NXT's Adam Cole Talks Finn Balor, Controversial Iron Man Match Ending, and Putting an End to Greatest Champion Debate

Last week's NXT ended on a divisive cliffhanger, as the 60-minute Iron Man Match to crown the new NXT Champion ended in a tie between Adam Cole and Finn Balor. Now the two stars will face off one on one on tonight's Super Tuesday edition of NXT, and there won't be any ties tonight. Quite a bit is on the line tonight, and ComicBook.com had a chance to talk to Cole all about the big match, as well as last week's controversial finish, what goes into an Iron Man match, and finally putting the Balor title reign comparisons to an end. First though we had to start with the 60 minute Iron Man match, and specifically, if there is something that is perhaps misunderstood when it comes to the format aside from the obvious physical toll it takes on the body.

"Yeah. Yeah, I think so. So funny enough, and this is so strange. I don't know why this is, but I've had countless 45, 50-minute matches, but there's no timestamp on it," Cole said. "It just organically hit 45 or 50 minutes. So something that people may not understand is when you know you have this clock of 60 minutes kind of over your head, there is this whole different challenge to making sure that you have 60 minutes of content that is compelling, and interesting, and playing mind games with yourself of like, 'Okay, is this going to be 60 minutes? Is it not going to be 60 minutes?' An hour is a long time, as far as that entire process. So mentally, I think the biggest thing for sure is just keeping it interesting. I know for me anyway, I know now more than ever in 2020, everyone's attention spans aren't quite what they used to be, so trying to give you anything for 60 minutes that is compelling and interesting can be a challenge."

We then had to address the ending to the match, which ended up in a tie between Balor and Cole, resulting in tonight's match-up. It's received a divisive reaction to be sure, and we asked what Cole thought of it overall.

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(Photo: WWE)

"For me personally, I've always been that really annoying person that looks at everything glass half full always. I'm so that person, that finds just the good in everything. So I like it, as far as longterm storytelling goes," Cole said. "I think we went from having a really exciting, again, the four pillars of NXT, still giving you amazing action. In our opinion, just a great match for an hour-long, to then lead into something that's really compelling the next week. As far as a television show goes, it would be the equivalent to a cliffhanger. We give you a cliffhanger on last week's episode, and then this week you're going to get the finale. So in that sense, because wrestling at the end of the day is a television show, it makes perfect sense to me."

"However, I do understand that some people were upset," Cole said. "I understand that some people want to see a definitive end to a match like that, and it makes total sense. But that's actually kind of, as weird as it sounds, that's what I love so much about pro wrestling, is you'll have one match that will happen with a certain result, and like you said, half the people will go, 'That was the greatest thing I've ever seen. They couldn't have ended that any better. This was perfect', and then you've got another group of people who were so upset and so angry, and think it's the dumbest thing in the world. The beautiful thing is that both people aren't wrong, and both people are right, and you can think whatever you want to think."

"That's why I love television shows more than movies, because you have longer to tell the story that you want to tell," Cole said. "So NXT at the end of the day is a TV show, and we're just telling the story of the NXT Championship, and the Adam Cole Finn Balor story a little bit longer. Not to keep rambling, but when I was NXT Champion, the constant comparison when I was regarded as the greatest NXT Champion of all time, some people would jump in and say, 'No, Finn Balor is.' Then people who said Finn Balor, other people would jump in and say I was. There has been this overarching story for quite some time about who is the greatest NXT Champion of all time. So the four cornerstones of NXT go into the 60 minute Iron Man match. Two guys tie, the people that are compared to the most, as far as who is the greatest NXT Champion, now they have a sudden death one-on-one match this Tuesday. I think it's beautiful. I love it."

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(Photo: WWE)

Cole actually touched on the comparisons between him and Balor a bit, something that came up again when Balor, Cole, Ciampa, and Gargano's NXT Championship reigns were all compared before the match. Cole has the longest reign by a longshot, but Balor won the title twice during his reign, and that seems to be the main comparison point. If Cole wins this match though, that should put an end to the back and forth.

"100%. That's why this one is so important to me, because again, even as NXT Champion and having the 403-day reign as NXT Champion, I still constantly heard, 'Yeah, yeah, Adam Cole is a great champion, but he's probably number two of all time. Finn Balor is number one'." "It drove me insane, because I'm like, 'I've doubled this guy's reign as far as the number of days, and I've done it in one reign.' There's no question that I'm the greatest Champion, so to be put in a situation where it's Adam Cole versus Finn Balor, I mean, finally putting that to rest, who is the greatest NXT Champion of all time, will be a beautiful day for me."

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(Photo: WWE)
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"Also, as far as wanting, I just came off of losing the championship, so that feeling of wanting to be champion is still so fresh in my mind," Cole said. Finn Balor hasn't been NXT Champion for so long, so mentally he's moved on. He may think he wants it really bad, but he doesn't want it as bad as I do. I just lost the championship a couple of months ago. So in my opinion, without question, I want the championship more. Not only do I want it more, but I want to kind of close this chapter of my career in NXT saying that Adam Cole is better than Finn Balor, Adam Cole is a better NXT Champion than Finn Balor."

You can watch the epic NXT Championship match on tonight's episode of NXT on the USA Network at 8 PM EST, and for live coverage, you can follow me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!