Immediately after he debuted for AEW at WrestleDream on Sunday night (Oct. 1), Adam Copeland spoke a bit about the decision at the post-PPV media scrum. Then he shared some more thoughts on it — and how he hoped it would be received by his fans — on social media.
But those only touched on why he made the decision to leave WWE when his contract expired to sign with Tony Khan, and neither really dealt with how the deal came together at all.
In an interview with our old colleague Shakiel Mahjouri, now of CBS Sports, the wrestler formerly known as Edge talked a lot about the why and gave a tiny bit of insight into the how.
The Rated R Superstar insists his openly musing about retirement wasn’t empty talk, and that he does have some second thoughts about passing on the opportunity to have his Aug. 18 SmackDown match with Sheamus in his hometown be his goodbye:
“As I got closer to the end of the [WWE] deal, retirement was a very, very real option. It was not off the table. This was not just, ‘I’m going there.’ I really sat with the idea of retirement because I truly thought like, ‘Man, WWE gave me that night. I don’t know how that gets topped.’ And that’s still in my brain.
He’s moved on by focusing on the future, and remembering to always be grateful for that send-off:
“But I guess now it’s like, ‘OK, how can I try and top it in this new environment.’ Honestly, that Toronto show was a send-off of that character and it was the perfect way for that character to go out. Wrestling a guy that I’ve never wrestled that I always wanted to. It was just so much fun in there. That night, I’ll never forget it. I’ll always have that night with me. I told Sheamus that too. That will be one of the most special nights in my career, always.”
Back to that future in a second, but first a bit of the timeline on how he came to sign with AEW. Copeland said of course he’d spoken to friends in the company, like his lifelong best friend Jay “Christian Cage” Reso and fellow Carolina guys Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler of FTR, but nothing other than general conversations until his deal expired:
“Jay is my best friend. I’m great friends with FTR. So we would just talk about, ‘Hey, what’s it like there?’ And they say, ‘How’s it going up there?’ Just normal talk, but not a lot. It wasn’t until my contract was up on the 21st. It wasn’t until then. So it was a really, really quick to get everything done and get everything dialed in. Figuring out so many things like getting with Alter Bridge and getting the music and doing all of those things. There were nine or 10 days.
“I didn’t know immediately, but I thought that’s where I wanted to go. I really thought that working with Jay again was what I wanted to do and how I pictured it in a perfect world. Beth said, ‘What’s your perfect world? ‘I was like, ‘My perfect world is that I end my career with Jay.’ So suddenly that perfect world looked like it could be there. It’s tough to pass that up.”
Leading up to that perfect world, Copeland says he was at a crossroads with WWE:
“There was also the conundrum that I was contracted for 10 matches a year. I offered to do more, but to their point it wouldn’t feel quite as special, which I understood too. So there was a weird kind of conundrum, right? It just felt like neither one of us really had any ideas and that’s never been the case before.
“So when you look at that and then I look at my best friend over there having the time of his life, at a certain point, once I thought, ‘You know what, I still have a window here where I can do this and I don’t feel like I’m maximizing that.’ I think that was really what it boiled down to. I want to try and maximize what I still have left.
“If that’s one year, if that’s two years, I want to do it as much as I can while I still feel like I can. I know that’s going to be hard and I know that’s going to take a lot of work physically. I know there’s a different fallout now, but I know all of those things and I really just want to weigh the glory of this thing as much as I can.”
Before leaving WWE, Copeland spoke about the toll even one match took on him as he approaches 50 year old (he’s currently 49, but his birthday is Oct. 30). That hasn’t changed, and he knows he’ll probably never sign another “full-time” contract again:
“I think that’s a very safe thing to say [that this is his last ‘full-time’ run] because I know how much work it’s going to take to be able to pull it off. I know that. I’m not in any way trying to fool myself into thinking I’m just going to trot through this whole thing. It’s not going to be that. I know what it’s going to be. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be a lot of hard work. I enjoy hard work. I always have. It’s how I’m wired. It’s what I was born with. It’s in my DNA. So that’s super fun. But I also I’m a realist and I understand that I’m not going to be able to maintain it for a super long time. I’d say that’s a very fair, very fair, safe bet.”
Then it’s back to something he spoke about at the scrum, how his daughters encouraged him to the thing that would be the most fun — working with Christian again:
“If we could end this together, that’s the dream. I said in the presser last night, too, I sat down with my girls and I’m like, ‘Okay, so what does dad do, girls?’ What do I do? And I laid out the scenarios for them. Lyric said it and then Ruby agreed, ‘Go be with Uncle Jay and have fun.’ And that doesn’t mean that I’m not having fun in other places, but they know the most fun I’m going to have is with my best friend of the last 40 years.”
Check out Shak’s full chat with The Rated R Superstar here.