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How Adam Copeland Planked His Way Back to Pro Wrestling

How Adam Copeland Planked His Way Back to Pro Wrestling

Adam Copeland is not just fit over 50, he’s positively thriving. After twenty-five iconic years wrestling under the name ‘Edge’ in WWE, Copeland signed on the dotted line with AEW in 2023. And, while some pro wrestling legends choose to pickup a sweet payday for working fewer matches, this decorated superstar really has gone all-in, defending his TNT Championship against all comers.

M&F sat down with “Cope” and soon found out that planking has played a significant part in the resurgence of his career. So much so, that he’s developed the “Pure Plank” system to help others receive the benefits of this simple yet effective exercise.

When Adam Copeland made his debut as ‘Edge’ in the late ’90s, he was a young upstart swimming with the big fish in WWE’s Attitude Era. “You looked at the locker room, and it’s like ‘okay,’ well; Steve Austin, The Rock, Undertaker, Kane, Mankind, Triple H, then you have [Chris] Jericho coming over, then you have the ascension of Kurt Angle. It was a stacked, stacked, locker room,” he tells M&F. “And, if you were able to keep your head above water in that locker room, you were really doing something, because there was a lot of talent firing on all cylinders. So, it really was sink or swim.”

Adam Copeland wearing a leather jacket and rated r shirt

Adam Copeland says that those at the top of their game don’t need to push others down

The pro wrestling business is notoriously tough to break into, and one might think that those main eventers had little time to provide a leg up to a rookie, but that was not the case. “What’s really interesting, and you can apply this to most industries, the people who are very comfortable in where they were, and had the upmost confidence in what they brought to the table; Austin, Rock, Mick Foley, Taker, all four of those guys had an open ear and what I learned from that is—if you’re at the top you don’t have to be an a**hole.”

Copeland said he learned a lot from them, and by watching how Bret “Hitman” Hart conducted himself in and out of the ring. Now, “Cope” makes a point of passing forward his own hard-fought wisdom to the up-and-coming talents in this modern era. The ‘Rated-R Superstar’ understands that this second chapter of his career almost wasn’t to be, and so he intends to make the most out of every moment.

“The injury, I mean the main one, I’ve had multiple,” laughs the Canadian. “The neck injury happened, I wanna say it was like 2001, I think, and it was just this gradual decline that I didn’t fully keep track of as it was happening, because it was so gradual.” As a wrestler on the road, Copeland continued to make the matches in each town, dismissing what he thought was simply the wear and tear of being a pro wrestler. The grappler was forced to take notice, however, when his left arm and hand began to atrophy. “And that’s when I realized, ‘okay.’ Nerves are not able to get to get where they need to get to. There’s something going on here.”

The warrior would be told that he needed double fusion surgery as a result of two ruptured discs (C5 and C6). Copeland actually had his C5, C6, and C7 fused and then, incredibly, returned to the ring and competed for another decade. “And, in wrestling during that decade, I was the heel champion, so you’re wrestling (John) Cena, you’re wrestling Batista, you’re wrestling Undertaker, you’re wrestling Kane, you’re wrestling Big Show, wrestling a lot of big dudes, and that means a lot of bumps. So, little by little, as I knew it would, it caught up to me.” In 2011, after defending the WWE title at WrestleMania XXVII, Copeland took himself in for some MRI’s after suffering with neck pain and headaches, and the news was bleak. “That’s when they said, well you’ve developed spinal stenosis and damage at the C4 level now because it’s been slamming off of that titanium plate in your neck. They said ‘you gotta retire.’”

Adam Copeland planked his way back to pro wrestling after spinal stenosis

Of course, pro wrestling fans around the world rejoiced when Edge returned nine years following his heartbreaking retirement; at the Royal Rumble. But fewer people know how he was able to once again get into ring shape and be cleared to wrestle. During his absence from pro wrestling, the WWE Hall of Famer transitioned into acting, appearing in television series’ such as The Flash, Vikings, and Haven. Once told that he would be risking death if he ever wrestled again, the star tried to put hopes of a comeback out of his mind, but as he began to do his own TV stunts, and pushed himself harder on his mountain bike, Copeland began to ask himself, “Okay, what’s going on, cuz I feel fine.”

The retired champion underwent further surgery to fuse his C4 disc, but found that he was able to maintain his mobility. Still, Copeland felt that he was getting out of shape now that he wasn’t wrestling 200 days out of the year and “That’s when the planking started.”

Cope found that planking was great for conditioning and strengthening his core. The mental benefits he got from pushing himself physically meant that he could also dial-in his nutrition. “Before you know it, it’s like ‘whoa, I’m starting to get abs back.’”

Inevitably, this led the legendary wrestler to dream of making an epic return, and he began the second chapter of his career with that stunning surprise entry into the 2020 Royal Rumble. After celebrating 25 years with WWE, Copeland moved on to newer pastures however, in the hopes of being able to control his own destiny and not be relegated to parttime duties. Making good on his intentions, Copeland has wrestled more than 20 matches since his debut with AEW in October, 2023. “At this stage in my career, to be able to have these new challenges, that’s super fun,” he says.

And, the younger members of the AEW locker room are now benefitting from the wisdom of a pro wrestling icon in the same way that he did during the Attitude Era. With a new lease of life, the 50-year-old is loving every moment, and when it comes to exercising, he and his longtime wrestling partner Christian Cage have perfected an innovative new planking platform called “Pure Plank.”

Planking offers many benefits, starting with the mental focus and determination required to endure and hold the position. It is thought to boost metabolism because it engages large muscle groups, and planking will improve your posture too. Copeland explains that the Pure Plank is a portable board with handles, and is easy to stow away. It has a timer and also connects to an app to record progress and offer routines. The grappler explains that he re-introduced Cage to planking, and like the rest of us just starting out, his muscles were shaking as he activated his core and stabilizing muscles.

No doubt, these former WWE tag team champions have well and truly got the planking bug, and that’s why they set about creating a product that could offer all the benefits of planking while being more forgiving on the joints. The Pure Plank has non-slip rubber padding and adjustable ergonomic handles to increase or reduce the planking pressure. Pure Plank is now on the market, and is a success. The ‘Rated-R Superstar’ explains that they sold out of their first shipment. “It’s kind of crazy,” he says, noting that at this stage of his career, money is not the motivation. “I used to stand on an assembly line and stand on a concrete floor all day, I picture that man or woman that’s been standing on an assembly line, concrete, lower back’s sore, when they get home from that do they want to go to the gym?” Copeland says that Pure Plank offers people a chance to get active in just 5 minutes. “Little by little, you’ll start to see the difference.”

Adam Copeland explains that he does three, five-minute circuits consisting of different positions. He also throws in some mountain climbers for good measure. “15 minutes, which is no joke,” he confirms. The wrestler says the key is to build up your planking time in small increments.

“Just build,” says the star. While our man now has Royal Rumble victories and historic Money in the Bank moments behind him, there’s still plenty that he wants to achieve. Now holding the TNT championship in AEW, his “Cope Open” title defences have served to put him in the ring with fresh talent like Kyle O’Reilly, Buddy Matthews, and Matt Cardona. And, not content with simply picking up a payday with AEW, Copeland recently competed in a barbed wire steel cage match, and couldn’t be more excited about wrestling in London’s Wembley Stadium this August at AEW All In. “There’s very few things, like we’ve talked about, that I don’t feel like I’ve done,” says Copeland. “That’s one of them! Wembley. I can’t wait!”

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