WWE NXT Superstar Adam Cole recently spoke to Newsweek.com. Here are a few highlights from the interview:
Were you a frequent viewer of NXT before you were signed?
Absolutely, a lot of my buddies had worked for NXT. But that wasn’t the only reason. I will say initially it was the reason, but what kept me watching was the show. It’s a fantastic show, you’ve got great action and the fans took on a life of their own. It’s like a brand all on its own. It feels different, it feels special, it reminded me of why I loved wrestling so much. Seeing Sami Zayn wrestle Neville and Kevin Owens come in and Nakamura come in, Samoa Joe. There’s just so many talented guys that had really great matches.
You talk about the fans and the crowd, but you’re a heel. Is it difficult to be a heel when the crowd loves you?
It can be. But I do feel in 2018 that pro wrestling has gone in such a different direction. Before things were so black and white, now it’s shades of grey. It’s not so much good guys and bad guys, there are people who are put in situations who do the right or wrong things, but people react to them like they are stars. And I feel that creates a really cool wrestling show.
For me, for example, I’m aware lots of times when I go out to perform initially when I come through the curtain, I might get a very positive response, or when I do the “Adam Cole Bay Bay.” But lots of times during the matches and the performance is unfolding in front of you, lots of times the crowd will boo me and cheer the guy who is the hero. Lots of times they will go along for that ride with you, but the initial excitement and respect they have for getting to see you or liking what you do. I’ve come to terms with the fans being appreciative of what I’ve done over these past 10 years and I’m grateful to them for that, but they also know when I’m being a big ol’ jerk. They’ll let me know it too [laughs].
When you arrived to NXT you had guys you worked with in Ring of Honor, like Fish and O’Reilly. Did that make the transition easier for you?
Oh for sure. To be able to show up to work and have familiar faces there, it helps a ton, especially in a new environment or with new pressures you may have to be able to be surrounded with guys who are close personal friends. That’s the other thing too. With me, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, I know on-screen we are these brothers whose bond can’t be broken and we are this faction. I promise you, it’s very real behind the scenes too. I’ve known those guys for years, we travel together all the time we talk every single day. Those guys are my brothers. So to be able to start there with them, and to share all the new experiences and excitement, and fun that NXT brings is awesome. I’ve said this a million times, but I don’t mind saying it again. The only thing cooler than having a dream and accomplishing that dream is getting to do it with your buddies.
You’re getting the WWE treatment down in NXT. Is there a “WWE style” that you had to get accustomed to?
I don’t think so, per se. Don’t get me wrong, wrestling promotions all over the world, certain fans like different things, certain promoters like different things, there’s certain expectations they have. But as for as the “WWE style,” there’s just so many things WWE does so well. It really showcases certain talents to the best of their ability.
For example, the entire process of WWE—whether it's the camera work, or the commentary team, or storytelling—my matches are not much different. I’m wrestling in a very similar style that I did elsewhere, it’s just the story and the way it’s being projected to the audience comes off so much bigger, it’s so much larger than life. That’s the one thing that I’ve been able to take away from. Superstars look like Superstars and it’s the biggest thing that I’ve noticed, the way my matches are shot or the way they are talked about. I’ve been pretty similar to what I was doing before, I’ve gotten better in certain things, which is very cool. But as far as me having to adopt a totally new style, I don’t think so.
How badly do you want to be the first NXT North American Champion?
Very badly. I feel like when I debuted at NXT I was standing over Drew McIntyre, who was the then-champion and I was milking in the moment, going into War Games, going to war with Aleister Black. Getting to debut at the Royal Rumble, I feel if I were to win the NXT North American Championship this will just continue this crazy ride that I’m in now, and I feel I’m just getting started, I’m just scratching the surface. Let me tell you this, as much as I want to win, everyone else in that match wants to as well, but I feel everyone should be rooting for Adam Cole.
So if you win the North American Championship, you’ll still have your eyes on the NXT Championship?
Of course, but I’m a guy who succeeds the most when I focus on the task at hand, and currently that’s capturing the NXT North American championship. If i’m able to capture that, you can rest assured that I’m going to be focused on the NXT Championship.
Now that you’ve had a taste of the main roster, is do you have a preference to which brand you would want to go to?
Not necessarily. I see so many cool things going on in both brands that I can sink my teeth into. Obviously, going to SmackDown where Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are. AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode... the list goes on, there’s so many talented guys. They have them on RAW too. That’s the coolest thing about the two shows right now, they offer something different, but no one is really better than the other, they have their things and their strengths and things that make you want to watch the show. I look at the performers on RAW or SmackDown and I see where I can fit in, and I feel I can fit in a lot of situations on RAW and SmackDown so I don’t know, it’ll be tough for me to pick one.