Standing at six foot even and 215 pounds, Adam Cole is the number one contender to the ROH World Championship and will face one of his most prolific opponents, Jay Briscoe in a Fight Without Honor at Final Battle 2014. Total Wrestling’s Chris GST was joined by fellow ROH superfan Ari Berenstein as they caught up with Adam Cole to talk about the upcoming event and the significance of him headlining only his second live PPV in ROH history.
TW: ROH has a long history of big shows in NYC, what will it be like for you creating new memories and history at Terminal 5?
Adam Cole: Well, like you said, New York City is such a giant, important fan base for us at ROH. ROH notoriously has had some of their biggest and most epic events in NYC and just because we’re doing the venue change from the Hammerstein to Terminal 5 doesn’t mean the show quality will be any different. I’ve seen pictures of Terminal 5, I’ve never actually been inside but the building looks awesome. The proof that we’re going to put on a really great show is again, we’re going to put on our second PPV, Final Battle. Final Battle is the WrestleMania for ROH so it’s going to be a huge event. Me and Jay Briscoe going back in an 18 month feud finally settling the score in a Fight Without Honor which I’m promising will be very very violent. The entire card is just stacked and we always try to give our best to the NYC fans. They are my personal favorite fans to fight in front of because when they like something, they let you know that they love it and when they don’t like something, they let you know that they don’t like it. The Ring of Honor group is gonna make sure we give them something they really enjoy on December 7th.
You were in baseball venues all summer with NJPW, what was the experience like at ROH’s Field of Honor event at MCU Park?
That was different for us wrestling at ROH. Fortunately for me, my match was late in the card in the main event that night and the building had filled up and the crowd was really really big for us. But that was definitely different because any time you wrestle in a baseball field type environment similar to New Japan, and I had never wrestled in front of 20,000 people in my life, the building was so large, when I wrestled in New Japan at the Seibu Dome it was like I was wrestling in front of nobody one because the people were so far away and the sound traveled so high because ceiling was so high. So it was similar to a lesser extent in Brooklyn. The fans were great for the four way but the sound traveled up because there was no ceiling and it was definitely different as far as listening to the audience when you’re out there.
What are your thoughts on reaching that larger audience on PPV on a traditional platform as compared to iPPVs? Especially with spreading the brand name with other promotions dropping almost completely out of using PPV?
To me it’s just an exciting time to be with ROH. I think the PPV thing just transcends that the ROH company is really starting to flourish and grow. We’re constantly adding new television markets. The PPV market itself is an untapped territory in the world of pro wrestling when it comes to WWE Network and TNA going through some changes right now. [Being on PPV] is really exciting for us. ROH just announced that we have a toy deal now so we’re going to be getting action figures and stuff like that. There are a lot of really cool things happening and of course PPV is the dance. It’s the big deal and as long as people are tuning in and watching what we are trying to provide. I think the reason ROH is doing well right now is because we’ve been really smart with the idea of progress. Lots of times companies in general when they want to succeed or they want to grow tend to jump to far forward too fast and throw all their eggs into one basket. They say all or nothing and that may have worked for Vince McMahon and WrestleMania but nine times outta ten that doesn’t work for everybody. So Ring of Honor has taken the slow but steady approach of growth and I think that has really paid off for us. So to me, the fact that we’re doing our second live PPV, it just makes me more excited to see where the company will be in one year, in two years from now. The more we go to these towns, I’m seeing that these fans that come to the ROH events are fans because they are watching us on television and not just because they are hardcore independent wrestling fans. I will meet kids and families that watch us Saturday at eight or on Sunday at two so obviously our television market is coming out for the shows and I really hope the PPV market does the same.
We really think that 2014 has seen ROH taking a new gear when it comes to risks and business. The decisions to have a relationship with NJPW or bringing back iPPV/going on PPV, and getting the action figure deal have been more steps taken. How has the roster adapted to this?
Yeah, I think the entire ROH roster has felt ready for this. What I mean by that is I get asked all the time, “are you nervous because you’re wrestling on PPV?” I’m always nervous about what I do because I care about what I do but there aren’t extra nerves because we feel like we deserve this. We feel like the Ring of Honor brand deserves to be on PPV. We feel that the ROH brand deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. The entire roster feels that way. Being given the opportunity to work with New Japan Pro Wrestling or getting a toy deal and being on TV and PPV and doing more iPPVs again is just something we feel that we’ve earned. We aren’t going to give anyone any reason to say we don’t deserve to be on PPV or on TV. To us, this is just something that we feel ready for and we’re really excited for it.
