Adam Cole Details His Recovery From Two Head Injuries, Says It Was The Scariest Part Of His Career

Adam Cole opens up about his injuries and his recovery.

Cole went down with an injury at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door on June 26, 2022. At the show, Cole competed in a four-way match against Kazuchika Okada, Hangman Page, and IWGP World Heavyweight Champon. At the time, Cole was working through an injury. After Forbidden Door, AEW President Tony Khan then confirmed that Cole was hurt, as he reportedly suffered a severe concussion. Cole made a one-off appearance on the August 3 episode of AEW Dynamite, where he and reDRagon (Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish) turned on The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson). After he missed several months, Cole returned on the January 11 episode of AEW Dynamite and made it clear that, after overcoming his injuries, he's determined to return to the ring.

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Speaking with Garrett Gonzales and Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio, Cole commented on his return and stated that he feels great. He noted that being back on the road and spending time with the AEW crew has been good for him mentally. Cole also stated that he has never felt better physically, though he admitted that he still as a little ways to go.

“I feel great. Again, the idea of just being able to be back on the road in some capacity, and kind of just be around AEW has been great for me mentally. But as far as physically, it’s the best I’ve ever felt. I still have a little ways to go until I get to a point where I think I’m ready to rock and roll as far as going in the ring and having a 30-or-45-minute match. But as far as far as how I’m feeling, again, compared to even two-and-a-half, three months ago, I feel fantastic. I feel really, really good. Then like I said, just mentally, to be able to be back at AEW, around the fans, around the crew, has been huge for me. So I feel good. I feel really good," Cole said.

When asked, Cole agreed that his lengthy absence was beneficial for his body. He noted that the six months he had to spend away from the ring was the longest amount of time he hasn't been able to work during his wrestling career. Cole stated that he tried to focus on the positive aspects of the situation, and he could see the ways that it was helpful for his health.

"I was thinking about that a lot because I did have a fair amount of time, and it’s been like six months since I had a match. I was going back and thinking about my career, and over the 15-year career that I’ve had, I think the longest amount of time I was ever away from the road in may capacity was like a month, a month-and-a-half. There was a point where I injured my shoulder very early on, and I had to get surgery. But I was still, like a month later, back on the road and still doing stuff and being around wrestling. So being actually away for that amount of time, I kept trying to focus on all the positives, and one of the things I kept telling myself was, okay, this has gotta be great for my body, to give myself a second to kind of reboot and heal. I did. I noticed certain things like I was sleeping better, I felt like as I was training at the gym and stuff, when I got called cleared to get back into the gym, I felt better. So yeah, I think it was definitely a plus in that sense, of getting the chance to fully recover and make sure that I have years and years of my pro wrestling career left," he said.

Cole confirmed that he first got hurt in his match against Samoa Joe in the finals of the Owen Hart Tournament at AEW Double or Nothing 2022 before he suffered another injury at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door. He detailed how the scariest part of the experience was the way the timeline for his recovery was so uncertain, as he didn't have major side effects for the first month or so. Cole stated that, at one point, he couldn't be in a car for more than 15 minutes, and he had to prepare for the possibility that he might never be able to wrestle again. He also thanked AEW for all of their support throughout his recovery.

“I think that was definitely the scariest process, aside from the fact that, again, any time you get a head injury, it’s always a little bit scary. But for me, the scariest part was after like a month had gone by. The first three weeks to a month, you’re like, ‘Okay, I’m recovering, I’m just healing. I’m gonna be fine. I’m not gonna have any side effects. Everything will be great.’ The crazy thing was that after even a month, it was like that’s when real serious side effects started happening. Literally, everything I said in my return in-ring promo that I did, all of that was true, and more. There was a lot of stuff that was happening very late into the healing process, or what I thought was late, like a month-and-a-half, two months. But I was genuinely very, very nervous, and really afraid that I might be told I’m not allowed to wrestle again. For me, I have a tendency lots of times where, when I get bad news, I just assume the worst. I mentally prepare myself to go, ‘Okay, I’m gonna have to deal with this new chapter of my life.’ Of course I had the hope and dream of being able to get back in there. But just with all the news I was getting, how I was feeling, I’m like, oh my god, I can’t be in a car for more than 15 minutes, and it’s been two months. How am I ever gonna get into a wrestling ring again? But fortunately, I’ve said this before too, but the doctors that I had around me, AEW by the way was fantastic through this entire process. It was like I barely had to think, it was like so many things were set up for me that, in the middle of all this, where I was seeing doctors like three times a week, they just wanted to make sure I was healthy and feeling okay. I was constantly being checked on. So in that sense it was wonderful, but again, I did have a genuine fear of, I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to do this. I’m 33 years old, and I’m not even close to wanting to be done with wrestling yet. So it was scary," Cole said.

When asked to recall what happened when the injuries occurred at AEW Double or Nothing 2022 and AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door, Cole explained that he had already been working banged up, but he started to norice that his body wasn't properly listening to him. He then noted that he found out he suffered a partial tear in his labrum and a strained rotator cuff after he was simply warming up. Cole stated that there wasn't a clear moment in the match against Samoa Joe where he suffered the head injury, but he felt like something was wrong after the match.

