Before They Were Superstars: Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly

Screenshot Courtesy of WWE Network

Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly, along with Bobby Fish, made their presence felt when they attacked the newly crowned NXT champion Drew McIntyre at NXT TakeOver Brooklyn III. Adam and Kyle’s careers have always been intertwined, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. When they were in Ring of Honor, they wrestled together as Future Shock.  Future Shock would never go on to win any tag-team titles, but that didn’t mean Kyle and Adam were done with each other.

Kyle pretty much ended the tag team by going on to team with then ROH World Champion, Davey Richards, and they were known as Team Ambition. Adam went out and got himself a new partner as well: Davey’s former partner, Eddie Edwards. The two teams collided at ROH’s 10th Anniversary show with Adam pinning Davey. While Davey was able to respect losing to Adam, Kyle couldn’t handle it. Ultimately both of these teams were pretty short lived, but the rivalry between Adam and Kyle was just getting started. At ROH’s Best in the World: Hostage Crisis held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, NY on June 24th 2012 they would face each other in a star making match.

All of the screenshots below are from the out of print DVD ROH Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis. [Editor’s note: some of the images depict the bloody match between these two wrestlers.]

The match was the first, and at present time only, “Hybrid Rules” match. The rules were sort of convoluted and many of them didn’t play too much into the match. It was basically a 15-minute time limit match where you had to submit, knock out, or disqualify, or the ref had to stop the match because someone couldn’t continue. It was during ROH’s short time where they were really going all-in on MMA-type wrestlers/matches.


Kyle O’Reilly comes out with his left knee bandaged up and wearing a mouth guard, and Adam Cole is the opposite, injury free and no mouth guard. They shake hands briefly to start the contest. They feel each other out with a great bit of chain strikes before Adam takes Kyle down and starts raining punches down on him.


Kyle is able to reverse out of it and he locks in a cross-arm breaker, which Adam is able to get out of. Kyle tweaks his knee after he flips out of a back suplex, and Adam goes right to work on it with elbows and kicks. Kyle’s able to get into a corner, and Adam continues punching him. The referee breaks them up, and Kyle goes after Adam’s arm again by trying to lock in another cross-arm breaker. In the early part of the match their strategies are pretty clear. Adam’s is to work on Kyle’s leg and Kyle’s is to work on Adam’s arm.

They continue to trade shots and submissions for the next few minutes, and neither one is able to get an advantage over the other. The crowd comes to their feet when both men are trading punches and suddenly Kyle is covered in blood. It’s not his though.


Adam’s mouth was busted and he’s spraying blood everywhere. They continue to trade shots until Adam superkicks Kyle  in the face, knocking out his mouth guard. Kyle gets up and hits a monstrous lariat on Adam. He tells the ref to count him out, but Adam gets right up looking like a man possessed with blood spurting at least a foot from the wound.


Kyle would get in another brief flurry of offense before Adam superkicks him out of the ring. Kyle staggers back into the ring and goes for a cross-arm breaker again, but Adam locks in a single-leg crab before transitioning to a figure-four leg lock. The referee calls for the bell when it looks like Kyle tapped, but he was really trying to break the hold.  Adam goes to shake hands, but Kyle slaps him in the face and stalks away flipping off Adam and the crowd while saying he didn’t tap. The crowd gives Adam a standing ovation while chanting his name, and thus a star was born.


Adam Cole would go on to win the ROH Television Title five days later from Roderick Strong, and a little over a year later he would win the ROH World Title. Kyle O’Reilly would go on to feud with his former tag-team partner and mentor, Davey Richards. He would not do so alone.

He would team up with Bobby Fish, forming one of ROH’s dominant tag-teams, reDRagon, in the process. They would also go on to win the ROH tag titles about a year later. Kyle then beat Adam for the ROH World Title at the end of 2016 before dropping it to Adam a few weeks later.

Their histories aren’t also just limited to ROH. Both men have won the prestigious Pro Wrestling Guerilla tournament, The Battle of Los Angeles, and would also hold that company’s world title. Kyle would be the one to end Adam’s over one year reign with the PWG title.

They have been rivals more than they’ve been allies in their careers, so it’ll be very interesting to see how things play out in NXT.

Fight Forever

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