In a recent interview on the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast, the inaugural NXT North American Champion, Adam Cole, spoke out on being one of the cornerstone superstars in NXT. The leader of the Undisputed Era openly commented on having to carry the division for the next several months. He also made a note of being more recognizable since joining WWE.
On the subject of the latter, Cole had this to say:
“It’s definitely a lot more since starting with NXT… Even post-Royal Rumble definitely more often that people come up to me asking to take a picture with me and wanting an autograph. It just shows the scale at how many people do watch WWE.”
The fact that Cole himself recognizes that he is a more notable figure since joining the company speaks volumes for the reach that WWE has. It’s not like Cole was unpopular during his time on the independent circuit. He was a prominent member of Bullet Club who is arguably the most popular stable outside of WWE. On top of that, he remains the only three-time Ring of Honor World Champion.
Unlike its main roster co-shows, NXT is the foundation of WWE‘s talent and turns over a huge amount of quality. With the recent Superstar Shake-up being the most current example, the top stars on the black and yellow brand are frequently cherry-picked to Raw, SmackDown Live or 205 Live, leaving the company’s developmental territory to rebuild again and again.
When asked about the pressure of being one of the superstars tasked with carrying the division for the next several months, Cole stated:
“There absolutely is that pressure. Any time guys move to Raw and SmackDown, I think that is what has kept NXT so relevant and has kept the fans so invested because they are now conditioned that whoever leaves or comes in, NXT, as a product, is going to give really exciting sports entertainment every time.
“You do have your different generation of guys, and those generations before did an excellent job, so it does put pressure on guys like me, Aleister [Black], Bobby [Fish] and Kyle [O’Reilly], and everyone else involved in NXT now. I think that is when guys are at their best, when you put pressure and have something to work towards and have something to compare yourself to, or try to best them, it really does make you better.”
It is hard to argue with Cole’s trial-by-fire theory as since joining the brand alongside his Undisputed Era stablemates, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, the ‘Panama City Playboy’ has nearly done it all.
- Won the rebirth of the War Games match (as the Undisputed Era)? Check.
- Won the NXT Tag Team Championships (via Freebird rule)? Check.
- Won a Meltzer-rated five-star match? Check.
- Won the inaugural NXT North American Championship? Check.
- Became the first-ever duel title holder in NXT history? Check.
- Won the NXT Championship? I said “nearly” done it all, right?
It will be interesting to see where Cole and the rest of NXT‘s top-tier talent fall into place as the likes of Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas, The IIconics, and SAnitY (minus Nikki Cross #neverforget) all transition to the main roster. It will be even more interesting to see who fills Cole’s shoes when he inevitably joins them.
What are your thoughts on Adam Cole (BAYBAY)? Does he need an NXT Championship reign before making the jump to the main roster? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter here.