Connected to that, you’ve been a part of ROH for a long enough time to be a part of almost every major stage of the company going from HD Net, to taped PPVs, live iPPVs, and now live PPVs and action figures. What has been some of things that have changed for the better since Sinclair bought Ring of Honor?
That’s a great question. I think that the biggest thing is that Sinclair themselves have stepped out of their comfort zone and I mean that in the highest complimentary way that I can. I think when Sinclair initially bought ROH, that this is great and this is something we can put on syndicated television. Everyone at Sinclair is a giant wrestling fan and they genuinely want ROH to succeed. Since they have been around ROH, their wealth of knowledge of the pro wrestling industry has grown. To be honest with you [When they bought the company in 2011], if New Japan had approached Sinclair Broadcasting with the idea to do joint shows, I’m not saying Sinclair would have said no but if I was a betting man I would have said they would have said no because at the time they just had syndicated television and they were focused on that. Now that they’ve been in the hunt with us and we’ve been growing as a company, they’ve realized there are all these other wrestling companies and all these other opportunities that can not only help ROH grow, but pro wrestling grow as a whole. So now Sinclair is jumping for joy at working with New Japan Pro Wrestling because they realize the talent that New Japan really brings to ROH and how much the fans in the United States want to see these guys. So really the biggest thing honestly is them realizing what they have to do to grow , realizing that they are willing to take risks, even if they are small ones but they are smart ones. Just having a better understanding of the wrestling world and that has been the biggest thing between Sinclair and ROH.
Back in 2010, the idea of Future Shock as a tag team with Kyle O’Reilly came together and then around a year later you were split up. Looking back was this a good idea?
Well I think it certainly worked out for us. 2014 has been the best run of my career and Kyle is doing great with Red Dragon with Bobby Fish being ROH Tag Team Champion, being IWGP Jr Tag Team Champion, and ending my longest reign as PWG Champion so obviously we’ve done well since we’ve split up. But Kyle and I still talk about it to this day, what would have happened if we hadn’t split up and Future Shock had kinda stuck around. A funny backstory, when we first started out together, neither of us were a tag team wrestles. I had my little run in CZW as a singles wrestler (with Mia Yim) with a few tags and Kyle had just started out as a singles guy so we always envisioned ourselves as singles guys when we came into ROH so when they threw us together as Future Shock we were kinda like, “oh crap, how is this gonna go?” But it ended up going great and when they split us up we weren’t ready for that. We wanted to stay a team. So we talk about it. I don’t think in this scenario though you can say something better would have happened if Future Shock had stayed together. Instead it’s a what if scenario. To me, I’m just so happy for Kyle and I know he feels the same way for me. But you never know. Its pro wrestling, you never know if a Future Shock reunion could come back together.
Did you like the Future Shock name?
Haha.When we came up with the Future Shock name, because everyone in ROH had team names. My suggestion was can we just be Cole & O’Reilly because again, every team had team names and I think it was us subconsciously we always knew we eventually would be singles guys so Kyle and I just be different but they wanted us to come up with a team name. So this is hysterical. At the time Cornette and Delirious were booking at the time and I was just about to call Delirious to tell him that I had this idea for what the name of our finisher should be which happened to be Future Shock, I swear to god. I was about to call him but I got a call from him and he says hey, I just talked to Jim came up with it, we want to call you Future Shock. I’m not making this up. I said you’ve got to be kidding me I was just about to call you to say that our finisher name should be Future Shock. I couldn’t believe it. So that was it. I was fine with it. For a while there I was pushing to be called Cole & O’Reilly.
Does having Steve Corino being a close friend in real life, help on the commentary for ROH and the talents involved in certain storylines?
One hundred percent. Kevin Kelly has a great grasp of our product as does Steve Corino and Nigel McGuinness. That’s why I feel so strongly about our commentary team. I feel they can tell the stories so well. The ROH roster is a small tight-knit group. Because of Steve’s relationship with a lot of the guys and Kevin Kelly’s and Nigel’s it helps tell the stories we want to tell in the ring. I think it makes a huge difference.
We believe that ROH is the #2 promotion in the United States, in your own words what makes ROH different from the other promotions (mainly WWE and TNA) and why should those fans be watching ROH?
