For 90 percent of wrestlers signed to WWE in the present day, going through NXT is now a necessity before you're allowed to make a name for yourself on the main roster. It doesn't matter where you've been before or what you've done in the past when a new Superstar arrives at Full Sail they need to be prepared to prove themselves to the brass at WWE and show that they can adapt to the pro wrestling juggernaut's different and unique style. Take a look at the likes of Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura for example. Big names across the globe but they still had to knuckle down and show what they're made of all over again in NXT. Adam Cole is the latest NXT signing who fits that description. He may be making a name for himself in NXT right now but here are five reasons why he could turn out to be the next Shawn Michaels.
5. They Look The Same
Let's get this one out of the way first because it's actually a little scary. Adam Cole and Shawn Michaels look extremely similar. If WWE decided to run an angle that revolved around Cole being HBK's long-lost son, then it would be a lot more believable than the current storyline on Raw that's revolving around Jason Jordan and Kurt Angle. Many may not have seen Cole before he debuted on NXT, and those who hadn't were likely taken aback by his likeness to the WWE Hall of Famer. He even wears a cowboy hat from time to time which is just too much, we need to be able to tell you guys apart Adam!
4. He Uses The Super Kick
The plain to see similarities don't begin and end with Cole simply looking like Shawn Michaels either. As he demonstrated long before he arrived in WWE and on his very first night in NXT, Cole has clearly decided to embrace his physical likeness to HBK and thus have his wrestling style and move set revolve around the WWE legend also. Cole's first act in NXT was at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III when he and the rest of The Undisputed Era attacked then-NXT Champion, Drew McIntyre. Cole signed off by hitting the Scot with a superkick. No one hits a superkick like Shawn Michaels, but Cole's is pretty good too.
3. The Fans Love Him
No matter how much a wrestler has done beforehand or wherever they've wrestled before, when they finally make that last step up to WWE it can be extremely scary. There's no escaping the fact that the majority of the WWE Universe watches only WWE's product and they are blissfully ignorant of the vast amounts of pro wrestling going on elsewhere. With that in mind, no wrestler knows what the reaction will be when they step out from behind that curtain for the first time. Cole was likely very relieved when the crowd lost their minds as he attacked Drew McIntyre. That feeling will have been compounded as the whole arena shouted his signature catchphrase along with him, 'ADAM COLE BAY-BAY!'.
2. Triple H Loves Him
Although there are a lot of people that help pull the strings in NXT, ultimately the system is very similar to the main roster since there is one man who has the final say on everything. On Raw and SmackDown Live it's Vince McMahon but in NXT, it's his son in law, Triple H. The Game is the man behind all of the world's biggest names being recruited to come and further their careers at Full Sail. Clearly, The King of Kings is a fan of Cole otherwise, he wouldn't have signed him and wouldn't be featuring him prominently on NXT TV from day one. Granted, Triple H might not be best friends with him like he is with Shawn Michaels, but he certainly has his approval and that counts for a lot.
1. He's A Future World Champion
Above all else mentioned in this list, there is one obvious and overarching reason that Adam Cole has the potential to be the next Shawn Michaels, and that's because he is a terrific wrestler. Many fans may read this entry and correctly point out that Cole has already been a World Champion. However, as touched upon time and time again during this article, he hasn't done it in WWE yet. Not everyone gets the chance to be NXT Champion and that may or may not be in Cole's future, but there is no disputing that based on his current skill and trajectory he will one day be a World Champion on the main roster. Imagine if he wins it at WrestleMania just as Michaels did when he first became WWE Champion.