On a recent episode of AEW Unrestricted, Adam Cole made an appearance and reflected on his time in WWE NXT. He has admitted before that it was tough to leave NXT, and he talked about what he learned during his time there.
“Across the board, when you think about the knowledge that all these guys have, and not just that, but the willingness to give up that knowledge, it’s priceless in a lot of ways,” Cole said. “Whether it be Regal, whether it be Terry Taylor, or whether it be Shawn Michaels, all of them are just so passionate about wrestling, and so willing to talk about it and give that knowledge. My relationship, specifically with Shawn, to this day, still exists good. And he is someone who helped me tremendously when he didn’t have to.
“I look at Shawn Michaels, still to this day, as the greatest pro wrestler of all time. He’s the guy I idolize, to this day. He was so, so helpful in getting me to think kind of outside the box in a lot of ways and think about things that I didn’t normally think about. One of the things that he really, really helped me with was cadence within matches, deciding when to speed up, and when to slow down, and how to take the crowd on as much of a roller coaster ride as possible. And it was something before that I never really thought of.
“I just did my match. I just had my match and did my moves, and of course, you try to tell a story. But as far as the speed at which you do it, that was something I didn’t really obsess on, and Shawn made me focus on that more and more. And I noticed a definite difference in audible change from the audience when I focused on that stuff. I love him to death, and I love Terry, and I love Regal as well. When I say I had a wonderful time there, that’s an understatement. I really had a great time there, and I wouldn’t be the wrestler I am today if it wasn’t for my time there.”
Aubrey Edwards later shared a story about the first time she worked with Cole. She revealed it was during her NXT tryout, and she talked about how that went.
“The first time I ever worked with Adam Cole was during my NXT tryout, and I’m not going to go into the full story, but the match does not go as planned,” Edwards revealed. “And I’m pretty certain Adam Cole hated me at that point. We’ll save this for another day. This will be the a teaser for future podcasts.
“Well, let me say this before you continue,” Cole added. “Just so you know, for the record, live on the air here on AEW Unrestricted, I never hated you Aubrey. You did the right thing… You did the right thing. That’s all I’m gonna say, 100%.
“The short version of it is we had a planned finished for the match, and I had to actually be a ref and enact some rules, and change the finish for that match, which is terrifying to do when you’re in the middle of a tryout,” Edwards noted. “You’re like, okay, well, I’m not working here anymore.”
Many on the AEW roster are still new when it comes to working in TV. Cole talked about what he has learned that could help out the younger roster.
“As far as the mechanics of what we do, again, the cadence thing was one of the most important things for me, for sure. But there also was a mentality that I learned there that I feel like I didn’t necessarily apply before I spent time in NXT,” Cole said. “In a funny way, it’s when to get super serious, because I remember there was a phase for a long time, where again, I would have matches at Ring of Honor or PWG and they would get intense, and they would get physical.
“But I used to be so concerned with just getting the crowd to react as much as possible, whether that was gaga, or being funny, or what have you. I was just all about getting them to respond, and it worked to some extent, but then after spending time there and realizing how important it is when you’re 15, 20, 25 minutes into a match, and it’s go time, you better treat it like it’s go time and you’re in the middle of this epic battle. My time in NXT did kind of help me tune into that a little bit better because both Triple H and Shawn had that same mentality of like, hey, alright, you’re in a war.
“It’s for the championship. Let’s go. No fun and games anymore, you’re trying everything you possibly can to win. Between that and, then again, when to speed up and when to slow down, I think those were the two biggest things. The other thing too, is, again, I really respect this about Hunter, that guy is being grabbed in 18 different directions all day. He is always on the phone. He is always being pulled to the side.
“He’s always being asked his opinion, and for him to not only succeed in every single thing that he’s been asked to do but do it with a smile on his face and with a passion that he has for the industry is admirable because we all love pro wrestling. But he’s been going at this for a really, really long time, and to see him with that mentality and with that mindset, same with Shawn Michaels, is inspiring us. It used to fire all of us up. We were like, ‘Yeah, let’s go. Let’s do it.’ I learned a lot of lessons, whether it be within pro wrestling or even outside of pro wrestling. Those two really helped me a lot.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.