Should the now former NXT Champion become a babyface for the first time in his WWE NXT tenure?
Last Wednesday the world witnessed the greatest professional wrestler walking God’s green earth, Adam Cole BAY BAY, do the honors for Keith Lee, putting him over and paving the way for the Limitless One to become NXT’s double champ–he’s now the NXT North American Champion and the NXT Champion. Lee has been built for this–just look at his run from Survivor Series 2019 through the Royal Rumble and to now. So well built, in fact, that I (the world’s foremost expert on Adam Cole) agreed that it was the best call to make!
But don’t think that means I’m done with Adam Cole, either. Not by a long shot. And even though many think NXT will soon be done with Adam Cole, I don’t see that happening, either.
It’s easy for fans and analysts to postulate that once someone has a major run in NXT, that “the main roster” of Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown must be the next step in their WWE journey. But that’s not the absolute case. Yes, NXT still exists to populate the main roster, but it’s also a standing brand in WWE, bringing in revenue thanks to the NXT TV deal and their own touring schedule that–like the rest of WWE–has been halted by COVID-19 and the coronavirus. NXT needs star power on it’s own.
Furthermore, many of the call-ups to Raw and Smackdown haven’t necessarily been major NXT stars. Even the most recent to go (Matt Riddle, and the rumored moves of Chelsea Green and Dominik Dijakovic) come before they fully reached their full NXT potential. Many expect this to happen with Karrion Kross as well, and I would argue that the best thing for Kross is to get onto Raw or Smackdown sooner rather than later.
Also, NXT is still the home for the likes of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, and both could easily have been plucked sooner. Adam Cole, and his Undisputed Era brethren easily fit that same mold, in my opinion.
(That also doesn’t mean Cole needs to be an NXT lifer, when that contract comes up next August you’re gonna need to do something to keep him on board!)
But now let’s take a step back and look at what options we do have with the ol’ Panama City Playboy.
Move Him To Raw or Smackdown
Yeah, I know. I just told you all the reasons this doesn’t have to happen. It doesn’t…and it shouldn’t. The world is crazy right now, and when things are off-kilter, WWE tends to go with Old Reliable. What’s “Old Reliable?” WWE, dating back to the WWF/WWWF days, has long been a big man territory. It’s also been a babyface territory. Who is on top of each active brand now? Welp, it’s a big man babyface! Hell, even NXT.
Just for posterity sake, here are the top 3 champions on the men’s side of WWE:
- WWE Champion – Drew McIntyre (Raw)
- Universal Champion – Braun Strowman (Smackdown)
- NXT Champion – Keith Lee (NXT)
Adam Cole has the talent, ability, and charisma to overcome his size and being a success on the main roster. But we all know how this goes for nearly every new-to-the-main-roster-push: you get a push, lose to a more established superstar, then fall back a little. That’s when the term “lost in the shuffle” starts getting used. Now isn’t the time for Adam Cole to his the main roster.
Feud With An NXT Babyface
Adam Cole is a made man. There are plenty of people he can feud with on the babyface side, and put over. Dexter Lumis, one of the most unlikely heroes of all time, is an option. You can continue the program with Keith Lee. You can flip Finn Balor. You can elevate Bronson Reed. You literally have some really good options for Adam Cole to elevate as a heel on NXT.
But he’s been a heel since his iconic debut in 2017. He’s approaching 3 years at that level, all with the Undisputed Era by his side. In WWE years, that means he’s due for a change.
Turn Adam Cole Babyface, BAY BAY
The third, and best option, is to give fans a chance to do what they truly want to do: cheer for Adam Cole. Go back and watch TakeOver XXV. The Hartford crowd was BEGGING for Adam Cole to win, booing Johnny Gargano in the way we all know–so obvious commentary has to acknowledge it.
He’s got a babyface arsenal at his disposal. He’s got a babyface entrance, and a babyface taunt in “ADAM COLE BAY BAY!” Even “BOOM!” calls for crowd participation. He’s got the look as well. Literally every ingredient in the babyface recipe is there outside of size. And as I already shared, he can overcome that.
The Obvious Answer: Turn Adam Cole Babyface.
There are so many options for Adam Cole as a babyface:
Split With The Undisputed Era: Cole has always thrown in comments to make sure he’s the #1 guy in the Undisputed Era, and to make sure everyone knows that they exist for him regardless of any amount of success each guy achieves (and they’ve all achieved plenty). Once Kyle O’Reilly comes back, there are plenty of ways you can go to split them. Roderick Strong has had to bail Adam Cole out. Cole took away Kyle’s world title in ROH before the run could even get started. Bobby Fish is a born leader, being held down by Adam Cole.
Turning on Adam Cole would cement the trio as heels, and Bobby Fish has the chops to be the leader. Fans (in person or online, real or prescribed) will have no problem getting behind Adam Cole as the babyface opposition to his former stablemates.
