NXT

Will Adam Cole sign with NXT?

Last weekend, during the Ring of Honor pay-per-view, Adam Cole was super kicked out of the Bullet Club. The ROH TV champion, “The Villian” Marty Scurll revealed himself to be the replacement, keeping the faction strong by adding a solid talent that is scheduled for the upcoming NJPW Super Juniors tournament. But, what about Adam Cole?

A pro for almost nine years, Adam Cole is surprisingly a product of Combat Zone Wrestling, a promotion known more for its violent matches than technical wrestling. Despite his lengthy tenure on the independent scene, it still seems like Cole is a relatively new commodity because of his extensive travels and evolving persona.

With the news of his exit from Bullet Club, rumors began to swirl almost immediately that Cole’s next move could be to NXT if he decides to sign a WWE deal. To be fair, this same talk took place a few years ago when his ROH deal expired, but he ultimately decided to resign with the company, which was probably a wise move because it allowed him to continue to develop as a performer by competing with a variety of opponents.

A three-time ROH world champion, Adam Cole has the star quality, as well as the combination of in-ring skills and mic ability, to be a major star for the WWE. This might not be an apples-to-apples comparison because the landscape of the business changed, but in my opinion, Cole could be the next Shawn Michaels. He’s an athlete with the ability to deliver bell-to-bell and has the charisma to work a main event style.

From the early days of his career, the former Pro Wrestling Guerrilla world champion was thought to have a bright future ahead of him, and he certainly lived up to the hype, as he worked as a main event competitor for ROH, PWG, tours of Europe, and recently worked for New Japan. In my opinion, it’s an easy decision for WWE management to sign Cole to a contract, and the sky is the limit for him.

However, there are some potential downfalls and nothing is set in stone, even if Cole agrees to an NXT deal. When FCW was relaunched as NXT, it was essentially WWE brass creating their own version of ROH, a style that catered to the diehard internet fan base, and a show that airs on the WWE network, a digital streaming service. This relatively new hiring philosophy that saw the arrival of many of the top talents on the independent circuit and veterans that were once thought not to fit the “WWE mold” has its positives and negatives. On the plus side, the quality of talent overall increased drastically compared to years prior. No longer is there an endless stream of goons that the machine tries to push as a monster to see if it gets over to ultimately release them after it flops. Nathan Jones, Heidenreich, Koslov etc. were all once given a main event type push with either disastrous or comical results.

The addition of athletes such as AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens,Nakamura, Seth Rollins etc. provide much more depth to the roster than any other of the WWE projects previously mentioned. Quite simply, quality talent allows for a better quality product. But, there’s still a downside to this scenario, despite the signing of a different type of athlete, the traditional WWE philosophy of the “big man territory” still seems to dictate the overall direction of the product. That theory in itself isn’t necessarily a negative, it’s rather just Vince McMahon’s typical formula, but the downside could emerge if that philosophy unintentionally creates a glass ceiling for certain talents.

For example, Sami Zayn is a tremendous talent that was somehow regulated to the upper mid card at best, despite the audience rallying behind him for the past few years. There are times when the office typecast certain talents into a particular role and that’s how the competitor is booked unless they are willing to attempt to reinvent themselves in some fashion. Considering that the WWE is the only major option in the United States in terms of the money offered, it can be a difficult decision for an athlete to leave the notoriety that WWE TV exposure provides for a career.

More than a decade ago, Christian, an underrated talent that didn’t get a chance at the main event scene, left WWE to prove that he could do more for a promotion. It was a risky, but he went to TNA to become a main event level performer and proved that he was capable of working the main event style. When he returned to the WWE, it was a fresh start and he eventually became the World Heavyweight champion. On the flip side, Zack Ryder is one of the hardest workers on the WWE roster, but management usually doesn’t view him as anything more than a glorified jobber.

Just last year, Cody Rhodes opted to leave the WWE, making himself one of the most in demand freelance stars in the industry. However, Cody had a decade of WWE TV exposure and the security of enough money made from WWE to dictate the terms of his career. All that said, depending on the specific talent, sometimes they can actually become bigger stars outside of the WWE rather than risk getting lost in the shuffle of the company. Kenny Omega, an incredible athlete that’s one of New Japan’s top stars, was under a WWE developmental contract in 2006, but ultimately didn’t debut on TV.

The point being, there are certainly options for Adam Cole to consider for the next step of his career. It’s possible that he might resign with ROH, but it seems like he has done everything he could do there. The WWE is the most lucrative option for him, but again, talented stars get lost in the shuffle as mentioned previously. If I had to guess, I would say that Adam Cole signs a WWE deal and it will be interesting to see the next step of his career.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

@jimlamotta

image – RING OF HONOR

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