Edge knocks, opportunity answers
Face facts, gang: When opportunity knocks, Edge ultimately answers. Especially when said opportunity carries World Championship gold.
Following his brutal Steel Cage Match victory over Batista at One Night Stand Sunday night, Edge's Rated-R era somehow forges ahead. They say one makes their own luck, though even Edge must admit that his penchant for exploiting any opening —particularly of late — has been downright uncanny. Not that you'd ever hear the World Heavyweight Champion admit as such.
"It's survival of the smartest," Edge arrogantly summed up. "Survival of the smartest."
For some time now, the Rated-R Superstar has described himself as a "mental chess master." Others, however, would argue that he's good at picking the best possible moment to rook the opposition.
"I don't think he's as great a champion as he thinks he is," noted one training room source. "It seems he's strongest only when his enemies are at their most vulnerable."
"It doesn't matter what field or sport you're in," contended another mole from the locker room. "The great ones become great because they know to strike while the iron's hot."
It's hard to disagree with the second comment, especially when you consider how the Rated-R Superstar has triumphed over Batista in two straight explosive encounters. At Judgment Day, he took advantage of The Animal's badly injured right hamstring — caused during his series of epic clashes with Undertaker — to roll him up for a shocking three-count. Then at One Night Stand, everyone believed Batista had won the World Heavyweight Championship after his headfirst exodus from the cage enabled his hands to touch the outside floor first. But the champion better maximized one of the contest's Extreme Rules provisos, which specifically stipulated that a winner is determined only when both feet touch the outside.
Being the "Ultimate Opportunist" isn't something that Edge "learned" how to do; it's in his Rated-R nature. Who other than an Ultimate Opportunist could kick-start his sports-entertainment career by winning an essay contest to score free wrestling lessons? Who else would benefit from a former friend and ring colleague's injury by making time with his long-time girlfriend?
Certainly, one cannot become a 12-time Tag Team Champion or four-time Intercontinental Champion — and they sure as hell can't claim the ultimate prize — without working specific situations in their favor. Edge did precisely that in 2005 by winning WrestleMania 21's Money in the Bank Ladder Match, then waiting to cash in his championship opportunity until New Year's Revolution in January 2006 — only scant moments after John Cena defended the WWE Title against five competitors in a grueling Elimination Chamber Match. Already bloodied and battered, Cena was in no condition to go toe-to-toe with the Rated-R Superstar, whose two spears powered him to his very first WWE Championship.
Despite producing a Live Sex Celebration on Raw, plus some of the Monday night cable show's highest ratings in years, the Rated-R era lasted approximately three weeks, with Edge losing the title back to Cena at Royal Rumble. He'd strike WWE Championship gold a second time during a Raw Triple Threat Match later that July, robbing Cena of almost-certain victory by pinning an FU'd Rob Van Dam. This title reign would last two-and-a-half months, until Cena again reclaimed the WWE Championship at Unforgiven.
Though unable to drown out the 12-letter swear word no champion ever wants to hear from our fans ("transitional"), Edge simply bided his time — capturing the World Tag Team Titles with Randy Orton while doing so — until he could claim another World Championship under the best possible conditions. Many believed those conditions would have aligned had he won the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania 23, but Mr. Kennedy had plenty to say regarding that match's outcome. Everyone then imagined that the Rated-R Superstar would exploit a Fatal Four Way fracas to liberate Cena of his WWE gold, but The Champ made sure that didn't happen.
So what did the mental chess master do next? Simple: Rather than keep trying to position himself into place, he began maneuvering other Superstar pieces around to his liking.
The key piece was captured on Raw last May, when Edge's Rated-R powers of persuasion goaded a previously-injured Kennedy into putting up his Money in the Bank contract. A brutal pre-match assault, focusing heavily on Kennedy's taped arm, put the vocal Superstar on the shelf and earned Edge the briefcase that assured him of a World Championship opportunity. Fans and Superstars alike assumed that for the next 320-plus days remaining on the contract, John Cena would have to protect his WWE Championship against a Rated-R sneak attack.
No one in their wildest dreams, however, could have predicted that Edge was after Undertaker's World Heavyweight gold all along.
Seeing The Deadman near-incapacitated after his hellacious Steel Cage Match against Batista ended in a controversial draw, Edge could practically taste the opportunity that had presented itself on SmackDown that night. And when the returning Mark Henry came down and further brutalized the wounded Phenom moments later, the deal was sealed. By seizing the moment, the Ultimate Opportunist had seized the World Heavyweight Championship.
Nearly a month into his latest reign, it appears that Edge's Rated-R era has indeed become fact, not just some cool-sounding catch phrase. In his two consecutive victories over Batista, he has utilized circumstances to their absolute utmost, and has every intention of continuing to do so. That said, is the Ultimate Opportunist concerned that what goes around may one day come around? Will someone ever manipulate Edge into a corner from which there is no escape?
"No one can one-up me," Edge told WWE.com. "I will always outthink them. That is my strength. I've said it time and again — I'm not the biggest, I'm not the strongest, I'm not the fastest and I'm not ‘The Animal.' But I am the smartest."