I’ve said this before in multiple interviews, I think that ROH is like a rock concert roller coaster ride. As great as the product is on TV, for those of you that have been to it live a lot of you can attest to this that it is better than any WWE or TNA event live. That is not a knock on WWE or TNA but it is a much more intimate atmosphere. ROH focuses all of its energies on the in-ring product. The production, the cool videos, and all that different stuff we are now starting to come into our own and developing it because we’re a tv product but the one thing that will never change about ROH in the United States is that we have the best in-ring pro wrestling in the entire world. That’s the main difference between Ring of Honor and everybody else.
The match at Final Battle with Jay Briscoe is a Fight Without Honor. This is not the first time you two have met, has this made it easier to wrestle Jay with the stipulation or would you have preferred to have a regular singles match?
I think purely based on circumstance there is literally no other match Jay and I could have had at the second PPV at the biggest show of the year than a Fight Without Honor. We have feuded for eighteen months, we’ve had the ladder match which some people were even offended by. So if you were offended by the ladder war, you will be offended by the Fight Without Honor. To me it’s the old school mentality. These are two guys who are always going to hate each other. Me and Jay are the Batman and the Joker. The feud will never end. But this will most certainly be the most brutal and violent chapter that we’ve had up to this point. It will also be the most important because it will be live on PPV at Final Battle in New York City. This is definitely going to be brutal and violent. I’m going to need the Christmas vacation rest after this match up.
Jay has gone two years without being pinned and if he loses the Title. This has a lot of outside factors that makes this even more important.
Exactly. I think that it has created a lot of interest. I think a lot of people thought that ladder war was it between me and Briscoe and usually it would have been but for something as crazy and drastic as me and Jay Briscoe, ladder war was not it for us. Now we’ve found ourselves here at Fight Without Honor and there’s so much at stake. This is my second PPV main event. This is the second Final Battle I’m main eventing. It’s the second time it’s been for the ROH World Championship. The Kingdom will be in Japan so they won’t be able to have my back. Jay Briscoe hasn’t been pinned in almost two years. There’s a lot of crazy stuff involved. Jay Briscoe is beloved in New York. The fans there are indifferent about me. Some love me, some hate me so it’s going to be wild man. It’s going to be crazy.
You have been a fan of ROH since early 2005. What is your favorite Final Battle moments excluding your own that made you a fan?
Great question. For me, I believe it is KENTA versus Low Ki in 2005. That match specifically, and I was just getting into ROH, I remember seeing that match and it was just so different than anything I’d seen before. A guy like Low Ki and a guy like KENTA just literally going to war. I was so blown away by that match that for me was a big reason that I became a fan. I’ve said in other interviews guys like CM Punk and those interviews made me a fan but just seeing that match at Final Battle. At that point in time I’d never seen a pro wrestling match like that in my life. I was just so blown away. That is the big Final Battle moment for me. It is something that made me a Ring of Honor fan for life was Low Ki versus KENTA.
Final Battle, it’s December 7th, with the Kingdom being in Japan for the World Tag League, is this a big time for the Kingdom and you have a shot at the ROH World Title on PPV and your team mates are in Japan in another global promotion in NJPW and they are in the hunt to win the tag tournament there across the globe?
One hundred percent. Absolutely. I put a tweet out there about this a couple days ago. If the Kingdom can pull off winning the World Tag League and me becoming the third ever two time ROH World Champion on PPV, I mean this would just close the year out as the Kingdom being the most dominant faction in pro wrestling. To me, it’s great. It’s the ultimate it is exactly what I want. And that way when I beat Jay Briscoe, I prove all the naysayers wrong who said I need the Kingdom to win matches. I will do it by myself.
So does that mean at Final Battle, live on PPV, is this the end of the feud between the Kingdom and the Briscoe Clan?
Yes, and I apologize for saying in comments and promos before and in this interview that the feud between the Briscoe brothers and the Kingdom will never end. Well certainly the feud between Adam Cole and Jay Briscoe will end at Final Battle because I’m going to end Jay Briscoe in the Fight Without Honor. I will give him the beating of his life and I’m going to make sure after I beat him for the ROH World Championship and defeat his two year undefeated streak that he will have no choice but to never show his face in Ring of Honor again because I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; There’s only room for one of us in ROH. Whether it will be me or it will be Jay Briscoe there’s only room for one and as far as I’m concerned, that spot is filled by Adam Cole.
Ring of Honor presents Final Battle, December 7th, live on pay-per-view from New York City.