Adam Cole has returned. The inaugural Owen Hart Cup Tournament winner made his long-awaited comeback on Wednesday's AEW Dynamite, thanking the Los Angeles crowd as well as the viewers at home for keeping him going during his recovery. While Cole was seemingly teasing "bad news" regarding his future, the negative tease ended up being no more than a red herring. Cole declared that he is putting the entire AEW locker room on notice, emphasizing his intention to prove that he is the best wrestler in the world. This promo was delivered with plenty of grit, but Cole's words were very much in a babyface tone.
It remains to be seen if Cole will continue as a face or if he will resort back to his heelish ways, but regardless of his future allegiances, there are no shortage of opponents for the former NXT Champion.
Aside from a brief solo run in NXT, Cole is currently operating without a faction for the first time since the beginning of his career. Throughout his wrestling tenure, Cole has headed up stables like The Kingdom, Bullet Club's Superkliq, and the Undisputed Era.
With Bobby Fish out of AEW and Kyle O'Reilly still on the shelf, an Undisputed Era reunion does not appear to be in the immediate future's cards. That said, there is another reformation that could go down.
While Cole was out, AEW signed Mike Bennett, Matt Taven and Maria Kanellis, collectively known as The Kingdom. This Ring of Honor group has undergone many iterations over the years, but originally comprised of Cole, Bennett, Taven and Kanellis.
Considering The Kingdom are currently without a storyline, Bennett and Taven could find themselves reuniting with Cole in an effort to pursue the AEW World Trios Championships.prevnext
Resume Young Bucks Feud
Speaking of the AEW World Trios Titles...
Cole has been out of action since AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door, but his last television appearance came during a Summer 2022 edition of AEW Dynamite. At that show, Cole, Fish and O'Reilly attacked the Young Bucks, officially disbanding the Undisputed Elite. From there, Cole and O'Reilly returned to the shelf, while Fish exited the company.
If AEW intends on tying up a loose end, Cole could pick up where he left off with the Bucks. Considering Matt and Nick Jackson currently make up two-thirds of the trios champions, a Kingdom reunion could set the stage perfectly for an in-ring clash with Cole's former friends.prevnext
TNT Champion Darby Allin
With AEW World Champion Maxwell Jacob Friedman locked in a program with Bryan Danielson, Cole could opt to pursue midcard singles gold. Newly-crowned AEW TNT Champion Darby Allin has only just begun his reign, but Cole could emerge as the Relentless One's endgame.
While they have yet to lock up in AEW, the two wrestled once before in EVOLVE just months before Allin signed with AEW. That bout went for roughly ten minutes, with Cole picking up the pinfall victory after a Last Shot knee strike.prevnext
2023 is poised to be a big year for the Absolute One.
Ricky Starks ended last year in a big way, winning the AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament and headlining AEW Dynamite: Winter is Coming against MJF. While he came up short in his championship pursuit, Starks cemented himself as a main-event caliber talent in defeat.
Matching up Starks with Cole is a tough ask, as both are red-hot babyfaces at the moment, and either man taking the L could hurt their momentum. That said, the idea of Starks and Cole trading verbal barbs on the microphone is must-see television in and of itself.
Considering both men's fan-favorite status at the moment, this is a program that could be saved for a rainy day. Regardless, Starks vs. Cole is a money match-up for whenever the time is right.prevnext
AEW World Champion MJF
Even though he's on a collision course with Bryan Danielson for the time being, an MJF vs. Cole program for AEW Double or Nothing could prove to be big time.
In many ways, Friedman and Cole are cut from the same cloth. They're known for their heel work but have a harder time generating boos, as both men have received some of the biggest reactions during their most evil moments. MJF fights that response every week, but it seems like Cole is now embracing the cheers.
Pitting a babyface Cole against the pure heel MJF could be one of the few ways that AEW can guarantee that their top bad guy actually receives an appropriate reaction. Mix in the AEW World Title as well, and Cole vs. MJF could end up being one of AEW's most popular title fights yet.prev