Former NXT Champion Adam Cole's contract with WWE is reportedly set to expire this month.
Wrestling Inc reports Cole signed an extension to compete for the company beyond NXT Great American Bash on July 6, which was initially rumored to run through 2024, but actually will expire after SummerSlam on August 21, 2021.
PWInsider reports several WWE executives were surprised by the news as it was believed Cole was at least "locked in through January 2022," while other reports indicated the aforementioned 2024 expiration date.
Wrestling Inc reports WWE officials were frustrated by news of Cole's contract status being made public and the contract situation is reportedly related to former Senior Vice President of Talent Development Canyon Ceman being let go by the company, which was initially reported on July 23.
PWInsider noted that the timing of several executives learning about the contract issue involving the former NXT Champion "very much lines up with the timing of" Ceman's departure from WWE.
News of Cole's contract uncertainty also comes amid Fightful Select's (subscription needed) report that the recent release of former multi-time World Champion Bray Wyatt resulted in "a hit to morale for several" superstars.
Cole also has strong ties to WWE's biggest North American competitor, All Elite Wrestling, which has acquired numerous former WWE stars amid numerous departures in recent months.
Cole's girlfriend, Dr. Britt Baker, DMD, is currently the AEW Women's Champion and has stated publicly that she plans to spend the rest of her career with the promotion.
The former NXT Champion is also close friends with executives Matt and Nick Jackson, Cody Rhodes and Kenny Omega, having previously wrestled alongside the four as a member of Bullet Club for New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor, as well as being a former mainstay on the YouTube series Being the Elite -- which ultimately led to AEW's 2019 launch -- prior to signing with WWE.
Cole is a one-time NXT Champion, the inaugural NXT North American Champion and a one-time NXT Tag Team Champion alongside former Undisputed Era members Roderick Strong, Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly.
The 32-year-old has spent the majority of his tenure with WWE competing for the NXT brand since signing in 2017.