Adam Copeland ended his Hall of Fame wrestling career as Edge in WWE a few years ago, and since has transitioned into acting. Copeland now stars on Haven, which is currently in its fifth season airing on Fridays at 7PM. In this exclusive in-depth interview with AlternativeNation.net, Copeland discusses his love of alternative rock bands like Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, and The Smashing Pumpkins, compares working with WWE and Haven writers, reveals if he’ll ever return to WWE as an announcer or GM, his thoughts on WWE’s Attitude Era, concussions in pro wrestling, if John Cena’s character should ever become a villain, Christian’s future in WWE and appearance on Haven, the WWE Network, Batista, The Rock, the New Jersey Devils, and more.
What are some of your favorite Pearl Jam songs, and what made you become a fan?
It’s interesting, because I remember having the cassette of Ten. I worked at a horse track, and I worked in this little wooden shack, and I took money for parking from all of the people who went to the race track. I would just put that cassette on my walkman, I had a little oil lantern as my heat during Canadian winters, and I would just play that tape relentlessly, over and over, and I just wore it out. It was that time of my life where it just resonated with me, it just put me in a good place. Then Vs. came out and I was in college, and that was kind of my soundtrack for college. It just felt like I was kind of growing up with these guys, and they were saying things that I was going through at the time, because there’s about a 5-year age gap.
They’re one of those bands that connected with me, and their whole ethos of doing what they want to do. They didn’t release “Black” as a single, even though the record company wanted them to. They stopped making music videos, until “Do the Evolution,” which was genius. I just like that they do what they want to do. They don’t think of it in terms of what’s the hit, they think of it in terms of their career, and how the audience will know if they’re staying true to themselves or not. I think that’s why they have the fanbase they do now, for lack of a better example, they have a ravenous fanbase like the Grateful Dead. People travel all over the world to see them play, it’s going to have a different setlist, they’re going to give you 3 hours, they’re going to sweat and drink wine, and play their ass off.
Another artist from the 90’s, one that’s really into wrestling, is Billy Corgan. He’s mentioned you a few times on Twitter, and you almost appeared on one of his Resistance Pro shows a couple years ago. What is your relationship like with Billy, and what drew you to the Smashing Pumpkins?
The same thing, it was that era of music. I’m really thankful that I was 17, 18, 19, 20, as all of that was really just hitting, and there was a change of musical climate from Warrant and Poison, to bands that actually had more of a message than just going out and hanging out on the Sunset Strip, which is fine, you’ve got to have fun too. But I was at a point in my life where I connected with what guys like Billy, Kurt Cobain, and Eddie Vedder were saying.
When you hear “Today” for the first time, it’s layers and layers of guitar, and it sounds like Queen. It harkens back to some of the 70’s music I like too, like Cheap Trick, so it had a great pop sensibility, but it was heavy, and the lyrics were anything but pop, and I liked that combination. We just happened to meet at a wrestling show because Billy’s obviously a huge wrestling fan. We just started talking wrestling, music, life, and everything in between.
I know Foo Fighters are one of your favorite bands, you met Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins. What are your thoughts on the new Foo Fighters songs and their HBO series?
I’m actually pretty bummed, because I haven’t been able to catch their HBO series. Where I am in Chester, Nova Scotia, we don’t have HBO. It’s not on iTunes, so I’ve missed all of it so far.
You need to torrent it on the internet.
(Laughs) I’m pretty clueless when it comes to computers too, so I probably have a way to access it, but I’m a bit of a caveman. I’ve missed the show, but I pre-ordered the album, so I’ve been getting every track as it’s released, and I love it. They’re one of those bands who hit the vein of something I can relate to on each album. I think that’s why bands become favorite bands, for whatever reason they always do. I used “Walk” for my Hall of Fame acceptance speech ceremony, because I really felt like I was walking out of what I did my entire adult life, and this was closing that chapter, and kind of walking on into the next one. So that really resonated with me, and when I heard “Something From Nothing,” once again, it was one of those songs where when I heard it I got goosebumps. I can relate to that, coming from what is perceived as nothing, so that was one that really clicked with me right away.
