It’s looking as though Adam Cole has graduated from ROH’s mid-card, and not before time. He lost the company’s television title in a spirited encounter at the 11th Anniversary Show to newcomer Matt Taven, which we should probably take as a symbolic graduation to the upper decks. Of course it’s equally possible Cole was relieved of the belt in case he’s heading to WWE’s NXT developmental league. Time will tell but I hope that’s not the case. He has been one of the highlights of ROH over the last rocky year, even winning our 2012 Breakout Star of the Year.
Sticking with Ring of Honor would be better for Cole in the long run. At twenty-three he’s still very young and sticking with a promotion that allows him to experiment with his approach to constructing a match against a wide variety of opponents and styles will help him become a better-rounded wrestler. Working for a company that allows him to accept bookings elsewhere is helpful in that regard too.
Assuming Cole does stick around he’d be almost guaranteed to become a mainstay in the promotion’s main event picture. Even now with the influx of new signings Cole is being buoyed up the card, his tenure and recent TV title reign (which featured plenty of great matches) helping to portray him as a name to beat for new guys in the company.
Cole will get a rematch for the TV championship at Supercard of Honor VII alongside Matt Hardy. He will also challenge for the world championship at Border Wars. That match is likely to see him facing Steen. If so it will be a test for Cole. Not in the kayfabe sense of ‘Mr Wrestling’ being a tough opponent but in terms of the champion being a popular wrestler in his home country. If a significant portion of the crowd backs Cole and-or gets behind his challenge it will be a victory for him, as will coping with a hostile audience.
I don’t expect Cole to become the ROH champion on May 4th. Nor do I expect him to go into that match as the television champion. Assuming I’m right that will mean back-to-back pay-per-view losses for him. That would not be disastrous but it would mean he’ll need a win by Best in the World if he’s to be seen as a man on the rise. And a man on the rise is what ROH needs Cole to be perceived as. Right now he’s on the cusp of stardom, in a position comparable to the one Davey Richards was in throughout the latter half of 2010.
Of course I could be wrong. We could be just weeks away from Adam Cole becoming the ROH World Champion. Whether he beats Steen at Border Wars, at a later date, or defeats someone else entirely the world crown is not beyond Adam Cole’s reach. He’s a talented guy who’s won over ROH’s fanbase with his slick wrestling skills and by weathering the nonsense of Jim Cornette. If Cole sticks around a top spot will be his for the taking.