For four years, Adam Cole was the face of NXT, making an immediate impact when he, alongside Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish, attacked NXT Champion Drew McIntyre at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III.
Cole helped lead an era of NXT that would establish the brand as a legitimate third brand in WWE with TakeOver events often topping WWE pay-per-views in terms of fan reception.
Speaking on the #DORK podcast, Cole discussed how fans helped the growth of NXT and how AEW is experiencing a similar boost.
"That roster was stacked," he said. "You had a lot of really talented dudes who were trying to make an impression and trying to show the world on the biggest stage they ever had how good they were. That created a really exciting atmosphere. The live audience that was there, I've said this before and I think it's a big reason why AEW is so successful, the people who buy a ticket to that show and show up, they want the show to be good. They go there with the intention of 'this show is going to rule. I can't wait to watch these matches.' It creates this exciting atmosphere that not only creates this magic within the audience, but it does create a different feeling with the wrestlers as well. That's how the magic happens in a lot of ways. At the end of the day, in a lot of ways, the fans looked at NXT as, not the little engine that could, but this new brand that was starting that they felt responsible for its growth, which I think is so important. The fact that the roster kept growing and they kept signing these Independent stars, they felt responsible for this massive growth of NXT becoming this legit third brand. AEW has that same kind of passion in a the sense of people feel they are responsible for AEW's growth these past two years, and they are. The fact that fans are so amped and so jacked up and ready to enjoy these matches, makes it so special. Fans are vital."
Cole competed in a handful of memorable NXT TakeOver matches, including WarGames and his series with Johnny Gargano.
When asked if it was stressful trying to top previous bouts, specifically the bouts with Gargano, Cole replied, "It's so stressful, specifically with a guy like Johnny because me and Johnny Gargano are really close. I just talked to him today. He's a great friend of mine. We only wrestled one time prior to our first one in Brooklyn and it was in 2010 in EVOLVE. Eight or nine years had gone by and we had been saying, 'it'd be really cool if we ever wrestled in a feature match on NXT.' We had the first one, people really enjoyed it and there were a lot of eyes on it because it was WrestleMania weekend. Going into the second one, incredibly stressful going, 'how in the world are we going to top this one?' The nice thing that happens is, when you have matches like that, there are certain story arcs that you create without even realizing it. Putting it together wasn't as difficult as you think. It also helps that I'm in there with a guy like Johnny, who is genius when it comes to that stuff."
Gargano remains a vital part of NXT and seems to have his eyes once again on the NXT Championship.
As for Cole, he is set to face John Silver on Friday's AEW Rampage. Fightful will have live coverage of AEW Rampage beginning at 10 p.m. ET on Friday.
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