|by Phil Speer
TORONTO -- Edge & Christian have become Edge and Christian.
The seven-time World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Champions -- who play brothers on television and are like brothers in real life -- broke up Monday night on RAW IS WAR to launch solo careers that they hope will be as successful as their partnership was.
But while they look forward to bigger and better things in the long run, both men appeared to be a bit somber backstage -- "melancholy," as Edge described it -- Tuesday afternoon, as they came to the abrupt realization that one of the most successful tag teams of all time was over.
"For years it was stagnant," Christian said, referring to the Federation's tag team division. "There were no real tag teams there. We were a strong part of bringing back a tag-team scene that people cared about. I'm real proud of that.
"It's scary (breaking up), but at the same time, I look forward to doing my own thing."
Added Edge, the current Intercontinental Champion, "I did realize that it was the end of something good. This is the first step of something new, but it was the closing of a chapter of something really good."
There were some very real elements to their televised breakup Monday night. The two superstars hugged just seconds before Christian clobbered Edge with a steel chair. And there was a reason that Christian appeared to be a wreck as he retreated up the ramp after turning on his brother.
"When we hugged, there was emotion there," Edge said, who watched the tape of the breakup over and over again on Tuesday. "When he was walking up the ramp, if you look really closely, there were tears in his eyes."
Meanwhile, the crowd in Toronto -- Edge and Christian's hometown -- gasped as Christian delivered a one-man con-chair-to to Edge. They had cheered their hearts out as Christian battled The Rock for the WCW Championship. The People's Champion may be the most popular Federation Superstar on the planet, but that night on RAW -- before he turned on Edge -- Christian was the most popular in Toronto. So the fans were shocked when, less than one hour later, Christian assaulted Toronto's other native son.
"The buildup was done just right," Christian said. "It showed in the end result. They (the fans) didn't exactly know how to react."
Regarding the breakup happening in their hometown, Edge said, "That's where we wanted to do it. We thought, with it coming up so soon, why not? It's better being in our hometown."
In the past, the breakup of a tag team or a faction was a sign that one of the members of the group was moving to the next level (Shawn Michaels leaving the Rockers and Triple H leaving D-Generation X, for example). But the Edge/Christian breakup seems to be a situation where both men will be elevated.
"Being a tag team helped both of us," Christian said. "(Otherwise) we may not have figured out our niche quite as quickly."
Christian said the team helped both superstars develop a character. It also gave them experience in high-profile matches on Pay-Per-Views, and occasionally main events on RAW and SmackDown!
"Now, because of all that, we've built more confidence and have characters that we built together," Christian said. "It makes the separation easier for us, and for fans to accept us as singles entities."
Just and Edge and Christian helped each other as a tag team, they'll be helping each other as singles competitors - by putting on a series of breathtaking matches. They almost assuredly have a date at Unforgiven, and they'll also be wrestling each other at non-televised events around the country. The two superstars trained at the same school and wrestled together
for years in the independent circuit. While they were on the same team most of the time, they have battled each other enough to know how to put on a fantastic match.
Edge says their matches will reflect the emotional nature of their breakup. He says there will be few if any high-flying maneuvers and the "off-beat shenanigans" that we're used to seeing for the team will cease to exist, at least for a while.
"It'll be an extremely stiff, brutal-looking match," Edge said. "You're going to see a different side. We're going to show people an intense, psychotic side that maybe you didn't know existed. And I think that's good."
Will Edge & Christian ever reunite?
"Maybe one day," Edge said. "But I think it has to be a long way down the road. If it's done too soon, maybe that denotes failure. It's time for us to see what we can do on our own."
"You never say never," Christian said. "The immediate future is singles careers for both of us. I have to focus on this to excel in singles like Edge & Christian excelled as a tag team."