You mentioned “Walk” being your Hall of Fame theme song. WWE have also had a lot of other really powerful music pieces over the years, Jonny Cash’s version of Hurt being used for Eddie Guerrero’s tribute immediately jumps to mind, and the Austin/Rock WrestleMania 17 Limp Bizkit “My Way” video. What have been some of your favorite musical wrestling moments over the years, and what songs do you think would fit in the context of a wrestling show that hasn’t been used before?
“Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer I always thought would be a great montage of a career. Kind of the end of a career, and just showing the entire evolution of someone’s career, because it’s a pretty epic song that builds, then there’s this frenzy, I just picture flashes of someone’s career going by. So that’s kind of the first one that pops out, and I don’t think that would be one that people would think of off of the top of their head, but that was one where every time I heard it, that’s kind of how I pictured it. But there’s been a lot performances like Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, and Motorhead. I don’t know, sometimes wrestling is very testosterone driven, so certain music just wouldn’t fit there. Where a Limp Bizkit could play there, I don’t know how well a Pearl Jam song would go over at WrestleMania, it just wouldn’t fit, and I think they would know that, it’s just not the same audience.
What other wrestlers and actors have you been able to bond with over hard rock music, maybe ones we wouldn’t know are into it?
There’s some obvious ones, guys like Chris Jericho. Eric Balfour on Haven, he and I have similar musical tastes, we have bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More, bands like that that we connect on. We’ll have ongoing conversations about music that can last all night. Matt Striker is a guy who has crazy musical knowledge, loves all types of music, but will sit there and dissect the virtues of Rush, then we can talk about Otis Redding or James Brown or something. Really diverse kind of musical tastes, but it all centers in rock and hard rock, that’s where it all kind of derives from, the blues, so you can go all the way back.
One guy who I actually talked to a few months ago who is into 90’s music like Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots is Jeff Hardy, who does his own music. Speaking of Jeff and Matt, they’ve been teaming up again recently, when was the last time you saw Jeff and Matt, and do you keep in touch with them?
Oh man, it’s been years. We’ll occasionally send texts and things like that. I mailed something to Jeff for him to sign to send back, I was giving it to a charity, and we compare baby names and things like that, but I haven’t really seen anybody from wrestling in a long time. I saw Jericho at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, and I saw Christian because he did a part on Haven. But other than that, I’m out in Chester, Nova Scotia, an hour and a half out from Halifax, and I’ve basically been out here for 4 years for this show, so I don’t see anybody. We’re pretty much as far as you can get east, and not a lot of people get out this way.
You occasionally text or call, but one thing you quickly realize with the touring lifestyle, whether it be music or wrestling, you’ll be on the road and not realize you haven’t talked to someone for 2 years. You’ll be like, ‘Hey, so, how you been, it’s been a few months right?’ They’re like, ‘No, it’s been 2 years.’ (Laughs) Wow, okay. It’s just kind of the way it is, when you have to be in a different city every day, you’re just worried about the next rental car, the next meal, the next gym, the next town. You lose track, there’s a few I keep in touch with, but it’s just hard. You can’t take it personal, it’s just the way of the road.
You mentioned Christian being on Haven. How was it working with him again, and do you see acting as something he could do, as his career is in an interesting position right now with injury issues and not having wrestled in awhile. But how was it seeing Christian, and what do you think about his future?
Well he’s my best friend, so I know what’s going on with him more than anybody else. But he’s at that kind of point where you sit back and look and go, okay I’m definitely closer to the end of my career than the beginning. After awhile your body just starts telling you, this is a difficult job to do. When you’re in your 20’s and you think you’re indestructible, you can bounce back, but it gets harder when you start climbing into your 40’s.
