Adam Cole first entered the world of ROH in early 2009. He a young kid, in the dawn of his pro wrestling career and just happy to be living out his dreams. He was one of several faces including Michael Elgin, Kyle O'Reilly, Tommaso Ciampa, and the then-“Prodigy” Mike Bennett who began to work their way into the fold.
It was the pairing with Kyle O'Reilly under the moniker of Future Shock that allowed Cole to grow comfortable in his own skin. Together the pair went toe-to-toe with the greats of the tag team division including The American Wolves, The Kings of Wrestling, and they even earned one title opportunity against Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team.
Yet is was the death of that pairing that truly allowed Cole to blossom as a wrestler. Despite a stellar outing at “Rising Above 2012” in a World Title bout with Davey Richards, and several standout contests with Roderick Strong, Michael Elgin, and others, it was one particular battle that saw Adam Cole reborn in the eyes of the ROH faithful. That night, at Best in the World 2012 in a Hybrid Rules match, Cole and O'Reilly competed against one another in a bout that evolved into an absolute war after Cole's mouth was ripped open. The blood poured and in that moment, we all saw a fire in Cole that we had never seen before. In New York City, in the center of the Hammerstein Ballroom, Adam Cole became a star.
The TV Title soon followed when Cole defeated Strong in Baltimore. Eddie Edwards, O'Reilly, BJ Whitmer, Mike Mondo, they all fell to the champion during his 8 month reign. But it was “The Self-Proclaimed Icon” Matt Hardy who prompted the change in Cole. After Adam lost at Final Battle 2012 he began to get a little more aggressive and this was only accentuated with his loss of the TV Title to Matt Taven at the 11th Anniversary event. When Cole got his rematch it was in a Three Way with Hardy & Taven and the former champ actually resorted to a low blow to eliminate Hardy, the same way Hardy beat him in December! It was an eye for an eye mentality that served Cole well and that his fans certainly appreciated.
Prior to that 3-Way Cole, along with several other men, was awarded a future shot at the ROH World Title that was held by Kevin Steen at the time. It was the newly-appointed Match Maker Nigel McGuinness' response to claims that Steen had defeated every challenger ROH had to offer but, before Cole could get this shot at Kevin, the champion was defeated by Jay Briscoe at Supercard of Honor VII.
Cole would receive his World Title match at Border Wars 2013 but it proved to be a frustrating loss and it even looked as though Cole was going to attack Jay, from behind mind you, after the match. After Border Wars, Cole lost some momentum as he dropped matches to Whitmer and Strong. Most noticeable about these losses were Cole's reactions to them as, most notably at Honor In The Heart Of Texas, he refused to follow the Code of Honor and shake his opponent's hand after the match.
Those losses forced the former TV Champion to buckle down and put wins & losses at the forefront of his mind and brought about a noticeable change in his attitude. Nothing drastic but attaining wins in anyway possible, without breaking the rules, became Cole's paramount goal. This refocused mentality proved quite successful for Cole as he defeated Steen, Adam Page, Caprice Coleman, and Roderick Strong at Best in the World 2013. Something happened at BITW '13 though that seemed to indicate a shift in Cole's tactics. Strong would end up plummeting through a table and Adam would end up taking a count out victory with a smile on his face.
We would see that smile again once the World Title Tournament kicked off in Providence, RI. Cole took on Mark Briscoe in the Opening Round and, flashing those pearlies, super kicked Briscoe in the head. Mark, medically cleared but still showing some effects from his concussion at BITW '13, was then dropped on his head with a Jay Driller and beaten by Cole. Nothing illegal, but suffice to say that Cole's means for winning were not the most honorable.
The Quarter & Semi-Final bouts against Jay Lethal and Tommaso Ciampa were won in a much more honorable fashion but the Ciampa bout in particular demonstrated a hyper-aggressive streak in Adam. Even the finals against Michael Elgin were fought in a straight-up fashion. In fact, aside from Elgin accidentally knocking down Senior Official Todd Sinclair with Cole's leg, the bout was a completely clean contest.
That all changed when Cole's hand was raised in victory and Jay Briscoe handed over the World Title belt. It all came full circle as Jay turned his back and Cole super kicked him in the back of his head. Elgin stepped up to Jay's defense but was struck across the head with the title belt and the new World Champion stood tall over two fallen foes.
A new Adam Cole has been born...
What does this mean for Ring of Honor and our future? With two successful title defenses under his belt already, this weekend on “Ring of Honor Wrestling” TV the NEW World Champion will speak on his actions and on his future as our champion. You can see it all now courtesy of our Early Bird Specials!