Brother Devon, and Brother Ray in a Full Metal Mayhem match at TNA's Victory Road PPV event on July 13, 2008.[109] On August 10, 2008 at TNA's Hard Justice PPV event, Cage and Rhino defeated Team 3D in a New Jersey Street Fight.[110] Cage was involved in a three-way match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against the champion Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle at TNA's No Surrender PPV event on September 13, 2008, but failed to become the new champion.[111] Cage then went on to participate in another three-way match against Styles and Booker T at TNA's Bound for Glory IV PPV event on October 12, 2008, which Booker T won.[112] Cage was defeated in his final TNA match on November 9, 2008 by Booker T for the newly established Legends Championship at Turning Point, with the stipulation that if Cage lost, he would have to join the newly formed Main Event Mafia.[113] On the November 13, 2008 episode of Impact!, Cage had his final appearance in TNA before his contract expired. During the telecast, Cage was to be inducted into The Main Event Mafia, but was attacked and "injured" by Angle, Booker T, Nash, and Scott Steiner after Angle learned that Cage would go back to WWE when his contract expired.[114]

One night return (2012)[edit]

In 2012, Reso made a one night return to TNA at Slammiversary pay-per-view under his old ring name, Christian Cage, to announce the number one moment in TNA history as voted by the TNA fans (Sting's 2006 return in the aforementioned Final Resolution tag team main event). This was part of a deal, which, in return, WWE were able to use Ric Flair in programming and induct him into the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of the Four Horsemen stable.[115]

Independent circuit (2006)[edit]

In March 2006, Reso competed as "Christian Cage" three times in the United Kingdom for the One Pro Wrestling (1PW) promotion. His first appearance was on March 4, 2006 at their All or Nothing: Night 1 event, where he defeated Rhino.[116] His second appearance was at 1PW's Know Your Enemy: Night 1 event on May 26, 2006, defeating Steve Corino.[116] At Know Your Enermy: Night 2 event on May 27, 2006, Reso fought against the champion, Abyss, and Corino for the 1PW World Heavyweight Championship in a three-way dance, but failed to win as Corino gained the fall and the title.[116]

In May 2006, Reso made two appearances for the Ring of Honor (ROH) promotion as "Christian Cage". His first appearance was on May 12, 2006 at ROH's How We Roll event in a tag match with Colt Cabana against Bryan Danielson and Christopher Daniels, which Cabana and he won.[117] His second appearance was a loss to Christopher Daniels at ROH's Generation Now event on July 29, 2006.[117]

Return to WWE[edit]

ECW Champion (2009–2010)[edit]

During an interview with TNA president Dixie Carter, she confirmed that Reso's contract with TNA had expired and that he had re-signed with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).[118] Reso did not appear for the promotion until the February 10, 2009 episode of ECW under his old ring name "Christian", as a face, confronting then ECW ChampionJack Swagger.[119] Later that night, Christian defeated Swagger in his first match back.[119] Christian faced Swagger again on the February 24, 2009 episode of ECW for the ECW championship in a losing effort.[120] Christian won a tri-branded 15-man battle royal on the March 10, 2009 episode of ECW, gaining entry into the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXV, which was won by CM Punk.[121][122]

Christian won an elimination chase tournament to become the #1 contender to the ECW Championship, gaining a title match at Backlash.[123] At the event, Christian defeated Swagger to win the title.[124] At Judgment Day, Christian defeated Jack Swagger to retain the title. Tommy Dreamer defeated Christian and Swagger in a Triple Threat Hardcore match

Christian (left) with Edge in their Brood attire, which they used along with gothic symbols
Christian signing autographs in 1999
Christian at a TNA live event in 2007
Christian making his way to the ring in August 2007
Christian in September 2008
Christian at a WWE live event during his second run with the promotion

Adam Joseph Copeland (born October 30, 1973)[6] is a Canadian actor, podcaster, and retired professional wrestler better known by his ring nameEdge.[7] He is currently in WWE, as a member of the WWE Hall of Fame.[8]

Copeland was trained by professional wrestlers Sweet Daddy Siki and Ron Hutchison. Throughout the 1990s, he wrestled in various U.S. independent promotions. During his time in these promotions, he competed in singles and tag team competition, the latter with long-time friend Christian. In 1997, Copeland signed a developmental deal with the WWF and began competing for the company later that year; he made his televised debut the following June under the ring name Edge. In July 1999, he won the WWF Intercontinental Championship at a house show in Toronto, making it his first title reign with the company. He and Christian, billed as brothers and later childhood friends in WWF/WWE storylines, went on to win the WWF Tag Team Championship on seven different occasions. During this time, they gained notoriety in the tag team division, partly due to their participation in Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches.

