Adam Cole poses with the NXT championship alongside the Undisputed Era.

Adam Cole poses with the NXT championship alongside the Undisputed Era.

David Gunn/Photo courtesy: WWE

It's a good time to be Adam Cole.

After becoming one of the hottest names on WWE's NXT brand alongside fellow Undisputed Era stable members Bobby Fish, Kyle O'Reilly, and Roderick Strong, Cole fulfilled a two-year journey to become WWE's NXT champion a few weeks ago by defeating Johnny Gargano at NXT: TakeOver XXV.

Before Cole and the rest of the NXT crew take over the South Side Ballroom in Dallas for NXT Live! this Saturday, he spoke with us about life as a champion and the global state of professional wrestling:

It's been almost three weeks since you won the NXT championship at TakeOver XXV. How does it feel every morning waking up NXT champion?

Adam Cole: "To me, it's gotten cooler and cooler. For anyone who knows me, when I first came into NXT -- really for anybody who comes into NXT, your goal is to become the NXT champion. For me, it took me about two years to achieve that goal, and getting to do it as a part of a brand that has just never been better, filled with countless top-to-bottom just world class pro wrestlers, it means even more that I'm the guy at the front of the line or the guy driving the car. I've been very busy, as a champion should be, traveling all over the globe defending this championship. But I wouldn't have it any other way, man. It's been great."

Including this TakeOver and even the one before WrestleMania, how much does it mean to not only have yourself in the main event, but to have Johnny Gargano and the other guys in the Undisputed Era who you've been working with for so many years prior to WWE involved in creating these memorable moments together?

Cole: "I've known all of them for close to 10 years at this point. For example with me and Johnny, we've been wrestling each other since we were like 21 years old. Johnny's a guy that I've wrestled all over the globe, and he was always one of my favorite opponents. Always a guy that I felt I had really good chemistry with. So, to be able to do it on such a big stage like an NXT: TakeOver -- twice now -- again very, very cool. Very special to be able to show more people what me and Johnny are capable of.

"And then as far as the Undisputed Era guys, the four of us talk every single day. We aren't just playing on-screen characters pretending to be buddies. The four of us are seriously best friends. I've been in Kyle O'Reilly's wedding. These are guys that I love traveling up and down the roads with. We share the same passion for wrestling. So, yeah, to be able to share these moments with those guys is just special."

Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano stare each other down during their NXT championship match at NXT: TakeOver XXV

Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano stare each other down during their NXT championship match at NXT: TakeOver XXV

/Photo courtesy: WWE 

The TakeOver crowds themselves have developed a reputation of their own. What is it like just performing in those buildings on those nights?

Cole: "I think at this point it's safe to say that the TakeOver crowds are some of, if not the best crowds in all of pro wrestling. I think there's two big factors: One, I think that the relationship that the wrestlers have with the fans, and the fans have with the wrestlers is something that you can't really put a price on. A lot of these fans -- we were just talking about me wrestling Johnny and knowing those guys for almost 10 years -- a lot of these fans have followed all of our careers for our entire careers. So, when they see us get to this point, they're just as excited for us as we are for ourselves. They feel like they've gone along on the journey with us. 

"On top of that, the fans go into NXT: TakeOvers and they want the shows to be awesome. They know based on past experience that they're going to get 100% effort and just a really exciting, innovative, hard-hitting pro wrestling show. So, they come in excited. Even before a lot of the matches even get started, they're amped up, they're fired up, and it creates this really cool atmosphere not just for them, but for us."

Dallas hosted a TakeOver before WrestleMania 32 in 2016 -- which was before you were with WWE -- but do you have any fond memories of any past experiences wrestling in Dallas?

Cole: "I had a feud with a guy named Jay Briscoe in Ring of Honor. About halfway through our feud, we ended up having this really hard-hitting match. I think it was in Dallas. And that actually ended up being one of my favorite matches with him. He's a really tough guy. Someone who brought the best out of me. And the crowd themselves -- really, the Texas fans in general are really, really great. Every time I've been there they show up ready to have a good time."

