News broke late Sunday night that former NXT Champion Adam Cole is on the verge of becoming a free agent as his current NXT contract is set to expire shortly after this year's SummerSlam. That initial report stated Cole's deal was up following last month's Great American Bash event (Cole beat Kyle O'Reilly in the show's main event) but that he agreed to a short-term extension. PWInsider's Mike Johnson followed up the initial report by stating some WWE executives weren't aware of the situation and weren't happy about the news getting out.
"That realization took a number of WWE execs by surprise as the belief was Cole was locked in through January 2022," Johnson wrote. " Multiple sources within WWE confirmed the story, admitting frustration that it had become public."
Cole has openly stated both in and out of character that he isn't interested in leaving the NXT brand for WWE's main roster, but he's done just about all there is to do on the Black and Gold brand. He holds the record for the longest reign as NXT Champion, he's the second man in the brand's history to become a triple crown champion, led the most dominant faction in NXT history in The Undisputed Era, won the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and has a whopping seven NXT Year-End Awards.
But the man has plenty of options outside of WWE. He has plenty of history in both Ring of Honor and New Japan and his girlfriend (Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D.) and close friends (The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega) are over in AEW. He's even been spotted at AEW company gatherings in the past alongside Baker. The reigning AEW Women's World Champion has stated publicly she wants to work in the same company as Cole in the future.
"We don't have totally different lives [because] we work on two different companies. It's a lot of calls and a lot of FaceTimes," Baker said on Oral Sessions in March. "It's no secret that he comes to AEW sometimes and hangs out in the back. His best friends are the Bucks and Kenny [Omega]. He's got tons of friends there.
"I know this is going to create a little bit of controversy, but I would love to work in the same company one day. I think it would make things a little bit easier," she added. "With that being said, I'm probably never leaving AEW because that's my home. I'd say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Being apart it sucks, but it makes it that much more special to get to see each other again when you get a week to hang out instead of two days."