Edge is one of the most decorated professional wrestlers of all-time, having won 31 championships in WWE overall,[9] including the WWE Championshipfour times, the World Heavyweight Championship a record seven times, the Intercontinental Championship five times, the United States Championship once, the WWE Tag Team Championshiptwice, and the WWF/World Tag Team Championship a record twelve times. He is WWE's 14th Triple Crown Champion and 7th Grand Slam Champion. He also won the 2001King of the Ring tournament, was the first Money in the Bank ladder match winner in 2005, and won the Royal Rumble match in 2010, making him the first wrestler in history to achieve all three of those accomplishments.[10] He headlined multiple pay-per-view events for WWE, including WrestleMania XXIV, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Christian in 2012. His wife Beth Phoenix joined the Hall of Fame in 2017, making them the first real-life couple to both be inducted.[11]

Aside from professional wrestling, Copeland appeared in the fantasy film Highlander: Endgame and WWE Studios' Bending the Rules. He has made guest appearances on television shows such as Weakest Link, Mind of Mencia, Deal or No Deal, MADtv, and The Flash. He appeared on the SyFy series Haven as recurring character Dwight Hendrickson, and also appeared as recurring character Kjetill Flatnose in the fifth season of Vikings.

Early life[edit]

Copeland was born in Orangeville, Ontario,[6][12] the son of Judy Copeland, a single parent who worked two jobs to support her son.[13] Copeland has stated that he has never met, nor ever seen a picture of, his father.[14] He became interested in professional wrestling at a young age; his favorite wrestlers included Mr. Perfect, Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Ricky Steamboat, Shawn Michaels, and Bret Hart.[15] As a teenager, Copeland attended WrestleMania VI sitting in the eleventh row at ringside.[16] He was cheering on WWF World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan against The Ultimate Warrior, and he credits this match with making him realize he wanted to be a wrestler.[4] When he was 17, he won an essay contest with his local gym, and his prize was free wrestling training with Sweet Daddy Siki and Ron Hutchison in Toronto.[13][17] He put his wrestling aspirations aside to help pay the bills.[18] He held numerous jobs and then attended Humber College, where he graduated with a degree in radio broadcasting, then received training.[19]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career (1992–1995)[edit]

During Copeland's training, he trained one weekday and all weekend. The school's practice ring was a 12-by-14-foot boxing ring with a harder mat than that of a typical wrestling ring. The ceiling above it was low, with exposed pipes, preventing top-rope moves from being performed. Copeland later credited this environment with forcing him to drill and improve his technical mat-based wrestling. His classmates included Johnny Swinger, Joe E. Legend, and Rob Etcheverria (who later became notable for training wrestlers such as Gail Kim, Angelina Love, and Taylor Wilde).[20]

Throughout the 1990s, Copeland wrestled on the independent circuit in Ontario and the Great Lakes region of the United States under the ring name Sexton Hardcastle.[21] He became a part of the tag team Sex and Violence with Joe E. Legend. In the mid-1990s, he wrestled as Adam Impact for Tony Condello's Winnipeg promotion. In 1997, Sex and Violence became part of a larger stable called Thug Life, joining Christian Cage (Copeland's childhood friend), Zakk Wyld, Bill Skullion, and Rhino Richards.[12] During his independent career, he won the MWCW Tag Team Championship twice with Legend and the ICW Street Fight Tag Team Championship twice (once each with Legend and Cage).[22]

The duo of Hardcastle and Cage were known as Hard Impact before changing their name to The Suicide Blondes.[23] They also worked in Japan under the name The Canadian Rockers.[24][25] Copeland also wrestled briefly as Damon Striker against Kevin Sullivan and Meng on separate episodes of WCW Pro.[26] In the summer of 1995, he worked a show in Ajax, Ontario, where Bret Hart's business manager, Carl De Marco, was watching. Impressed, he suggested Copeland send an audition tape to the WWF. Copeland did not hear back from WWF, but some time later, De Marco was appointed President of WWF Canada and told Copeland that he'd put in a good word.

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment/WWE[edit]

Early years (1996–1998)[edit]

On May 10, 1996, Copeland (as Sexton Hardcastle) replaced Bob Holly's opponent on short notice in the opening match of a WWF house show in Hamilton, Ontario.[27]

In 1996, Copeland initially made $210 per week while working for WWF without an official contract. The company also paid for his outstanding college debt, which was around $40,000.[28] After a Grand Prix Wrestling tour in the summer of 1997, De Marco urged Copeland to go to Calgary, where Hart was informally training wrestlers while recovering from knee surgery. He spent his tour earnings on a plane ticket and landed with no money or place to stay. He called Johnny Smith, whom he would met twice, and Smith agreed to give him food and shelter. Smith also drove Copeland to and from the gym and Hart's house, where he trained alongside Ken Shamrock, Test, Mark Henry and Kurrgan. Copeland returned to the Maritimes for another Grand Prix tour before going back to Hart's house, bringing Christian with him. After this camp, Hart was impressed enough to put in a good word for both men at the WWF.