With the character that you've managed to develop, how satisfying is it that someone like Major League Baseball last week tweeted out "GERRIT COLE, BAY BAY" after his 14 strikeout performance against the Baltimore Orioles?

Cole: "Oh, man. That is so cool. It's so funny because when this thing started -- I've been doing "Adam Cole, bay-bay!" now for 10 years -- and when it first started on the independents it was just something I would do. Literally for years. And the fans would boo, or they wouldn't do anything. It was just part of my character. And then somewhere along the way when I started to kind of gain the respect of the fans, I was a guy who had been around for a little while, people started doing it with me. Next thing you know, it's incredible how much this thing has caught on. Like you said, not just in the world of wrestling but outside of it having people acknowledge it and talk about it. It's pretty surreal when someone like MLB mentions you by name."

As a gamer, I know you were paying attention to E3. Did you see anything you were particularly excited about?

Cole: "Oh my God, I could go on for hours. There is so much that I'm excited about. The one thing that sticks out fresh in my brain is Halo Infinite. I think the new Xbox is going to be awesome. I'm a huge, massive Halo fan. A big reason recently over the past few years I've gotten so into games is because of the Halo franchise. So, I'm really, really excited to see what they do with the next one. Borderlands 3 looks great. Gears 5 looks great. Death Stranding looks great. There's so many good titles. I actually think video games in 2019 have gotten absurd because I feel like there is a new, awesome title coming out once every two weeks. Just trying to keep up with all of it has been tough, but E3 was great this year."

What video game would you say got you hooked as a kid?

Cole: "Funny enough, I casually played video games my whole life. My younger brother actually was the one who was die-hard into video games. And I had a good time playing with him. I played a lot of classics when I was younger like Final Fantasy VII, the Resident Evil series, Metal Gear Solid, Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo. But for me, it was just wrestling. So, up until recently - like about 2015 -- that's when I decided to get hooked and started buying all my own consoles, and Halo 5 was actually the game for me that got me, I guess, obsessed or passionate about video games. I remember picking that game up and playing it on my brother's Xbox, and I stayed up all night and beat the campaign. The next thing you know, I'm a gamer now."

Speaking of games in 2019, how cool is it to see yourself in WWE 2K19?

Cole: "The first time seeing myself in that game was pretty surreal just being a guy who's so into video games. And I'd seen for years people doing the character creation and throwing me in there, that's really cool, but to officially be in the game was pretty sweet, man."

On his relationship with All Elite Wrestling's Britt Baker, and how they deal with working for different promotions... 

Cole: "The thing is me and Britt, when we started dating actually, we did long distance. So, for the longest time me and Britt were accustomed to kind of being away from each other, but still keeping in contact, supporting one another, and all that stuff. Obviously, the busier the both of us get, the more time away from each other that we're going to have. But she's the best, man. She works harder than anybody that I know. It's amazing how far she's come along. I'm incredibly proud of her and her accomplishments. But she feels the exact same way about me. For many people that know, she will come and watch as many TakeOvers as she can, and is as supportive as she possibly can be. I'm very lucky to have her in my life, and have someone as supportive as she is."

If you can even call it coming back down at this point, Tyler Breeze made his NXT comeback at TakeOver XXV -- are there any current Raw or SmackDown superstars you'd like the opportunity to have a match with?

Cole: "Truth be told, I feel like I'd have an excellent match with a lot of guys on Raw and SmackDown. The NXT roster is stacked. There's so many guys on Raw and SmackDown that I feel like I would have great chemistry with. There's guys that I've wrestled before -- for example, I've wrestled an A.J. Styles before. That was only a couple of times, but I would love the chance to wrestle him again whether that be a Raw or SmackDown environment or a TakeOver environment.  There's guys that I've never wrestled before who I'd love to the chance to get in the ring with like a Seth Rollins. Again, same thing as A.J., I feel like we could be put in any environment, and I feel like it would be a really exciting match. 

"The cool thing about right now is there are so many dream matches for people that haven't happened yet, or are currently happening right now. I think just as time unfolds, and everything keeps moving forward there are going to be more and more cool and exciting matches for everybody -- not just for me -- but for the guys all across our roster, and that goes for NXT, Raw, and for SmackDown."

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