Adam Cole’s free agency has been a hot topic in pro wrestling for the last month, with fans wondering if he would he re-sign with WWE or jump ship to AEW. That question was answered this past weekend when he debuted for AEW at All Out and joined The Elite.
Earlier this week, the rumor mill included a tidbit about a pitch in WWE to use Adam Cole as a manager on the main roster if he re-signed with the promotion. According to Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, that was indeed the plan:
“They were going to bring him up. The idea was to turn Keith Lee heel, have Adam Cole be his manager. Probably with a different name because of the last name Cole...kind of like a Lio Rush / Bobby Lashley thing, where you have this little guy who is a big talker, and he hides behind this big massive African American guy.”
“That was kind of the dynamic that they were looking for for him, more as a manager [than] a wrestler.”
Adam Cole has been the top star in NXT for years and is one of the most talented wrestlers in the world. But he’s not six feet tall, and WWE has a long track record of poorly booking NXT’s top stars on the main roster. This has always raised concerns about how WWE would use Adam Cole if he was ever called up to the main roster.
The fact that Cole never was called up to Raw or SmackDown despite being in the WWE system for years shows that Vince McMahon didn’t understand the value Cole brings to the table as a professional wrestler. Then there’s this apparent plan for Cole to be more of a manager than a wrestler on the main roster. None of Cole’s stellar work in NXT mattered one bit, because Vince McMahon’s predispositions about a wrestler’s looks are so hilariously antiquated. More than anything else, this plan for Cole is a reflection on just how out of touch Vince McMahon is with today’s pro wrestling. And it shows that Mick Foley was right on the money about WWE’s big problem.
Meltzer said he doesn’t know if Cole was actually aware of this plan for him to manage Keith Lee on the main roster. The bottom line is that a very bad creative idea like this is so predictable for NXT call-ups these days that Cole didn’t necessarily have to know about this one to easily see what the best decision was for his pro wrestling career - and that’s sign with AEW.