Interview: Ring of Honor’s Adam Cole
Two years after losing the ROH World Championship, the fiery obsession to regain the title has consumed Adam Cole. The man who stands in the way of Cole attaining that goal is none other than Jay Lethal, who has held the championship for over a year.
Cole’s opportunity was realized at the Global Wars PPV in May when he became the newest member of Bullet Club and inserted himself into Lethal’s title match, destroying the champion and everyone in sight.
Now a few days away from his title match with Lethal in Las Vegas, Cole seems cool, calm and collected while showcasing the man behind the persona, bay-bay.
Death Before Dishonor XIV
CraveOnline: What are your thoughts on finally facing Jay Lethal for the ROH Championship at Death Before Dishonor?
Adam Cole: To me, this has been one of the more anticipated matches that Ring of Honor has had in the past few years. A lot of people have been saying since I’ve been back that Adam Cole and Jay Lethal need to go one-on-one for the title and that’s finally going to happen in Las Vegas on Friday. The fans can expect two of the world’s best wrestlers going toe-to-toe on PPV and fighting over the most important prize in wrestling.
CraveOnline: You already had a 275-day ROH Championship title reign and you have discussed your obsession with getting the title back. What drives that obsession?
Adam Cole: Oh, man. There are so many factors to this. First of all, I think the lineage and the history of the ROH World Championship speaks for itself with guys like Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Samoa Joe and Nigel McGuinness, the list goes on and on.
The guys who have held that championship have made that championship so special. Secondly, the championship matches have happened too. Generally speaking, ROH championship matches are hard fought and grueling and the fans are really into it. The ROH Championship means a lot to me for those reasons.
CraveOnline: One of the cool things about this feud is you shaving Jay Lethal’s head. How did that feel to shave another man’s head and do you have any remorse?
Adam Cole: This is the second time I’ve did that because I did it to Michael Elgin a couple of years earlier [laughs]. It’s funny because I’ve become the guy who shaves people’s heads. There is always a small part of me that kind of feels bad but there’s that other part of me that knows this is going to make great television and give me the desired reaction from the audience. Once the clippers come out and the scissors come out, it makes it all worth it. You can call me Adam “The Barber” Cole at this point [laughs].
CraveOnline: After Global Wars earlier this year, you came out as the leader of Bullet Club, which is one of pro wrestling’s most famous stables. How does it differ with you at the helm compared to previous leaders?
Adam Cole: I think that’s the coolest thing about the Bullet Club. The Bullet Club is no doubt the most influential pro wrestling faction in years and I think the reason for that is the Bullet Club has always been able to evolve with Prince Devitt (Finn Balor) in charge or A.J. Styles was in charge and now I get my chance to run the show. All of us are similar but we’re also very much different. The cool thing is, we don’t overthink it.
The Bullet Club from the beginning was just a group of talented guys who were having fun together and tried to make pro wrestling as exciting as it can be. In order to do that, you can’t think too much about what you need to do. You kind of need to let stuff like this happen. We’re still very new and my role in the group has opened up doors for me to go to New Japan Pro Wrestling. All I can promise is, regardless of what goes down this year, it will be cool exciting TV.
Cody Rhodes’ List
CraveOnline: Cody Rhodes put out a list of desired opponents. You’re at the very top of that list. What are your thoughts on that?
Adam Cole: It’s extremely flattering. Cody [Rhodes] is a really cool guy. I’ve said this before but I think Cody leaving to make his own legacy and do his own thing is extremely commendable. To want to work that ROH schedule, that NJPW schedule, the PGW schedule is really cool and I have no doubt in mind that he is going to reinvent himself and put on some really kickass matches.
So yeah, it was extremely flattering and really cool that my name was up in there at the top and I can assure you that the match will happen.
CraveOnline: What is your schedule like? Is it chaotic?
Adam Cole: The cool thing about my schedule now that I’m a ROH exclusive guy is as busy as we can be, generally there are periods of time where I get a lot of time to rest and I’m not taking bumps and I’m not having matches so that part is great. I’m 27-years old so I can fly all over the place and do whatever but I have had surgeries and concussions so getting to rest has been very beneficial.
There are some times I’m really busy and other times I’m not but I prefer to be really busy because I generally don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not wrestling or on the road. ROH has got me busier and with NJPW coming up, I’m sure things will get pretty crazy.
CraveOnline: Did you struggle trying to make it into this business?
Adam Cole: Oh yeah. I started training when I was a senior in high school. I trained at the Combat Zone Wrestling Academy in South Philadelphia. I would drive down Monday through Wednesday, get there at 6 p.m. and leave at 1 a.m. and wouldn’t get home until 3 a.m. and start school at 7 in the morning and did that throughout my senior year. They beat the crap out of us. That was a “pay your dues” kind of school.
I used to drive 16 hours for a five-minute pre-show match and not get paid anything and drive 16 hours back. I was working up until around 2011 and that’s when I was able to make enough money to support myself financially with wrestling. It makes you appreciate it that much more when you do grind in the beginning.
Adam Cole is a gamer?
CraveOnline: What do you do to kill time if your schedule allows it?
Adam Cole: It’s a super quirky thing to say but I’ve recently got into video games. Clutch [Chairz] sent me this sweet gaming chair. To me, it’s perfect because when I come home from the road and I’m banged up and I train all week and my body is just ready to take a break. So for me, video games are so fun. I’m playing “Borderlands 2” to death on Xbox One. I’m really into that and movies and pretty much anything where I can sit on my butt.
Friends in the business
CraveOnline: I know you’re close with former ROH legend and now WWE star Kevin Owens [Kevin Steen]. What does it mean for you to see his success and your success continuing to expand?
Adam Cole: Me, Kevin Owens and The Young Bucks are all very, very tight so to see all of our successes in one way or another, continuing to move up the ladder is really cool and we have a group chat where we talk every day so we’re all very close.
CraveOnline: Favorite Kevin Owens story?
Adam Cole: My personal favorite Kevin Owens story is the first time I won the ROH World Championship and I turned heel when I was no longer a babyface. One of the big changes was my music and ROH had some music picked out for me. Kevin came up to me and said ‘Hey, what music are you coming out to?’ I told him I heard it and it was fine. He said ‘No, I want to hear it.’ So he had it played over the loudspeaker and he hated it. He hated it. He said ‘You cannot come out to this. This isn’t you or anything you would come out to’ and I told him ‘Kevin, its already been picked.’
He stormed away and I looked out trying to see where he went and he was out on the laptop with the music, going through all of the songs and listening to the songs. The song I currently come out to now is the song that Kevin Owens picked and he made me walk out to it and three different songs in front of the entire locker room and the one he liked the best is my current theme “Something for you.” So Kevin Owens gets all of the credit for my theme.
Being the bad guy
CraveOnline: What do you enjoy most about being a heel?
Adam Cole: The freedom to express your art. It’s so difficult to get a large group of people to like you and generally speaking, you have to fit within a certain barrier to get that audience to like you. When you’re a bad guy, there are a million things you could do, say, making faces or whatever to get people to hate you. Creatively when cutting a promo, I feel as a bad guy it’s so much easier and more fun and more creative to be the villain. It’s just really cool getting to go out there for 20-minutes and be someone I’m not [laughs] and just act.
As a kid, James Bond villains always fascinated me as well as different TV show villains and guys that were really cocky and arrogant that people couldn’t stand. Those guys because of the way they spoke and presented themselves always captivated me. It looked fun. I think that’s why I love playing a bad guy so much.
CraveOnline: What helps you get in the “zone” before a match?
Adam Cole: The biggest thing for me, man, is that I started doing yoga a couple of years back and that has really helped me before matches. It was right around the time I got my shoulder surgery and I was like ‘I have to start stretching more’ but I hate stretching so I started doing yoga. Not only does that help you with loosening your body up but it helps you focus on your breathing as a way that you’re in such control of your inhaling and exhaling and that really helps me get in my zone. I’m not a person who likes to take pre-workout before I wrestler or chug an energy drink and jump all around. I’m a guy who likes to relax because I know I’m going to be so amped up to perform when I’m out there.
“I want you to be able to tell how much I love it”
CraveOnline: How do you want to be seen as a performer?
Adam Cole: The biggest thing is when you watch me perform or watch me wrestle; I want you to be able to tell how much I love it. I can’t put into words how important pro wrestling is to me. It got me through the stuff I was going through in my childhood and it’s why I wake up and go to bed a happy person every day. I love it just as much as the fans do. As long as you can tell through my performance as a good guy, bad guy, opening match or main event or anywhere in the world, as long as you can tell that I really love what I do and I’m putting 100 percent into my matches then I feel like I’m doing my job.
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline, a hockey fanatic, a pro wrestling connoisseur and an expert on all things Patrick Swayze. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaCaudill85 or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.
Photos by Ricky Havlik
DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR XIV NATIONAL TV TAPING
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