Adam Cole has led a charmed existence in 2012. Since bursting onto the scene in Combat Zone Wrestling in 2009, Cole has taken every promotion he's been allowed to shine in by storm. He got limited play in EVOLVE, but he showed at least that he could go in the ring, important for anyone in any company, especially an independent organization. In Ring of Honor, he was arguably the brightest point in the tag partner dosey-do feud that saw Davey Richards adopt Kyle O'Reilly and Cole team up with Eddie Edwards. He got a pin against the then-World Champion Richards, but since then, he's been bungled by the company. Seriously, you don't follow up winning the Television Championship with an iPPV match against a manager.
Still, regardless of how ROH has treated him, he's still one of their brightest stars and a part of their future. This past weekend, Cole conquered his latest promotion, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. After dazzling fans with tag performances with O'Reilly against the Super Smash Bros. and Young Bucks, Cole made his first impact as a singles wrestler winning the Battle of Los Angeles Tournament. The annual tourney has produced such winners as Richards, El Generico and the incomparable CIMA. He then went on to steal Kevin Steen's PWG World Championship and taunt him via video with the now-immortal words, "Stay fat, Kevin."
One thing to remember about Steen is that while he's a dick heel in ROH and in mostly any other promotion he works in, he is solid gold to the Reseda crowd. Yeah, he gets cheered mostly anywhere he goes, but in PWG, he's almost never portrayed as the villain, even if he's coming to the ring for the sole purpose of laying waste to an otherwise innocent RockNES Monsters team among other things. By that property, Cole prodding at the French-Canadian hornets' nest makes him a rare thing – a PWG heel. That's huge in my book, and probably the biggest thing to happen to him this year, if you can believe it.
While other commentators may judge size of company as to whether a wrestler has "made it", I'd rather look at things from a critical standpoint. ROH may be more visible than PWG at this point (although not by much), but Cole being catapulted into a feud with Steen to me is a sign that he's made it. He's in the main event of one of the three most critically relevant companies in America right now, and he's doing so with a stolen belt and a flair for the insulting that makes everyone watching wonder why ROH isn't doing something similar.
Whether Cole actually officially upends Steen for the Championship is irrelevant at this point. The fact that he won their biggest singles tournament and is embroiled now in what will certainly turn out to be a blood feud is enough for me to know that Adam Cole is officially a big swinging peener in the world of pro wrestling in 2012.