Adam Cole lost the NXT Championship at The Great American Bash on Wednesday night, bringing his record-breaking reign with the brand's top title to an end. Cole has done just about everything a wrestler can do in NXT, becoming the second NXT Triple Crown Champion in history, winning the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, earning four NXT Year-End Awards and competing in seven NXT TakeOver main events. And now it's time to ask the important question — what should his next step be? Should he and the Undisputed Era break up and feud against each other? Should they all jump to either Raw or SmackDown? Or should the four keep rolling as NXT's top heel faction for a while?
We've assembled ComicBook's team of wrestling writers to pitch their ideas on this debate. Check out what they had to say and let us know what you think down in the comments and on Twitter @WWEonCB!
Connor Casey: This is a tough one because I can the logic behind sending him (and the rest of UE) up to the main roster. Raw is in desperate need of heels and Cole has plenty of history with Drew McIntyre. So you could, in theory, shoot him right up to the WWE Championship picture without trying very hard. Plus there isn't much left for him to do in NXT beyond trying to get the NXT title back (a rarity on that brand) and/or split up the UE and have the various members feud with each other (which could either make for some great storytelling or be a complete bummer).
But then I thought of Ricochet. And the Viking Raiders. And EC3. And Chad Gable. And Shayna Baszler. And the rest of the laundry list of bonafide stars that either get mishandled or ignored once they leave the Black and Gold Brand. You, me, Triple H and everybody else who watches NXT can love Cole all we want. But he's barely six feet tall and that lack of size is going to be a struggle with Vince. The best option, even if there isn't a clear narrative path right now, is to stay the hell away from the other brands and keep working on NXT.
Ryan Droste: I agree with Connor in that I'm concerned at how Cole will be handled on Raw or SmackDown. If there were live crowds present, he'd at least have the incredible reaction from the fans to help back him up and hopefully force creative's hand in booking him in a meaningful way. But with shows remaining in the Performance Center for the foreseeable future, there's not going to be any crowd reactions to help him solidify his spot or give him any leverage. That's worrisome. As a smaller wrestler, he needs those incredible crowd responses for Vince McMahon to recognize he's worth pushing, otherwise Vince's entire track record says that all he is going to see is that lack of height.
Therefore, staying at NXT and probably feuding with his fellow Undisputed Era members seems like the likely route moving forward. He needs to move out of the NXT Championship picture for now and do something fresh. I'm not sure if Undisputed Era will be brought up to the main roster as a faction in the end anyway, so they might as well move into a long break-up angle until the time is right for Cole to move up (hopefully with fans present).
Evan Valentine: I think that the WWE shouldn't be jumping the gun with this and move him up the ladder right now. Cole needs to "percolate" just a bit more before he moves up to the big leagues and certainly needs the right time to do so. NXT continues to be an excellent springboard for talent when it comes to being the "minor league" but the Undisputed Era has a lot of eyes on it and with that attention, should cultivate their personalities and team within NXT for now.
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