“In a lot of ways, I’ll go back even earlier, where I kind of felt like, even day to day, I felt pretty banged up in general. I was doing okay, and I wrestled sore, and I worked for months being banged up. A lot of wrestlers have, obviously. That’s just part of what we do. But I kind of noticed that certain things weren’t adding up correctly. For example, when I re-injured my shoulder, I had just got done with the Hangman Page matchup at the pay-per-view, and I’m warming up, getting ready for another match, and I just felt this sharp pain in my shoulder, and I didn’t understand what it was. I’m just warming up. This was before I even got out there, and then I went and got it checked out, and there was a partial tear in my labrum, and a strained rotator cuff, just from warming up. I’m like, ‘What is going on?’ A few weeks after that is the Owen Hart final with Samoa Joe, and again, nothing particularly caught me or got me. There was no moment where I was like, ‘Oh, this is what did it for me.’ All of a sudden, I just noticed that my body was not moving correctly with what my brain was telling it to do. I remember everything, but I remember being so confused, like my legs didn’t feel like they were working correctly, I just felt like I was walking weird, my balance was off. Then after that match, again, immediately, the doctors thought something was up. I got tested, they said that I had a head injury there. So again, normally, after that, I thought everything was okay," Cole said.

He then described how he thought everything was okay ahead of the Forbidden Door pay-per-view, as he passed every test. Cole looked back on the show and noted that he felt strange after he had taken a fairly normal bump, and a few seconds later, he lost his memory of what he was supposed to do in the match. Cole emphasized that the memory aspect of the situation scared him, and he knew something was wrong. He stated that, overall, the whole process was the scariest part of his career.

"I had taken a few weeks off, getting ready for Forbidden Door. I had passed every single test I had to take. So I thought, ‘Oh, I’m good to go.’ Then again, at the Forbidden Door matchup, the strangest thing about is, I remember feeling really good. I had taken a bump where I felt a little bit weird, but it wasn’t anybody’s fault. It was a normal bump. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, okay. That felt a little strange.’ About 30 seconds go by, and then it’s like I have no recollection or memory of what I’m supposed to do, what happened in the match. The memory stuff is the really, really scary part to me, when you’re in the middle of a ring and there’s thousands of people around you, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. That was really scary. So I knew pretty early on after my memory started going that something was wrong. Once again, got to the back and got checked out. That one was really scary because they were so close to each other. It wasn’t just scary because of how close they were to each other. But what really scared me a lot, and this was part of where the concern of if I’m gonna be able to wrestle again came from, is I didn’t anything insane. It wasn’t this dramatic move or this insanely dangerous move that I had taken. It was a standard pro wrestling match, where now I’m at a point where I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing, where I am, or what’s going on. That really created a lot of fear in me, and I think a lot of fear in a lot of the doctors as well. So that’s kind of what happened. It felt like this domino effect of first it was the shoulder, then it was the head, then it was okay, let’s rest three or four weeks, and then it was the head again. It was definitely the scariest part of my career, I think, in the 15 years I’ve been doing this," he said.

Cole was then asked to describe when he felt like he turned the corner in his recovery, and how he emotionally felt throughout the process. He detailed how he would randomly start crying, and he didn't know why he was so emotional. Cole emphasized that he loves wrestling more than anything, and the thought of possibly having to give it up at this stage in his career was devastating. He also recalled how he initially failed one test for his brain, but when he eventually passed it, he took that as a sign that he would eventually be able to return to the ring.

“As far as emotionally, what I was going through, obviously I think the head injury played a part in how I was feeling, especially early on, the first few months. I know I talked with Britt [Baker] about this before, but there would be times where, for no reason, I would just start crying. She would ask me what’s wrong or what’s happened, and I genuinely would look at her, and I meant it, and I would say, ‘I don’t know. I have no idea why I’m so emotional.’ Aside from the head injury side effects, again, my entire life has been devoted to pro wrestling. When I was nine years old, that’s all I ever wanted to do, and getting to have the career that I’ve had is something that I’ll cherish forever. I love pro wrestling more than anything in the world, and the idea of imagining that that could be over at such a young age or at such an important part of my career, was devastating to me. But then I would go back and forth and say, ‘No, I have a great team of doctors around me. I am working as hard as I possibly can every single day to make sure that I get back. I’m gonna do it. This is just another speed bump, and I’m gonna get through it.’ Early on, there were a lot of ups and downs in that sense. But for me, there were a couple of months, but the big one is, and I won’t go into crazy detail, but long story short, there was a test I had to take two months after that second head injury, and that test, I scored so poorly that there was a concern of whether or not I could even drive. That was two months after the second head injury, so that was absolutely devastating. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god, this is real. This could potentially be something that I deal with forever, or potentially this could be something where I’m not gonna be able to get in the ring again. But after a few, it was probably two, two-and—half months after that, I took the test again, and I passed it with flying colors. Not only did I meet the average, but I exceeded the average. When I saw that and the reaction from the doctor I was working with, her excitement as well, I’m like, ‘Oh my god, we’re gonna do this. We’re gonna make this happen. I’m gonna be able to get back into the ring.’ So the one test I had to take for my brain, when I eventually passed that test, that was so, so incredible to get that news at that point because again, you’re scared about losing the thing that you love the most. So that was a point where I was like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna make this happen. This is gonna work,'" Cole said.

AEW President Tony Khan recently described how the company has put Cole's health first throughout his recovery. Check out his comments here.

In another interview, Khan commented on Cole's looming return to the ring. Click here to see what he had to say.

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