Copeland received a developmental contract with the WWF in 1997.[27] On Remembrance Day 1997 in Cornwall, Ontario, he (under his real name) faced Christian Cage at a Shotgun taping,[29] a match included on WWE Home Video's 2008 retrospective, Edge: A Decade of Decadence. Upon completing his training, Copeland made his WWF television debut on the June 22, 1998 episode of Raw as Edge, a loner character who entered the arena through the crowd for his matches.[30] This had been preceded by weeks of vignettes for the character, which included him aimlessly walking around the city streets and assaulting innocent pedestrians.[31] Copeland took the name Edge from an Albany radio station.[32]

Edge's first televised match was against Jose Estrada, Jr. of Los Boricuas, which ended prematurely by countout when Edge performed a somersault senton from the ring to the outside, legitimately injuring Estrada's neck.[33] In his first pay-per-view match at SummerSlam in August, he served as Sable's mystery tag team partner against Jacqueline and Marc Mero, and body-slammed Sable onto Mero in a pinning position to pick up the win.[34] At Breakdown: In Your House, Edge faced Owen Hart in a losing effort. On October 11, 1998's edition of Sunday Night Heat, Edge defeated Vader in singles competition and at WWF Capital Carnage, Edge faced Tiger Ali Singh in a losing effort.

Edge and Christian (1998–2001)[edit]

Main article: Edge and Christian

Edge was then placed in a feud against the vampire wrestler Gangrel. During the feud, Gangrel introduced Christian, Edge's storyline brother, as his ally.[35] Eventually, Gangrel and Christian convinced Edge to join them, and the three of them formed an alliance known as The Brood.[36] At Rock Bottom: In Your House, The Brood defeated The J.O.B. Squad in a six-man tag team match. At the Royal Rumble, Edge competed in the 30-man Royal Rumble match and was eliminated by Road Dogg. The Brood was later abducted and converted into The Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness. In May 1999, the Brood broke away from the Ministry after Christian was attacked by Ken Shamrock and forced to reveal the location of the captive Stephanie McMahon.[36] The Undertaker chose to have Christian punished for his trespass, but Edge and Gangrel stood by him and betrayed The Undertaker, leading to a brief feud with the Ministry. At Backlash: In Your House, the Brood faced Ministry members Bradshaw, Faarooq, and Mideon in a losing effort. At King of the Ring, The Hardy Boyz defeated Edge and Christian in a match to determine the number one contender to the WWF Tag Team Championship, after their first match on Sunday Night Heat ended in a no-contest.

Edge captured his first singles championship, the WWF Intercontinental Championship, on July 24, 1999, defeating Jeff Jarrett at a house show in Toronto, Ontario.[37][38] He lost the title the next night to Jarrett at Fully Loaded.[37][39] At SummerSlam, Edge and Christian competed in a Tag team turmoil match where they eliminated 3 teams: The New Brood (Matt and Jeff), Mideon and Viscera and Droz and Prince Albert before getting eliminated from the match by The Acolytes. At Unforgiven, Edge and Christian faced The New Age Outlaws for the WWF Tag Team Championship but failed to win the titles.

Later in the year, he was placed in a storyline angle with The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff). Gangrel soon betrayed both Edge and Christian and formed The New Brood with their enemies, The Hardy Boyz. They feuded with the Hardy Boyz, as they went on to compete in a ladder match at No Mercy in October for the "managerial services" of Terri Runnels and $100,000, which the Hardy Boyz won.[40] At Survivor Series, Edge and Christian and The Hardy Boyz faced Too Cool and The Hollys in a four-on-four Survivor Series elimination match where they lost. At Armageddon, Edge and Christian competed in an 8-team battle royal which was won by The Acolytes. At Royal Rumble, Edge competed in the Royal Rumble match where he was eliminated by Al Snow and Val Venis. At No Way Out, Edge and Christian defeated The Hardy Boyz in a tag team match to determine the number one contenders to the WWF Tag Team Championship. At WrestleMania 2000 on April 2, Edge and Christian defeated the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship in a TriangleLadder match, which ultimately led to the creation of the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match (TLC).[41][42]

