When it comes to a professional wrestling gimmick, subtlety and nuance aren’t always necessary. In the over the top world of sports entertainment, you can do great business with a persona built on extremes, impossibly heroic or ceaselessly evil. Hugely successful careers have been built on portrayals that eschew light and shade in favour of excess.
When a performer makes the decision to give their in-ring character the benefit of deeper development, though, it can pay dividends. The likes of Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, or even Randy Savage had far more going on under the surface than most gimmicks; they were characters, but they felt like actual human beings, too.
Wrestling is a business built on tradition, and there will always be a place for the straightforward noble babyface or monster heel. But these days, the business is blessed with a surfeit of creations with more to them than can be summed up by a simple concept.
While this is still the crazy world of pro-wrestling, and accordingly each of these is a little more extreme than your average civilian, the depth of development puts them a cut above most wrestling characters.
Because of wrestling’s constant churn, it seldom dwells on its past. Feuds flare up and end, and superstars go their separate ways; it’s not too common for a wrestler to harken back to events in their history.
So when WWE actually chooses to use its decades-long backstory, it’s all the more impactful. In his remarkable comeback run, Edge has been allowed to recap and discuss matters dating back to the ‘90s to explain his decisions and process as a modern performer.
From his Brood days to his rivalry with Randy Orton and his history with an up and coming Seth Rollins, Edge doesn’t forget a thing, and it makes his decision to keep working despite his age and injuries actually make sense. He’s open about his personal life but tows the line between the character and the man to create a grizzled veteran you can believe in.
It helps that Adam Copeland is in a league of his own when it comes to delivering intense but sensible promos. He’s broad but never cartoonish, and completely understands the psychology of his wrestling persona, something which comes from decades of development.