Adam Cole's WWE contract officially expired shortly NXT TakeOver 36 and the longest-reigning NXT Champion in the brand's history officially jumped to All Elite Wrestling at the All Out pay-per-view on Sept. 5. Two weeks later the roster was officially rebranded as NXT 2.0, featuring a complete overhaul of its television presentation and a greater focus on brand-new wrestlers trained at the WWE Performance Center. Considering that Cole was a pillar of that brand for nearly four years, it's no wonder he was asked about the rebrand during a recent interview on Talk Is Jericho.
"This is all just me guessing. I think, for sure, (AEW beating NXT) played a part (in the rebrand)," Cole said (h/t Fightful). "I also understand the thought process of...there were so many guys in NXT who were presented a certain way and then they'd go to Raw or SmackDown and it was a complete 180. I see the standpoint of, if I am Vince McMahon, him looking at NXT as this breeding ground for guys on Raw and SmackDown, he wants his hands in it a little bit more and he wants bigger guys. Not saying everyone is going to be big, but more guys who are geared to be ready to go for Raw and SmackDown. I understand that. When I was there at NXT, it was treated as a third brand. We got on television because of it, we had the big Survivor Series month, which was really cool. It was the more athletic pro wrestling storytelling and style. Them going back to this, certainly, AEW has to play a factor in my mind. It just has to. More important, I do think it's so they don't have to change a thing about guys when they are in NXT now."
Had Cole chosen to stay with WWE, he likely would have faced those same aforementioned changes when he moved to either Raw or SmackDown. Various reports of WWE's potential plans for him have popped up over the last few weeks, including Vince McMahon wanting to change his name, cut his long hair and make him a manager for Keith Lee. Cole said that particular plan was never presented to him.
This week's AEW Dynamite opened with Cole beating Jungle Boy. Cole, having reunited with The Elite as soon as he arrived in AEW, already has a 3-0 record.