At NXT TakeOver: Portland, Adam Cole prevailed. It was one hell of a match that involved not only Tommaso Ciampa, the challenger. But, in the end, Goldie remains in the same hands it was before the match, and Adam Cole is now on the road to becoming the longest-ever reigning NXT 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 our interview, we focused on the championship match in Portland and breaking records. In the second part, we focus on 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. And Adam Cole had a lot to say about that…
On NXT now live on USA Network
Taped vs. live – “First and foremost again, the biggest difference with the move from the network to live television is just the pressure. We put a ton of pressure on ourselves. We did the WWE Network tapings for NXT because we knew a lot of people were watching that event. To go in front of close to a million people every single week on USA Network, it’s just a lot more pressure on everybody. It’s live, you’ve got to absolutely nail it, so that creates a lot more adrenaline and a lot more excitement, and I think that’s been the good thing for our show. With the pressure that everyone’s under and just wanting to succeed in, wanting to do well because of live television. It’s made everyone perform even better. As time goes on, it’s about continuing to evolve the brand and the crew of guys into making a really exciting television show. Knowing that you have to go live every single week is a challenge to keep the people invested, to grab new people in, and constantly find new ways to tell stories. That’s the challenge, but I’m definitely confident that in 2020, we’re going to be able to do that. Wrestling weekly on live TV has been the absolute best time of my life.”
From taped to live – “Unfortunately, as far as training and preparing for live television. It’s really hard. We were just kind of thrown to the wolves. I was lucky that I had worked for Ring of Honor for years beforehand, and even though that was taped television again, we still treated that like it was live TV. As far as time cues, cameras, commercial breaks, and all those things, I kind of had a background understanding of what that was going to entail. When it comes to actually doing it, that’s something that it’s just so much more pressure and something that you can’t really prepare for. For the most part, as much pressure as there was, we were all just really excited about it, but it is something that is quite a challenge and again significantly more pressure knowing that we can’t miss a beat, this has to be perfect.”
Crossing brands more often? Bringing NXT out of Full Sail?
“From what I’m kind of gathering, as far as the information goes, I think we’re going to keep the NXT versus RAW versus SmackDown stuff pretty special. I don’t think you’ll see a lot of brand vs. brand stuff often. Of course, every now and then, you’ll see scenarios where someone from NXT goes to RAW, or SmackDown, or vice versa because that’s really exciting. Generally, we’re going to try to keep that as special as possible and not do this constant competing against each other type of thing. NXT TakeOver: Portland is the second standalone TakeOver where there are no RAW or SmackDown events that weekend. It’s just NXT. That’s something that we’re going to start doing a lot more. We’re going to have quite a few of these TakeOvers that are just there on that weekend by itself. It will be a lot more standalone. We are going to start doing a lot more live events, a lot more shows on the road, which will be really cool. Now that we’ve started on television, we’re going to end up taking the NXT crew and just travelling and doing a lot more of those shows.”
“I do think it was very important, especially early on, for us to do NXT television in Full Sail, mainly because it’s a giant thank-you to those fans. So many of those fans have been coming for years. They’ve helped to support NXT, and turn NXT into what it is today. They’ve kind of been on this journey with us the entire time, so the second that we were able to do NXT live on USA, on Wednesday, there was no other place we were going to be. I think someday, for sure, NXT is going to become a travelling television show, that would be really exciting for the brand.”
Working and why not competing against Legends
Working with Shawn Michaels – “He’s been incredibly influential. Shawn Michaels was a giant inspiration for me, not only as a young fan but as a young wrestler before I even met him. Getting to come to NXT and then working under him has been just an absolute dream come true to me. He is the greatest performer to ever do this, but he’s also one of the greatest minds, just listening to him in the way he thinks about wrestling. It kind of has restrained my thoughts in certain aspects of how I want to perform, how I want to wrestle, and things like that. The stuff I’ve learned from him has just been absolutely invaluable. I’ve said time and time again, he’s been one of my absolute favourite mentors and really helped me quite a bit. Shawn Michaels, I owe him a lot, especially for these past two years in NXT.”
Retiring Triple H? – “Anybody on our roster would agree. We all idolized Triple H or Shawn Michaels as kids, and now we’ve grown up, we’re working together with them. We’re really getting to see their minds and not only how smart they are, but how much they absolutely love this job. I wouldn’t pass that up for the world, that absolutely is something that I would love to do. I know many NXT talents feel the same way, and I definitely know a bunch of fans would love it.”
Edge comeback – “Fortunately for me, I was able to be there live to see Edge return at the Royal Rumble, and it was one of the coolest Royal Rumble moments ever. Everybody in that building just jumped up and screamed at the top of their lungs. It’s the stuff that you dream about when you’re a performer, as a fan, getting to see him come back, and it was absolutely incredible. Edge’s personally one of my all-time favourite performers, especially when he was WWE Champion, and he was wrestling John Cena. He was this arrogant bad boy, that performance by him was so brilliant and so perfect, that to this day, I study it and I watch things that he does. As far as getting the chance to get in there with Edge, I’ve thought about it so many times. I think about the interviews that we could have back and forth. I think about the face-to-face confrontations that we could have. I think about the matches that we could have. If I had the chance to wrestle Edge, I would do it in a heartbeat.”
