Adam Cole is reportedly done with WWE per Mike Johnson of PWInsider (h/t Wrestling Inc). The report indicated this is not a case of Cole signing a new deal for the main roster and being hidden until his debut. Cole, who became a free agent this year in a plot twist that reportedly caught WWE by surprise, met with Vince McMahon earlier this month at a SmackDown taping as Cole staying with WWE was considered a high priority. Cole’s current WWE deal—a short-term extension—reportedly expires this week per Fightful Select (h/t Wrestling Inc).
Adam Cole was a top star on NXT dating back to 2017, where he ruled over the brand as a former NXT champion alongside The Undisputed Era with run-in buddies Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong. With WWE NXT taking a new direction ahead of today’s rebrand, Bobby Fish was released earlier this month while Kyle O’Reilly wrestled Cole in a two-out-of-three falls match at NXT TakeOver 36.
This would prove to be his final match in NXT.
With news of Adam Cole exiting WWE, AEW is the clear favorite to land his services. Not only has AEW embraced shorter wrestlers, like Adam Cole, who made their name on the independent circuit, but also just about every top star currently in AEW is white.
Names like Cody Rhodes, Jungle Boy, Hangman Adam Page, MJF, Darby Allin, Kenny Omega, Malakai Black, Orange Cassidy, The Young Bucks, Jon Moxley, Sting, Britt Baker, Chris Jericho and the recently signed CM Punk have helped AEW foster a legitimate buzz in the wrestling world. Former WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan is reportedly on his way to the promotion, and he figures to be immediately slotted in a similar top star role.
AEW clearly has a type in terms of what a top star looks like in its early years, and white wrestlers dominating the main event picture comes as somewhat of a surprise given AEW’s progressive mission statement.
With 16 black wrestlers on its roster, including Dante Martin, (unsanctioned) FTW champion Ricky Starks and Jade Cargill—who just made her Rampage debut against Kiera Hogan—the promotion has promising group of black talent whenever it’s ready to promote them at that level in a scripted sport.
“Give it time.”
Adam Cole heading to AEW would be a wise career choice given recent reports of WWE’s emphasis on big guys under 30. WWE NXT also offers far more diversity at the top of its roster with names like Odyssey Jones and Hit Row making inroads as future top stars of a retooling brand.
At the end of the day, whether it was on NXT or the main roster, Adam Cole was always going to have an uphill climb becoming a major star while under a WWE contract.
Adam Cole jumping ship to AEW would also mean he’d be working in the same promotion with longtime girlfriend Britt Baker. Baker is currently a top star in AEW who holds the AEW Women’s World Championship, and she recently tweeted in support of her free agent boyfriend during NXT TakeOver 36 when Cole used her Lockjaw finisher on Kyle O’Reilly.