Who is Adam Cole? The Rise of a Wrestling Superstar

Austin Jenkins, better known by his ring name Adam Cole, is an American professional wrestler currently signed with All Elite Wrestling (AEW). His journey to wrestling stardom is a testament to his passion and dedication to the sport.

Early Life and Inspiration

Born on July 5, 1989, Jenkins grew up in a conservative town in Pennsylvania. Surprisingly, his love for wrestling began relatively late, at the age of nine. His karate instructor, an avid wrestling fan, introduced him to professional wrestling through videotapes.

Jenkins’ first experience with WWE was watching WrestleMania XV, and he was particularly inspired by the main event match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock at WrestleMania X-Seven. This match ignited his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. He admired WWE superstars like Shawn Michaels, Kurt Angle, and tag teams such as Edge & Christian and The Hardy Boyz.

Training and Early Career

Jenkins began his wrestling training at the Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) Wrestling Academy under the tutelage of Jon Dahmer and DJ Hyde. He officially joined the academy on November 14, 2007, during his senior year of high school. Adopting the ring name “Adam Cole,” he made his CZW debut on June 21, 2008.

Over the next few years, Cole honed his skills in CZW, gradually establishing himself as a prominent figure. His first major victory came in 2009 when he and Tyler Veritas won a tag team gauntlet match, showcasing his potential.

In 2010, Cole began his ascent in the singles competition. He won the CZW World Junior Heavyweight Championship and successfully defended it multiple times, even turning heel by attacking his long-time tag team partner, Veritas. His reign lasted 553 days, the longest in the championship’s history.

Rise in Other Promotions

Cole’s talent wasn’t confined to CZW. He competed in various promotions, including Maryland Championship Wrestling (MCW), WXW C4, and Evolve. In MCW, he captured the MCW Rage Television Championship twice. His performances in these promotions further solidified his reputation as a rising star in the wrestling world.

In 2011, Cole made a significant impact in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG). His debut saw him challenge The Young Bucks for the PWG World Tag Team Championship. Despite early losses, Cole’s persistence paid off when he won the 2012 Battle of Los Angeles tournament, earning a shot at the PWG World Championship. He defeated Kevin Steen to claim the title, marking the beginning of a dominant reign.

Ring of Honor (ROH) and International Success

Cole’s career reached new heights when he joined Ring of Honor (ROH) in 2009. Initially competing in dark matches, he quickly climbed the ranks. Teaming with Kyle O’Reilly, Cole formed “Future Shock,” a tag team that gained significant attention. By 2012, Cole had transitioned into singles competition, winning the ROH World Television Championship.

In 2013, Cole’s career skyrocketed as he captured the ROH World Championship. His rivalry with Jay Briscoe and subsequent matches showcased his in-ring prowess and solidified his status as a top-tier wrestler. Cole’s tenure in ROH was marked by his technical skill, charisma, and ability to engage the audience, making him a standout performer.

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) Dominance

While excelling in ROH, Cole continued to make waves in PWG. His heel persona, “Panama City Playboy,” resonated with fans and opponents alike. Winning the 2012 Battle of Los Angeles tournament was a pivotal moment in his career. His subsequent victory over Kevin Steen for the PWG World Championship established Cole as a formidable competitor.

Throughout his PWG career, Cole defended his title against numerous challengers, including Drake Younger and Sami Callihan. His matches were characterized by intense rivalries and high-stakes performances, further cementing his legacy in the independent wrestling circuit.

Transition to WWE

Adam Cole’s transition to WWE was highly anticipated. After signing with the company in 2017, he made a memorable debut at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III, attacking Drew McIntyre. Forming “The Undisputed Era” with Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, Cole quickly became a prominent figure in NXT.

Cole’s tenure in NXT was marked by several accolades. He became the inaugural NXT North American Champion at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans and later won the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. His matches against Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano, and Tommaso Ciampa were critically acclaimed, showcasing his versatility and storytelling ability in the ring.

Longest-Reigning NXT Champion

In 2019, Adam Cole reached a significant milestone by becoming the NXT Champion. His reign, which lasted 403 days, broke previous records and highlighted his dominance in the brand. During his time as champion, Cole defended his title against numerous challengers, including Velveteen Dream and Keith Lee.

Cole’s leadership of The Undisputed Era and his captivating promos made him a central figure in NXT’s programming. His matches were consistently among the highlights of NXT events, drawing praise from fans and critics alike.

All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and Beyond

In 2021, Adam Cole made a surprising move to All Elite Wrestling (AEW). His debut at AEW All Out was met with enthusiastic reactions from the wrestling community. Joining forces with former WWE colleagues, Cole quickly became a key player in AEW’s roster.

Cole’s presence in AEW has been marked by high-profile matches and storylines. His charisma, in-ring ability, and connection with the audience have made him a standout performer in the promotion. As a member of AEW, Cole continues to push the boundaries of his career, captivating fans with each performance.


Adam Cole’s journey from a wrestling fan to a global superstar is a testament to his passion, dedication, and talent. From his early days in CZW to his dominance in ROH, PWG, WWE, and AEW, Cole has consistently proven himself as one of the best in the business. His ability to adapt, entertain, and connect with fans has solidified his legacy in professional wrestling.

Adam Cole’s journey continues to inspire wrestling fans around the world, showcasing the power of passion and perseverance in achieving one’s dreams.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who is Adam Cole?
Adam Cole, born Austin Jenkins, is an American professional wrestler currently signed with All Elite Wrestling (AEW). He is known for his tenure in WWE’s NXT, where he became the longest-reigning NXT Champion.

2. How did Adam Cole start his wrestling career?
Cole began his wrestling training at the Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) Wrestling Academy. He made his debut in CZW in 2008 and gradually made a name for himself in various independent promotions.

3. What are some of Adam Cole’s career highlights?
Some of Cole’s career highlights include winning the ROH World Championship, the PWG World Championship, and becoming the inaugural NXT North American Champion. He also led The Undisputed Era in WWE NXT.

4. Why did Adam Cole leave WWE?
Adam Cole left WWE in 2021 to join All Elite Wrestling (AEW). His departure was part of a broader trend of wrestlers seeking new opportunities and creative freedom in AEW.

5. What is Adam Cole known for in AEW?
In AEW, Adam Cole is known for his high-profile matches, charismatic promos, and alliances with other former WWE superstars. His presence has added significant value to AEW’s roster and programming.

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