Think professional wrestling is fake? Try telling that to Austin Jenkins.
Jenkins, better known by his ring alias Adam Cole, suffered what he describes as “five major concussions” in the ring, all before celebrating his 27th birthday. As the reigning champion of Ring of Honor Wrestling, Cole travels the world getting paid to take (and administer) a beating every night. It’s the fulfillment of a childhood dream for the Pennsylvania native, who will be in Lockport on Sept. 17 to headline the ROH Reloaded Tour. He took time recently to answer some questions.
Question: You’re in your ninth year of wrestling professionally. How did you get started in the sport?
Answer: I wasn’t allowed to watch pro wrestling as a kid. Then I started taking karate lessons and my sensei ended up letting me borrow a tape of “Wrestlemania XIII.” I saw Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock for the first time and I knew I wanted to be a pro wrestler. When I was a senior in high school I began to train with a group called Combat Zone Wrestling in Philadelphia. I would drive two hours each way, five days a week to train and I loved every second of it.
Q: As a senior in high school, did you ever dream you’d be traveling the globe as a world champion wrestler?
A: When I started wrestling, I told myself I had to do this. I gave myself no backup plan and I chose to put myself in a position where I had to succeed and I had to make a living doing this. I wanted this so bad and I was wiling to do whatever it took to make it, so in that sense I was very confident about going as far as I could in this business.
Q: Between the physical toll it takes on you and the travel, this is a tough way to earn a living. What is it you love about this sport that you’re willing to endure so much?
A: There is no adrenaline rush quite like pro wrestling. To be able to go out for 20 minutes and get an audience to laugh, cry, get angry, to see how excited they are, screaming at the top of their lungs, it is amazing to be part of that. Our world becomes the center of the universe for that little time.
Q: What can fans expect on Sept. 17 in Lockport?
A: If you’re a wrestling fan, Ring of Honor is the true alternative in the world of professional wrestling. We’ve got the guys who hit the hardest and fly the highest and the fans will love the atmosphere and love the vibe. It will be the best three hours of entertainment money can buy.
Q: You’ve got some passionate fans. Do you get to interact with them a lot?
A: I love to spend time with the fans because — and this is painfully obvious — if it wasn’t for the fans, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today. Quick story — I was at an autograph signing before a show and there were fans there that couldn’t afford the price of the photo so I told them, if they waited after the show, I would come out and take photos with them. There were a good 40-50 fans that waited late after the show to meet me and I spent an hour talking to each person, taking pictures and signing autographs. That was the highlight of the night, not my match, but getting to meet the fans.
Q: Where do you see your career five years from now? Is it the goal of everyone in ROH to end up in the WWE?
A: When I was 18-19 I used to tell myself everyday, if I don’t get to the WWE, I’ve failed. I no longer obsess about the future. I focus on what’s in front of me and getting better every single day and that has made me value the time I’ve had and the opportunities I’ve had.
What: Ring of Honor Wrestling
When: 5:30 p.m. (doors) Sept. 17. Pre-show at 6:45 p.m., bell time at 7 p.m.
Where: Kenan Center, 433 Locust St., Lockport