If a wrestler retires, is it real?

>> Monday

Look, I still think wrestling is for fucking dorks, but this was a great post I found about some famous wrestler retiring recently. His name was Edge. He looked like one of those porn stars that grunt to much and make you not want to play with yourself...

Via SOS blog

It happens very often in the world of professional sports that we see careers cut short because of injury. The risks and hazards that all professional athletes take when they step onto the field, court, ice, diamond, and pitch (or whatever their sport’s playing field is called) are always high. Sometimes these injuries occur to younger players leaving us fans to ponder questions like “What if?” and wonder about what could have been. Other times we see injuries occur to older athletes that were just hanging for a few more years. Although career-ending injuries strip away an athlete’s ability to walk away on his or her terms…they sometimes turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Although you probably would not believe it unless you were a fan, professional wrestling is a sport that sees the most amount of injuries besides football. Professional wrestlers land on their backs in a way the human body is not supposed too. There is no off-season in pro wrestling; which means these men and women are landing on their backs, being thrown outside of the ring onto concrete, and jumping off the top rope onto a hard canvas about 250 days out of the year. To say that wrestlers live daily life in pain would be an understatement. It’s amazing what amount of risks pro wrestlers will go through to put on a great show for the fans.

The old school mantra of professional wrestling has always been you suck it up, tape up any injury you have, go out there and perform for the fans. It didn’t matter if you were risking further injury and possibly threatening your ability to walk or even life a pain-free life as you got older. As more awareness about concussions and long-term injuries became prevalent and relevant in today’s sports age, the WWE decided to scale back on high-risk maneuvers and even banned chair shots to the head. Even with a toned down in-ring product, taking the bumps these guys do still leads to pain and injuries.

On the April 11th edition of Monday Night Raw one of the most passionate and talented wrestlers that the WWE has ever seen was forced to retire. Adam Copeland (known to WWE fans Edge) spoke from the heart and let everyone know exactly what the situation was. Edge suffered a broken neck back in 2003 and had to have major surgery performed by renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews. He was forced to miss a year of in-ring competition. Fast forward to 2011 where Edge says he started feeling numbness up and down his arms over the past few months. The WWE asked him to take a few physical tests before WrestleMania 27 earlier this month. The lingering effects of that neck injury on top of 8 straight years of physical pain and punishment to his body had finally caught up with Edge. The test results showed that Edge would never again be cleared to wrestling in a WWE ring or he would risk paralysis and spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

The decision was an easy one for the 37-year-old Copeland. He decided to walk away with his head held high and retire from the business as the World Heavyweight Champion. Edge had stated in recent interviews that he had about 2 good years left in him before he would choose to retire on his own. Although that decision ended up being out of his hands and he did not get to walk away on his own terms, Edge had nothing to be sad about. In the WWE, Edge had accomplished every possible achievement there was.

As a wrestling fan growing up in Toronto, Canada, Edge always dreamed of becoming the World Champion just one time. He ended his career as an 11-time World Champion, as well as a multiple time Intercontinental Champion, U.S. Champion, and Tag Team Champion. Edge also won the King of the Ring tournament in 2001 and won the 2010 Royal Rumble. Edge had basically seen it all and done it all in a Hall of Fame-worthy career.

Edge was set to wrestle at May 1st’s Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View in a ladder match for the World Championship against Alberto Del Rio. It truly was a blessing in disguise that these test results came back at the time they did. A ladder match is one of the most brutal matches the WWE has to offer and one wrong bump or fall off the ladder could have paralyzed Edge for the rest of his life.

Watching and listening to Edge announce his retirement on live television made me a little emotional. After all I have been an Edge fan ever since he debuted in May of 1998; and as my other favorite wrestlers such as Bret Hart, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and The Rock retired and left the business, Edge took the top spot as my favorite active WWE Superstar. I was hoping that this would turn out to be some kind of storyline. I sat there waiting for somebody’s music to hit and interrupt Edge. When that didn’t happen I started to get the feeling that this was as real as it could get. Edge walked backstage and was greeted by a standing round of applause from his fellow Superstars. Edge was crying as he hugged his friends and the screen faded to black. Later in the week on Smackdown, Edge officially vacated his World Heavyweight Championship and gave another heartfelt speech. He thanked his mom who was in the audience and let everyone know that he’d go back to his home in the mountains of North Carolina with his wife and dogs. He even asked the fans if he come out to his entrance and music one more time because he would miss it. Edge really does have the best theme music and entrance in the WWE today and I will greatly miss it. He thanked everyone in the WWE and some his closest friends in the business. The show ended with the wrestlers coming out to the entranceway and giving him a standing ovation as guys like Triple H, Big Show, and Rey Mysterio walked into the ring and gave him hugs.

