Only a bunch of wrestlers in the business have been able to make rise, at the same time, a whole arena and millions of people in front of their TV with a few words. There was Dusty Rhodes, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and there is Adam Cole. Whether you like it or not, something in you will make you scream, “Bay-Bay.” The current NXT Champion and his faction, The Undisputed Era, are the Kings of NXT, they are the show, they steal the show. Well, they shock the system.
Cole, as the leader of the faction, has shown a good example to his friends when becoming the first-ever NXT North American Champion and then the NXT Champion. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly are the current NXT Tag Team Champions, and Roderick Strong is a former NXT North American Champion. The faction may consist of villains, but they are the fans’ favourites in NXT.
Irreverent, opportunistic, and undeniably skilled, Adam Cole has the mindset and the skillset of a Champion. SteelChair Mag had the chance to take part in a media call a few days ago with the NXT Champion. In the first part of this interview, we will focus on NXT TakeOver: Portland, his opponent, being close to becoming the longest-reigning NXT Champion, and more.
On his mindset coming to NXT TakeOver: Portland
“This whole situation has been a tough one. Again a lot of people don’t know this, but I’ve actually known Tommaso Ciampa a lot longer than my time in NXT. I’ve known Tommaso for 10 years. He was dangerous then. He’s even more dangerous now. So the last thing I’m going to do is come in underprepared or not realizing the type of man he is. This is a guy who was the NXT champion, but Tommaso Ciampa beat Tommaso Ciampa when he had to relinquish it through the neck surgery. I know how badly he wants to be the NXT champion again, but I’m on the run of a lifetime. I am this close to becoming the longest reigning NXT champion there’s ever been. I don’t want Tommaso Ciampa to end that. I certainly want to break that record so badly as he wants to become NXT champion again. I mean, I’ll literally do anything to make sure I keep the NXT title, but I’m very, very aware of how badly he wants to win this.”
On Tommaso Ciampa being back after his neck injury
“Truth to be told, it’s really cool because going back to me saying I’ve known him for as long as I have, he’s been really good for a long time, but he really found himself here in NXT, it’s incredible. The performer that he’s turned into when he was on that run as NXT champion, and then he had to let the championship go for neck surgery, that was very scary for everybody, especially scary for him because as anybody knows, neck surgery is freaking serious. Of course, there are the thoughts of like he’s starting a family now, is his neck going to be the same? NXT championship matches, NXT wrestling matches are very high octane, it’s not easy on your body, so is he going to be able to do the same stuff? Of course, it was worrisome for everybody, but for him to come back and perform the way he has, it is just a testament to not only how good he is, but how badly he wants to be back. So aside from the fact he’s coming for my championship, it is really cool to see him kind of fight through it and make this happen, so this Sunday in Portland is really special for a lot of reasons.”
On how he prepares for his matches
“Wrestling has evolved and changed. This style has gotten so much more physical and so much more demanding on our bodies. I think the biggest way to describe this as far as preparing, and this doesn’t include training and all that sort of thing. When I walk through that curtain, I have so much adrenaline going through my body that for a second, I feel like Superman, like when I walk out at NXT TakeOver: Portland this Sunday, I’m going to have the mindset of I can do anything. I know I can’t do anything, but I’m going to have that mentality and that mindset, so you almost kind of have to come to terms with the fact that you’re going to be sore you’re going to feel banged up. You’re going to feel like you went through a war, but I love it. You can do all the training in the world, all the preparation in the world, but you’re going to be sore, and you kind of have to come prepared and be ready to be content with the fact that you’re going to feel banged up. That’s just part of the job, especially if you want to work for NXT. It’s a demanding brand, but we all love it.”
On his favourite match against Johnny Gargano
“That’s so tough. First of all, similar to Tommaso Ciampa, I have known Johnny Gargano for a very long time. That whole situation was so crazy because me versus Johnny Gargano during WrestleMania weekend at TakeOver was not the scheduled match. Tommaso needed neck surgery, they were scrambling last minute to try to find the main event that would be suitable for the importance of that weekend, and they landed on me and Johnny. We knew we had a lot of pressure on us going into that one, but we also knew, “Hey, they’ve never seen us wrestle before, let’s just tear the house down.” That first one in New York was insanely special, just because I still to this day have never felt the energy in a building while I was performing quite like that. It was so cool to be in that building for something that crazy and special and hectic. It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime situation, but at the same time at TakeOver: XXV, my second match with Johnny, winning the NXT championship, has to be up there with one of the most special moments of my entire career. My family was there, my girlfriend was there, and it was just a really cool night for me. To cap off the series, in Canada with just a crazy wild match with Johnny as well to cap off the trilogy. It’s so hard for me to pick a favourite, but I’m going to say it’s in between the first one and winning the NXT championship, but I’m going to lean towards the second one, TakeOver: XXV.”
