Adam Cole is coming off a historic NXT Title reign of 396 days and now he'll face the biggest challenge of his NXT career; a match against Pat McAfee.
McAfee is a former NFL punter turned radio show host with no WWE in-ring experience in wrestling. The rivalry between Cole and McAfee goes back to 2018 when McAfee interfered against Cole at an NXT live event. The two have traded shots on WWE and social media platforms ever since.
"This one is so different. It’s unlike anything I’ve dealt with in my entire career, strictly because so much of it is based on personal animosity. I’ve never liked Pat or gotten along with Pat. He’s never liked me, gotten along with me and obviously this went a lot further than even me or him possibly imagined. We’re at a phase now where I get to kick the crap out of him at TakeOver, which is wild considering this is a world he does not come from. I’ve said this before publicly as well, it’s a world he’s not welcome in. So it’s a lot different," Cole told the New York Post.
Cole went on to say, "Here’s the best way I could possibly put it. I would never — again as Adam Cole, the longest-reigning NXT champion of all time — I would never walk into an NFL locker room and act like I own the place. I would never act like I’m buddy-buddy with everybody, like I belong there, like this is my house and I’m hanging out with everybody. He has always, from day one, like put on this facade that he belongs there and he’s just as cool as everybody is there, that he’s just as welcome, that he deserves the same respect that all the other guys in the locker room who have been wrestling for 8, 10, 12, 15 years. He’s always been someone that’s just said whatever’s on his mind regardless of who it offends, who it doesn’t offend. It doesn’t matter. Pat McAfee only cares about Pat McAfee. And it is so frustrating that for so long he’s gotten away with it. I think this little issue that we’ve had has kind of sparked a lot of interest in who he is as a man and what he stands for. People are learning now, day by day, the kind of person he is. I’ve just really known that for a really, really long time."
Cole has been a heel for his entire NXT run, aligned with Undisputed Era and often using the numbers game to his advantage. The feud with McAfee has been a shift for Cole as McAfee, the brash outsider, isn't exactly the most likeable person.
When asked if he believes he's the babyface in the feud, Cole said, "I don’t see how anyone can see me as the bad guy in this situation. He’s the guy that doesn’t belong. He’s the guy who shouldn’t be here. He’s the guy who disrespected me. So I’ve been looked at as a bad guy for the majority of my career, but again this one — it’s a very hard argument to make."
Last Wednesday's NXT ended with Cole being laid out cold by McAfee, who delivered a punt kick as Cole lay prone on the announce table.
Fightful will have live coverage of Wednesday's NXT beginning at 8 p.m. ET.