New eyes were on Adam Cole last Friday and this Monday when he put his NXT Championship on the line in the main events of WWE Smackdown, then Raw, as part of the build to Survivor Series. On Corey Graves’ podcast, Cole discussed the matches, which were both, “incredibly last-minute,” and said part of why they were so cool to him was because they were against guys he had just missed wrestling in Ring of Honor.
Cole said Daniel Bryan, his Smackdown opponent, was one of the first wrestlers he noticed when he started watching wrestling that wasn’t WWE, (transcript from 411Mania):
I remember seeing him in Ring of Honor and being blown away by this guy. I just couldn’t stop watching his matches, I was such a big fan of his. Right around the time I started working for Ring of Honor, Bryan was on his way out. So I met him a few times, got to watch him live a few times… On the independents, Bryan was a guy I had never wrestled. Like, in my twelve years of wrestling, I had never got the chance to step in the ring with him.
So it was crazy and awesome that the first time had to be absolute last-minute, live on Friday Night Smackdown. But yeah, that was awesome, and he was everything I had hoped he would be. The guy’s just one of the absolute best I’ve ever stepped into the ring with, he’s as good as everybody says he is, and it was a major pleasure for me.
Cole said that though the match with Seth Rollins on Raw wasn’t set up “quite as last-minute” as the one with Bryan on Smackdown (this one with about twenty-hour hours notice), it was a similar situation.
Seth was a guy, very similar to Bryan. It was like, when I had first started working for Ring of Honor without any sort of contract, that was when Bryan had left. And then I remembered the day that I signed my first-ever wrestling contract for Ring of Honor was the day that Seth had his farewell match. And he was actually wrestling Roderick Strong, ironically enough. [Rollins is] another guy that I’d never gotten the chance to wrestle before, and one of those guys that was very high on my list of guys I wanted to step into the ring with.
So between Bryan on Friday and then Seth on Monday, two of in my opinion, and many people’s opinions, the absolute best at what we do. To be able to tangle with them for the first time was really cool. I’d like to think it won’t be the last time.