On his match against Pete Dunne at Survivor Series and how it impressed the fans
“I was really happy that NXT got to showcase what NXT is, and to me, NXT is the best most competitive bell-to-bell wrestling on the planet right now. To really showcase what the NXT championship means, what the NXT championship is all about, getting to go in there with a guy like Pete Dunne, and just show the world again this great back and forth action of what NXT is all about, I feel like that highlighted NXT in the best way that it could. What was very cool at Survivor Series was to see the fans kind of overtime find and see “Oh wow, this is what NXT is all about,” which is a really cool moment for us. I’m glad I got to defend the championship. It was really cool to be able to say I defended my NXT championship at Survivor Series.“
On what changed when he became NXT Champion
“I’ve been in NXT for a little bit, kind of developing who Adam Cole was, who the Undisputed Era was. Becoming NXT champion, that was a whole other big step. More and more people recognized who I was. More and more people became fans of mine when you have that giant beaming light on you of the NXT championship. It attracts more attention to you. As far as me personally, how that changed me, it’s humbling to think of how hard I’ve worked, and for how long I’ve worked to become the NXT champion. That was really cool. The pressure that I felt because again, we put a ton of pressure on ourselves, but when you’re the guy who’s kind of leading the charge, and you’re the flagbearer, that’s even more pressure to be the NXT champion, you’re the main guy. I already put a lot of pressure on myself, but now I put even more on myself because of the NXT championship. Then I did make sure that I kind of step back and smell the roses. I did work really hard, and I finally made it to this point where I can say that I’m the NXT champion. It was a very proud moment for me.”
On being close to becoming the longest-reigning NXT Champion
“That’s really hard to put into words because if I were to accomplish that, the people who have held the championship, the matches that have been fought over for the NXT championship, they have been some of the best matches I’ve ever seen. I know a lot of fans of pro-wrestling feel that way as well. If I was to be able to become the longest-reigning NXT champion, that would just be such an incredible honour and such a cool thing to add to my resume of stuff I’ve accomplished. If I can beat Tommaso Ciampa, and I can, I am able to keep the championship that long. When I look back at my career, I was the longest-reigning Pro Wrestling Guerrilla World Champion. I was the first three-time ROH world champion. If I had to add the longest-reigning NXT champion to my resume, that would be the ultimate, that would just be the coolest. I repeal to talk about how bad Tommaso Ciampa wants to win, I really want to win, trust me.”
On the wrestlers he would like to defend his title against
“NXT has done a great job of signing and recruiting some of the best talents all over the world. You just mentioned 2 people, Killer Kross and Timothy Thatcher, who are two excellent talents. Thatcher is a beast in the ring. Killer Kross also is just an incredibly talented guy, a heck of a talker. I’m really excited to kind of see how those guys do in NXT, but at the same time, that means I’m going to have a lot more people coming after my NXT championship. I’ve fought some of the best before. I’ve defended against some of the best before and successfully done it. As good as those guys are, I think they’re going to do really well in NXT, there’s no way they’re going to become the NXT Champion. Right now, I’m dealing with Tommaso Ciampa, another guy who I’m looking to close that chapter on. Velveteen Dream is back. I know he means business. Right now, he’s focused on Roderick Strong, but again, he’s super talented. I’ve done a ton of series with Johnny Gargano, very skilled, Matt Riddle, Pete Dunne, the list goes on and on. Just again to me, not just the best in NXT, but some of the best in the entire world. I’ve beaten a couple of them, and I plan on beating the rest of them.”
On defending at WrestleMania if he retains the title this Sunday
“I take a lot of pride and responsibility as being the NXT champion. Don’t get me wrong, if I tell you I don’t want to have a WrestleMania moment someday, I’m lying to you. I absolutely want to have a WrestleMania moment someday. A big marquee match at WrestleMania would be a dream come true, but I have a lot of responsibility as the NXT champion. I want to hold on to it for a long time yet, not even close to giving it up. When it comes to choosing, I want to headline TakeOver in Tampa as the NXT champion, and I want to leave as NXT champion. Then, why not, if I can head into WrestleMania the next day, that’s great, but I want to make sure that I’m going to headline TakeOver: Tampa on WrestleMania weekend with the NXT championship.
Of course, that’s a goal we’ll do someday. Again, getting to wrestle on Survivor Series was really neat because when you think about a great all-time pay-per-view, Survivor Series is right up there. I’ve also done the Royal Rumble representing NXT, which is cool. Getting an NXT Championship match at Survivor Series was cool, getting an NXT championship match at WrestleMania would be really cool. As far as stuff that I can generally focus on right now, it is making TakeOver even bigger than it already is, and making the weekly television show and us bigger than it already is again. When I started in NXT about two and a half years ago, already seeing the growth of the brand from where it was in 2017 to 2019 is a huge jump. So when it comes to 2020, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know there’s going to be big growth. I know there’s going to be big exciting changes and I can’t wait.”
In the second part of our interview, Adam Cole talks about NXT going live, the main roster, working and maybe facing Legends of the business, the Undisputed Era, and all the things that make its style so unique.
NXT TakeOver: Portland streams live on WWE Network this Sunday at 7 ET (midnight GMT). Coverage will begin with the TakeOver: Portland Pre-Show at 6:30 ET (11.30 PM GMT).
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE