Adam Cole revealed on Twitter that he is now the longest reigning NXT Champion of all time. The question is, should Cole be considered the best NXT Champion of all time too?
There’s certainly a case to say just that.
There are plenty of worthy arguments for other great NXT Champions. Over the short lifespan that has been the NXT brand, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, Robert Roode, and Kevin Owens (just to name a few) have all held the gold, Balor the titleholder Cole just passed as the longest-reigning champion.
All have gone on to prominent roles in WWE and on Raw and SmackDown, while Cole has not, sans a few big appearances around Survivor Series weekend. Still, relative to the impact one man has made on NXT, Cole has a lot going for him.
NXT has grown exponentially under Cole’s watch. Now with its own two-hour program on USA Network, NXT is no longer a “developmental brand”. No, the ratings aren’t as high as WWE might have hoped and some will argue Cole’s brand is losing to AEW in the ratings war, but he’s going up against some pretty big names on a pretty big network.
While NXT still treats many of their matches like they’re put together as a way to develop talent for bigger and more prominent roles, Cole is left to be the one real flag-bearer for the brand. And, it’s clear WWE, namely Triple H, wants it that way.
Cole isn’t just one of the most entertaining wrestlers in NXT, he’s a Triple H prodigy. The Game has all sorts of faith in his current champion. A smaller performer, Triple H is moving the brand forward as one that doesn’t rely on the WWE-style performers of yesterday. Cole is helping usher in a new style of wrestling — a style that many argue is WWE merely catching up to everyone else.
Will that style be one that Vince McMahon eventually sees as the style of the future? Triple H is hoping Cole helps convince Vince it’s time to change. What will be interesting to watch is how long he continues to hold the belt?
There’s no telling what WWE is going to do with NXT TakeOver: Tampa, which was supposed to take place over WrestleMania weekend. Whether the show still goes on as planned in the WWE Performance Center or the ditch the pay-per-view and spread the matches out over a series of episodes of NXT, only time will tell.
Meanwhile, Cole will hold the belt until WWE makes its next set of plans. With so much uncertainty, perhaps the company will not feel this is the best time to make major changes. If so, Cole may be the champion for a great while longer.