In what is surely the most direct example of duplicate storytelling, tonight’s episode of Biography on A&E is really a re-packaged version of the quite good episode of WWE 24 that focused on Edge and his return to the ring after a forced retirement.
Foregoing pyro and entrance music, Adam Copeland, not Edge, enters an empty stage in the opening shot of tonight’s episode of Biography. Emitting a classic “dad sigh” as he takes a seat in a director’s chair, Copeland walks us back right away to his youth in Orangeville, Ontario.
Described by his cousin Matt as a “safe place” but hardly a fun place, Orangeville was home to Adam and his mom Judy, who raised him as a single mother. Copeland remembers lean times as a kid, recognizing later as an adult how hard his mom worked to keep them afloat. Jay Reso (who you just knew would be a big part of this despite his current ties to AEW), talks about how Copeland must have wondered why his father wasn’t a part of his life, but that he had lots of family members stand in for that missing part.
One of his uncles, Gary, with whom Copeland had the closest relationship of all his family, lost his life in a car accident at 17, sending the family spinning and young Adam especially. He filled that void with wrestling, attending his first event in 1985 at Maple Leaf Gardens, watching, among others, Hulk Hogan in full Hulkamania-mode.
Fast-forward a few years to high school where Copeland and Reso meet, with Jay the new kid in town that Adam befriended only to discover a shared fixation with wrestling, and their plans to become tag team champions together were born.
With wrestling proving massively popular in Toronto, culminating in the hosting of WrestleMania VI, the Toronto Sun newspaper started running a weekly wrestling column by Norm DeCosta, and Copeland recalls seeing a tidbit about an essay writing contest to win a training session with Sweet Daddy Siki and Ron Hutchison. Copeland claims to have never read the letter since he sent it in, and though he dreads what he may have written he knows that it worked.
Copeland shows footage of a 1993 Canada Day show in Monarch Park in Toronto, ran by Siki and Hutchison as a way to get their students in front of a crowd. This show, for him, confirms that he’s on the right track. Not long afterwards, Copeland is in the audience for a taping of The Dini Petty Show, featuring then-WWF Champion Bret Hart.
Copeland gets a question in about how to get into wrestling as a career. Hart essentially brushes him off, appearing in the present to reflect on that time and questioning what advice he really might have been able to give Copeland in that era. Adam, though, describes Hart meeting him backstage and encouraging him to keep at it, though he didn’t have any better advice than that.
The next few refrains of the episode focus on Copeland’s journey through the Canadian independent wrestling scene — meeting Carl DeMarco, who was President of WWF Canada and Hart’s manager; venturing out into the hinterlands for Tony Condello’s International Wrestling Alliance’s infamous tours through northern Canada; and an ill-conceived tour through Tennessee where the work was not what had been promised.
After working some more with Hart, and while working in Manitoba for Condello, DeMarco calls Copeland to let him know he has a contract offer with the WWF waiting for him from. It’s 1998 and Edge arrives, though Copeland recalls a lot of directionless character development after his debut. Worse than that, he, Bruce Prichard, and DeMarco describe backstage politics that had people gunning to sabotage Copeland’s debut in some way in order to protect their own spot and interest. Not helping his own cause, Copeland knocks out his first televised match’s opponent, José Estrada, with a hilo. Nowhere to go but up, he recalls.
Skipping past how he got over those early missteps, Copeland walks us through the introduction of Reso as his brother Christian, and then their teaming with Dave Heath, Gangrel, as the vampiric trio The Brood. That era gets a very short spot in the episode (notably with Heath saying he was told early on that Edge was the the one the company was banking on for the future), moving on quickly to the Edge & Christian days and the inventive, dangerous ladder matches.
With the team having reached what both Copeland and Reso felt was its peak, they split up to try singles runs — though it’s not long until Edge found himself teaming with Hulk Hogan to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. in February of 2003, injuries caught up with Copeland and he underwent neck surgery with time away to recover, and in this time he had to contemplate whether this would be the end of his career.
He returns but finds that the crowd that had supported him was now booing him. He wins the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania 21, goes full heel, aligns himself with Lita (on-screen, with no mention of their real life relationship saga), and wins the WWE Championship from John Cena. His next WrestleMania match against Mick Foley gives him the backstage respect he craved, and he carries on enduring pain until WrestleMania XVII and the time for him to seemingly retire for good.
It’s Vince McMahon who called him with the news that he had to retire, which he did in April of 2011 on Raw. Looking back, he talks about putting on his “big boy pants” and figuring out his new life, with a big part of that being dating and eventually starting a family with Beth Phoenix. He starts acting on TV and in movies, finding a new way to channel his creativity, but finds out at the same time that his mother has cancer, losing her in 2018.
Inveitably, it seems, Copeland works his way back towards the ring, with a lot of help from Beth who was self-tasked with protecting him from his own ambition to return. There’s a nice shot of her backstage during his return during the 2020 Royal Rumble, tearing up as much as he was during his entrance. Taking a trip back to the ThunderDome, Edge wins the next year’s Royal Rumble and it’s safe to say that the comeback is complete — with a chapter or so still to come.
This is another entry in the WWE/A&E Biography series that really just feels like punching the clock, checking the boxes, or however you’d like to describe a very linear and surface-level examination of a career. The target audience can’t be fans who already know this story well, presumably, so maybe casual fans will enjoy the retrospective. Anyone else, besides top-level Edge fans, probably won’t get much out of it.