Feud With Finn Balor: Finn Balor is still decidedly a heel on NXT, and Adam Cole as a babyface makes the perfect foil. Formal stakes (like a championship) wouldn’t exist, but there is plenty to use to create an issue between both men.
Feud With Karrion Kross: It’s too soon for Karrion Kross to become NXT Champion, but if Adam Cole can come between he and that championship win, you have plenty of reason for them to feud. And it’d be entertaining as hell. Kross will lose at some point, and Cole is perfectly suited to hand him that loss.
Feud With Santos Escobar: And here we have it, the feud you never knew you wanted! (Unless you heard me mention it two weeks ago on The #Miranda Show.) The babyface Undisputed Era feuding with the heel El Legado del Fantasma would be money, and would elevate all three members of Santos Escobar’s stable, including the Cruiserweight Champion himself.
And imagine a feud between Adam Cole and Santos Escobar over that NXT Cruiserweight Championship! Nothing would elevate that title more than that program. You can easily build that to War Games and beyond. The Cruiserweight Champion leading a stable into War Games? That’s the type of elevation that Adam Cole and the Undisputed Era make possible in NXT.
As for those of you who don’t think Adam Cole should want the NXT Cruiserweight Championship? It’s all about motivation. He doesn’t need that title, no. But if Escobar and crew attack Cole, trying to end his career? Now Adam Cole can go after the one thing Escobar has been able to leverage–the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
And there you have it! Turn Adam Cole babyface, and feud him with Santos Escobar. That elevates everyone, gives Cole a brand new canvas on which he can paint, and delivers a program and matches that can main event any NXT event.
What do you think? Turn Adam Cole babyface? Send him against his own stablemates? Ship him off to the main roster? Let me know!
Mitchell’s Wednesday Night War Review! The End!
The Wednesday Night War… is DONE!
Thank you, Wednesday Night War! It was fun while it lasted!
With NXT moving to Tuesdays, the wrestling war on Wednesday nights is no more! But let’s see where both sides stand now that the dust settles!
Let’s recap Year Two’s first phase.
Year Two, Phase One Final Scores: NXT – 9.13; AEW – 9.16
The margin was close as ever, but AEW inched out the win to continue their dominance from Year One! Don’t worry, NXT went past 12/9/20, it’s just that they and AEW tied those last three weeks. And you’ll notice that I left 12/30/20, the last Wednesday of the year, off because of the circumstances. Jon Huber, aka Brodie Lee aka Luke Harper, past away just days before that night, and AEW changed their plans to give us a “Celebration of Life” tribute episode. It did not feel right trying to give that show a score, because it wasn’t supposed to be about AEW but about Jon Huber. And to be fair to AEW’s score, I left off NXT’s episode for that night, even though NXT did have great action on their Year-End Award episode.
Now, for Year Two’s Phase Two, the WNW FINALE!
Year Two, Phase Two Final Scores: NXT – 9.44; AEW – 9.50
Year Two, Overall: NXT – 9.31; AEW – 9.36
Much stronger numbers from both sides this time, but these two companies started hard and kept going hard from New Year’s Evil VS New Year’s Smash all the way to TakeOver: Stand & Deliver and… Well, the AEW Dynamite put up against it. Just looking at it, that string in February for AEW made all the difference. They were just on fire right there, building towards AEW Revolution 2021, which itself was an awesome PPV (even with the pyro mishap at the end).
The margins were still close, but bigger than last phase’s, and even with TakeOver: Stand & Deliver Night One bringing NXT up to a high level, it was not enough! AEW wins again! They win two phases to zero, and are therefore the overall winner of the Wednesday Night War!
The Wednesday Night War may not have been as epic as the Monday Night War, or as long, but it was a lot of fun. NXT and AEW were giving us great wrestling every week, not just in-ring action but the promos and segments. The wrestlers on these shows are now stars because they got to be on cable network television, and literally kept me up late at night because I could not let either show wait until Thursday morning. But now, #NXTuesday is going to be how it is going forward, and we can all argue one way or another why the move happened but it doesn’t really matter, I’m still going to be watching both anyway.
Cook’s WrestleMania 37 Night One Gambling Picks
Who’s trying make money on guessing the predetermined scripts? If that’s you, Cook gots all the lines you need. This isn’t Breaking Bad; we only do betting lines!
This is one of those columns that needs no real intro or explanation. Its WrestleMania! What else do you need me to tell you? Today we’re talking Night One, tomorrow it’ll be Night Two. Easy peezy lemon breezy.
I know that some of you prefer a 12 hour WrestleMania event, but to me, two nights is definitely the way to go. Think of it this way: instead of one night to watch the biggest show of the year, you get two. What’s the downside?
Also, you can get two days to make money, if you’re into the kind of thing we’re talking about here. Though, I am contractually obligated to mention that my look at these matchups, with odds provided by BetOnline, is for entertainment purposes only.
