Adam Cole was originally set for US Title Open Challenge at WWE Royal Rumble
- Jan-Jaap Abbink
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WWE officials considered having NXT's Adam Cole answer the open challenge of US Champion Bobby Roode on the Royal Rumble pre-show, according to Dave Meltzer.
The Wrestling Observer chief told listeners of his radio show today that the company went cold on the idea at the last minute. In the former Ring of Honor star's place, it was Mojo Rawley who stepped up to the plate, losing inside the eight-minute mark.
Cole, whose ribs were taped up after a punishing Extreme Rules match with Aleister Black at NXT TakeOver the previous night, instead competed in the men's Rumble match. Entering at number 23, the Undisputed Era leader lasted just shy of seven minutes before being eliminated by a returning Rey Mysterio.
Yesterday, it was reported that Dolph Ziggler, another surprise entrant in the 30-man free-for-all, was also in the running to face Roode. The Showoff, of course, held the US Title belt just a month ago, before relinquishing it as part of a short-lived retirement angle.
Given that neither Cole nor Ziggler would have gained much from a pre-show defeat at the hands of The Glorious One, WWE probably made the right call in both cases. The fact that the former is already being spoken about as a potential main roster star, however, is a promising sign.