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I came to pro-wrestling fandom through a rather odd route. Stefan Gagne, one of the best and most respected anime fanfiction writers of all time, started a group fic by the name of Magical Troubleshooting Crossover Fighting Federation Ultra. The premise of the series was to put anime/manga/video game characters into a sports entertainment setting, with all the interpersonal melodrama and character instability that implies. The fic lost a lot of fans due to pro-wrestling’s tendency toward rapid change leading to some characters ending up in a very different place than canon, but I still regard it as one of the best fanfics ever written.

Then one day Gagne himself posted Ultra vs. The WWF parts one and two. Still the high point of the series, scenes included a hilarious in hindsight bit of trash talking in which Mortal Kombat’s Johnny Cage insulted pro-wrestling by calling The Rock an actor, King of Fighter’s eternal student, Yabuki Shingo begging the Rock to train him, and Edge and Christian beating Capcom’s succubus sisters, Morrigan and Lilith, by submission.

About a year before that, I had seen the infamous Insane Clown Posse video, Stranglemania. I was not a wrestling fan at that point, but even then, and even with ICP’s utter mutilation of the matches, I knew there was something fascinating about this guy I was watching, Cactus Jack. When I found out the character Mankind, mentioned in Ultra vs. The WWF, was the same man, I decided to try watching actual WWF programming.

I came for Mick Foley. I stayed for the Hardy Boys, the Dudley Boys (AKA Team 3D,) and Edge and Christian. This seemingly never-ending three-way feud had me glued to the TV, and to smark websites when I was in Korea. Little did I know I would be watching Edge fight one or both of the Hardy brothers for nigh on ten years, both in and out of character.

The Hardys and the Dudleys are now in TNA, and Edge… Edge, this past Monday, retired from the sport as the World Heavyweight Champion. In fact the three-way tag team feud has produced a whopping 18 World Championships: 2 for Christian, 5 for Jeff Hardy, and 11 for Edge.

As wrestlers have come and gone, there are only a small handful of performers whom I have truly and honestly missed: The Rock, Rob Van Dam before he joined TNA, Trish Stratus, Mick Foley before he became a self-parody, Hayabusa. He’s only been gone since Friday, and I can honestly say Edge will be part of that group. Thank you, Mr. Copeland.

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