Following this victory, Edge and Christian found success as a villainous duo, winning the WWF Tag Team Title six more times (for a total of seven).[43] During this time, their trademark became the "five second pose" where they performed a pose in the ring for five seconds "for the benefit of those with flash photography" to mock, insult, or otherwise amuse the fans.[44] At Backlash, Edge and Christian defeated D-Generation X (X-Pac and Road Dogg) to retain the titles. At Judgment Day, Edge, Christian and Kurt Angle lost a six-man tag team match to Rikishi and Too Cool. Soon after, they lost the tag titles to Too Cool but won them back in a Four corners elimination match at King of the Ring. At Fully Loaded, they defended the titles against The Acolytes Protection Agency (Faarooq and Bradshaw) where they got disqualified but retained the titles. After retaining the titles at SummerSlam, at Unforgiven, Edge and Christian defended the titles against The Hardy Boyz in a Steel Cage match where they lost the titles and were not allowed another title shot. At No Mercy Edge and Christian, masked as Los Conquistadores, defeated The Hardys for the titles. The next night on Raw, the Hardy Boyz dressed as the Los Conquistadores and defeated Edge in a handicap match after Christian was taken out backstage to regain the WWF Tag Team Championship.

At Survivor Series, Edge and Christian teamed with Right to Censor's Bull Buchanan and The Godfather in a four-on-four Survivor Series elimination match, where they lost to The Dudley's and The Hardy's, They regained the tag titles at Armageddon in a Fatal Four-Way match, but lost them 8 days later to The Rock and The Undertaker. They won them back days later on Smackdown! thanks to special guest referee Kurt Angle. During Edge and Christian's run as a tag team, they also competed as a team in the first three TLC matches, winning the first two over The Dudley Boyz and The Hardy Boyz, at SummerSlam in 2000 and then again at WrestleMania X-Seven.[45][46] At the 2001 Royal Rumble, Edge and Christian were defeated by the Dudley Boyz and lost the World Tag Team title.[46] They unsuccessfully attempted to regain the tag team title at No Way Out against the Dudley Boyz and The Brothers of Destruction (The Undertaker and Kane),[46] but they succeeded at WrestleMania X-Seven against the Dudley Boyz and The Hardyz in the second TLC match.[46] At Judgment Day, Edge and Christian competed in a Tag Team Turmoil match which was won by Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. Days later on the May 24, 2001 SmackDown, Edge and Christian competed in a Fatal 4-Way Tag Team TLC Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship where Benoit and Jericho retained the titles.

Championship reigns and various feuds (2001–2003)[edit]

Edge went on to solidify himself as an emerging singles competitor by winning the King of the Ring tournament in 2001 and becoming a face again by siding with the WWF during the Invasion storyline.[47] Christian betrayed Edge shortly afterward,[48] and the two feuded over Edge's Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam that he later lost to Christian at Unforgiven,[49] though Edge later captured the title.[50] Following this, Edge lost the Intercontinental title to Test[51] and shortly afterwards won the WCW United States Championship from Kurt Angle.[52] On November 3 at Rebellion, Edge defeated Christian in a Steel cage match to retain the Intercontinental Championship, then Edge defeated Test at Survivor Series to unify the Intercontinental Championship with the U.S. Championship.[53] From there, Edge was placed in a feud with William Regal for the Intercontinental Championship. Edge first defeated Regal at Vengeance to retain the championship: however, he would come up short in the new year, losing the title to Regal at Royal Rumble 2002 and then coming up short in his rematch against Regal at No Way Out in a Brass Knuckles on a Pole match.[54] On the March 3 episode of Sunday Night Heat, Edge defeated Mr. Perfect, and at WrestleMania X8, Edge found himself in a match with Booker T that was the result of Edge beating out Booker for a fictitious Japanese shampoo endorsement.[55] Shortly after defeating Booker T at WrestleMania, Edge was drafted to the SmackDown! brand in the first WWF Draft Lottery.

Upon arriving there, he began a feud with Kurt Angle. At Backlash, Edge defeated Angle and later culminated in Edge shaving Angle's head following a hair vs. hair match at Judgment Day in May.[56] On the May 30 episode of SmackDown!, Edge defeated Angle in a Steel Cage match to end the feud but during the match Edge speared Angle from the top rope. In the process, Edge injured his arm and would be forced out of action for a month. Two months later, he would end up winning the World Tag Team Championship alongside Hollywood Hulk Hogan on July 4, 2002.[57] Edge and Hogan lost the titles at Vengeance to Lance Storm and Christian, and at SummerSlam, Edge defeated Eddie Guerrero then lost to Guerrero at Unforgiven. They met one final time days later on SmackDown! in a No Disqualification match where Edge won, ending the feud. He then formed a tag team with Rey Mysterio, and the two participated in a tournament for the newly created and SmackDown!-exclusive WWE Tag Team Championship. They lost to Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit in the finals of the tournament at No Mercy; the match was voted Match of the Year by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.[58] After they failed in winning the title, Mysterio and Edge defeated Los Guerreros in a number one contender's match on the October 24 episode of SmackDown! to earn a title shot.[59] At the Rebellion pay-per-view, Edge faced Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman in a Handicap match for the WWE Championship where Lesnar retained the title after Lesnar pinned Edge. On the November 7 episode of SmackDown!, they defeated Angle and Benoit in a two out of three falls match to win their first Tag Team Championship.[60] They soon lost the tag titles to Los Guerreros in a Triple Threat Elimination match that also involved former champions Angle and Benoit at Survivor Series.[61]

