Edge was this week’s guest on Corey Graves’ After the Bell podcast, and he responded to the negative feedback of his match with Randy Orton at WrestleMania 36.
“I’m very very proud of it. I’ve heard there’s feedback that it was too long...all of the feedback I’ve gotten personally to myself or to my social media feeds has been all positive. When I have Bret Hart call me and tell me that he loved it because it looked like a fight, well I don’t care what anybody else says from that point on, because his opinion to me has more weight than absolutely everyone anywhere. Nobody’s gonna top his opinion to me, and if he liked it, and he thought it was a fight, good, mission accomplished.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, it’s wrestling, right? It’s art. It’s subjective, whatever blows your hair back. Randy and I have broad shoulders and we can weather the weight of a minuscule militia of malcontents who will just want to complain about everything. Complain about the length of a wrestling match during a pandemic? Really? Come on. But they are also the same people that are gonna complain that Bill and Brock go for four minutes. I just think there is a segment of people that enjoy not enjoying things and dwell on negatives, but I focus on positives.”
The first part of Edge’s response is understandable, where feedback from his peers is what matters most to him. Edge admirably worked his ass off to return from a career-ending injury, but unfortunately the coronavirus pandemic meant that his return match had to take place inside an empty venue. His match that aired at WrestleMania 36 lasted nearly 37 minutes, and it’s certainly impressive that Edge can work such a long match right off the bat. He should be proud of what he pulled off there.
The second part of his response is complete nonsense, and it’s very disappointing to see yet another WWE wrestler deal with criticism by insulting a portion of the fanbase. Apparently anyone is entitled to their opinion on subjective art, but if that opinion is a negative one, then it means that person is a malcontent who enjoys not enjoying things.
Considering that so many fans have responded well to other matches at WrestleMania 36 such as the Undertaker vs. AJ Styles, John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt, Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins, etc. the idea that people who didn’t like his match are just haters who hate on everything is bogus, and he comes off like a guy who can’t deal with a little criticism, or doesn’t understand that this really is all subjective and a matter of opinion. For someone who claims to have only seen “all positive” feedback to his match, it’s very strange for him to react so defensively about the idea that some people thought match was too long or boring.
There’s also the fact that Edge’s storyline heading into WrestleMania received tremendous praise from fans, with many even saying it should have headlined the card. Plenty of fans were disappointed with the end result, partially because their expectations were so high due to greatly enjoying the Raw segments leading up to the match. The pre-match anticipation shows that these are not people who constantly hate on things and enjoy not enjoying things. The end product simply fell well short of their pre-match love for the story. That’s not their fault.
Just as silly is Edge’s implication that a pandemic somehow absolves wrestlers and matches from criticism. Yes, many fans are very appreciative that Edge and his colleagues are trying to entertain the masses right now while so many people are stuck at home, but that doesn’t mean those fans should just pretend like a 37 minute match that bored them was an amazing piece of art. That would be delusional.
The reality is that it’s much harder for wrestlers to pull off a good match in the empty venue setting. The first time I realized this was in 1996 when Undertaker fought Mankind in a Boiler Room Brawl at SummerSlam. I was a teenager who was stoked for that match, but then surprisingly found myself thoroughly bored by it when it finally took place. The silence just made for a very awkward match, and it should not have gone on for the better part of 30 minutes. Edge vs. Orton had some similarities to that viewing experience, except it went on for almost 40 minutes. This match design was always going to lead to an uphill battle in terms of maintaining interest throughout, and assigning the blame for that on the fans is very misguided.
Wrestlers have it harder now to pull off an entertaining match because there is no live audience to manipulate and draw from. That’s just how it’s gonna be right now. So instead of shitting on the fans when they don’t like your match, how about just acknowledge that it’s a difficult situation and wrestlers, agents, and bookers are still trying to adjust to see what works and what doesn’t work right now? I think most fans understand that the wrestlers are trying their best to figure this out. That doesn’t mean they should pretend that every match is a home run.
As someone who reads a ton of fan opinions on the internet, and also regularly provides my own, I know well enough that most fans who criticize a wrestling match are just giving their honest opinions. Sometimes that will be positive, and sometimes that will be negative. It’s okay for someone to watch a 37 minute wrestling match and think it’s boring, whether or not we are in the midst of a global pandemic. That doesn’t mean that person is a malcontent. That doesn’t mean that person is in a militia. That doesn’t mean that person enjoys not enjoying things.
All it means is that they didn’t enjoy your match, Edge. That opinion doesn’t hold any less merit than Bret Hart (or any fan) who happened to also think it was an epic fight.