He came out here, the executive producers of Haven were like, ‘Hey, what’s Christian doing?’ ‘Right now he just had a baby girl, same as us, we’re just kind of talking about that, but he’s just being a Dad.’ They asked if he’d be interested in coming out, I floated it by him, and he said, ‘Yeah, that’d be great. It’d be fun to have the girls see us in a different kind of arena of entertainment than wearing tights and throwing each other around. It would be fun to show them us acting together someday.’ So he got out here, and we hadn’t seen each other in almost a year, so it was nice to be able to sit down and not just talk over the phone or over Facetime, but to actually just get caught up, more than anything else.
It was great working together, and my Mom was out here, but he finally got to meet my daughter, and we just hung out, which was the best part of the whole thing. I don’t know if it’s something that he’d want to do, I think he had a good experience, he had fun, but I don’t know if that would be something he’d actually want to make an occupation. It’s kind of starting over, that’s what I’m doing right now, starting over at this brand new thing, learning as I go. It’s hard when you’ve kind of made it to the pinnacle of one thing, to start over again at 40 years old. It can be kind of daunting, I just don’t know if that would be something he would be interested in.
Christian’s been doing some analyst work on WWE Network, and I know you’re full on into acting right now. But would you ever consider returning as an announcer or GM type of character in WWE, or even a company like TNA? Could you envision even doing that in 5 to 10 years down the line?
Probably not. I kind of closed that chapter when it got closed on me due to injury. Here’s the thing I’ve always said, is if I can’t get in the ring, I don’t want to be close to the ring and not get in, because that’s the fun part. For me, the performance was always the fun aspect of it. Sitting back and watching and talking about it, I just don’t know how fun that would be for me. It’s great for some people, I just don’t know if that’s for me. I mean who knows, but at this point in my life I don’t foresee it.
I don’t foresee going back on the road, and having to maintain leaving even once a week, especially with a brand new daughter. It’s like, no, I like where I am right now, shooting a TV series, sleeping in the same bed every night, and my entire family is here, I don’t have to get up and go to the airport and leave them. I did that for 20 years, sometimes people say my career got cut short, but it was 20 years long. Wrestling years are like dog years, so it was a long career, and a long time maintaining that schedule and that kind of pace, so it’s been nice not to. Even though I wouldn’t be doing the physical aspect, that’s the part that was fun, and made all the other crap like planes and rental cars enjoyable. If that’s not there, why would I want to do that?
Do you watch NXT at all, and who are some of your favorite young wrestlers in the business currently?
I haven’t watched a whole lot. They finally gave me the WWE Network. Once they asked me to do a show on it, they said, ‘Do you want it by the way?’ I said, ‘Yeah sure, why not?’ But for whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to want to work up here in Canada. Every time I try to watch something it just freezes, so I haven’t really watched a whole lot of stuff. Before it was on the Network, it was on Sports Central up here, and if I was home from set, I would try to watch it Thursday nights. Then it got taken off Sports Central, I got the Network, and the Network didn’t work, so it’s kind of been out of my hands, I haven’t been able to watch it.
But I know Sami Zayn, I’ve known him for a couple of years now, but I’ve always enjoyed what he’s done, when he was El Generico too. A buddy of mine got signed a little while ago and is working down there, Dash Wilder. A really good, solid, technical wrestler, he’s part of a tag team with Scott Dawson, they were calling them the Mechanics, but I don’t know what they’re calling them now. Kind of beyond that, I don’t really know a whole lot. It’s tough sometimes, because I’m on set from 5AM-9PM, when I get home, the last thing I’m doing is turning on a TV. I’m reading a script for tomorrow, getting my lines down, and I’m going to bed, or reading my daughter to bed, which is way more important.
You were around for the the edgier, pun intended, period of WWE, and also the first few years of the current PG era, so you did see the shift. With WWE’s business down and Network numbers not hitting what they had projected, and also TNA facing an uncertain future, what do you see as the direction wrestling needs to take to find success? Do you think it’s a more physical style, or do you think it’s good that stuff like chair shots aren’t around as much any more? What do you think needs to be done?
