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Bronson Reed Begins NXT Title Pursuit With Match Against Adam Cole

Sports Illustrated logo Sports Illustrated 7/27/2021 Justin Barrasso
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Tuesday’s showdown has huge implications for the 32-year-old’s future.

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There aren’t many certainties in pro wrestling, but an undeniable truth is that whenever you become champion, someone is eventually going to defeat you for that title.

Much sooner than he expected, this was a reality Bronson Reed experienced last month. After winning the NXT North American title in May, courtesy of defeating Johnny Gargano in a fantastic steel cage match, Reed lost the belt only 42 days later.

“It was definitely something I never saw coming,” says Reed, 32, whose real name is Jermaine Haley. “But there’s usually a reason for things. I think there was more I could have done with the North American championship, but losing also opens up new challenges for me. Look at Bret Hart. Every time he lost a belt, he built himself up into something bigger. That’s the mindset I have. I’m not going to be negative; I’ll always look for the positive.”

Reed appeared to be in line for a title reign that stretched through August’s upcoming TakeOver event. Instead, he helped play a key role in the first NXT title victory for Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, who has the potential to become a major force in WWE.

“I got to have a moment in the ring with my wife after I won the belt, and now Swerve gets to experience being a champion,” Reed says. “He is extremely talented, and this is a great opportunity for him.”

Reed is a super heavyweight who brings a unique power and flair to NXT. While it seemed his sudden title loss may have signaled a transition to Raw or SmackDown, he still has much to accomplish in NXT. Given another 12–18 months, he will have the opportunity to become the signature star of the brand, which was groundwork he helped lay during his time as North American champ.

“Hopefully becoming North American champion inspired people, whether that’s kids from back home in Australia or kids that look a little different or have been told they can’t do what they’re dreaming of doing,” Reed says. “That is my goal as WWE superstar, especially as a champion.”

Reed can take a monumental step toward inserting himself in the NXT title picture with an impressive showing Tuesday, which, due to the Olympics, will air on SyFy instead of its usual home on USA Network. He meets Adam Cole, a cornerstone of the main-event picture.

“It’s a great opportunity,” says Reed. “It’s a chance for me to show who I am. I’m not just a regular super heavyweight. I’m a work-rate super heavyweight.”

Reed’s size and skill make him a distinct commodity in the pro wrestling industry. Listed at six feet tall and weighing more than 300 pounds, he stands out for his ability to wrestle various styles. Reed can work a technical match, understands the craft of lucha, and he has mastered the more traditional style for a big man. He also possesses the endurance to work for a 20- or 30-minute match. Reed is extremely well versed in every aspect of pro wrestling, which people are going to witness when watching him against Cole.

“I see myself as a main-event-caliber talent for NXT, and that world title is definitely a goal of mine, so proving myself against Cole is very important,” Reed says. “We’ve bumped shoulders backstage before, and I’d always wondered what it would be like to share the ring with him. Now it’s time for people to see it.”

If current NXT champ Karrion Kross moves full-time to Raw, he will need to drop the title. Kross is currently involved in a feud with Samoa Joe that will likely reach its boiling point next month, so it does not take much to envision an eventual program pitting the intimidating Joe against the monstrous Reed.

“I’m excited to work my way up that ladder into the title picture,” said Reed. “That begins with the match against Cole. I’ve always had to work for every opportunity I’ve been given. I’ve started from the bottom rung, from the independents in Japan and going all the way to NXT, and working my way up here.

“I’m not afraid of hard work. People are going to see that every time they watch me in the ring.”

Justin Barrasso can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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