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!