Well, I think the chair shots being gone is definitely a good thing. Especially as we learn more and more about concussions thanks to guys like Chris Nowinski kind of spearheading it. There can’t be that any more, there just can’t. When you have football players shooting themselves in the chest, and the brain can be examined, because they’re acting erratically, and they know it’s because of CTE, you have to erase those things, whether people like it or not. If people complain about that, then they need to take one, because it just doesn’t make sense. So in that aspect, I don’t think you need to go back to that, because it’s just stupid, especially with the knowledge we have now.
I do think what’s been good, people are always talking about the Attitude Era, and all of this and all of that, but if you watch back, sometimes the matches weren’t that great because we had 2 minutes. It’s not possible to have a good wrestling match in 2 minutes, you can’t tell a story, you can tell a haiku. Since the PG era, I know when I was in matches, I had half an hour sometimes, 20 minutes, there I can tell a story. To me that’s the meat and potatoes of the whole thing, it all boils down to the wrestling at the end of the day. The Attitude Era was a lot about the hijinks backstage, and the matches kind of got forgotten about. It’s looked at with rose colored glasses because the ratings were good, and it was working for obvious reasons, but to me those obvious reasons were characters like Stone Cold, who would then get in and have a long match at a PPV. Characters like The Rock who would be entertaining, but still at the end of the day, they could go. I think now, you need a little bit of both.
I think some humor injected into the current product would be good, because anything I have seen has been ho hum, it’s been promos, but there’s no humor any more, there’s no fun. I did see The Rock come back in Brooklyn, and that was fun. I think that goes back to things just being so tightly scripted, and not letting guys just be themselves. It’s hard to find what works for your character when you’re just being kind of being told what to do, what to say, where to be, how to do it, there has to be some freedom in there in order for the audience to be able to tap into it, and for it to work.
In a wrestling match, you can do that, because you’re putting it together, you’re flying by the seat of your pants out there, and you’re listening to what the audience is doing, if you’re good. But when it comes to promos and things like that, I think sometimes the aspects of humor and entertainment in that have been lost. With that being said, I still think it’s more important to have great wrestling matches. So I don’t know, when it’s all said and done, it goes in cycles, no matter what product is being placed out there. I think if you tried to do the Attitude Era thing now, it wouldn’t necessarily fly, because people have seen MMA, and that’s become popular. I think that’s what the college guy, or the guy wearing his medium Affliction shirt is watching now as opposed to WWE. In 1999, those guys would be watching WWE, now they want to see a dude get knocked out in the UFC.
Something that was more prevalent in wrestling back then was unpredictability. Speaking of that, you worked with John Cena and were arguably his greatest rival. At times you got more cheers than him despite being a villain at the time. At New Years Revolution 2006 you would have thought Stone Cold Steve Austin had just won the title when you beat Cena. What have you thought about Cena’s character remaining the ‘good guy’ over the years, do you think it ever should have been changed, or should be now?
I don’t really think much about it to be honest, but I would guess he’s probably moving a lot of merchandise, so why not stick with that? I think that’s probably a good gauge for popularity, you’ll have a lot of guys not like the character, but if 3/4 of a family is liking the character, and buying the merchandise, and 1/4 isn’t, you do the math.
You had a scene recently on Haven where you got really intense after Mara brought up your daughter, how have you learned to portray emotions like that now in acting compared to wrestling? Obviously it’s a very different presentation. Do you ever feel tempted to go back to old habits, and how have you learned to control that?
Initially that was the main challenge, the aspect of with wrestling everything being over the top, you have to translate your movements and emotions to someone who is possibly 80,000 people away. With this, the camera is so tight, it picks up every little tick and nuance, every little twitch that your face does, so I really had to learn about pulling back, and making things more subtle. What’s good is that wrestling gave me the ability to be able to tap into aggression, and anger for different scenes like that, because everything in wrestling was kind of driven by intensity.
