Adam Cole Talks In Depth About His Concussion Injury And How He Didn’t Know If He Was Going To Wrestle Again

Adam Cole spoke with Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio this week about his serious concussion injury which he says was the scariest part of his life.

Cole went down with the head injury at the cross branded AEW and NJPW show Forbidden Door in June of 2022. Cole took part in a fatal four way match against Kazuchika Okada, Adam Page and IWGP Heavyweight Champion at the time Jay White. After the match, it was reported that Cole was working through a minor injury and that he suffered a severe concussion. After several months out, Cole finally returned on the January 11th episode of Dynamite in 2023 and his promo indicated that he was clear to wrestle and free from his injuries.

Speaking with Meltzer, Cole detailed his injury, how he felt dealing with it and how good it feels to be back on the road with AEW. Cole said:

“I feel great. Again, the idea of just being able to be back on the road in some capacity, and kind of just be around AEW has been great for me mentally. But as far as physically, it’s the best I’ve ever felt. I still have a little ways to go until I get to a point where I think I’m ready to rock and roll as far as going in the ring and having a 30-or-45-minute match. But as far as far as how I’m feeling, again, compared to even two-and-a-half, three months ago, I feel fantastic. I feel really, really good. Then like I said, just mentally, to be able to be back at AEW, around the fans, around the crew, has been huge for me. So I feel good. I feel really good”

Cole continued on how he felt during his recovery: He said: “I was thinking about that a lot because I did have a fair amount of time, and it’s been like six months since I had a match. I was going back and thinking about my career, and over the 15-year career that I’ve had, I think the longest amount of time I was ever away from the road in may capacity was like a month, a month-and-a-half. There was a point where I injured my shoulder very early on, and I had to get surgery. But I was still, like a month later, back on the road and still doing stuff and being around wrestling. So being actually away for that amount of time, I kept trying to focus on all the positives, and one of the things I kept telling myself was, okay, this has gotta be great for my body, to give myself a second to kind of reboot and heal. I did. I noticed certain things like I was sleeping better, I felt like as I was training at the gym and stuff, when I got called cleared to get back into the gym, I felt better. So yeah, I think it was definitely a plus in that sense, of getting the chance to fully recover and make sure that I have years and years of my pro wrestling career left”

Cole then went on about the scariest part of his career: “I think that was definitely the scariest process, aside from the fact that, again, any time you get a head injury, it’s always a little bit scary. But for me, the scariest part was after like a month had gone by. The first three weeks to a month, you’re like, ‘Okay, I’m recovering, I’m just healing. I’m gonna be fine. I’m not gonna have any side effects. Everything will be great.’ The crazy thing was that after even a month, it was like that’s when real serious side effects started happening. Literally, everything I said in my return in-ring promo that I did, all of that was true, and more. There was a lot of stuff that was happening very late into the healing process, or what I thought was late, like a month-and-a-half, two months. But I was genuinely very, very nervous, and really afraid that I might be told I’m not allowed to wrestle again. For me, I have a tendency lots of times where, when I get bad news, I just assume the worst. I mentally prepare myself to go, ‘Okay, I’m gonna have to deal with this new chapter of my life.’ Of course I had the hope and dream of being able to get back in there. But just with all the news I was getting, how I was feeling, I’m like, oh my god, I can’t be in a car for more than 15 minutes, and it’s been two months. How am I ever gonna get into a wrestling ring again? But fortunately, I’ve said this before too, but the doctors that I had around me, AEW by the way was fantastic through this entire process. It was like I barely had to think, it was like so many things were set up for me that, in the middle of all this, where I was seeing doctors like three times a week, they just wanted to make sure I was healthy and feeling okay. I was constantly being checked on. So in that sense it was wonderful, but again, I did have a genuine fear of, I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to do this. I’m 33 years old, and I’m not even close to wanting to be done with wrestling yet. So it was scary,” Cole said.

