wrestling / Columns

Adam Cole Made the Right Move Signing With AEW

October 13, 2021 | Posted by Blake Lovell
Adam Cole AEW All Out Image Credit: AEW

I keep thinking about how different things could look right now for Adam Cole.

We spent a good while wondering what was next for Cole. CM Punk and Bryan Danielson to AEW seemed like foregone conclusions once rumors ran wild, but Cole?

His decision appeared less predictable.

Then, a little over a month ago, Cole made his AEW debut at All Out.

Many were on the Cole to AEW bandwagon before it even happened. His significant other was there, some of his best friends were there, and he had a fresh list of opponents waiting for him.

The optimist in me tried to make a case for both sides. AEW was an attractive option, but things weren’t exactly bad for him in WWE. He’d developed into one of the biggest stars in NXT, got to work side-by-side with two legends in Triple H and Shawn Michaels, etc. And perhaps that main roster transition wouldn’t be all that bad….right?

Fast forward to the present, and there’s little doubt: Cole signing with AEW was, without question, the right move.

That’s far from a revelation for those who said the exact same thing the moment his spectacular entrance music hit in Chicago. But in actually seeing how he has been presented on television, what came next for Cole in WWE was never going to match what Cole’s first month has looked like in AEW.

Perhaps the best example of that came from something Britt Baker said in a recent interview on Throwing Down with Renee and Miesha. When asked about having Cole with her in AEW, the world’s most popular wrestling dentist since Issac Yankem explained the experience for Cole.

“Just to hear the crowd reactions that he once used to get like only five times a year – the TakeOver reactions – he gets that every week now,” she said. “The Adam Cole Bay-Bay chant is deafening, and the entire arena shakes. I know he has to feel like a little kid all over again to hear that and feel that.”

Therein lies the difference.

Everyone knew Cole was going to get a hero’s welcome in his first AEW appearance. Surprise debuts pops are fun, but they don’t always tell the full story. How the crowd reacts to someone in the weeks and months ahead paints a better picture of how invested they are in that person or character.

Every single week, Cole is getting a huge reaction from the crowd. He’s a top star, and most importantly, he’s presented as a top star.

My trust in the same scenario playing out for him in WWE wouldn’t have been very high.

Whether it’s Keith Lee, Karrion Kross, Toni Storm, or others, any optimism with WWE’s handling of NXT call-ups isn’t at a high point. In an alternative universe where we could compare Cole’s AEW vs. WWE main roster status a little over a month in, I’m confident the former would be much preferred for both Cole and wrestling fans than the latter.

Watching a talent in his prime take a calculated risk to walk away from the biggest wrestling company in the world to find a better path forward – both as a wrestler and as a popular Twitch streamer which, financially, can be just as important in this era – is a pretty cool thing.

That’s because there are no guarantees in wrestling. Cole succeeding in AEW seemed like a pretty safe bet, but it’s a big roster. Would he quickly get lost in the shuffle? Would the crowd reaction not be what everyone expected? Some questions were understandable, but many questions were answered right away.

From Cole to Danielson to Punk to others, the trend of top stars putting their trust in AEW has given the company the type of momentum we haven’t seen in many, many years from a non-WWE entity.

For the former Undisputed Era leader, it has given him another opportunity to prove he belongs among, well, the elite. Is he one of the best wrestlers in the world? That will be debated by people on both sides. But opportunity is everything and, looking back, I don’t think that opportunity would’ve been there had he made a different decision about his future in wrestling.

Of course, one month isn’t six months, a year, or five years.

There are lots of future storyline directions and character changes that could swing things one way or the other for Cole in AEW. Sure, he could get lost in the shuffle, and he could have much different crowd reactions down the road.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll all look back and have a good laugh at this column when Vince McMahon buys AEW and Cole becomes Adam Coleslaw, a restaurant owner whose finishing move is hitting his opponents with a variety of Southern-style side dishes.

I’m both kidding and hungry.

But in all seriousness, it’s fun to think about the possibilities for Cole in AEW – both inside and outside of The Elite. He seems like one of the truly nice guys in wrestling, so it’s easy to root for his success on a bigger stage.

“This is the platform he deserves – these mega crowds and mega reactions because he’s truly one of the best wrestlers and people in the world,” Baker said on Throwing Down. “He’s such a great guy.”

How long those mega reactions continue for Cole is unknown. But five weeks in, they don’t seem to be getting any quieter. Cole bet on his talent as a professional wrestler, and after finding a home in NXT, he’s found a new home in AEW – one where the folks there absolutely love him.

Thus far, that bet is paying off in a big way.

And in hindsight, it was the only choice that made sense.

*For more of my thoughts on pro wrestling, subscribe to the 411 On Wrestling podcast and follow me on Twitter @wrestleblake. Thanks for reading!

article topics :

Adam Cole, AEW, Blake Lovell