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!
AJ’s Controversial? Wrestling Opinions 10.12.21
AJ feels like spouting off about a few wrestling topics that bug him. How controversial are they though?
As Eric Bischoff, President of WCW once said, Controversy Creates Cash…no I’m serious; it’s even the title of a book that he did. Everyone has their hot takes on professional wrestling and some are always wide eyed and kind of shocking to some. There are some of us that will have same opinions or chastise me on a show or an article maybe but hey, don’t hate the player, hate The Game.
Maybe there are some that the readers at home agree with or you want to also be the one to chastise me, @PhenomenalAJB on Twitter. This one is going to be fun!
#1- There are more things than just WWE/AEW and are better majority of the time
There are many people that will rant, rave and complain that the mainstream product is so bland and boring and the classic, “Who even watches this trash?” Whether you love the flippy dippy do’s like I don’t or long drawn out storylines that peter out very quickly because fans aren’t invested in a story or character. To those people, I will say something very bold, very confusing and very… very controversial…
THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES YOU CAN WATCH ON VARIOUS PLATFORMS IN VARIOUS MEANS ON YOUR OWN TIME!
I don’t know how and I don’t know why that this is even a topic. “TNA has been dead for years” No it hasn’t. Pay $1 USD for Impact Plus on YouTube so you can watch it without commercials at 8:30 Eastern. “Two hours is too long!” NWA and MLW both go for an hour on their respective YouTube Channels as well and if you want to watch, you can hop in at any time. Everyone has something for everyone and you might find your new favorite wrestler in a matter of minutes into an episode. I would never have known who Eli Drake (now LA Knight on SmackDown Live), Alexander Hammerstone or even in the early stages of TNA Impact, AJ Styles, was! You can watch more than what is broadcasted on your TV. Is it easier? Of course but, there is so much more than just the popular option.
#2- Belt Collecting now is just redundant and moronic
Back in 1996, Ultimo Dragon famously has a picture of him holding TEN championships looking like an amazing superstar with amazing defenses. What people don’t know is, that was because eight championship belts were united in a tournament called “The J-Crown Championship” with the adage of ‘All or Nothing’. He lost them one by one but, it was to show that he was the best Junior Heavyweight (or Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) out of everyone in various promotions.
People after that really haven’t belt collected other than unifying championships to a grand caliber… then Austin Aries showed up. Aries kind of revised the gimmick and brought it back to light. Newer fans might have thought this was cool but older fans kind of groaned and grumbled. I was one of them but, nothing is original in anything anymore so it’s a fresher concept at the time back in 2018. He did surpass Ultimo with ELEVEN championships but it seemed everyone started doing it to an extent after. Matt Cardona, after being released from WWE, started doing it, getting up to six championships before dropping them. As of right now, not necessarily solo belt collecting, The Bloodline has a stranglehold of the World Championships for both Singles and Tag Teams, we had Becky Two Belts, Bayley wanted Dos Straps but nothing makes this worse than Kenny Omega’s stint as a belt collector.
I am not and will never be a Kenny Omega fan. I don’t see the appeal, I don’t see the amazement or anything like that out of him. I’m impressed he did three 35+ Minute IWGP Championship matches against Okada because that takes a lot of stamina to do so but, that’s about it. When he won the AEW Championship, alright. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that since he helped build the company up. The Triple A Megas Championship… nothing too wrong here. I hate that he had five defenses in two years but he vacated it due to his injuries. It wasn’t until Don Callis and Omega popped into Impact and made the Hogan Era of TNA look like a dream… okay ALMOST but still. Kenny defeats Rich Swann and Moose in two different matches and has everyone else carry the belts while holding the AEW Championship. I understand heel tactics and mentality but at one point in an interview about going for the Impact Championship, he compared it to a common Comic Book and the AEW Championship as Superman Issue #1. I understand trying to be a heel in this story but you boost your clout, not rain on what you are going after. Heel or Face, belt collecting has just been a cluster within itself in the past four years and it honestly needs to stop.
#3- Overuse of Certain Moves
This one is a more recent problem that I have seen and no, I wish EC3 paid me to say this but it is true and very annoying to even bring up but here I am, wishing for Carter money and a fifth Rum & Coke…
Stop. Overusing. Moves. Because you think. They were cool.
If I had a shot for every time a Canadian Destroyer, Superkick, Suicide Dive, Avalanche (Insert High Spot here), Dual Dropkick spots where they cancel each other out or opposing members do back to back high spots on the prone partner spot… I would not have written this article due to death… even if it was water, I would have died due to drowning. They don’t look cool anymore when everyone does it. It’s bland. When Petey Williams wrestled in his last return to Impact, the Destroyer looked very… stale. Superkicks are the new DDT apparently (another Finisher turned common everyday move) and most people that do dives mess it up in some way shape or form whether it’s their feet get caught in the ropes, they didn’t get a full launch or they overshoot it. Having your own move special to you is difficult now but different wrestlers do their own styles or the pay homage to a family member or a wrestler that they interact with or ask permission… or asked to stop.
How’d you feel if you watched WCW and WWF in 1997 and saw DDP do the Diamond Cutter and HHH did the Pedigree Pandemonium and say they do the same move? That is exactly what happened too if Dallas didn’t ask Hunter to stop using it. We might not have the RKO out of nowhere or an iconic move that seldom bigger names use today.
That’s my list. I said before if you agree with my list and if you don’t and want to throw hate my way… @PCTunney is the hate mail account so enjoy!
AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.
With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.
1. Johnny Gargano
Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?
WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.
2. James Storm
This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.
Watch your Money and your Alcohol.
Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”
3. Big Cass
Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.
Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.
4. Bronson Reed
The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.
Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?
5. Bray Wyatt
And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.
To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.
– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!
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