Although he did not get to walk away on his terms, he walked away with his head high and with great respect, dignity, and honor. Everyone will always respect him for the decision he made. Life -and most importantly a pain-free life- should be the most important thing to any athlete in any sport. When you’ve accomplished everything that Edge has in the WWE it is a lot easier to walk away when the doctor tells you too. Many times an athlete will try to be macho and go against the doctor’s orders because they do not want to be perceived as weak or not tough. Sometimes being smart is a lot better than being tough.

Edge will always be remembered as a young guy who came in as an upstart in the WWE and clawed his way to the top of the business through hard work and dedication to his craft. He was always one of the more entertaining guys on the mic and could have match of the night honors on every single card he wrestled on. He was dedicated to taking fans on emotional rides in any storyline he was involved in by his intense promos. From his days as a member of the gothic Brood to tearing down the house in tag team ladder matches and TLC matches with his best friend Christian. To 5 second poses and kazoo themes to breaking off on his own and winning the King of the Ring. To beating Kurt Angle and shaving his hair to winning the Money in the Bank ladder match. To beating John Cena for his first WWE World Title to the Rated R Superstar era where he had a live sex display with Lita. To main-eventing WrestleMania 24 against the Undertaker to returning at the Royal Rumble in 2010 after a year off and winning it. To winning his 11th World Heavyweight Championship…Edge has always been entertaining and exciting to watch. He called himself the Ultimate Opportunist and The Rated R Superstar.

Edge is the epitome of what happens when you start at the bottom, work hard, and succeed and make it all the way to the top. He can walk away knowing he’s left behind an amazing legacy that WWE fans will never forget. Adam Copeland will one day be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and everyone will know that he truly did deserve it because he was that good and all of his peers respected him.

(This is a video tribute the WWE put together for Edge…as always it’s worth watching and really good.)


Stanley Cup Playoff Preview

>> Thursday

Rangers-Caps: Basically, we get to see if the Caps are truly committed to their defensive gameplan of the past few months. We also see how much regular season success carries over to the playoffs. I still remember when Tampa played the Islanders in 2004, the Islanders won the season series, but still lost in 5 games. The Rangers have the goalie advantage, the advantage at the blueline (which they didn't have in '09), but without Ryan Callahan, some needs to step up (Marian Gaborik?) to put the puck in the net. No prediction, because I'm a biased Rangers fan, may as well get that out of the way.

Flyers-Sabers: The key to this series is will Chris Pronger play. If he does and plays well, the Flyers will win. If not, the Sabres are more dangerous on offense and Ryan Miller can be the difference maker. I still say the Flyers win, because they have better forwards and just need their goalie(s) not to lose it. Flyers in 7.

Bruins-Canadiens: The best series of the first round. Montreal has the history and they have the season series edge, 4-2. The Bruins have the psychological edge after their 7-0 win in March. Who wins? Boston has clear advantages at forward and the blueline, and goaltending is a wash. Unless the Bruins either don't play their physical style, or play it too much, they should win in 6.

Penguins-Lightning: Once again, the question is about a player coming back. This time, it's Sidney Crosby. I don't think he comes back and Pittsburgh has to make due without him. While the Lightning have terrific players such as Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vinny LeCavalier, I don't think they're ready to win yet. Pittsburgh, with Marc-Andre Fleury leading the way, grinds out a series win in 6.

Canucks-Blackhawks: Are the Canucks capable of finally beating the Blackhawks. Everyone was saying that Vancouver should be upset to play the Hawks again. I think they should be thrilled. To become the champ, you must beat the champ and the Canucks must get over this hill if they are to win. I think it's a challenge they accept and the fact that they have the deepest team in the playoffs, best scoring, best in goals against and they should win. Canucks in 5.

Sharks-Kings: The Kings had a chance to do big things this year, until losing Anze Kopitar. Now they are stuck with a San Jose team who's lurking as a sleeper to win, instead of a favorite. Sharks win in 6.

Red Wings-Coyotes: Until this afternoon, I was willing to make the Coyotes are my upset of the round. Then came the news they could be moving back to Winnipeg after the playoffs (sorry for no link, but I have no time to get one). This means the crowds in Phoenix, which weren't bad last year, will be either empty or full of Wings fans. Plus, it's never smart to pick against Detroit. Wings in 6.

Predators-Ducks: Barry Trotz should be commended for the job he does with a Nashville team who can't score, but seem to make the playoffs every year. If they played 10 years ago like this, they'd have a Cup. Unfortunately you need to score and the Ducks can with Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne. Not enough firepower again for the Preds. Ducks win in 7.


NBA Playoff Predictions

>> Tuesday

The playoffs are once again among us... some predictions for the first round.


1 Chicago over 8 Indiana in 4 games
The Bulls are the more complete, talented team. They are better offensively and defensively. This should be the least interesting series in round 1.

2 Miami over 7 Philadelphia in 5 games
As much as I want to see the 76ers pull one out, it is not going to happen. They don't have the firepower to hang with the star-studded Heat. Iggy can only guard LeBron or Wade.

3 Boston over 6 New York in 7 games
The Celtics come limping into the playoffs, trying to find an identity again after the Kendrick Perkins trade. Funny things can happen when the Knicks get into the playoffs... Game 7 in Boston, though, gives them the advantage.

4 Orlando over 5 Atlanta in 6 games
I'm not sold on the Magic as legitimate contenders, but I think they have the firepower to overtake the Hawks.


1 San Antonio over 8 Memphis in 6 games
This is an intriguing game since people think the Spurs are a weak 1 and the Griz a strong 8, but reports of an upset have been greatly exaggerated. The Spurs still have the big 3, and Manu Ginobili will be the best player in this series.

2 Los Angeles over 7 New Orleans in 5 games
If David West were healthy, this might be an interesting series. As it is, I don't see the Lakers faltering, even as poor as they have played down the stretch.

6 Portland over 3 Dallas in 7 games
The upset of the first round, I like the more athletic Blazers to take down Dallas, even though Dirk is playing as well as anyone in the NBA. The Mavs need Tyson Chandler to be huge in this series, but I am not sure he is up to it.

4 Oklahoma City over 5 Denver in 6 games
It should be the most entertaining series in the first round, as both teams get out and run. The difference is that one of these teams have Kevin Durant, and one does not.

What are your predictions?


Baseball Preview

>> Friday

Earlier than normal and without the National Championship game as the finale of the day, the 2011 MLB season begins today. This season begins off the heels of an offseason which was crazier than expected. Particularly, the moves by the Red Sox and Cliff Lee and Zack Greinke moving were the biggest stories. However, the hot stove has been turned off and its back to diamond where every team (yes, even the Pirates) are in first place on Opening Day, and despite the bad weather here in NYC, you can feel grass is about to grow and spring is coming. It's also time for another preview post (I know it seems like all I do are preview posts anymore) so let's get to it before the first pitch.

We begin in the reigning toughest division in baseball, and the likely toughest for the rest of time in the AL East. You know a division is tough when the fifth-place team can realistically win another division. Baltimore and Toronto are interesting because they are up-and-coming; both teams can hit well and they have young pitching that if they reach potential, could win about 85-90 games. Even that, however, wouldn't mean the playoffs for both. Tampa lost Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano and many others, but they still have Evan Longoria and David Price and with good years from Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon and B.J. Upton, they can easily go back to the playoffs. However, I don't believe their bullpen without Soriano and Joaquin Benoit can establish themselves good enough to pass the Yankees and Red Sox. Both teams will make the playoffs, Josh Beckett would be the key if the Red Sox win the division or the Yankees. If Beckett's can bounce back to his best, then the Red Sox advantage in the rotation is pronounced over the Yankees. If not, then the rotations are a wash, with maybe a slight edge for Boston. I think the Red Sox win it, only because the Yankees might struggle early with the rotation and whatever trade they make won't swing the division, but solidify the wild card.

The AL Central once again has Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago as their contenders as Cleveland and Kansas City continue the rebuild. The Royals are really close to being a good team, as their best in baseball farm system continues to grow up. It won't be this year they compete for the playoffs, but in 2012 or 2013, they will. I think they hold off the Indians in the battle for last place, as Cleveland is a little behind the rebuild than the Royals (meaning Orlando Cabrera is traded to a contender by July 31). As for the contenders, I'm not sold on either the Tigers or White Sox to overtake the Twins. Chicago always seems to wear down over the year under Ozzie Guillen's managing, while the Tigers don't seem to have the rotation capable of winning the division. I know the Twins lost some major bullpen guys, but if Joe Nathan comes back to his All-Star form, that negates the loss. It also helps to have Justin Morneau back in the lineup, hopefully he can have a season which he's healthy enough for the playoffs, would be important if it's the Yankees they play again.

Last year was a change for the AL West as the Angels went by the wayside and the Rangers won the division and the league. This year, both team look to stagnate a little, opening the door for a surprise winner. Even though the Mariners seem to do good in odd numbered years, they won't win this year. They could settle for another Cy Young for King Felix (better than training him). I look to Oakland as the best team in the West as they have the best rotation (and had it last year) and with Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui signing there, they have a better offense (of course, who knows with that ballpark). Anaheim is lacking in both offense and pitching to compete, despite Mike Scioscia's ability to manage. As for Texas, they will compete with Oakland to the end, but I must say, not getting Cliff Lee to resign is the difference for this team.

On to the NL, starting in the East where the Philly Phour reside. Despite the early season injuries, the Phillies really shouldn't miss the playoffs; if they do, it's an embarrassment. Speaking of embarrassment, the Mets should be the worst team in the division. I don't see how they pitch well, even in Citi Field, which will also negate the offense. Washington will be fourth, but they won't be any good until we know how Stephen Strasburg responds to Tommy John surgery, as well as when Bryce Harper moves to the majors. Florida is probably a year away from being a legitimate contender as the pitching behind Josh Johnson continues to develop more consistency and the lineup does as well, probably a good year in the new ballpark for them in 2012. The Braves will win the wild card as they are improved from last year. The pitching is still there (unless Derek Lowe comes back down) and more importantly, they will hit better with Dan Uggla and potential Rookie of the Year Freddie Freeman.

Probably the division that has the most potential contenders is the NL Central with Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Chicago and yes, St. Louis who can realistically win. I always think the Cards can compete because of Tony La Russa, Dave Duncan and Albert Pujols (even with the impending free agency). The Cubs are improved with Matt Garza and hope to have a motivated Carlos Pena who's on a one-year deal. Add Starlin Castro, Aramis Ramirez and Marlon Byrd and the lineup is good. Still think they fall short of the division, trailing both the Brewers and Reds. The Reds still have the balanced offense from last year and a dominant bullpen with Aroldis Chapman and Francisco Cordero at the back end. The Brewers offense is better than Cincy's and with Greinke and Shaun Marcum, they should have enough to win the division (and they better, they put too much into this season). No need to discuss the Astros or the Pirates, both will struggle, though Houston's closer to contention because of pitching.

Last but not least, the division of the defending World Series winners, the Giants. The division won't be as difficult now that the Padres traded Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox, and will suffer a bad year because of it, though it might not be too long a dip. The Diamondbacks are still on the long road of rebuilding since the pitching is still porous and they still don't hit with any consistency, though they do have building blocks. The Dodgers are interesting with a solid rotation and a nice lineup, but they don't have the hitting Colorado has or the pitching San Francisco has as well. The Rockies are the contender in the division, but will need more pitching than Ubaldo Jimenez to overtake the Giants. San Francisco will struggle early, but the injuries they have seem short-term and they should tread water until healthy, then win the end.

World Series Pick: Braves over A's

MVP's: Ryan Braun and Robinson Cano

Cy Young's: Roy Halladay and Jon Lester

Rookies of the Year: Freddie Freeman and Jeremy Hellickson

Managers of the Year: Ron Roenicke and Bob Geren

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