Adam Cole joined AEW because of the Young Bucks, He could have stayed in NXT, could have remained atop the card of the black and gold brand, or even jumped up to the main roster for a “managerial role” that may now look a good bit different with Triple H running the show. Cole didn’t do that. He left the company that turned him from an indie star to an international phenomenon and probably turned down a much bigger overall payday – WWE runs way more shows than AEW – to join up with his old NJPW/ROH/PWG friends – plus his girlfriend, Britt Baker – in AEW.
What has Cole earned since? Well, he’s wrestled for the AEW World Heavyweight Championship belt twice, for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship once at Forbidden Door, and won the Owen Hart Cup in a pretty darn good bout against fellow former NXT standout Samoa Joe – even if that belt is seldom mentioned on AEW television anymore. All things considered, that seems like a pretty good return on his time investment, though he may not be the biggest fan favorite in the promotion, with more than a few online trolls taking particular pleasure in making fun of his attire, booking, and love of video games, Cole’s pop on the Columbus, Ohio edition of dynamite was that of a returning hero back from putting his body on the line for the fans’ entertainment.
And yet, despite having fully taken over the Undisputed Elite in the absence of Kenny Omega, Cole has never quite felt like the team’s true leader. No, the unit doesn’t operate like a finely tuned machine, with reDRagon and the Young Bucks getting into it on multiple occasions, including the Three Way Championship bout for the AEW Tag Team Championship at Revolution 2022and the Jacksons, Nick and Matt, openly lamenting their lack of friends in the promotion despite Bobby Fish technically being cleared to wrestle.
Fortunately, Cole learned a lesson from the Game of Thrones trailers AEW continues to show on their televised program as part of a #brandsynergy deal with Warner Bros Discovery and decided to cement his power not by the pen but with the sword – or in this case , the steel chair. After discussing both his and Kyle O’Reilly’s lack of medical clearance, Cole informed the Bucks that they would not be competing in the forthcoming AEW Trios Championship Tournament, as he would ensure they too weren’t medically cleared.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) August 4, 2022
“You two won’t be physically capable of doing the tournament.” Yikes, that is not how some expected that segment to go.
Now granted, Cole’s plan didn’t ultimately come to pass, as “Hangman” Adam Page charged the ring with a weapon of some sort (a pipe?) and chased off his biggest in-ring rival. Fans cheered, this little kid cried, and Excaliber verbally opinioned over what many a long-time elite fan was thinking: The Hung Bucks might just be headed to AEW television.
The Hung Bucks can bring their championship pedigree to AEW.
Despite the trio all being AEW originals who have been with the promotion since the very beginning, “Hangman” Adam Page and The Young Bucks have only shared the ring on six occasions.
That seems incorrect, right? I mean, Page and the Jacksons were original members of The Elite alongside Kenny Omega and Cody Rhodes; surely they wrestled more matches than just that, especially while the fact was working a program with The Inner Circle at the top of the card? Well, it’s true; outside of three matches as friends, including in the first ever Stadium Stampede, and three as foes, most notably at Revolution 2020, when the team of Kenny Omega and Hanger retained their titles over Nick and Matt Jackson, the three men have largely worked their separate ways in their own separate matches.
But before AEW, for a little over six months, Page and The Bucks got to know each other very well, as they were the trio’s champions of Ring of Honor, both as representatives of the Bullet Club and as a trio known affectionately as “The Hung Bucks.” The team initially won the belts off of current ROH 6-Man Tag Team Champions Dalton Castle and The Boys at RevPro/NJPW/ROH/CMLL’s War Of The Worlds UKand successfully defended the belts on eight occasions versus everyone from The Best Friends, Chaos, The Kingdom, Bully Ray and The Briscoes, and the very unusual team of Minoru Suzuki, Silas Young, and The Beer City Bruiser before ultimately dropping the straps to SCU at the ROH 16th Anniversary Show after 201 days.
Is that really the team Adam Cole wants breathing down his neck, potentially with the straps around their wastes, especially with his own longstanding history of issues with on-again, off-again friend Kyle O’Reilly, whom he has wrestled on 16 occasions since their first match back in 2009? To paraphrase another one of the world’s best tag teams, you play with fire, you get “The Smoke.”