AEW’s begun hyping the return of Adam Cole with vignettes on Dynamite & Rampage. We don’t yet know when the former ROH & NXT champion will return to the ring, but the videos have been a welcome sight after months of cautious silence from Cole and the company.
His last match was in June of last year, a 4Way at the Forbidden Door PPV with New Japan where Cole suffered his second concussion in as many months. Cole told Wrestling Observer Radio it was the third straight event where he was injured. He tore his labrum and strained his rotator cuff while warming up for the Hangman Page match at Revolution, then was concussed while facing Samoa Joe at Double or Nothing. The Forbidden Door concussion was the worst of the three.
“I took a bump where I felt a little bit weird, and it wasn’t anyone’s fault, it was a normal bump. And I remember thinking, ‘Okay, that felt a little strange’. And about thirty seconds go by, and then it’s like I have no recollection or memory of what I’m supposed to do [or] what happened in the match.
”The memory stuff is the really, really scary part to me, when you’re in the middle of a ring and there’s thousands of people around you, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. That was really scary. So I knew pretty early on after my memory started going that something was wrong.”
While he said any head injury is scary, Cole’s last one was particularly so. Not only were the symptoms more severe, but they developed & worsened over time:
“The crazy thing was that after even a month, it was like that’s when real serious side effects started happening. Everything I said in my return in-ring promo that I did all of that was true, and more. There was a lot of stuff that was happening very late into the healing process, or what I thought was late, like a month-and-a-half, two months.”
As Cole discussed in the promo he mentions, symptoms including spontaneous crying, and the inability to be in a moving car without getting sick. That he was still dealing with these things into the fall led to him questioning his future.
“I was genuinely very nervous, and really afraid that I might be told I’m not allowed to wrestle again. For me, I have a tendency lots of times where, when I get bad news, I just assume the worst. I mentally prepare myself to go, ‘Okay, I’m gonna have to deal with this new chapter of my life.’
“Of course I had the hope and dream of being able to get back in there. But just with all the news I was getting, how I was feeling, I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t be in a car for more than 15 minutes, and it’s been two months. How am I ever gonna get into a wrestling ring again? ... I did have a genuine fear of, I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to do this. I’m 33 years old, and I’m not even close to wanting to be done with wrestling yet. So it was scary.”
Cole credits AEW for ensuring he had excellent medical care...
“It was like I barely had to think, it was like so many things were set up for me that, in the middle of all this, where I was seeing doctors like three times a week, they just wanted to make sure I was healthy and feeling okay. I was constantly being checked on.”
As a result, he’s almost ready to return to the ring. A test he failed earlier in the process — “I scored so poorly that there was a concern of whether or not I could even drive” — he’s now “passed it with flying colors”:
“Not only did I meet the average, but I exceeded the average. When I saw that and the reaction from the doctor I was working with, her excitement as well, I’m like, ‘Oh my god, we’re gonna do this. We’re gonna make this happen. I’m gonna be able to get back into the ring.’ So the one test I had to take for my brain, when I eventually passed that test, that was so, so incredible to get that news at that point because again, you’re scared about losing the thing that you love the most. So that was a point where I was like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna make this happen. This is gonna work.’”
There’s still no official announcement about Adam Cole’s return to wrestling, but during the video which aired on the Jan. 25 Dynamite it was strongly implied it could happen at Revolution on Mar. 5.