After losing the title, Edge and Mysterio went their separate ways to focus on their singles careers. Edge competed in the 30-man Royal Rumblematch on January 19, 2003, where he had three eliminations before getting eliminated by Chris Jericho. Edge then teamed up with Chris Benoit, facing Team Angle (Kurt Angle, Charlie Haas, and Shelton Benjamin) in a series of singles and tag team matches. Prior to No Way Out, Edge suffered a legitimate neck injury, rendering him unable to compete in his scheduled match. At the event on February 23, Edge was written off television through a backstage attack. He then underwent surgery with Dr. Lloyd Youngblood and was sidelined for over a year.[62]

World championship pursuits (2004–2005)[edit]

Edge was placed on the Raw brand in the 2004 WWE draft lottery after WrestleMania XX and returned to in-ring action shortly after the event. At Backlash, Edge defeated Kane, and on the April 19, 2004 episode of Raw, he and World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit won the World Tag Team Championship.[63] They continued a close partnership even after losing the title; at Bad Blood, Edge and Benoit defeated La Résistance in a Tag team match for the World Tag Team Championship by disqualification but didn't win the titles. The team disbanded when Edge won the Intercontinental Championship at Vengeance defeating Randy Orton, thus becoming a five time Intercontinental Champion.[64] At SummerSlam, Edge defeated Chris Jericho and Batista in a Triple threat match to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Following a legitimate groin injury in a non-televised match, Raw General ManagerEric Bischoff stripped Edge of the Intercontinental title.[65]

Upon his return, Edge began to show some heel characteristics centering on his obsession for the World Heavyweight Championship. Edge, Chris Benoit, and Shawn Michaels received a title shot for Triple H's World Heavyweight Championship at Taboo Tuesday in October 2004. Michaels won the audience vote to receive the title shot, giving Edge and Benoit a tag team title shot. During the match, an angry Edge abandoned his partner (although Benoit managed to win the title on his own)[66] and instead interfered in the main event, costing Michaels the championship.[66] On the November 1 episode of Raw, Edge and Benoit lost the World Tag Team Championship with Edge abandoning Benoit again and sitting in a chair and watching the match. After the conclusion of the match, Edge attacked Benoit, officially turning heel for the first time since 2001.[67] Edge then adopted a drastically different gimmick, becoming a crazed and brash villain in the process. At Survivor Series, Edge was part of Team Triple H along with Triple H, Batista and Snitsky. They were defeated by Team Orton (Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Maven). During the match, Edge eliminated both Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho before getting eliminated by Randy Orton.

On the November 29 episode of Raw, both Edge and Benoit competed in a number one contender's battle royal, but they eliminated each other simultaneously at the conclusion of the match, resulting in a draw.[68] As a result, Triple H was forced to defend the title in a triple threat match. In the match, Benoit locked the Crippler Crossface on Edge, who shifted his weight putting Benoit's shoulders on the mat for a pin. This match also ended in a draw for Benoit and Edge, as Benoit made Edge submit at the same time the referee counted a pinfall for Edge.[68] As a result, the World Heavyweight title was vacated the following week on Raw. In January 2005, Edge competed in his first Elimination Chamber match at New Year's Revolution for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship. Shawn Michaels (acting as special guest referee) performed a superkick on Edge, in retaliation for an accidental spear by Edge, causing Edge to be the first eliminated.[69] This led to a match at the Royal Rumble later in the month, in which Edge defeated Michaels.[70]

WWE Champion (2005–2006)[edit]

Subsequently, at WrestleMania 21, Edge won the first ever Money in the Bank ladder match, gaining a contract that gave him a shot at the World Heavyweight championship within one year.[71] According to a podcast interview with Chris Jericho, Copeland said that he did not initially like the idea of the ladder match and even told WWE management not to include him on the Wrestlemania 21 card altogether. However, he was talked into competing by the other participants like Jericho and Glenn Jacobs who said the match had the potential to be a big success. At Backlash, Edge defeated Chris Benoit in a Last Man Standing match to end the feud. Several weeks after, Edge was then paired with Lita, his real-life girlfriend at the time, in an angle in which she betrayed her storyline husband Kane, by costing him a number-one contender match for the World Heavyweight Championship. Edge faced even more scorn from fans due to this relationship, which lasted over a year. The next week, Edge received his World Heavyweight Championship match against Batista, which he lost. Edge started a feud with Kane leading to several matches between them including one at Vengeance, when Edge lost to Kane. After trading several victories on Raw, the feud ended in a stretcher match on the July 25 episode of Raw that Edge won, but shortly after, Kane performed a tombstone piledriver on Lita.

