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By Stuart Carapola on 2013-05-20 09:03:20
Time to kick off another big week o' DVD reviews as Stuart tries to clear out the pile that's been building up on his desk. Our first review this week is of the new and somewhat deceptively named DVD set featuring former ROH TV Champion Adam Cole. I know they had to call the damn thing something, but Panama's Finest makes it sound like he's Central American if people didn't know he's from Panama City, Florida. Aside from that, this was a pretty good set to spotlight Cole's ROH career up to this point and includes a lot of really good matches.

We start off with the increasingly customary 75 minute shoot interview, and Cole begins by talking about how he grew up in a very conservative area in Pennsylvania and his parents wouldn't let him watch wrestling, especially since the Attitude Era was in full swing by that time. Later on when he was taking karate, his instructor lent him a tape of Wrestlemania 15 and he was instantly hooked. He was fascinated with Austin's entrance, and entrances became his favorite part of wrestling because he loved how these guys could get such a reaction just by walking to the ring. He was blown away by Wrestlemania X-7, and the Rock-Austin main event was what made him decide to get into the business.

He says he was an ignorant fan and he only thought WWE was what mattered, and he barely knew about ECW and WCW. He bought the magazines and the Idiot's Guide to Professional Wrestling to find out about schools, and he hooked up with Mike Quackenbush and was around CHIKARA for a bit before going to the CZW school to be trained properly. DJ Hyde talked him into training even while he was in school and worked with him on payments and schedule, and he discussed his parents' reaction to his career choice given that he was still very young at the time.

He learned about CM Punk from the magazines and it led him to check out Ring of Honor, which he thought was way better than WWE and something he wanted to be a part of. He didn't see what was so special about Punk until he saw the bloody straight edge promo he cut on Raven, and then he became Cole's favorite wrestler. He also liked a lot of the other early ROH legends and talks about some of the matches that stood out to him, and how he decided to make the trip to Philly to see the 100th Show, his first time seeing ROH live.

He came out of the CZW school feeling like he wasn't afraid of anything, and DJ made sure everyone he trained respected pro wrestling and didn't carry themselves in an arrogant way. He also got a lot out of training seminars with Les Thatcher, and his debut match with Drew Gulak went well and Drew was very good about helping him get into the swing of things. He knows the stigma CZW has as the ultraviolent company and DJ Hyde hasn't necessarily tried to get rid of that stigma as much as he's worked hard to make the company more well-rounded by fleshing it out with a variety of wrestling styles. DJ came off like a great trainer, he never pressured Cole into doing a deathmatch, and in fact would take his students along with him to shows he was wrestling on to help them make contacts that would lead to them getting work of their own. That helped him develop his skills before he started reaching out to the bigger indies like ROH.

Cole tells a funny story about having to briefly change his ring name, then he talks about working with the other guys he trained with under DJ and some of the funny stories about wrestling and teaming with each other, and how he had what he thought was probably one of the worst matches ever against one of his classmates in a situation where he wanted to make a good impression. He talks about doing better the second time around, then discusses getting a chance to work heel in CZW and how he felt much more comfortable doing that than being pigeonholed as this good looking babyface like he typically is. Cole also mentions what a big part Mia Yim (known in ROH as Princess Mia of the Embassy) played in helping him get the Panama Beach Playboy character over.

Cole talks about what a huge transition it was coming to ROH and not only sharing the locker room with guys like Austin Aries and Christopher Daniels, but also having to be cognizant of working a TV style and having to be aware of things like where the cameras are. He got some advice about not doing preshow matches for Dragon Gate USA and creating a perception that he's a low level guy, and at first he wasn't sure that leaving them and going to ROH was the right move since he didn't get a lot of attention from Adam Pearce early on, but then Delirious took Cole under his wing and got him involved at the ROH Wrestling School. Cole credits Delirious with almost being his second trainer and teaching him a lot about selling and psychology, and generally growing as a wrestler.

Cole knew he had to do something to get Pearce's attention, so he cut a dark heel promo on an ROH show and that grabbed Jim Cornette's attention and he was snapped up almost immediately. He thinks he and Kyle O'Reilly were stuck together because Pearce didn't know what to do with them individually, and the fact that they were told not to get matching gear or a team name led Cole to believe that there weren't long term plans for them as a team. He really liked Kyle and felt like they had great chemistry, and they were unsure about teaming at first since they both envisioned themselves as singles wrestlers, but it ended up working out so well that they were hesitant when they were finally told they were going to split up.

