Without intending to sound like a middle-aged barfly who’s life is doomed to reminiscing, how has it been four years since Edge quaked the foundations of Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas with his seismic return at the 2020 Royal Rumble?
With Altar Bridge’s ‘Metalingus’ thundering around the stadium and over 40,000 fans collectively seeing their heads enter another dimension, the Rated-R Superstar appeared to be barely holding back tears as he stared down towards the squared circle, realising the destination of a hellacious nine-year odyssey back from the abyss was about to be reached.
Edge, now performing in All Elite Wrestling under his real name Adam Copeland, may not have emerged victorious from that historic Rumble match, being eliminated by Roman Reigns only moments from the bout’s climax, but in making a return from what was believed to be a career ending neck injury in 2011, the former WWE and World Heavyweight Champion was the ultimate victor on that January night in the Lone Star State.
And while the WWE Hall of Famer has spent a good deal of time discussing his 2020 comeback in the intervening years, not as much has been heard from those who were in the ring at the time, who faced down the former Brood member as his first opponents in almost a decade.
One of whom was AJ Styles.
The Phenomenal One went one-on-one against Edge at WrestleMania 38 in Dallas back in 2022 and discussed exclusively with WrestleSphere during that weekend in Texas a little bit about what it was like to be a part of history.
“It was pretty unbelievable to see that reaction,” Styles revealed, “It was a special moment. I enjoyed it. I actually sat back in the corner and watched it all. It was really, really cool.”
And the former WWE Champion explained how the moment Edge returned, their paths were aligned for a WrestleMania showdown. Even if it ended up taking two years to get there.
“As soon as he came back, that Royal Rumble, we planted the seed. Because we knew, if there’s an opportunity, we’ve got to plant the seed now. That was the moment we did it at the Royal Rumble.”
Styles may have come up short at both that year’s Royal Rumble and his two matches against Edge in 2022 (thanks to the foundation of the Judgement Day), but this year the former TNA and IWGP Champion will form a quarter of the fatal-four-way bout for Roman Reigns’ Undisputed WWE Universal Championship, along with Randy Orton and LA Knight. Not to mention Styles also has his own spectacular Royal Rumble moment, when he debuted at number three in 2016’s edition, dumbfounding a then WWE World Heavyweight Champion, pre-Tribal Chief Reigns, back in his Big Dog Era. Eight years later and that moment is still replayed ad nauseum and discussed as one of the all time great Rumble surprises.
Here’s hoping for a few more for the ages this year.
Royal Rumble 2024 is the 37th annual Royal Rumble Premium Live Event and will emanate from St. Petersburg, Florida on Jan. 27. Tune in on the WWE Network or TNT Sports Box Office.
Featured Image Credit: WWE