In the world of sports, there is nothing more exciting than watching two rivals. Lakers vs. Celtics, North Carolina vs. Duke, and Michigan vs. Ohio State are just some of the great matchups that come to mind.
Pro wrestling is no different. A great rivalry can give fans compelling television and memories that last a lifetime.
Over the years, we have seen a number of great rivalries in wrestling. Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage, Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat, and Steve Austin vs. The Rock have been just some of the great rivalries.
This Sunday at Backlash, we will see the climax of one of the best rivalries of this decade: John Cena vs. Edge.
Cena and Edge have crossed each others path many times over the last three years.
In fact, multiple websites report that this Sunday will mark the 35th time Cena and Edge have matched up on television or pay-per-view.
That number is probably well over 50 if you count the numerous dark matches (non-televised) that they have had.
This number is astounding considering the fact that the WWE has a draft every year where talent moves around to different shows.
It seems that no matter where Cena and Edge go, they find each other in the end.
The rivalry, in my opinion, is a throwback rivalry. It is a traditional matchup of a true babyface versus a true heel.
John Cena—love him or hate him—is a classic babyface.
He walks down the aisle week after week—smiling, saluting, and kissing babies. You'd think he was running for public office.
His chain gang consist of kids who flood WWE arenas wearing Cena t-shirts, and spinning championship belts and foam hands symbolic of his "you can't see me" taunt.
The group also consist of women who love the musclebound star.
Missing from this group are males, particularly adult males, who tend to dislike Cena because the WWE has shoved his character down their throats.
Still, Cena is a merchandising machine and the flag bearer for the WWE, similar to what Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin were before him.
Every babyface, however, needs that character who is a thorn in his side—the guy that fans love to hate.
Hogan had Savage and Andre The Giant. Austin had The Rock and Vince McMahon.
John Cena has Edge.
Edge is sneaky. He's a weasel. He's a snake.
He takes advantage of another person's weakness and calls it an opportunity. Thus, Edge is the ultimate opportunist.
Edge is not just a heel in the WWE. He is the heel in the WWE.
Edge gets a reaction out of the crowd like no other. Outside of Canada, he is virtually booed out of every arena.
To add even more heat, he married the most annoying woman in the history of mankind, Vickie Guerrero.
Edge and Cena's history began at New Year's Revolution 2006 when Edge cashed in his
"Money in the Bank" briefcase and became WWE Champion.
The feud continued throughout 2006 with the two facing each other at five pay-per-view events.
Four of those were one-on-one encounters with Edge and Cena splitting down the middle with two wins apiece.
The feud officially ended at Unforgiven 2006, but Cena and Edge met many times in 2007 and 2008.
The rivalry was then renewed this year prior to Wrestlemania 25.
Edge won John Cena's World Heavyweight Championship in an elimination chamber match at No Way Out. It was a match in which Edge wasn't even supposed to participate, as it was to be exclusive to RAW competitors.
After Edge's surprising victory, Cena became a thorn in Edge's side. He eventually interfered with a scheduled one-on-one match between Edge and Big Show at Wrestlemania 25.
At Wrestlemania, Cena became World Champion again, which has led to the final encounter with Edge in a "Last Man Standing Match" this Sunday.
You would think that, after more than 35 television and PPV encounters, the feud could become stale. Cena and Edge have done a good job keeping things fresh.
Their promo on Smackdown a few weeks back was done very well. When Edge stated that he hated Cena, it was very believable.
Then Edge's attack on Cena last night on RAW was icing on the cake. It actually makes you wonder who will win the match on Sunday.
Both Cena and Edge have had numerous accomplishments in their careers.
Between them, they have won 34 titles.
They will both be in the Hall of Fame some day and they may even induct each other. Their singles careers will forever be linked to each other.
With this rivalry presumably coming to an end, we can look back at the feud and appreciate the lost art of the rivalry in professional wrestling.