To some, one of the biggest question marks of the last decade of WWE history regards what a main roster Adam Cole run would have looked like.

The former standout and leader of The Undisputed Era, Cole held the NXT World Champion and North American Championship for a combined 529 days and is responsible for some of the greatest matches of the Black and Gold era of developmental, with a pair of matches against Johnny Gargano earning over five stars from Dave Meltzer.

And yet, fans did get a glimpse of what could have been, as Cole was afforded a single solo match on SmackDown versus future AEW coworker Bryan Danielson – aka Daniel Bryan – back in 2019. Appearing on Swerve Strickland's Swerve City Podcast, Cole explained how his match with Danielson came together and almost didn't happen at all.

“It was like 1 p.m., and I was walking around in shorts, no shirt on, just casually making some food, and I got a phone call, and they said, ‘Hey, you need to get on an airplane. I'm going to send you the address. You need to be there in an hour,'” Cole said via Wrestling Inc. “I got the address a minute later, and the airport was 50 minutes from where I was from. So I had 10 minutes to throw all my stuff in a bag, and then rush to this airport.”

“I'll tell you what the beautiful thing was about that. I didn't have time to be nervous.”

What would have happened if Cole was still in the WWE system when Paul “Triple H” Levesque took over? Would he be stuck in no-man's land a la Gargano, or would “The Game” have placed his former NXT Champion in a position to succeed like the second-coming of Shawn Michaels, giving him the United States Championship at minimum? Unfortunately, we may never know, but when watching back that match between Cole and Danielson, it's hard not to imagine what could have been.

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Adam Cole explains his backup plans if he couldn't have returned to wrestling.

Elsewhere on Swerve City, Adam Cole was asked about his career-threatening concussion issues and what he would have done if he was unable to return to the ring.

“I'm not kidding, and I'm sorry because this sounds like such a standard answer, but I really do mean this. I was mentally preparing to have to start a new life without wrestling. That was so difficult for me,” Cole said via Fightful.

“I'm thinking, maybe I'll Twitch stream. Maybe I'll do something in gaming. Maybe I'll start a wrestling school. I was really, mentally trying to prepare myself for that happening. Being cleared and being able to come back and travel again and being on an airplane, walk out to the ring, and have a match; my goal going forward is just be able to continue to wrestle. When I was able to come back and wrestle Daniel Garcia, and be out there with Britt and the fans, and the confetti came down, it was my favorite moment of my career because of how much it meant to me and how for months and months, I thought I wasn't going to be able to come back.

“At this point, of course I have goals like, I want to move up the ranks in AEW and challenge for and maybe someday be a world champion and travel and do more things and awesome stuff within wrestling. At this point, when I wake up, there is a whole new appreciation for this job. I never lost appreciation for wrestling, but now, after going through what I went through, I'm not kidding, every single week I show up at TV and I'm like, ‘I have the best job in the world. This is incredible.' Wrestling week to week, that's the main goal.”

Fortunately for Cole, he's been back in the ring for two months now, and though his match with Garcia did have a few “watch through your fingers” moments, he was able to leave the ring in one piece and enter into a feud with Chris Jericho which has been widely appreciated by fans, especially since fellow Undisputed Era member Roderick Strong crossed the line from WWE to AEW. With an Unsanctioned Match against “The Ocho” set for Double or Nothing, Cole will be one step closer to accomplishing his goal of re-establishing himself as one of the very best performers in all of professional wrestling, even if he left a ton of “dream match” meat on the bone in WWE.