His Mania Dream Match – “I could have a WrestleMania match with anybody right now in WWE, but I would love to wrestle AJ Styles at WrestleMania. I’ve wrestled him a couple of times before. He’s one of the absolute best I’ve ever faced before, but I’ve never beat him. He’s a guy I definitely want to get the chance to get in the ring with again. When I think about my top three lists of the best performers on the planet today, AJ styles is always on my list. He’s just an absolutely unbelievable athlete. We could have a really great match, especially on the stage like WrestleMania.”
The evolution of Adam Cole
The catchphrase – “I’ve been doing Adam Cole Bay-Bay for a really long time, nine or ten years ago maybe. When I started doing it, I would just do it as something that was part of my entrance, or even part of my matches. I was this arrogant young bad guy who was trying to think of ways to be even cockier, and even more arrogant, and the fans agreed. When I would first do it, they would boo, they would just ignore it, they were like, “Oh this is so annoying. We hate this guy.” Then somewhere along the way, like six years into my wrestling career, I remember taking about four months off to get my shoulder fixed, and I remember when I came back, and I started doing it, they were doing it with me. It was something that just kind of caught fire. Some people were starting to do it on these independent shows. As I travelled the world more and more people started doing it. Once I got to NXT, it became a whole other thing. Never in a million years did I expect it to be as successful as it did.”
Transitioning from indies to WWE – “The transition from the independents to NXT was actually fairly smooth for me. As far as my independent career, I worked a lot for Ring of Honor, and all across the United States and independent promotions. I wrestled over in Japan, Europe, Mexico, and Australia quite a bit. Knowing that my end game was to end up in WWE, and specifically ending up in NXT, that transition was really not too bad. It was cool to be involved in a company that just on every level is so professional, with an understanding of what it is as a brand, not just in the ring because I’ve learned a lot outside the ring too.”
Changes of style – “When I look back at the wrestlers that I grew up watching, some of the most amazing charismatic energetic talkers on the planet, I think, to me, the generational change of pro-wrestling, what really has kind of made a difference, is the influx and the spark and interest in MMA. You see a lot more different technical striking and technical submissions holds. Wrestling has got incredibly technical. Even though there were a ton of technical wrestlers with the past generations, I feel like the technical wrestling has been highlighted a lot more as far as the bell-to-bell, hold for hold style of wrestling, at least in our generation. From a pure exciting standpoint, I think now wrestling has never been better, but again, that doesn’t take away from the past generations. But seeing the MMA style kind of making its way into pro wrestling, it has changed the style, and that to me is the coolest thing about pro wrestling. In 20 years from now, wrestling is going to be way different than it was right now. I don’t know what it’s going to be. I don’t know how it’s going to change, but it’s going to change. That’s the one constant, pro-wrestling has always evolved and always changed, and that’s why I think it stayed as relevant as it has for so long.”
The Undisputed Era, one of the greatest factions of all time?
“When we first formed, we talked a lot. We would have exciting matches, and then, over time, the fans kind of started seeing us and thinking, “Oh wow, this is a really important, powerful faction.” I do think, especially in NXT, we have proven we’re the most dominant faction in NXT history, and as NXT continues to grow, we see more and more comparisons to Evolution, the Four Horsemen, DX, and the NWO. I, Roderick Strong, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, we want to go down as one of the greatest factions of all time in pro-wrestling, even if that means we got to stick together, we got to win championships, we got to win big matches, and just continue to have exciting performances every single week, or every single TakeOver. Are we Evolution? I don’t know. We’re the first Undisputed Era, and I definitely think we’re on our way to being one of the greatest factions in the history of our sport.”
“Being treated as good guys, that’s been really interesting and cool. I know when Bobby, Kyle, Roddy, and I – when we formed this group, a lot of people have known our history and known that we’ve known each other for a really long time. They’re three of my absolute best friends. That chemistry is very real. The brotherhood is very real. The chemistry is not just an on-screen thing. It’s also backstage. I think fans have kind of gotten behind the idea of us succeeding. Guys like us weren’t guaranteed to succeed, so now that they see us doing things on SmackDown and Raw, and at Survivor Series, they feel like they’re a part of our journey, and I love them for that. It’s been cool to have everyone kind of behind us in supporting us for as long as they have.”
RAW, SmackDown, or NXT?
“I’m going to be totally honest. Especially me, and I know that the rest of the Undisputed Era feels this way too, we know how proud we are being a part of NXT. We are here for the longest time. NXT is a true third brand of WWE. I know that someday there’s definitely a chance that I may move to RAW or SmackDown, but I am in no rush. I am very happy in NXT. I love NXT, and by no means do I want to leave NXT. I’m happy where I am. I feel like I’m a part of the growth of the brand, and it’s a place I want to stay.”
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE