I would love to play poker with Tony Khan, because, despite he and his family’s experience in business, he can not hide his emotions. When Tony is excited about something, you can read it all over his face and his actions. Tony Khan loves to say the quiet part out loud during interviews, even if it is supposed to be a secret.
You can not be mad at him for it either. His love for professional wrestling is contagious, and he wears that love like a badge of honor. He loves that he is getting to usher in the next era of wrestling. He is a fan like the rest of us, so he knows what we want to see because he likely also wants it.
And on Sunday, at All Out, Tony Khan was all but screaming that he loved everything Adam Cole.
Sunday Night Tells
Adam Cole debuted with AEW in the main event of the biggest pay-per-view in company history. He came out to a theme song that had been commissioned over the last few weeks. The screen graphics were legitimately impressive and were likely expensive and time-consuming. His merch, which dropped the next morning, also looked great, even if it were a little basic and likely did not take that long.
In the post-show media scrum, Adam Cole took some questions from journalists. He talked about easy of a decision it was to come to AEW, but also reflected on his time in NXT. During this scrum, Tony, who was sitting right next to him, ended Cole’s media availability with a statement.
“The Wednesday Night War is over… [AEW] went, out of 75 episodes, we went 74 and 1. [Adam Cole] is the one, in 74 and 1. When there was a Wednesday Night War, [Cole] is the man that use to strike fear into my heart every Wednesday. This guy use to scare the s*** out of me, every Wednesday, and there’s nobody I’d rather have here and it means the world to me that [Adam] came.”Tony Khan, September 5th, 2021.
With this comment, Khan embraced (for the fifth time) the man he had been admiring like a love-struck teenager for about fifteen minutes and the media scrum moved on.
It is abundantly clear that Khan is over the moon to have Adam Cole on the payroll, and probably already has huge plans for him.
Immediate Plans for Adam Cole
Heel Adam Cole is the best Adam Cole, and his chemistry with the Bucks is undeniable. Having Cole come back and immediately align with the Elite is incredibly smart. Not only does it give the Elite a new mouthpiece (Cole is unbelievable on the stick) but it gives Cole the main event platform to introduce himself to the few fans who may not yet know who he is. From there, his work in the ring speaks for itself and he will be over with the whole fanbase by December.
There are also a ton of rivalries that Cole and the Elite can book over the next few months. Jungle Boy took Adam Cole’s shoe to the face on Sunday, and likely will want to even the score. The Elite has an escalating rivalry with Jungle Boy, Luchasauras, Christian Cage, and now Daniel Bryan, which should 100% be turned into a Blood And Guts match. Meanwhile, Hangman Adam Page should be returning from paternity leave in a few months, which will occupy the Elite with the Dark Order.
From there, AEW has tons of options for short-term booking if they need to fill time. A rivalry with Orange Cassidy would be a ton of fun, especially if it leads to a mixed tag match with Statlander and Baker getting involved. If the heavily rumored trios titles finally come around, Cole and the Bucks are the best tag trio possible in the company. If Cody does not retire as he hinted at last month, Adam Cole owes him a visit for how he took his spot four years ago.
Long Term Story
I went over a bit of this story last month, but I need to adjust the story a bit to account for the way Adam Cole debuted.
Kenny Omega’s rhetoric about being unbeatable is ramping up. He has beaten Christian Cage and Jungle Boy. Jon Moxley lost multiple times. Adam Page lost his chance in the ten-man tag match. Andrade was pinned in Mexico.
He pointed out that information at the end of All Out. “The only people who would have a chance to beat me, ever, are either not here, they’re already retired, or they are already dead” Sure, Bryan Danielson made his debut soon after Adam Cole did, but you have to earn a title shot in AEW, and it is going to take him a few months to do that.
Ibushi, Okada, and Ospreay are not in AEW. The wrestling greats are retired or dead.
Unfortunately, for Omega, someone just came back from the grave.
Adam Cole Lives
Adam Cole canonically died in Being the Elite, and thus AEW, lore. He was poisoned and written off the Young Bucks Youtube channel back in 2017. This was to cover for Cole signing with WWE which would force him to leave the show.
Cole’s WWE contract surprisingly expired this year, and after a short gentleman’s agreement of an extension, Adam Cole was free to leave the fed. He was free to come to AEW.
He was free to come home.
When Kenny Omega finishes up his story with Bryan Danielson and the story that Will Ospreay keeps teasing, Adam Cole should begin his route to becoming champion. Because if anyone can beat him, it is the man who died and came back to tell the story.
The Fate of The Elite
It is interesting that if you split the Elite down the middle, you come out with even teams. Kenny Omega would pull The Good Brothers and Michael Nakazawa. The remaining members would be Adam Cole, The Young Bucks, and Brandon Cutler. Even cut out Nak and Cutler, and there is a trios tag match in there that many would pay money to see happen.
The divide is an extremely easy story to tell. The Bucks are Adam Cole’s best friends while Don Callis had to manipulate them into joining Kenny. Cole has a score to settle with Omega, who kicked him out of the Bullet Club and turned his friends against him. The Elite can not last forever with its current size and structure, and Adam Cole should deal the finishing blow.
The implosion of the Elite could be paid off in a Blood and Guts match, or a Stadium Stampede, but the real money is in the fate of the gold that the Elite has protected. The AEW World championship sits comfortably around the waist of Kenny Omega and Cole should want it for himself.
Adam Cole should have picked up good wins over several opponents to this point and can make a legitimate claim at a title shot. You could maybe even use the trios match as a way to make Cole earn the shot one last time.
Omega and Cole are masters of storytelling in between the ropes, so I do not need to break this down too far. Whatever I book, they will do better, guaranteed.
The match could have a stipulation put on it, like a Steel Cage or possibly even a KO requirement, but a basic, no flair, one vs. one match does the trick just as good. Let Omega and Cole kick the crap out of each other. Omega should keep slowing the match down, as the far better technical wrestler would. Cole needs to take out Omega’s legs and set up a Shining Wizard.
Essentially this match sets up Omega as the heel and Cole as the de facto face, but both men should be ruthless in the match. Omega should deliver V-Triggers with a little something extra behind them. Cole’s superkicks should look stiff.
Both parts of the Elite should come out, but they should brawl and take each other out. Brandon Cutler should get involved with Don Callis to try and take him out of the picture. Michael Nakazawa should attempt to help Omega by sliding him the title, but this should help Cole. Cole should kick Omega’s legs out, forcing Omega to his knees, and hit him with a Last Shot, blasting the title into his face.
It is worth noting that Cole changes his finisher a ton, and he may not use the Last Shot as a finisher in AEW.
The crowd is going to go nuts for Adam Cole pinning Omega, and the cleaner, the better. It will mark a major turning point in AEW and hopefully one that helps propel the company into the future.
Adam Cole is a future AEW World Champion, the question is always just going to be “When?”
If he wins it off of Omega, that can give Adam Page more reason to keep pushing and trying to become champion. It also frees Omega to take some time off and heal, since he is dealing with some serious nagging injuries. Moxley and Jungle Boy can try and earn title shots again, which will also liven up the scene.
Cole can carry the company as the top champion, easily. His presence is huge, and he is extremely popular, even among the casual audience. He is a name that AEW can draw from for another decade as well.