by Seth Mates
It's a big day for Edge tomorrow - after a week of using three-pound dumbbells to rehabilitate his injured right shoulder, the former Intercontinental Champion will be moving up to four-pound weights.
But despite the weakness he's feeling right now, Edge is all smiles. That's because he has found out that he doesn't need surgery on his injured shoulder, and that there's a good chance he can be back in the ring by the end of the month.
"That's definitely good news compared to the first news I got from the first doctor, which was surgery and three months off, which was just like, no, not now, I gotta get back," Edge told WWE.com in a phone interview on Monday afternoon. "I just want to get back in there. Then the real test is when I hop back in the ring."
Edge first injured his right shoulder on the May 30 episode of SmackDown!, during his Cage Match against Kurt Angle. The final maneuver of the match saw Edge spear Angle from the top rope. As he came down, he landed with most of his weight on his right shoulder. He instantly knew something was wrong.
"Probably a move I shouldn't have done," Edge said. "You have that momentum coming at Angle, you're just coming straight down. And if I didn't put my elbow up, I probably would have broken my neck. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have done it, or maybe I should have done it off the second rope. But it was a nice little topper for the match.
"As soon as I hit, my arm went numb. That's why I didn't hook his leg when I covered him - because I couldn't feel my arm. I figured (my shoulder) had just popped out, because I had done that before in a match, and it just felt the same. So I thought OK, I just dislocated it, I'll just get it popped back in.
"I rolled off and started trying to move the arm around, thinking 'I gotta pose with Hulk Hogan here. I did this when I was a kid in front of the mirror, and now that I have the chance to actually do it in Calgary, I'm not missing out on this opportunity. I got up and got the posing done. It was clicking on me and it didn't feel solid. It was just hanging on me, but the adrenaline was running and I was psyched up. And by the way, I still have to get a copy of that for my tape collection.
"I got through it, and from there, I got back to my hotel room and I couldn't really sleep. It was really uncomfortable. The next morning on the way to the airport, I couldn't lift my arm."
When he got back to Toronto that next morning, he made an appointment with the Maple Leafs' team doctor, who popped his shoulder back in. The doctor informed him that when his shoulder had popped out, the labrum muscle - which helps reinforce the rotator cuff - had gone back into the joint, so the labrum was stuck in the joint now. The doctor dug the labrum out of the joint and set the shoulder back into place. The muscle tore in the process.
Edge had an MRI done - which included a seven-inch needle being stuck in his shoulder to inject a special dye. He then "contorted" in an MRI machine for about half an hour as the procedure was peformed - "They don't make those machines for wrestlers," he laughs. The MRI results confirmed a torn labrum.
The doctor suggested that Edge "bite the bullet" and have surgery to repair the sizeable tear in the labrum. A disappointed Edge decided to go to Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion, and Andrews told him that surgery would not be required, and should instead just be a last resort.
"He thought surgery would be too aggressive," Edge said. "He said you wait and wait and wait until you absolutely have to. He said eventually I'm probably going to have to (have surgery), but what he wanted me to do was at least two weeks of therapy, and see how it holds up from there."
The two weeks of therapy began last Tuesday, and will continue until June 17. Edge has had five sessions thus far. Each session lasts for an hour and a half, using three-pound weights to work the shoulder.
"It just kills," he laughs. "In a good way, though. I can already feel an improvement, just in sleeping and doing everyday movements. Before it felt pretty good and I'm like, 'There's nothing wrong with this thing,' and then I'd pick up a glass of milk of something, and I'd go, 'Oh!'"
After the therapy, Edge will again meet with his doctor, at which point he could receive a clean bill of health to return to in-ring action, even if on a limited basis at first. He will not be at the SmackDown! tapings this week in Greenville or next week in Sacramento, but says he's targeting the King of the Ring trip as his return to action.
Edge's injury comes at a particularly bad time, as he is in the middle of a true "mega-push," which has included high-profile matches with Kurt Angle, and storylines with Hogan.
"I just wanna make sure I come through," Edge said. "That's my plan. I didn't know the opportunity was coming when the brand extension came, but I had a feeling. I knew I had to come through this time, because they've given me the chance before and it hasn't really clicked. This time it has clicked. The crowd has come around the bend with me too. I think they're used to it now; they look at me and think, 'OK, he's a player,' and they have accepted me.
"The big difference now is I have complete confidence. I would second-guess myself here and there. I always had confidence, but there was still that little shadow in the back of my mind that said, 'maybe this isn't right.' Now I go out and just do what I do, and know it's going to turn out good in the end. I think that's been a big help.
"I sat down with Undertaker last week and he said, 'I can see the difference now when you come out - there's confidence now, whereas before it wasn't fully there.' And I think that's the big different really. So I want to just keep rolling with that and see where we go from there."
Edge's aggravation at the timing of his injury was apparent during an emotional speech on the June 6 episode of SmackDown!
"They told me just to be myself and say what was on my mind," he said. "And that's what was on my mind. The line - 'They finally put the ball in my hands and now I can't hold onto it' - that's how I really felt. Even until I get back, that's how I do feel, even though I'm a lot happier now than I was that night.
"When (the company) really starts to get behind you, to be included in the elite group of guys, it feels really good. And then something like this happens, after nine years of minor injuries, to have something like that happen where you can't perform, it's like man, that sucks. So I just tried to convey that, to get that out. And actually, it felt good to vent a little bit."
Edge says one thing he's worried about is fans who may take his early return the wrong way.
"I'm worried that if I come back now, three weeks later, it's like, 'Oh, he wasn't hurt!'" he said. "That's what everybody is going to say. But I'd rather be back and have them say that than have surgery and be out for three months."
Although the injury is obviously a terrible thing to happen to Edge, it's amazing that something like this hasn't happened sooner. After all, Edge is a veteran of Table Matches, Cage Matches, Ladder Matches, TLC Matches - you name it, he's been hit with it. Prior to this, his most major injury was a back ailment suffered during a Table Match in February 2001. It's incredible to think that this time, he's also only expected to miss a couple of weeks.
"I think I'm getting real lucky. It's like I have a rabbit's foot shoved up my ass or something," he laughs. "To manage getting through all those matches pretty much unscathed - there's a lot of luck involved in that."
Edge says one silver lining is that he's been able to spend some extra time at home. He especially enjoyed being able to watch the Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis fight on Saturday night.
"I picked Lewis, and I thought Lewis just destroyed him," Edge said. "Hopefully Maven will read this, and I will not agree that Mike Tyson is one of the best ever. He's a huge Tyson fan; I'm a proponent for Ali. And I told him that Ali would kill Tyson if they were both in their primes, and there's no doubt about it now, because Ali would take Lewis too."
Boxing analysis aside, Edge emphasized that he's truly happy that his injury is not as serious as originally thought.
"Hopefully I come back after these two weeks, and my shoulder holds up, and we roll from there," Edge said. "I might be a little tentative my first match back, I'll admit, just to see how it holds up. I don't want to just get in there and - boom, gone - and I need surgery. That will be in the back of my mind, from when I do my first dropkick off the top rope to my first spear and take my first stomach bump, because the stomach bump is where I break my fall with my hands a lot. That will be a good test for it, hopefully. We'll just have to wait and see, I guess."
To hear more from Edge, be sure to tune in to this Friday's episode of Byte This! on WWE.com, starting at 4 p.m. ET. Edge will be calling into the show.