Disc 1 sees Future Shock face the All Night Express in the opener of Final Battle 2010, which I remember being the match where I thought they first really broke out and showed what they brought to the table as a team, then we're on to the Honor Takes Center Stage weekend during Wrestlemania week in Atlanta. They faced the Briscoes on the first night and the Kings of Wrestling on the second, obviously they lost both those matches but looked competitive agains tvery strong opponents. Next is the match with the Young Bucks from Best In The World 2011, and this is the only match on the set they didn't lose, but that was only because the Bravado Brothers ran in to cause a DQ. That incident set up a three way match later in the set that the Bucks won by pinning...you guessed it, Future Shock. Also included are the infamous match where Eddie Edwards wouldn't let go of the Achilles Lock on O'Reilly because he didn't realize the ref stopped the match, leading to friction between Eddie and Davey Richards, and what I believe was Future Shock's first title shot when they challenged Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team.
Disc 2 moves on to the singles portion of Cole's career, starting with him getting mauled by Roderick Strong in a No Holds Barred Match he wasn't even supposed to be in. Eddie Edwards was supposed to wrestle Strong, but had to pull out due to getting a staph infection and Cole took his place. A bond was formed between Cole and Edwards that night that followed Cole through most of the rest of 2012, but really reached its apex when they teamed to face their former partners Davey Richards and Kyle O'Reilly in the main event of the 10th Anniversary Show. Cole scored his breakthrough win here by pinning Davey Richards, Davey's first pinfall loss in over a year, to win the match and earn a title shot against Davey about two months later at Rising Above 2012. Like Cole said in the shoot interview, Davey worked hard to make Cole look good and gave him enough that it looked conceivable that Cole could have pulled off another upset. He didn't, but this was another match where you saw that Cole wasn't quite there yet, but was getting closer each time out and it wouldn't be long before he started winning the big matches.
Cole's first big win singles came in what has to be considered his career match to this point, when he faced Kyle O'Reilly in the Hybrid Rules match at Best In The World 2012. After two years of basically being joined at the hip in ROH, this was the match where O'Reilly and Cole pulled the trigger and left it all in the ring to show what they could do as singles competitors. They beat each other mercilessly, hammering each other so hard that O'Reilly accidentally knocked out one of Cole's teeth and split his lip, an injury that turned Cole's face into a bloody mess and later required stitches and some plastic surgery to fix. Everything was perfect in this match, from the actual wrestling to the selling, and even the accidental damage to Cole's face added an element to the match. Cole looked like he was going through a war, and the spot where the guy from the NY State Athletic Commission came out to check on him couldn't have come off better even though he really was out there checking on Cole's condition. The stuff that was and was not planned all came together and built to a perfect finish where they had worn each other out so badly that Cole caught O'Reilly in a figure four and O'Reilly just didn't have it in him to continue and tapped out.
Now Cole was really cooking, and he followed up the win over O'Reilly with his first title win when he defeated Roderick Strong for the TV Title on the July 28, 2012 edition of ROH TV. Strong and Cole had actually wrestled a couple of other times since their match at the Homecoming and Strong had destroyed him each time, but Cole got closer and closer before finally pinning him clean in the middle of the ring with the Florida Key to start what would become a seven month reign as the ROH TV Champion. You could definitely see the progression Cole had made by this point, and the win over Strong solidified that he had arrived and was a force to be reckoned with, and was no longer the fourth wheel in a feud about three other guys like he had been six months earlier.
We move on to Cole and Edwards teaming to face the Briscoes in October of 2012 at Killer Instinct, then facing each other for the TV Title only a week later at Glory By Honor XI. There were a few interesting things about this match, as not only was Cole now put into the position of having to defend the only ROH title he's ever held against his mentor, but also the fact that Eddie was the first ROH TV Champion, something that's kind of gotten lost to time after he won the ROH World Title and did the feud with Davey. They took a bad spill off the top rope to the floor that really seemed to knock Eddie for a loop, and Cole hit a series of superkicks and the Florida Key to pick up another big win. This match was good, but I felt like it was just kind of thrown out there like any old match and that there was a lot more that they could have gotten out of it from a storyline standpoint.
The set closes with the final encounter between Cole and O'Reilly, as they battled for the ROH TV Title on the November 17, 2012 episode of ROH TV. O'Reilly had scored a non-title win using a rollup with a handful of tights some time after their Best In The World match, so now he gets his last chance to prove once and for all that he was the better half of Future Shock by taking Cole's title. They only got about ten minutes this time around and didn't get as physical as they did at Hybrid Rules, but I liked other things they did here like O'Reilly being prepared to counter the figure four Cole beat him with last time, and Cole having O'Reilly's submission moves scouted as well. Cole hits the Florida Key to win the match and close out this DVD set.
* * *
I enjoyed this set overall, but there were a couple of issues with it. The first is that Cole's body of work isn't large enough to match the standard we see with most other ROH compilations. That's not a knock on him or the quality of his work by any means, but if they didn't have the shoot interview on here, they would have had a tough time finding stuff to fill out the first disc with. The other thing is that almost everything on this set has happened fairly recently, so I don't know how much nostalgia is going to sell this like it would for a Samoa Joe or Nigel McGuinness set where a lot of the shows their matches were originally on are out of print.
I came away from the set feeling like ROH has someone on their hands they really want to get behind, so they release a DVD to drive his importance to the audience instead of the other way around where his work is selling the DVD. I get the mindset and I'm not saying that his matches that weren't on this set sucked. I've never seen a bad Adam Cole match, it's just that most of them didn't mean much in the big scheme of things like the 10th Anniversary Show, Hybrid Rules, and the TV Title win did. I think that for the three or four matches on here that really mattered, you'd do better to get the DVD of the original shows than to pick this up.
I can't give this one a good recommendation, but if the issues I brought up aren't really a big deal to you, then the set is available at www.rohwrestling.com.
If you enjoy PWInsider.com you can check out the AD-FREE PWInsider Elite section, which features exclusive audio updates, news, our critically acclaimed podcasts, interviews and more, right now for THREE DAYS free by clicking here!