Ring of Honor star Adam Cole on battling pneumonia, Bullet Club and Best in the World

Ricky Havlik

Ring of Honor star Adam Cole recently battled one his fiercest opponents.
And it wasn’t in the squared circle.

The 26-year-old was forced to pull out of ROH events after suffering being hospitalized for pneumonia. Days before his diagnosis, Cole recalls feeling like he was starting to get allergies. Then a high fever developed where he slept most of a 36-hour period.

“Like a dummy, I didn’t go to the doctor figuring I would feel better by the weekend,” he said.

Friday rolled around, and not only did his fever come back, but mucus started coming out of his eyes. He rushed to urgent care and later found out a third of his left lung was filled with pneumonia. Cole is recovering and gearing up for Best in the World. He is scheduled to team with his Bullet Club brethren, the Young Bucks, to face Moose and War Machine in a tornado rules six-man tag 9 p.m. Friday, June 24 on pay-per-view.

“I feel better every day,” Cole said, recuperating comfortably in Lancaster, PA.

“I’m certainly glad the tail end of this is approaching. But it was definitely the most sick I had ever been. My mother is amazing. She is not only my biggest supporter in wrestling, but my biggest supporter in life. So she was worried about me. She drove me to urgent care and drove me home. She was checking on me every day.

“That was the first time ever I’ve had to miss shows from being sick. Obviously, pneumonia is no joke. Everyone who has reached out has been awesome, checking up on me and making sure I get the proper rest. Ring of Honor was so understanding. They just wanted me to get healthy because we know we have this big pay-per-view coming up. The way it’s looking now I have a follow-up appointment next week. I feel great. So, as of now, the game plan 100 percent is for me to be at that pay-per-view.”

The bout with a serious illness further put things in perspective for Cole. Life is fragile.

“I realize that first when I got my triple surgery done on my shoulder, triceps and elbow. Then getting sick, it’s kind of the same thing where even though I missed that one weekend of shows, it really makes you appreciate your health and well-being,” Cole said.

“I had a grandmother who was very sick all the time. Knock on wood, I’ve been very fortunate to have my health. So me getting sick like this and being bedridden this whole time has definitely not only helped me appreciate my job as wrestler, but overall well-being and health and the people you care about being healthy.”

Bullet Club 1
Ricky Havlik

Cole got fans talking in May when he made a shocking appearance at the Global Wars PPV and joined the Bullet Club. The former member of The Kingdom now finds himself as a focal point in the hottest faction in pro wrestling.

“I had been friends with the Young Bucks for years,” he said.

“Those guys have been pushing or saying, ‘You should be in Bullet Club.’ For a long time, I think New Japan Pro Wrestling was looking for something for me to do within that company. So it was discussed from the Young Bucks’ suggestion and Ring of Honor and New Japan. This was a perfect time with AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows leaving. Let’s invigorate the Bullet Club and add Adam Cole to the mix.

“It was perfect timing for me. I think it’s a great fit for me given my chemistry with the Young Bucks plus guys like Kenny Omega. It’s something I think the fans wanted to see for some time. So it’s something new and fun for me to do in the United States. It certainly opens up a door for me in New Japan Pro Wresting. So I’m stoked at the idea. I’m really excited about it.”

The Bullet Club interrupted the main event ROH championship match between Jay Lethal and Colt Cabana. The show closed with the group beating up everyone and anyone in sight. This drew mixed reviews from viewers.

“I learned a long time ago you’re not going to make everybody happy,” Cole said.

“That’s the unfortunate reality of our job in pro wrestling. For me, the biggest thing for sure, from personal experience, there is nothing I have done in wrestling that has been that talked about. My entire career I’ve never had more Twitter interaction or social media interaction, which in this day and age, is so important. For me, it was a huge success. Whether people thought it was the coolest thing they’ve ever seen or people were like what the is going on, people were talking about Ring of Honor and the Bullet Club. Now it’s our job to deliver the best we possibly can because we’ve already created the buzz. That’s for sure. So I was really happy with it.”

