After making an appearance on Pat McAfee's talkshow, Adam Cole and the former NFL star have been butting heads. Two weeks ago on NXT, Cole overheard McAfee cracking insulting jokes towards him on commentary. Frustrated by what he heard, Cole took it upon himself to head over to the commentary table, and he confronted McAfee by splashing water towards his face. Once that happened, a brawl between both men broke out, which is setting up towards their match at NXT TakeOver: XXX.
On this week's episode of The Bump, Cole explained what first provoked him enough to confront McAfee.
"I think it was a compilation of different things at one time," Cole replied when asked what made him throw the water bottle at McAfee two weeks ago. "For example, I'm very aware of what my issue is with Pat. It's just this idea and attitude where people think they can say whatever they want to say online to whoever they want to say it to. That type of mindset drives me nuts. So, to see Pat, knowing he could poke the bear and think that Adam is not going to do anything or saying anything, I'm sick of that mentality. I'm tired of people who think that they can run their mouths. I'm not going to put up with it anymore."
While Cole says McAfee is a decorated athlete, he doesn't believe a guy like him belongs in the world of pro wrestling. He's felt this way since they first crossed paths back in 2018 during an NXT live event, when McAfee interrupted Cole's match against Aleister Black.
"He, 1000 percent started this whole thing," he mentioned. "I remember being annoyed with him that day. For a guy who is a fan of wrestling, supposedly a fan of NXT, he was walking around [there] very comfortable, like he owned the place. He hasn't done anything to deserve that spotlight. Pat picked a fight with the wrong guy. Trust me."
Last year, Cole and several other big named NXT Superstars invaded Friday Night SmackDown to prove why they were the superior brand right before Survivor Series. In the main event match, Cole defeated his idol Daniel Bryan in a singles match. After his career-high match, all the members of NXT, including McAfee, climbed into the ring to celebrate. Watching the tape back, Cole was very irate to see McAfee crashed in on their celebration.
"In the moment, I didn't even really realize it. I had just beaten Daniel Bryan - a guy I've idolized, and one of the greatest to do it - on my debut on SmackDown. That whole day was insane," he began. "So, in that moment, I didn't think about Pat being in there.
"About a week later, I remember watching that closing moment, and I remember seeing Pat in that ring and it made me sick to my stomach. Once again, here's a guy that has done absolutely nothing to help the growth, advancement, or the invasion of NXT leading up to that invasion. And there he is standing in there like he belongs. He's standing in there like he owns the frickin' ring - it's disgusting. He doesn't belong."
Though their match at TakeOver will not be for a title, Cole is taking his match with McAfee very seriously.
"I'm always taking it seriously," he reminded the panel. "I'm taking this match seriously for a totally different reason, and I know I've touched on this previously, but it has to do with respect. The amount of respect I have for NXT is unparalleled. The amount of talent that we have on this roster is the most talented men and women in the entire world. I think NXT is the best brand in pro wrestling.
"So, I'm taking this one seriously to let Pat McAfee know that he is way in over his head. Like, he can think in his mind that he's ready to compete at TakeOver, but he's not ready. I've got to teach this a guy a lesson."
At this year's Great American Bash, Cole found himself losing both the NXT North American and NXT World titles after Keith Lee took all the gold. Cole admits that although it's been hard not having the title around his waist anymore, he still isn't giving up on becoming a contender down the road. But for right now, he wants to shift his focus on taking McAfee out of pro wrestling for good.
"Losing the NXT Championship is without question weighing on me," he replied. "I'm 100 percent bothered, frustrated, and I feel naked. Losing it has affected me more than I let on sometimes. In order to be a successful wrestler, you need to check your fears and check your frustrations at the door.
"Pat McAfee has absolutely nothing to do with the NXT Championship. Once again, this is a statement. This is not a climb back to the top of the mountain for me; this is something completely separate. Even though not having the NXT Championship bothers me, me tearing apart Pat McAfee will be the only thing I'll be thinking of."
You can watch Adam Cole's full interview above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE's The Bump with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.