On the July 11 episode of Raw, Edge's match with Kane was interrupted when Matt Hardy made a surprise appearance. Hardy referred to Edge as "Adam" and issued a threat to Lita as well.[72] When Hardy was officially brought back to Raw, he and Edge continued their feud, including a match at SummerSlam where Edge defeated Hardy, causing Hardy to have excessive blood loss.[73] On the August 29 episode of Raw, Edge and Hardy fought in a Street Fight, which resulted in a no contest when Hardy performed a side effect on Edge off the entrance ramp into the sound speakers and other electrical equipment.[74] They also fought in a Steel cage match at Unforgiven in September in which Hardy defeated Edge.[75] The feud culminated in a Loser Leaves Raw ladder match at Homecoming on October 3, which Edge won.[76] After the match, Hardy left the Raw brand to go to the SmackDown! brand, while Edge suffered a legit torn pectoralis major muscle that kept him shelved for a couple of months.[77] During his time off, he starred in his own talk show segment on Raw entitled The Cutting Edge,[78] dubbing himself the "Rated-R Superstar". Edge used his talk show to start a feud with Ric Flair following Flair's well-publicized arrest in connection with a road rage incident.[78][79] Edge eventually began using The Cutting Edge as a soapbox to run down Flair until, after weeks of public mockery, Flair eventually showed up and attacked Edge.[80] Edge and Flair formally met at the New Year's Revolution event in 2006 in a match for Flair's Intercontinental Championship, which resulted in Flair retaining after Edge was disqualified.[81]

Although Edge had lost his scheduled match at New Year's Revolution, that would not be his only match that evening as the main event saw John Cena, the reigning WWE Champion, defend his title in an Elimination Chamber match. After a bloody Cena won the match, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon revealed that Edge was cashing in his Money in the Bank contract to face Cena for the championship immediately. After two spears, Edge quickly defeated Cena to win the WWE Championship, marking his first world title win. The following night on Raw, Edge decided to celebrate his victory by having "hot, unbridled sex" in the middle of the ring. He and Lita engaged in foreplay until they were interrupted by Flair, who called Edge a disgrace and "that he was horrible in the sack".[82] Flair, however, ended up on the receiving end of a con-chair-to on the announcers' table until Cena came out to Flair's aid and performed an FU on Lita.[82] The "Live Sex Celebration" segment earned Raw a 5.2 rating,[83] the highest Raw rating in over a year,[84] leading Edge to call himself the "most watched champion ever".[85] On the January 16 episode of Raw, Edge defeated Ric Flair in a TLC match to retain the WWE Championship. At the Royal Rumble, Edge lost the WWE Championship back to Cena.[86]

Edge then lost a return match on a special Thursday episode of Raw held in February and blamed special guest refereeMick Foley for his loss, claiming biased officiating and attacked him.[87] At Saturday Night's Main Event, Foley got revenge on Edge by assaulting him with a con-chair-to.[88] They feuded until WrestleMania 22 in April, where Edge defeated Foley in a Hardcore match by spearing him through a flaming table[89] but suffered second degree burns.[21] Following his feud with Foley, Edge once again challenged John Cena for the WWE Championship. Triple H was involved in a feud with Cena at the time, resulting in a triple threat match at Backlash, where Cena pinned Triple H to retain the title.[90] After Backlash, Edge continued his feud with Mick Foley as they entered a triple threathardcore match. Foley, however, betrayed his friend Tommy Dreamer with Edge's assistance.[91] Edge and Foley then proclaimed that, because of their brutal match at WrestleMania, they were the true Hardcore Champions.[92] At June's pay-per-view event One Night Stand, Edge, Foley and Lita defeated Dreamer, Terry Funk and Beulah McGillicutty in an Extreme Rules tag team match.[93] Later in the event, Edge interfered in the WWE Championship match between John Cena and challenger Rob Van Dam, helping Van Dam win the title after he speared Cena through a table.[93]

