As of Friday, August 27th, 2021, Adam Cole is a free agent.
No non-compete, no contractual obligations, and no idea what he’s going to do.
Cole can officially sign wherever he pleases and could debut for any company at a moment’s notice. The Panama City Playboy is sure to have plenty of suitors waiting to make his acquaintance. WWE, All Elite Wrestling, New Japan, Global Force (kidding), Impact, the rebooted WCW (kidding, again). Cole will be courted by every company with the bankroll to get him on the phone. While his choices may be limitless, it seems apparent that there are only two real options on the table.
Re-sign with WWE, or cross enemy lines and join All Elite Wrestling.
As of this writing, there’s no indication of what Cole’s decision will be. According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, people close to Cole have said that he still has yet to decide on where he will go. That’s only natural considering this is, more likely than not, the biggest decision of his professional career.
There are plenty of pros and cons to either company and it really just comes to what he values more at this point in his life. If his number one priority is financial stability, then WWE is the place to be (at least in the short term). If he values creative satisfaction and the near certainty that he will be booked and treated like a major star, then AEW is a much safer bet. Not to mention that his longtime girlfriend, and current AEW Women’s World Champion, Britt Baker is already a key player for the promotion. Despite popular opinion, there are plenty of reasons for him to sign with either company.
The Adam Cole sweepstakes is going to be the most important bidding war in the battle between WWE and AEW so far, and it’s one that Vince McMahon can’t afford to lose.
We’ve yet to see a talent the caliber of Cole’s cross enemy lines. If you’re sitting there saying to yourself “what about Jon Moxley or Bryan Danielson?” just stick with me. If you take away his height which only truly matters in WWE, he is an elite (wink wink) talent at every facet of professional wrestling. Promos, in-ring ability, storytelling, heel and face work, the way he connects with an audience. You name it, and he can do it just as well as anyone on planet earth. Not only that, but he has experience leading a promotion. While the brands/companies were nowhere near the scale of WWE’s main roster, Cole still spearheaded arguably the greatest eras of Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerilla, and NXT. By the time he signed with Triple H’s black-and-gold brand in 2017 at the age of 28, the independent wrestling superstar already had a 538-day reign as PWG World Champion (the longest ever at the time) and three separate runs as the ROH World Champion (most in the company’s history to this day) under his belt.
In the four years since Cole has made a strong case to be the greatest superstar in NXT history. First-ever North American Champion, NXT Tag Team Champion, the longest-reigning NXT Champion in the brand’s history (396 days), and one of two superstars to complete the NXT grand-slam. He played a key role in elevating NXT from just a developmental territory for WWE to a legitimate third brand alongside RAW and Smackdown (even if that elevated status didn’t last very long).
WWE has invested a lot of time and effort into Adam Cole, much more than most. Plenty of superstars that leave the company, whether it’s via their own accord or a phone call from John Laurinaitis, will have fans online come to their defense citing “bad booking” as a reason for said superstar exiting stage left, but that is far from the case with Cole. From the moment he signed his contract he was treated as a main event talent. He even earned a singles victory over one of the biggest stars of this generation in Daniel Bryan during a one-off appearance on Smackdown in 2019. To let him walk now after all of that, without a true run on the main roster, would make the last four years a massive waste of time for WWE.
Even if these reasons aren’t enough for ol’ Vinny Mac to break the bank to stop the NXT stand-out from leaving, is keeping him away from AEW not enough? Adam Cole and All Elite Wrestling would go together like Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton (rest in peace Beautiful) and Tony Khan has no issue adding a few extra zeros to get a talent like that. There’s a very fitting story to encapsulate where WWE currently stands with Cole. In 2007 Kobe Bryant demanded a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers. The owner of the team, the legendary Dr. Jerry Buss, sat the frustrated star down and told him that he refused to do it. Buss said to Kobe “There is nothing that we could possibly have in a trade situation that could possibly replicate what you bring to this team. You’re like a ten-karat diamond and people are offering us opals, not rubies and emeralds, but opals, ivory, and garnets”. The Black Mamba stayed with the team and proceeded to win two straight NBA Championships just a couple of years later.
The point being, Adam Cole is a ten-karat diamond. A 32-year old wrestling prodigy with no injury history that can work any style you could ever want, as well as anyone in the world. This is the guy you break the bank for. This is the talent that you hand a blank check and give the ‘godfather’ offer to.
I hope for the sake of the die-hard WWE fans that Vince McMahon appreciates what they have in the Panama City Playboy. Because if he doesn’t, someone else will.