Book Reviews

November 12, 2004

When the news crossed this summer that Adam Copeland - known in the WWE ring as Edge - was releasing an autobiography, visions of Eric Lindros' 1991 book Fire on Ice immediately came to mind.

Just who is this guy to put out a book about himself at this point in his life?

That being said, the Orangeville, Ont., native was quick to address that issue right off the top of his book: Adam Copeland on Edge, out in bookstores now.

As we all remember, Copeland suffered a broken neck early in 2003 and was forced to take a year off just days before WWE's No Way Out pay-per-view in Montreal. Recovering from the injury left Edge sitting on his couch at home for hours at a time and reflecting on his life thus far. And an interesting life it has been.

As wrestling fans we tend to forget that a lot of today's veteran stars hang in the same age group as ourselves, and if you're a 30-year-old who still loves the action in the ring, you can easily relate to what Copeland - a card-carrying Generation X-er - is talking about.

For the first time in a WWE publication, Canada gets a very good rub as Copeland describes growing up in Orangeville, a town just forty minutes north of Toronto. There was nothing really outrageous about the way he grew up, but it seems to be part of the book's charm because any one of us could have lived the adolescent life that he did.

Despite growing up without a father (who walked out on his mother Judy before Adam was born), Copeland grew up with a lot of love around him. His uncles Randy and Gary became father figures, while his grandparents were always there with support. Adam had very few friends outside of school, though there was one kid he hung out with on a regular basis - Jason Reso. You may know him as Christian.

Surprisingly, wrestling was not initially mentioned as one of Copeland's first passions. Hockey and the legendary band KISS were his first loves - as he spent much of his childhood years collecting Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley dolls while cheering for Sittler and McDonald on Saturday Nights.

The tragic death of his uncle Gary was as close as Copeland got to losing a father, and watching wrestling was a big part of the healing process. As WWE Wrestling and Hulkamania ran wild in the mid-to-late 1980's, Adam found another great role model in the blond behemoth who told him to eat his vitamins and say his prayers.

Adam and Jay were WWE fanatics, scrimping and pinching to head down to Maple Leaf Gardens to catch house shows, watching programs like Wrestling Challenge and Saturday Night's Main Event, and pocketing their savings for the granddaddy of them all WrestleMania VI.

That was enough to inspire Adam to become a professional wrestler, and the teenager spent much of his formidable years training with Sweet Daddy Siki and Ron Hutchison while driving in and around Southwestern Ontario doing shows (with no car insurance!).

It was at a 1996 show in Ajax that soon-to-be WWE Canada President Carl DeMarco took notice of him, and arranged for him to take on Bob Holly at a WWE House Show in Hamilton as Sexton Hardcastle. The road to WWE was clear at this point, as Adam was soon invited by Carl to Calgary to show Bret Hart what he could do.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Copeland takes us through his first WWE years with as much attention and detail as is seen in his classic TLC matches. Some great stories are told behind his Ladder Match at WrestleMania 2000, the Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match at SummerSlam in 2000, TLC II at WrestleMania X-Seven, and winning the 2001 King of the Ring Tournament.

Granted, he only has six years of WWE under his belt, but the book succeeds in the sense that it gives the reader a very real look at the human element involved in working for WWE. The nightmarish story behind his almost-late arrival at the 1999 No Mercy Pay-Per-View certainly comes to mind, as well as some startling revelations that not even internet dirt sheet writers picked up on.

In a lot of ways, Adam Copeland on Edge is a lot like Exist 2 Inspire - the 2003 autobiography by the Hardys - in the sense that it documents the younger lives of WWE Superstars that aren't too different from those of their own fans (Come on, do most of us really live the sort of wild life that Ric Flair wrote about?), and offers a perspective on very recent WWE events we have seen.

But the difference with Copeland's book is that it puts the spotlight on wrestling's slice of Canadiana. Names like DeMarco, Hutchison, Siki, Don Callis and promoter Tony Condello have always been familiar names to us north of the border, but get little to no mention outside of this great wrestling nation. At the same time, it doesn't take very long for Copeland to establish that how down to earth he is. He grew up as one of us' and he remains as one of us,' something lacking in many of today's celebrities.

Adam Copeland on Edge is out in bookstores now.