Adam Cole has become one of the top shining stars on the Ring of Honor roster.
His full evolution into the main event came during his reign as the company’s heavyweight champion.
During his run with the gold, he defended the belt against top tier talent from not only ROH but also New Japan Pro Wrestling. He took the responsibility very seriously, inside and outside the ring.
“Ring of Honor had never been in this position before where so many eyes have been on the product,” Cole said during an interview to promote his match challenging ROH champion Jay Briscoe 8 p.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 7 at ROH’s Final Battle pay-per-view.
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“We are continuing to grow with more television markets and are on pay-per-view. For me, it’s a constant learning experience as well because not only it’s new for the company, but new for me. I really enjoy helping get the word out because I’m really passionate about Ring of Honor and really believe in what our company represents and stands for.”
During his time having the championship over his shoulder, he made it a point to honor its legacy. The mindset of being the best also put pressure on him as a performer.
“When you look back at the former Ring of Honor world champions, whether it be Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Nigel McGuiness, the list goes on and on. These are the guys that built the lineage and importance of the Ring of Honor world championship,” he said.
“So being in that position makes it very difficult. At the same time, there is no better way for you to grow as a performer than to be thrown to the wolves and lions…It was a really cool experience for me. It’s something that I definitely cherish.”
He cites ROH wrestler turned commentator Steve Corino and Roderick Strong as those who have guided him along the way.
“Steve Corino was a guy I met before I got into Ring of Honor,” Cole said. “I got to work with Steve, and he kind of took me under his wing and really helped me. He gave me great advice and input. He was a big supporter of mine getting into Ring of Honor. Then when I got here, there was Roderick Strong. He has been in Ring of Honor since pretty much the beginning. He is one of the hardest workers in all of pro wrestling. The guy is always there and willing to give advice and critiques to the younger talent, as he did with me.”
ROH has been seen over the years as a breeding ground for some of the biggest names in the business. Seth Rollins, Cesaro, Kevin Steen, Sami Zayn, Bryan and even Punk generated their reputation in the company before making it in WWE. Cole feels this perception of ROH as a feeder system has changed with a weekly TV show under Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s channel affiliates across the country, PPV, increased online presence and expansion in merchandising.
“I think Ring of Honor is becoming a legitimate threat in the world of pro wrestling,” Cole said. “To say that Ring of Honor would be WWE is getting a little bit ahead of yourself. At the same time, I think Ring of Honor can definitely be a place where guys can make a living. The action figure line, the pay-per-views. It’s a really an exciting time to be in ROH. For me to be at the forefront of that is really cool. My total focus and drive right now is on Ring of Honor…
“At the same time, anyone who says they don’t want to have a WrestleMania moment someday is kidding themselves. WWE is obviously the pinnacle and the Mecca. So anyone who is passionate about pro wrestling eventually wants to test themselves in the biggest company in the world. That’s the WWE. Right now though I’m super focused and zeroed in on making Ring of Honor the best company it can be and me growing with the company.”
The proud ambassador for the promotion believes upgraded production of the television show is a number one priority in taking the next step.
“I don’t mean that on a knock on our production team,” Cole said. “It’s so funny because I recently went back and looked at the very first television show that we shot. The comparison then to now is such a massive improvement. So as long as we stay on that track and continue to improve our production and look more big league. We have a really great editing team. We have a really great production team. So as long as we move forward in that direction and make ourselves look as professional as possible, I think that is very important to our growth.
“To be completely honest with you, I don’t know if it’s even possible, but more time on television would be good. I think maybe going from one hour to two hours would be beneficial to the talent. It would give us more time to tell more stories, have longer matches and get a deeper wrestling roster. I think it will create more interest among wrestling fans. Don’t get me wrong, I think people enjoy the Ring of Honor product. This would get them to enjoy it even more with another hour.”
Cole is happy the organization, which started the same year as TNA Impact Wrestling in 2002, went with the business model of building gradually.
“Jim Cornette made such a great point when he was in Ring of Honor, and I do agree with it. He said this is a slow and steady journey because if we jump into things too fast, that’s when things get sticky. Ring of Honor is a smaller company, but it has grown tremendously these past few years…We’ve been playing safe, but obviously you have to take some risks to be successful in wrestling. However, taking a smarter approach instead of balls to the wall and throwing everything we got at this, I think it keeps the company around longer. I think they are moving in the right direction.”
It has been a whirlwind 2014 for the 25-year-old filled with a number of highlights. An unforgettable one for the grappler was getting to work in the Orient. He hopes to return to the “Land of the Rising Sun” in 2015.
“Going to Japan was a dream come true,” Cole said. “When I went over there I got to wrestle the legendary Jushin Thunder Liger in front of 20,000 people. That was so cool for me. I’ve never wrestled in front of a crowd that big in my life. New Japan Pro Wrestling is like the WWE of Japan. So the fact that Ring of Honor has built a good relationship with them is really exciting for not only our talent, but their talent. More importantly, it’s exciting for the fans. Ring of Honor fans are the most diehard, dedicated wrestling in the world. A lot of them follow New Japan Pro Wrestling. It has been good for both companies.”
These days Cole does not stand alone, but in The Kingdom. At the forefront of the group with Michael Bennett, Maria Kanellis and Matt Taven, he has found strength in numbers. His affiliation with the faction has added another dimension to his heated rivalry with Briscoe. Cole sees Final Battle as another chapter in their story, but not the end of the book.
“The feud has been going on for 18 months,” he said. “I’ve had some of the most physical battles in all of pro wrestling with Jay Briscoe. I can promise you it will not get any more physical than ‘Fight without Honor’ in New York City live on pay-per-view. This is the culmination of 18 months of fueled hatred between the two of us. Obviously, the most important title in my eyes will be on the line in the Ring of Honor world championship. Ring of Honor is ready to bring out the big guns because it’s live on pay-per-view. Final Battle is our WrestleMania. This is going to be one of those brutal matches for the ages. That’s for sure.”
- Adam Cole challenges Jay Briscoe for the Ring of Honor championship at ROH’s Final Battle pay-per-view 8 p.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 7 from New York City.
For the full card and details on how to watch ROH,
- Follow Adam Cole on Twitter @AdamColePro.
- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.
- PRO WRESTLING ON THE WEB