Edge, who won a number one contender's match to face Van Dam for the WWE title, was unable to win their match at Vengeance.[94] Two weeks later on Raw, Edge pinned Van Dam in a triple threat match, after blindsiding Cena with the title belt, to become WWE Champion for the second time.[95] This angle re-ignited Edge's feud with Cena, and he lost by disqualification at Saturday Night's Main Event in order to retain the title.[96] Subsequently, a match was made for the August event SummerSlam with the stipulation that if Edge disqualified himself, he would lose the title. At the event, Edge retained the title by pinning Cena after he hit him in the back of the head with a pair of brass knuckles when the referee was not looking.[97] The night after SummerSlam, Lita disposed of Cena's customized "spinner" belt into the Long Island Sound at Edge's command, who declared it the end of the "Cena era" in his life. Edge later unveiled the new "Rated-R" version of the belt.[98] Cena, however, interfered in Edge's match with a returning Jeff Hardy later that night, chasing him down to the outside of the building, assaulting him, and tossing Edge into the Long Island Sound.[98] The following week, Cena made a deal with Edge: if Edge could defeat him in a match for the WWE Championship, he would sign a contract to move to SmackDown!.[99] Edge accepted, on the condition the match be a TLC match held at September's Unforgiven event in Edge's home town of Toronto.[99] At the event, he lost the championship after Cena performed the FU on him, sending Edge crashing through two stacked tables from a ladder.[100] At one point during the match, Cena locked in a modified STFU while Edge was in a ladder,[100] who later said he was legitimately choked unconscious, the first time he had been knocked out in a match during his career.[101]

Rated-RKO (2006–2007)[edit]

Main article: Rated-RKO

On the October 2, 2006 episode of Raw, interference from the newly reformed D-Generation X (DX) (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) cost Edge his "final chance" at John Cena's WWE Championship in a Steel cage match, though their interference was a response to the interference of Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch,[102] led to Edge approaching Randy Orton and asking him to join forces to defeat DX, which Orton accepted and joined an alliance with Edge.[103] The two formed the tag team Rated-RKO.[104] Rated-RKO became the first to defeat DX since their reunion, at Cyber Sunday, Rated-RKO defeated D-Generation X with Eric Bischoff as the special guest referee, at Survivor Series, Rated-RKO teamed with Johnny Nitro, Mike Knox and Gregory Helms to face Team DX (Triple H, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk and The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy)) but all members of Team Rated-RKO were eliminated.[105] Rated-RKO quickly dominated the Raw brand's tag team division to become tag team champions,[106][107] making Edge a record holder of 11 World Tag Team Championship title reigns in his WWE career.[107] Due to Lita retiring that night, her on-screen relationship with Edge abruptly ended, with no explanation.

As part of the storyline angle, Rated-RKO attacked Ric Flair with steel chairs to enrage DX on November 27.[108] At New Year's Revolution in January 2007, Rated-RKO faced DX in a title defense, but the match was declared a no-contest when Triple H suffered a legitimate injury during the match.[109] At Royal Rumble, Edge competed in the 30-man Royal Rumble match where he lasted the longest in the match with a time of 44:02 and eliminated 5 men and made it to the final 4 in the match before getting eliminated by Shawn Michaels, With Triple H out of action, the team continued their on-screen rivalry with remaining DX member Shawn Michaels. Michaels teamed with John Cena to defeat Rated-RKO for the tag team championship on January 29, 2007.[110] Edge and Orton suffered a series of losses to Cena and Michaels in the following months, In April 2007, Edge competed in the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 23. During the match, Matt Hardy threw him onto a ladder and encouraged Jeff Hardy, who was close to the winning briefcase, to finish him off. Hardy then leaped off the 20-foot-high (6.1 m) ladder, and drove him through the ladder with a leg drop, seemingly injuring both Edge & himself. The two were unable to continue the match and were removed from ringside on stretchers. After this Edge and Orton also became rivals in their goals of achieving the WWE Championship. Neither Edge nor Orton won the championship, and they lost their claims as number one contenders after a failed match with Cena at Backlash in April.[111]

La Familia (2007–2009)[edit]

Main article: La Familia (professional wrestling)

On the May 7, 2007 episode of Raw, Edge interrupted an in-ring promo by the winner of the 2007 Money in the Bank contract, Mr. Kennedy. Kennedy had said for weeks that he would not cash in the contract until the following WrestleMania, but Edge decided to goad him into a match for his briefcase. Edge attacked Kennedy before the match even started, severely injuring his shoulder, and took advantage of the injury to beat Kennedy and take the briefcase.[112] Edge thus became the first person to gain the Money in the Bank contract twice and the first not to do so in the ladder match.[113] (This was done to give Kennedy time to recuperate from what was originally thought to be a completely torn triceps tendon, but later turned out to be a much less severe injury.)

