Adam Copeland was ‘really close’ to joining AEW instead of making WWE return at 2020 Royal Rumble

Photo Courtesy: All Elite Wrestling

Copeland almost took another route for his big return.

It was four years ago that Adam Copeland a.k.a. Edge made his return to in-ring competition as a part of the 2020 men’s Royal Rumble. After three years of being back in the ring, Copeland finished up with WWE and headed to All Elite Wrestling in October 2023

He is the company’s reigning TNT Champion. While guest appearing on Insight with Chris Van Vliet, Copeland shared that in 2019, he had discussions with AEW and was ‘really close’ to joining them instead of making his return for WWE. 

When he first began talking to AEW, he had not been cleared just yet. When he got the clearance, he informed WWE and part of the reason why he opted to take the route he did is because the idea of completely starting over after being inactive for as long as he was-was intimidating. With WWE, he had the history of ‘Edge’ that he could walk back into. 

Really close (to signing with AEW instead of making 2020 return to WWE). We had great discussions… Yeah (this was late 2019). 

So when I first started talking to AEW, I wasn’t yet cleared. We talk about it like the bosses of each video game level. But I still wasn’t cleared by company doctors, right? So, once all of those clearances started to come, I was like, ‘Oh, this is real now. Okay.’ So, before I did anything, I had to go kind of get the final clearance needed for either company. But I had negotiated with everybody. I was like, ‘Okay, here’s where I’m at, here’s what I’ve been told I can do,’ and started the process and then in going to WWE and sitting down with Vince (McMahon), he goes, ‘Well, it’s gotta happen here,’ and at that stage, I looked at the equity built and it felt like having to start over — especially having to start over after having been gone for nine years felt really daunting, if that makes sense. It felt like at least with WWE, that’s one thing off the table I don’t have to worry about. I can come back and walk into the history of this character, and I do feel like it needed to have happened there initially. I really do, if only for that Royal Rumble moment. Right before the pandemic hit and just feeling and experiencing that. I’m happy the way it turned out.

In a number of media appearances, Copeland has touched on his future and how much longer he believes he can continue wrestling. He was presented with the scenario of what will happen if AEW presents him with a new contract after his current deal is up. 

I mean, maybe. You never know, you never know (Copeland said in response to idea of him continuing to wrestle if presented with AEW contract extension). I mean, if I can keep performing at a level, but more importantly a level that I can feel proud of. I just don’t want to get to a point where I’m like really struggling and just, it’s like pulling teeth to get it done. I don’t want to do that and thankfully, because of my career, I’m at a point where I don’t have to do that. I’m doing this because I love it, and I also think, and I’ve talked to the girls about this and I’m hoping they see the work ethic and the work that I still put in to do this thing that I want to do even though I don’t have to do it. I’m hoping that they see that and it can rub off and they can pick up some lessons from that too. But, by the same token, I wanna be here for everything for them and I’ve been able to manage it and be around for the Shakespeare plays and be around to run drama club with Beth (Phoenix) and take Lyric to her audition tonight and I’m still able to be there for those things, I haven’t missed a birthday. So it’s just a matter of being able to balance both. So far, it’s possible.

In an ‘I Quit’ match, Copeland’s feud with Christian Cage reached its apex and with the victory, he became a two-time TNT Champion

He feels his longtime friend is doing the best work of his career. Copeland said it’s fun to see Cage performing at a level that he knew always existed within him. He then commented on Cage’s mocking of people’s deceased father’s and how that has morphed into its own thing. 

And I think that was part of the reasoning for (Christian Cage) going to AEW was, okay, I’m gonna get an opportunity to do what I know I can do over there and as you can tell, he’s totally done that and completely recreated himself and it’s fun to see him performing at a level that I always knew was there. It was just a matter of, again, the opportunity… I think so (Cage is doing the best work of his career), and that’s only because I do feel like he was limited beforehand. Throughout the years, I think, again, you keep hitting a glass ceiling and some will break through but, I don’t think it was ever meant for him to break through and that’s gotta be frustrating.

And I think that was a happy accident (Cage mocking people’s deceased father’s). I think like so many things that end up working, it just ended up being a happy accident and then you start to go, ‘Oh, well if this person will be that and that and that,’ and I am in virgin territory for that. Never met my dad. Are you kidding? He’s gonna have a field day with this.

Thus far, Copeland has had four successful defenses of the TNT Title. The latest took place on the 5/8 Dynamite in a No Disqualification match against Brody King. 

On the 5/11 AEW Collision, he’ll be putting the title on the line against Kyle O’Reilly.

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Insight with Chris Van Vliet with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

About Andrew Thompson 8606 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.