In an appearance on Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette, AEW star Adam Cole talked a bit about his four year run in WWE, mostly spent with the NXT brand. In particular, Cole talked about his relationship with Triple H, who he had nothing but praise for.

“The nice thing about my relationship with him and my relationship with Shawn Michaels is they are so positive. To this day, positive,” Cole said. “I formed a bond with Hunter, with Shawn, that I would like to think, and they’ve made very apparent to me as well, that it’s a relationship we’re always going to keep. I loved working with those guys. He knew what my goals were, what I wanted to accomplish. I think a big reason I loved NXT so much was we had that freedom and that ability to wrestle super cool, longer matches and get to show ourselves off artistically in that sense. NXT was built on that mentality. I got in at the perfect time, at least for what I loved about pro wrestling.

“He (Hunter) understood that I wanted to continue doing stuff like that, he knew my Twitch was super important to me. And I know that’s a big no no in WWE, which is unfortunate. So I was very open and very honest with him, to the point where I was still thinking about what I was going to do when my contract was up. He knew that. And then when the decision was made, he knew that and Shawn knew that. So I’ve always been open and honest with them right out of the gate, because they’ve always been open and honest with me. I love Hunter, I love Shawn. They have been nothing but incredible to me, they’ve made me better as a performer. I don’t think I’d be where I’m at in AEW right now without those two and I really do mean that. When I think about the performer I was in Ring of Honor, as much as I learned and as many great people as I got to work with, getting that four years with them is priceless. It’s absolutely priceless.”

Cole continued with his praise for Michaels and the friendship the two had formed. He revealed that Michaels, while wanting Cole to stay in WWE, wanted him to make a decision based on his overall happiness more.

“Shawn and I have developed a relationship, like I said, that I think will last for the rest of our lives. At least I hope so, and I know Shawn feels that way too,” Cole said. “But Shawn has always been such a big supporter of me and what’s best for me. So of course he wanted me to work something out where I could stay and things like that. But at the same time, Shawn wanted me to be happy, he wanted me to do what’s best for me.

“So he had my back. He knows how much I respect him, how much I look up to him and idolize him. So for him to be very open about ‘listen, of course I want you to stay here. But I want you to be happy.’ He was putting business aside, all that stuff aside. He just wanted me to be as happy as possible, so that was really cool for me. It was what I needed to hear honestly. Like I said, it was a big decision. So for him to have my back was really cool.”

Cole’s departure from NXT to AEW coincides with the radical changes hitting the NXT brand over the past several weeks. Cole stated had heard about the changes before he departed, he never dealt with the shift personally.

“Honest to god, I never dealt with it. I never dealt with the shift,” Cole said. “From the time I started there to my last match with Kyle O’Reilly at TakeOver 36, we had so much creative freedom. Again, the length of the matches were super long. The promo segments we were doing, we had so much input on. I really didn’t deal with much of a change.

“I know now, with NXT 2.0 going on, there seems to be a massive, massive change, which is fine. But I seriously, honest to god, never dealt with any of it. I never did. We had heard rumblings about the change coming. But by the time I was gone, I had never experienced or dealt with the change whatsoever. So that’s what I mean when I say that my time in NXT was flawless. Because I really never dealt with any of that. I never did.”

Paquette asked Cole if the potential of not having the same creative freedom on the main roster contributed with his decision to leave WWE. While he praised the brief time he wrestled on RAW and Smackdown in 2019, he admitted that was a concern.

“For sure,” Cole said. “But that’s not to say that I didn’t want to do that or experience that. I want to be able to look back on my career and say I accomplished and did everything that I wanted to. And again, even I had a really short stint getting the chance to work on RAW and SmackDown, and I got to do the match at Survivor Series. All those were very positive experiences, as well. It was all crazy, and that’s a whole other story with the whole last minute thing. That was bonkers.

“But yeah, there certainly was a fear. And it’s not because of anything other than the fact that I feel that I had known so many people that had gotten upset or stressed out about situations they had been thrown into. I’m that annoyingly optimistic person that finds the positives in everything. But yeah, that was a concern and that was something I was a little bit worried about. So far, in the thirteen and a half years I’ve been in the wrestling business, I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m like ‘I hate this. I am not having fun.’ I’ve been very lucky, fingers crossed, the entire time.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription