There remains a major disconnect in WWE between the main roster and NXT – the presumption being that wrestlers taken from the second tier will soon lose their edge when dropped into Raw and/or SmackDown, given the lack of ring time that tends to exist on the flagship shows.
At 31 and with a stacked resumé to his name, Adam Cole is absolutely primed for main roster action and he – and perhaps the rest of his Undisputed Era stable buddies – would surely add some much-needed spark to the main WWE programming. The question, as it tends to be with a number of NXT stars, is should he be taken from the small pond as a big fish and then dropped into the vast expanse of ocean that is the main WWE talent pool?
Cole’s latest feud with former NFL star Pat McAfee is telling. The broadcaster will bring with him plenty of social media buzz ahead of their likely meeting at Takeover XXX, but he, of course, will lack the in-ring chops to make the fight a quality spectacle.
Let me make this crystal clear for everyone, especially you @PatMcAfeeShow…Hunter is the one who can make this match happen, but I will be the one kicking your ass at #TakeOverXXX…if you’re as bad as you think you are, accept. I dare you.Adam Cole (@AdamColePro) August 6, 2020
As such, Cole will be tasked with nursing McAfee through the match to ensure it is worthy of a spot on what is one of the most dynamic wrestling shows in the calendar. And, in return, the 31-year-old will enjoy a real shot of publicity for taking on the former Indianapolis Colt.
There is, evidently, a very open slot for a main event star in WWE – genuine fresh meat to feud with Drew McIntyre – to help the organization traverse its choppy waters because those viewing figures aren’t making for encouraging reading. But is Adam Cole the man for the job?
A Question of When, Not If?
It must be of grave concern to Vince McMahon that several NXT stars have said they don’t want to make the leap to the main roster – Tommaso Ciampa even claimed he’d rather retire than have to make the move to Raw or SmackDown.
However, there are no such concerns with Cole, who has already said that he and his Undisputed Era colleagues would have no qualms about making the step up. “Eventually there’s the thought process of maybe the Undisputed Era would like to take our body of work and go to RAW or SmackDown,” he has been quoted as saying.
Another angle to look at is the trajectory of former NXT champions and their movements after dropping the title. Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor….it wasn’t long after they lost their gold before they were main roster superstars. Cole was a staggering 403-day NXT champion – the longest reign in the brand’s history – but after losing out to Keith Lee at the Great American Bash he no longer holds the strap.
So nothing is stopping Cole from making the move – although he may have to go it alone on Raw or SmackDown. Rumors persist that some members of the Undisputed Era might not be taking the step up, either by choice or by WWE’s design. Tom Colohue of Sports Keeda writes: “While the desire is to move the entire faction up as a whole entity instead of just Adam Cole, a number of [WWE] officials have expressed a concern to me that there is still some convincing to do.”
A Royal Engagement?
Typically, WWE chiefs have used the Monday Night Raw following Wrestlemania to introduce fresh blood into their flagship show.
But that would be some wait to get Cole into the action. However, that would give him plenty of time to bed in before the blue riband PPVs in the first half of 2021, which include the Royal Rumble. Not only is Cole almost a certainty to enter the 30-man battle royal, but he’s also being given a decent chance of winning the whole thing in the Royal Rumble betting odds from Betway – priced at +2000 to be the last man in the ring, but the sportsbooks are also given him a warm chance of prevailing. So, perhaps a move just after Summerslam might be the wisest timing.
That is perhaps fanciful – from the NXT roster to main eventing Wrestlemania within a matter of months? – but it’s not impossible. Anyone who can recall Cole’s entry to the 2018 Rumble will remember the crowd’s pop, joining in with his theme song and generally getting behind the NXT man.
Fast forward two years and there’s a real appetite to see the Undisputed Era tangle with WWE’s biggest names – it’s a desire that may just be sated in the very near future.