Amidst the unprecedented challenge of executing live events during the pinnacle of the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020, WWE presented "Backlash 2020." An event now markedly distinct in the annals of WWE history, not for its euphoric crowd responses - as there were no fans in attendance - but for its audacious main event, touted as the "greatest wrestling match ever." Pitting Randy Orton against Edge, alias Adam Copeland, this duel bore the prodigious burden of living up to its bill - a colossal task shaped by WWE supremo, Vince McMahon, whose promotional audacity knew no bounds even amidst a global crisis.
Akin to an overture in a symphony, Copeland and Orton orchestrated a wrestling composition, sparring for a mammoth 40-plus minutes, encapsulating a historical wrestling essence by borrowing finishing moves from legendary predecessors, crafting a bout where Orton emerged victoriously following a tactical low blow and a consequential punt.
Copeland's Reflective Journey
Navigating through these profound memories, Copeland, now gracing the AEW ring, shared candid reflections with Chris Jericho on his "Talk Is Jericho" podcast, delineating the intricate thoughts and emotional currents coursing through him during that time.
“In all sincerity, it was the most arduous of challenges," expressed Copeland, "Wrestling is an art painted with broad, subjective strokes. One might revere an Austin-Bret submission match, while another might skew towards a Bockwinkel-Funk classic in All Japan.
This fluidity, it’s perennially shifting, isn’t it?” A love letter to wrestling was what Copeland aimed to forge, moulding the 'greatest wrestling match ever' through a lens that paid homage to the storied craft.
From requesting referee Charles Robinson to don a classic button-up and bow tie to invoking the spirit of the late, great Howard Finkel with a nostalgic Madison Square Garden-inspired introduction – it was a tribute, an ode, to the sport he so passionately cherishes.
The ingenuity behind employing other legends' finishers? Copeland mused, “In all realism, what alternative did we possess? In the vacuum of a silent arena and the monumental expectation tethered to ‘the greatest,’ it was merely our hat-tip to this magnificent industry”.