But also wrestling helped me with humor too, because with Edge and Christian we built our whole career on humor at the beginning. It’s great training to get you prepared for acting, and kind of get you past some of the initial hiccups that people probably do, because at the end of the day, you’re still in front of a camera, you’re still portraying a character. It’s just really pulled back and toned down when it comes to acting as opposed to the theater of the absurd that wrestling is. I think it was kind of pulling back, and realizing that little things can be picked up much easier.
Having multiple takes is great, it was awesome performing live because it’s exciting, you’re flying by the seat of your pants, but it’s nice to be able to get home, study lines, and think of some choices you’re going to make, if they don’t work, you’re probably going to get another take to try more. They’re both great, it’s nice to try something different, because like I said, for 20 years, I did that other thing. Doing something different has been a fun new little challenge. Acting and wrestling are on the same tree, they’re just different branches.
What is the atmosphere like working with the writers on Haven compared to in WWE? Are you going to the writers a lot talking about your character, or do you just put your full trust in them?
I put a lot of trust in them, but at the same time, they’re very open. We have a [conversation about] every episode, they’ll call me and we’ll run through each script, and kind of find some [things] that they think are important, and I’ll say how I felt when I initially read it, then we’ll go okay, and agree on some. It’s a good process, with wrestling, so much of it is last minute. So much of it is, we’re going live, and we’re changing the entire show (laughs). That can be cool, because it keeps you on your toes and it’s fun, but there’s definitely interactions with both sets of writers. I like to be hands on with my storylines, and if it was a storyline where I thought, ‘Eh, this isn’t that great,’ I still thought okay, I’ve got to try and make some lemonade out of this, and fully commit to it. That’s what I’ve learned in both, even if there’s something you don’t necessarily like, if you find a way to commit to it, you can make it work.
Batista has had huge success with Guardians of the Galaxy, obviously The Rock has had huge success as well, and you have had a consistent job on Haven for the last few years finding your own success, have you ever been able to talk to them about acting?
You know what, no. Since Dave left, then I left, and he came back, and I was gone. So occasional texts here and there, but Dave and I always got along great, so I’m super stoked for him, I think it’s awesome. I went and saw it, I thought he played the character amazing, really understated, subtle, completely ironic, he really did a great job, so I’m really happy for him. The Rock has always been a super dude too, he never changed, he just stayed the same guy even though he’s arguably the biggest movie star in the world. But we never really sat down and talked acting, we saw each other, it was always at WrestleMania. I was putting a match together, and he was guest hosting, so you don’t really get a chance. Everybody’s lives are going a million miles an hour, so you go, ‘You good?’ ‘Yeah, you good?’ ‘Awesome man, great job.’ Then you’re onto what’s next.
You are a huge hockey fan, and a big Devils fan, what was it like attending the Stanley Cup between the Devils and Kings and what do you think the Devils need to do to make the playoffs this year?
(Sighs) Gosh, sometimes it’s just that dynamic that general managers luck into, but when you’ve got good role players, and when you’ve got a good fourth line, that’s what makes Boston the team that they are right now, their fourth line always contributes. They’re always in there looking, grinding, scoring goals, and pestering, and doing those things. That and a hot goaltender are always the piece, to me, in playoff hockey. Getting to the playoffs is a different ballgame. I really can’t answer it, I don’t know.
I think a lot of the upheaval with Brodeur and the goaltending situation makes it difficult for a team to concentrate. You lose Gionta, you lose so many great players. They always seem to manufacture great players too, but then at some point they just leave, because in that market there’s Long Island and New Jersey, but the Rangers are kind of the team that I would think most people want to play for. I don’t know how you change it, same thing with the lease, they keep trying these different things, and they just haven’t found the right ingredients yet, and I don’t know what it is.