Tag Team Turmoil
Lana & Naomi vs. Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose vs. The Riott Squad vs. Natalya & Tamina
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) April 7, 2021
We’ve got a match setting up a Night 2 match here, as Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler will face the winners for the Women’s Tag Team Championship. They’ve had some amount of issues with each team, so we can’t really use that as an indicator of who will win. We also can’t base it off of who will have the best match with Nia & Shayna, as that seems like a push.
We also don’t have odds on this match as I write this. If some do get posted, my guess would be that Natalya & Tamina will have long odds and could be a good pick as a team WWE might want to give a little reward for their service over the years.
Bad Bunny & Damian Priest (-950) vs. The Miz & John Morrison (+500)
— WWE (@WWE) April 6, 2021
We all know how this one is going, right? Bunny & Priest are the easiest pick on this two day extravaganza. I’m sure an outside celebrity lost a WrestleMania match at some point, but one isn’t immediately coming to mind. I assume some are still complaining about Bad Bunny getting a WM match, I choose to be good with it since it gets Damian Priest a match too. Hopefully this all works out well for him.
Braun Strowman (-500) vs. Shane McMahon (+300)
— Braun Strowman (@BraunStrowman) April 6, 2021
Braun is the natural pick here for obvious reasons (he’s actually a wrestler), but one can easily make an argument for Shane. The usage of a steel cage rarely keeps interested outside parties out of a match, and surely Shane will have a few allies looking to make an impact on WrestleMania. We’ll see Elias & Jaxson Ryker, and we’ll likely see somebody else. Any big stiffs in the Performance Center not otherwise occupied could be an option for Shane here.
The thing about gambling picks: we’re not always going to pick what we think will happen. I think Braun will destroy whoever gets put in his path here. But the object of this game is to make some money, and I think Shane McMahon at +300 is a good bet. Especially since I don’t think this feud will be ending at WrestleMania. Still some more heat to get on this issue.
Cesaro (-300) vs. Seth Rollins (+200)
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) April 7, 2021
Speaking of feuds that I think will extend beyond WrestleMania and will likely have the evildoer squeaking out a victory by nefarious means. I can easily talk myself into Cesaro getting a big win here, one which will lead to declarations that he’s a made man and finally on the level he deserves to be at. I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with that.
I think it’s far more likely that Seth Rollins gets the win, and the issue between these two continues. Cesaro’s big win is coming, but not at WrestleMania.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match
The New Day (+250) vs. AJ Styles & Omos (-400)
AJ Styles vs. Xavier Woods – straight out of 2008 TNA. A reminder WWE is a TNA nostalgia company. pic.twitter.com/VNU9VULZ7N
— Garrett Kidney (@garrettkidney) April 6, 2021
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been burnt by picking against Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston. They have a knack for overcoming all obstacles at these major events and coming out on top. Its a good idea to keep these men featured on television, as they’re positive role models for the community and I can only think of one time that one of them did something a bit embarrassing for the company.
I mean….that Jamaican accent. What were they thinking? Never mind, we got more accent stuff to talk about for Night 2, let’s move on.
It is tempting to pick AJ & Omos, as there’s an obvious story there hopefully leading to Omos’ breakout as a singles star. That can easily be drug out though, and we don’t pick against The New Day here. Their victory will be a good way to pop the crowd early in the evening.
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Sasha Banks (+250) vs. Bianca Belair (-400)
IMPOSSIBLE, THINGS ARE HAPPENING EVERY DAY. pic.twitter.com/7iXlEA4gAe
— Mercedes Varnado (@SashaBanksWWE) April 8, 2021
This is a huge moment for Bianca, and for the Women’s division in general, as the significance of two women of color fighting for a championship on the biggest show of the wrestling year can’t be overlooked. Its a big f’n deal, as politicians would say.
A win here would put Bianca Belair over the top as a star in this company, and I think that’s what happens here. Sasha doesn’t need the championship to retain her relevancy, and it’s not like any losses have hurt her standing with the people yet. She’ll do whatever she can on this evening to make Bianca a star.
WWE Championship Match
Bobby Lashley (+150) vs. Drew McIntyre (-200)
— WWE (@WWE) April 7, 2021
People seemed legit shook when it was mentioned on Raw that this would be the main event of Night 1. Like…that wasn’t obvious? As much as I like Sasha & Bianca & think they will have a fantastic match, the build of their match hasn’t exactly gotten me any more excited than I was the moment after the women’s Royal Rumble Match ended. Maybe y’all are more into TAG TEAM PARTNERS THAT SECRETLY HATE EACH OTHER than I am, but zero part of that whole thing seemed inspired to me. To be fair, it seemed even less inspired when Asuka & Rhea Ripley did it.
Meanwhile, this is the WWE Championship, dating back to the days of Bruno Sammartino & Buddy Rogers. Drew & Bobby’s issue has been building since the Royal Rumble, and now is the time for Drew McIntyre to get the WrestleMania coronation they wanted to give him last year. Will it work?
Well, the mystery is one of the reasons we’ll be paying attention.
Thanks for reading! Join me next time for Night Two!
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