Inside Edge’s long, winding road back to headlining WrestleMania –

When fans vote in online polls ranking the best entrance music in the business, Edge’s play-in, “Metalingus” by Alter Bridge, usually lands near the top — if not outright looking down on all the others. First come the whispered words (“You think you know me”) and then a grunge Wall of Sound. At that point, Edge always bounced out into the spotlight, drinking in the whole moment, feeding off the volume, enjoying the spectacle from its centre. After a couple of verses, he’d stand, feet spread wide, bowed at the waist and then shoot his arms straight up, reaching for the lights, his head tilted back as the pyro framed him in silhouette. If you took it in sum, the music and the entrance itself, no one arrived better than Edge.

It’s not clear that fans listened too closely to the lyrics, which on the page might just seem like Soundgarden-variety gloom.

On this day I see clearly everything has come to life
A bitter place and a broken dream
And we’ll leave it all, leave it all behind

Alter Bridge frontman Mark Tremonti once said the theme of the lyrics was “fighting through adversity and conquering something in your life.” The song draws a hard-won, angst-drenched perspective. As it turned out, “Metalingus” would prove predictive in an awful way, as Edge at the top of his game had to leave it all behind.

Wrestling is the realm of “the false finish,” the very foundation of heightening tension. It’s there every show, every match. Think of the quick two-count before the last-second rollout. A dead-to-the-world extension of the leg for a foot on the bottom rope. Interference, a crashing of the ring. At the micro level, it’s completely ingrained. The comeback is baked into the cake. It’s over … no, wait, it ain’t over.

But there are endings and then there are endings, the latter being the greater inevitabilities. There will be for all one last time climbing through the ropes, one last ring of the bell, one last stirring victory, one last crushing loss. A few get a farewell tour — Ric Flair’s headlined shows. For most, though, it’s anything but grand. Indignities mount in sequence: past your peak; over the hill; in decline; has-been. Neither the celebrated exit nor the fade away framed the narrative of Edge’s retirement in the spring of 2011, though. There was no storyline, no design, only a seemingly non-negotiable finality.

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