Cole talked about how it his body felt while all the issues were ongoing, he worked through an injured shoulder, Cole then noticed some issues with his body and that he knew something wasn’t right:

In a lot of ways, I’ll go back even earlier, where I kind of felt like, even day to day, I felt pretty banged up in general. I was doing okay, and I wrestled sore, and I worked for months being banged up. A lot of wrestlers have, obviously. That’s just part of what we do. But I kind of noticed that certain things weren’t adding up correctly. For example, when I re-injured my shoulder, I had just got done with the Hangman Page matchup at the pay-per-view, and I’m warming up, getting ready for another match, and I just felt this sharp pain in my shoulder, and I didn’t understand what it was. I’m just warming up. This was before I even got out there, and then I went and got it checked out, and there was a partial tear in my labrum, and a strained rotator cuff, just from warming up. I’m like, ‘What is going on?’ A few weeks after that is the Owen Hart final with Samoa Joe, and again, nothing particularly caught me or got me. There was no moment where I was like, ‘Oh, this is what did it for me.’ All of a sudden, I just noticed that my body was not moving correctly with what my brain was telling it to do. I remember everything, but I remember being so confused, like my legs didn’t feel like they were working correctly, I just felt like I was walking weird, my balance was off. Then after that match, again, immediately, the doctors thought something was up. I got tested, they said that I had a head injury there. So again, normally, after that, I thought everything was okay,” Cole said.

Cole further explained how he felt before his Forbidden Door match and what he remembers from the actual match itself:

“I had taken a few weeks off, getting ready for Forbidden Door. I had passed every single test I had to take. So I thought, ‘Oh, I’m good to go.’ Then again, at the Forbidden Door matchup, the strangest thing about is, I remember feeling really good. I had taken a bump where I felt a little bit weird, but it wasn’t anybody’s fault. It was a normal bump. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, okay. That felt a little strange.’ About 30 seconds go by, and then it’s like I have no recollection or memory of what I’m supposed to do, what happened in the match. The memory stuff is the really, really scary part to me, when you’re in the middle of a ring and there’s thousands of people around you, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing. That was really scary. So I knew pretty early on after my memory started going that something was wrong. Once again, got to the back and got checked out. That one was really scary because they were so close to each other. It wasn’t just scary because of how close they were to each other. But what really scared me a lot, and this was part of where the concern of if I’m gonna be able to wrestle again came from, is I didn’t anything insane. It wasn’t this dramatic move or this insanely dangerous move that I had taken. It was a standard pro wrestling match, where now I’m at a point where I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing, where I am, or what’s going on. That really created a lot of fear in me, and I think a lot of fear in a lot of the doctors as well. So that’s kind of what happened. It felt like this domino effect of first it was the shoulder, then it was the head, then it was okay, let’s rest three or four weeks, and then it was the head again. It was definitely the scariest part of my career, I think, in the 15 years I’ve been doing this,” he said.

Cole then delved into how he felt after the injury and the negative feelings he was experiencing. He then mentioned how he passed a test and he knew he’d be able to get back in the ring:
As far as emotionally, what I was going through, obviously I think the head injury played a part in how I was feeling, especially early on, the first few months. I know I talked with Britt [Baker] about this before, but there would be times where, for no reason, I would just start crying. She would ask me what’s wrong or what’s happened, and I genuinely would look at her, and I meant it, and I would say, ‘I don’t know. I have no idea why I’m so emotional.’ Aside from the head injury side effects, again, my entire life has been devoted to pro wrestling. When I was nine years old, that’s all I ever wanted to do, and getting to have the career that I’ve had is something that I’ll cherish forever. I love pro wrestling more than anything in the world, and the idea of imagining that that could be over at such a young age or at such an important part of my career, was devastating to me. But then I would go back and forth and say, ‘No, I have a great team of doctors around me. I am working as hard as I possibly can every single day to make sure that I get back. I’m gonna do it. This is just another speed bump, and I’m gonna get through it.’ Early on, there were a lot of ups and downs in that sense. But for me, there were a couple of months, but the big one is, and I won’t go into crazy detail, but long story short, there was a test I had to take two months after that second head injury, and that test, I scored so poorly that there was a concern of whether or not I could even drive. That was two months after the second head injury, so that was absolutely devastating. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god, this is real. This could potentially be something that I deal with forever, or potentially this could be something where I’m not gonna be able to get in the ring again. But after a few, it was probably two, two-and—half months after that, I took the test again, and I passed it with flying colors. Not only did I meet the average, but I exceeded the average. When I saw that and the reaction from the doctor I was working with, her excitement as well, I’m like, ‘Oh my god, we’re gonna do this. We’re gonna make this happen. I’m gonna be able to get back into the ring.’ So the one test I had to take for my brain, when I eventually passed that test, that was so, so incredible to get that news at that point because again, you’re scared about losing the thing that you love the most. So that was a point where I was like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna make this happen. This is gonna work,'” Cole said.


Author: Alex Bakothanasis

Photo Credit: AEW

Published by One Stop Wrestling

Wrestling fan

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