The Bullet Club alum includes the likes of AJ Styles and Finn Balor. Cole can feel the added pressure in following up some of the best wrestlers in the world, but he is up to the challenge.

“As great as a Finn Balor and an AJ Styles are, they are both very different from one another,” he said.

“Now I need to find the things that are different to separate me from those guys and differentiate Bullet Club from what they were like when those guys were leading the charge. Now it’s my job to come up with something different and exciting. I think I can do that…

“The Bullet Club formula has worked so well for a long period now. It has almost transcended pop culture. Guys like [rapper] Wale are walking around wearing Bullet Club t-shirts. People are talking about the Bullet Club that hasn’t even watched Ring of Honor or New Japan.

“Pro Wrestling Guerrilla is something I always bring up where the Young Bucks and I started teaming up years ago. The chemistry we had, and things we mixed together. Right now, we are so new in this group of deciding what direction we want to go with the Young Bucks, Adam Page and those guys. It will be interesting to see what direction we do take and how it will be different. But I think if the people pay attention to us and what we are doing, they are going to be satisfied and enjoy the ride. It’s going to be really exciting for the fans.”

Despite their dastardly acts, the Bullet Club are cheered everywhere they go. It’s a trend that can be seen across the landscape of pro wrestling.

“It’s this shades of grey line of letting the fans decide,” Cole said.

“Whether or not this works is a whole other topic to discuss because this is something that I think wrestling across the board are flirting with and trying. Kind of letting the fans make the decision who they like and who they want to cheer. In turn, I think it will create some really cool atmospheres. For example, if Jay Lethal and I square off, I think the fans would be split. So the environment would be cool. Pro wrestling is kind of being used as a platform to book shades of grey and let the fans make the decision. We’ll see what the fans made of us going forward.”

Cole is excited at the prospect of being part of the contingent to tour with NJPW later in the year.

“I’m under the impression that I will be booked as a heavyweight,” he said.

“So getting to work with guys like Okada eventually and Tanahashi and Ishi, the names go on and on. It’s really cool for me. New Japan Pro Wrestling is something I’ve wanted to be a part of for a long time. To me, the triple threat combination of Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and New Japan Po Wrestling is the best place a 26-year-old young wrestler can work.”

His work on the mic, technical skills and overall ability to entertain makes Cole a hot commodity. So much, enthusiasts are constantly dreaming up scenarios of what would happen if the performer ended up in NXT and WWE.

“When fans tweet me or people comment, ‘I want Adam Cole in WWE,’ it’s really flattering,” Cole said.

“It goes without saying that WWE is the largest wrestling company in the world. To have a bunch of my fans and wrestling fans in general say they want me to end up there, it’s really cool and flattering.

“Ring of Honor and I have a really great relationship. We talk all the time. I signed a long-term deal with Ring of Honor. This is what I always say. When I was a kid I used to focus so much on going to WWE. Now it’s crazy in wrestling. There is so much cool stuff in front of me right now with Ring of Honor growing the way it is, me getting the chance to go to New Japan.

“I’m focusing all my effort and energy in making this Bullet Club run as good as possible and my run in Ring of Honor run as good as possible. Then when my deal comes up, you can never say never. Then you weigh your options and see where you want to go. But it’s a really good time for me. I’m in a good spot right now and trying to enjoy the ride.”

Best in the World
Ring of Honor

Cole hopes to get back on track with his upcoming match at Best in the World. He says fans can expect a wild one.

“We have the three biggest guys size-wise in Ring of Honor in Moose and War Machine,” he said.

“It’s going to be tornado match rules. So the match is going to be madness. It’s going to be insane.  A lot of people are already saying it will be a show-stealer. So it’s really exciting and going to be what Ring of Honor always delivers, which is the best pro wrestling on the planet. We know this will be the first time the group will be together on pay-per-view since the big angle happened. We are looking to make an impression, and I know our adversaries are aiming to do the same thing.”

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