Cole talks about interacting with Steve Corino and wrestling the All Night Express early on, and how wrestling the Bravado Brothers was great because they were both trying to stand out and got to have some great matches while using each other to get over. He liked the HDNet experience because it taught him how to work on TV, and it also helped him become a better indy wrestler because he was more attuned to time restrictions and things like that. He thought the Top Prospect Tournament was a great way to get a bunch of young wrestlers over in a short period of time, and becoming branded as an "ROH guy" really helped his bookings outside ROH and changed his career for the better. Cole talks about Cornette coming up with the Future Shock name, and then says how Wrestlemania weekend when he and Kyle wrestled the Briscoes and the Kings of Wrestling over the course of two nights was huge for them.

Cole says ROH is so focused on making everyone their best that he's got all kinds of people with years of experience from all over the world giving him advice on his promos and ring work. He says there's no selfishness from anyone in ROH and everyone wants to make everyone their best. He discusses the interesting dynamic of being a squeaky clean babyface in ROH and a top heel elsewhere, and having to reconcile how to be better at both simultaneously. He talks about winning Best of the Best and losing the Super 8 finals in 2011, but being named MVP of the tournament by Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

Cole moves on to the Sinclair purchase of ROH and the uncertainty of what was going to happen in the future, but they got to wrestle some great teams like the Bravados, Coleman & Alexander, and win a one night tag team tournament. He felt like they had good chemistry with the Young Bucks, and even though they only had six minutes on the preshow when they first wrestled, it was a big night for them and helped Cole get his foot in the door at PWG. Working with Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards was great, and you don't realize how good they are until you get in the ring to experience it firsthand. He wasn't sure he could work at their level, but it reaffirmed their faith in themselves to hang in there with them. He was happy that he and Kyle were able to go on and have a great match with Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin, and it was exciting to wrestle two guys at their level for the ROH World Tag Team Title.

They had mixed feelings when they were told Future Shock was splitting, because they enjoyed wrestling as a team but were also told that they would be headlining the 10th Anniversary Show. He definitely felt like he was in the pressure cooker when they did that match, because they were main eventing the culmination of ten years of history building in that company. He talks about being the odd man out in the Tenth Anniversary Show main event since the story focused on Davey, Eddie, and Kyle, but he was the one who came out making the name for himself. Eddie Edwards took Cole under his wing the same way Davey did with Kyle, and he learned a lot from working with Eddie. Cole talks about working with Roderick Strong at the Philadelphia National Guard Armory, where he saw his first live ROH show, wrestling Kevin Steen in Virginia, getting thrown around by Michael Elgin, and getting his first ROH World Title shot against Davey Richards. He thought Davey worked hard to make him look like a million bucks, and he gave his best out there.

He says that he and Kyle were nervous about doing the Hybrid Rules match because there was such a backlash online from fans who didn't want to see some kind of MMA knockoff. They felt like they needed to work hard to redeem the match they had in Florida, and some fans were still cool on it until Kyle accidentally busted him open, and then the fans suddenly started going nuts. He realized how badly he was bleeding, but he saw the reaction from the fans and realized he had a chance to ride it and do something awesome. The doctor legitimately coming out to check on him helped play into the match even more, and he's thankful to Kyle O'Reilly for knocking the heck out of him. He also thinks the match helped improve his standing with the 18-35 demographic who don't like pretty boys. Cole says he doesn't lose much sleep over what the internet says, but he does admit that sometimes a reaction to something is so powerful it transcends into the live audience, so they do deserve some credence. He thinks that some people can be real tools about how they say things online, but sometimes there's things to take away from what they say if you can get through the douchy comments.

He was worried about whether he'd be allowed to wrestle the night he beat Roderick Strong for the TV Title since he still had his stitches from getting busted open in New York. Maryland is known for being really hard on blood in matches, but they cleared him to wrestle and he won the title, and he feels like it put him in a unique position to be a PR guy for the company as he appeared on the news and at state fairs to promote ROH. His bookings increased even more than they did when he came to the company since he was now not only an ROH guy, but an ROH champion as well. The title run has helped his confidence, as it's given him opportunities like when he wrestled Matt Hardy, a guy he used to watch on TV as a kid, at Final Battle. Cole talks a little bit more about working Kyle for the TV Title, then talks about how a tape he sent PWG of a heel promo led to him being booked to win the entire Battle of Los Angeles tournament in a really stacked field of entrants. This led to him beating Kevin Steen for the PWG Title, and he talks about how humbling it is to be a major player in ROH and PWG, the best companies on the east and west coasts.

Cole says he had a great year in 2012 and plans to ride that into 2013, and that one of the best parts of working for ROH has been learning to be a babyface, which was something he always struggled with in the past. He says it's probably easier to be a babyface in 2013 since you can have a harder edge as a babyface than you could in years past, but he always enjoyed the really arrogant, obnoxious heels like Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Jericho. Being a jerk comes naturally, but he has to be careful to not do too many cool moves because that will get you over as a babyface. He closes by thanking the fans for everything, because they're the ones who allowed him to live his dream.

We're on to the matches on Page 2!

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