Adam Cole Interview – When was he told about Bullet Club addition?, big 2016 role in New Japan, how Global Wars ended with Bullet Club invading Lethal-Cabana, ROH’s shift in booking philosophy

By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


Former ROH World champion and new Bullet Club member Adam Cole says he was told about being added to the group about a month before Ring of Honor’s “Global Wars” PPV.

“I found out about a month, month and a half before this whole thing was set up and to say the least I was pretty stoked. On top of it really changing my position I think in ROH because of the Bullet Club’s impact,” Cole told Brian Fritz of Sporting News in a new interview.

Cole said New Japan booker Gedo hand-picked him for the group and wanted to set up Cole to have a big introduction before heading to Japan for a summer tour.

“I’d known that Gedo was a fan of mine based on the Ring of Honor and New Japan shows we had done before. He was very complimentary of the matches I had with Jushin Thunder Liger, the matches I had with Shinsuke Nakamura, and I knew there was interest there from New Japan. Like any wrestling company, again, scheduling conflicts and story lines, things of that nature, they want to make sure that it fits,” Cole said.

“That was the one thing that was a big compliment to me is they told me before that they never wanted to bring me over randomly. They wanted to make sure they had something that was big and was worth my while. Hearing that Gedo not only found something but finding that something was being in a feature role in the Bullet Club was huge for me.

“Obviously, this really opens up some doors for me in New Japan. Anyone who has listened to me do interviews before knows how much being a part of New Japan Pro Wrestling is something that I’d really, really like to do. Even with me getting a taste of it back in 2014 I believe where I did one G1 Final show. Then I got hurt, scheduling conflicts and things of that nature I was like, ‘Oh, man, I really hope I’m going to get a chance to go over to New Japan.’ This is the classic the patience paid off because not only am I going to get the chance to go to New Japan but I get to do so in a pretty big role as being a member of the Bullet Club.”

Cole credited the Young Bucks for being the glue to keep the Bullet Club together through multiple changes from the Prince Devitt/Finn Balor era to A.J. Styles to now Kenny Omega. Cole also noted his connection to the Bucks through their Mt. Rushmore run in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla that will carry over to the Bullet Club.

“On paper, it really looks like this group should have failed many times with people leaving and people changing promotions. But what the Bullet Club has done such a good job of doing is every time they lose someone, they find a very, very qualified and suitable replacement,” Cole said.

“When I look at the history of the Bullet Club and everyone who has been involved, so many stars and so many big names in pro wrestling have been part of this group. And the fact that the Bullet Club continues to match that each and every time someone leaves is just proof on how smart and how ahead of the curve the Bullet Club is. Now, I think they’re stronger than ever. Again, with the presence in multiple, different promotions all across the world, the Bullet Club is bigger and better than ever.”

As for how Cole’s inclusion in the Bullet Club was executed in the middle of the Jay Lethal vs. Colt Cabana ROH Title match at Global Wars, Cole said he views it as wrestling promotions experimenting with non-traditional heels and faces to “let fans make the decision” on who they want to cheer and boo.

“A perfect example is if myself and Jay Lethal wrestle for the ROH World Title. I can almost guarantee you that the crowd is going to be split 50-50. There’s a lot of those moments in Ring of Honor now. Same with Jay Lethal and Jay Briscoe, same with myself and Kyle O’Reilly,” Cole said.

“There’s a lot of positioning that’s being done to let the fans make the decision of who they want to support. The characters are still very different but we’re almost embracing the idea of letting the fans make the decision of who they like. Really, that’s almost more realistic. I understand traditionally it goes away from the traditional heel and babyface role in pro wrestling but you can really see the promotions across the world are experimenting with the new idea of letting the fans make the decision. And I think that’s the route that Ring of Honor’s going now is letting the fans make the choice of who they want to support.”

Caldwell’s Analysis: About 2-3 years ago, WWE got stuck in an approach of basically telling the audience they’re the center of the promotion and they should tell WWE what they want to see. The bill has come due on moving away from strong writing and giving excessive power to the audience with the Roman Reigns Era. The sharp decline in TV Ratings during WrestleMania Season and now post-WrestleMania Season points to many fans rejecting what they’re being offered with Reigns on top because WWE told them it was all about them in past years.

The trickle-down effect has landed at ROH, where the booking team has moved away from strong, compelling feuds with clear heels and faces to lukewarm characters not really doing anything excessively heelish or exceedingly heroic getting reactions mainly for cool spots or big moments with very little follow-through. (For example, ROH has done virtually nothing with the aspect of Bullet Club costing Colt Cabana the ROH Title shot in two weeks since Global Wars. ROH has essentially just moved on as if Cabana had a non-existent role in the match.) It’s just not a sustainable approach.

It points to ROH’s recent inability to create an environment where the wrestlers draw a strong positive or negative reaction to really get the audience emotionally invested. Going back to Colt Cabana, it was their hometown hero chasing his first-ever ROH World Title, Bullet Club cost Cabana the match, and the crowd was mixed and conflicted in how to respond. The booking should have generated massive outrage from the Chicago fans if ROH did their job correctly. Instead, ROH is just presenting a product “letting the fans decide what they think” so they don’t have to build the foundation of a sustainable product that naturally creates interest. It’s more like decide whether you think what Bullet Club is doing is super-cool, or decide whether you’re mad about Cabana losing the title shot. This is another form of new-generation short-term thinking to get a quick pop or quick reaction on social media dressed up as something new and different that has very little history of sustainability in pro wrestling.

READ MORE: Caldwell’s Commentary on why ROH needs a change, but why they won’t.

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