On the May 11 episode of SmackDown!, World Heavyweight ChampionThe Undertaker retained his title against Batista in a steel cage match. Then, Mark Henry attacked the Undertaker. Despite being part of the Raw roster, Edge came out, cashed in his Money in the Bank contract for a title match, and speared Undertaker for the victory and his first World Heavyweight Championship.[114] As a result, Edge became a member of the SmackDown! roster. Edge then began a feud with Batista and successfully defended his championship title against him at Judgment Day,[115] in a Steel Cage match at One Night Stand,[116] and a third and final time by count out in a last chance match at Vengeance.[117] Edge then began a feud with Kane after SmackDown! General Manager Theodore Long announced Kane as the new number one contender for the World Heavyweight title.[118] Edge was forced to relinquish the World title due to a legitimately torn left pectoral muscle injury on the July 20 episode of SmackDown! following an attack by Kane.[119]

At November's pay-per-view event, Survivor Series, Edge made his return, interfering in a World Heavyweight Championship Hell in a Cell match between Batista and The Undertaker.[120] The following SmackDown! show saw Edge and General Manager Vickie Guerrero make their relationship public,[121] making his official in-ring return in a World title match against Batista on November 30, a match that ended after The Undertaker interfered.[122] At Armageddon, Edge won the World Heavyweight Championship, after giving The Undertaker two chair shots and pinning the defending champion Batista (who had been Tombstoned by Undertaker prior) in a Triple Threat match. During the match, Edge used two look-a-likes to distract Batista and The Undertaker.[123] It was later revealed that these look-a-likes were the Major Brothers,[124] who were then repackaged as Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder. Edge also formed an alliance with Chavo Guerrero, nephew of Vickie Guerrero, and on the January 22, 2008 broadcast of ECW, he assisted Chavo in winning the ECW Championship from CM Punk,[125] even though Chavo previously rebuffed Edge[126] and allied himself with Rey Mysterio, Edge's scheduled opponent at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.[127] The group eventually came under the name of La Familia. On the Valentine's Day episode of SmackDown, Edge proposed to Vickie, to which she accepted.[128]

At WrestleMania XXIV, Edge lost the World Heavyweight championship to the Undertaker when he tapped out to the Hell's Gate.[129] In a WrestleMania rematch, The Undertaker defeated Edge once again at Backlash to retain the World Heavyweight championship.[130] Following Backlash, The Undertaker was stripped of the World title by Vickie Guerrero[131] and faced Edge for the title at Judgment Day in May and then again at One Night Stand in a TLC match in June.[132][133] The first match ended with a countout victory for The Undertaker but no champion was crowned due to the circumstances.[132] The second match at One Night Stand saw Edge walk away champion, which also meant Undertaker was forced to leave the company.[133]

On June 29, 2008, Edge faced Batista in a match for his title at Night of Champions. Due to interference from La Familia and a belt shot from Edge, he was able to defeat Batista. The next night on Raw, which happened a week after that year's draft lottery, Edge came out to gloat about his victory as well as the fact that, thanks to the draft, both the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship were both SmackDown property (Triple H, who was the reigning WWE Champion at the time, was drafted to SmackDown and had retained his title at Night of Champions as well). As Edge was leaving the ring, an angry Batista (who had been drafted back to Raw after three years as a SmackDown wrestler) came out and chased Edge back to the ring. He proceeded to assault Edge, finishing with a Batista Bomb in the ring. Just as Batista was leaving, CM Punk ran to the ring carrying the Money in the Bank briefcase he had won at WrestleMania XXIV, with referee Mike Chioda tagging along with him. Since Edge was still out of it from the attack, he did not see Punk come into the ring and therefore was unaware that Punk was cashing in his contract. Once the bell rang, Punk simply hit Edge with a Go To Sleep and pinned him to win the World Heavyweight Championship.[134]

On the July 4, 2008 episode of SmackDown, Edge took his frustrations out on Vickie because he lost the title and told her the wedding was off.[135] The following week, however, after Guerrero saved Edge from a con-chair-to by The Big Show, Edge re-proposed, and the wedding was back on.[136] On July 18, 2008 at the wedding reception, Triple H came out and showed a video of Edge cheating on Guerrero the day before with the wedding planner, Alicia Fox. The angle continued at The Great American Bash in July, when Fox attempted to hand Edge the WWE Championship belt to use as a weapon against Triple H, but was stopped by Guerrero. Edge attempted to spear Triple H but hit Guerrero instead, with the distraction, Triple H performed a Pedigree on Edge to retain the WWE title.[137] Edge attempted to apologize to Guerrero, even though he was seen talking to Fox, but she revealed to him that she had rehired The Undertaker and that Edge would face him in a Hell in a Cell match at SummerSlam.[138] Edge then turned on La Familia during the August 8 episode of SmackDown, performing a one-man con-chair-to on Chavo in the ring, and tossed Guerrero out of her wheelchair, effectively disbanding the faction. The following week, Edge verbally assaulted Guerrero, before he forced her to apologize to The Undertaker for what she did to him. He also mentioned to Guerrero, that it was because of her that La Familia suffered.[139] At SummerSlam, The Undertaker defeated Edge, and after the match, Undertaker chokeslammed Edge off the top of a ladder and through the ring canvas, with flames rising from the hole.[140]

On November 23, 2008 at Survivor Series

Christian with Edge (right) in their Brood attire, which they used along with gothic symbols
Edge before facing Undertaker at WrestleMania XXIV in 2008

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