It happens every time. When the NXT champion drops the title, especially after a long reign, everyone expects he’ll appear on either Monday Night Raw or Friday Night Smackdown soon. It happened with Andrade, Drew McIntyre, and Shinsuke Nakamura. Will it happen to Adam Cole, the now former and longest-reigning NXT champion?
There are good reasons why Adam Cole shouldn’t want that. Because as great as he’s been in NXT, marsupials just can’t compete with placental mammals.
Even though they both basically got their starts at the same time, way back in the middle Jurassic Period, about 170 million years ago. Of course mammals wouldn’t get a real chance until the dinosaurs disappeared, but the marsupials were already behind the eight ball.
There’s a reason the mammalian infraclass that includes human beings is named the way it is — the placenta is awesome! Who wouldn’t want a temporary organ that connects a developing fetus with its mother’s circulatory system, providing nutrition AND some immunities, before even seeing the light of day?
F*cking marsupials. Okay, they do have placentas, but they don’t last as long, forcing marsupials to give birth to less-developed offspring that need much more care and shelter. And while a pouch might look cool, it’s really no substitute for keeping that kid cooking a little longer, so it can actually defend itself when it hits the ground.
Maybe they knew they couldn’t hang, and that’s why the metatherians (the direct ancestors of marsupials) peaced out of their native China and went trekking into Europe, not on a quest of self-discovery — just looking for ecological niches that weren’t dominated by better-adapted animals. When THAT didn’t work out, they continued on to North America. (While the supercontinent Pangaea had begun to split, with Australia separating from China, the Asia/Europe/North America group was still together).
It’s there/here that the first true marsupials appeared, around 65 million years ago (what a coincidence). Of course, they couldn’t just be happy with that, and continued their protracted exodus down to South America, when a land bridge that may have eventually become the Caribbean islands rose up and connected the two continents.
And boy did they have it made! Finally! While big-ass, hoofed placental mammals filled the herbivore niches, giant marsupials that resembled dogs, bears, and even big cats were the continent’s top carnivores 55-60 million years ago, with their only real competition being the terror birds (imagine an ostrich with a thick neck and a curved beak that it used to repeatedly strike prey, like an axe).
But you had to know it wouldn’t last. Another bridge to North America appeared (the isthmus of Panama, this time), and all the placental carnivores that had been stuck there headed on down. While it’s no longer thought that this new competition was the sole reason that almost all the South American marsupials died out, with only 85 or so species remaining, it certainly played a part. (Strangely enough, the only remaining marsupial in North America, the opossum, evolved in South America and came back up through Central America to get here).
The little class that could had one more trick up its marsupium, though. Just after Australia had split from Antarctica (50 million years ago), a tiny group of marsupials literally rafted to the new island continent, a paradise where all the placental mammals had disappeared, for reasons still not fully understood. Without ecology’s bad boys throwing them in the dirt and taking their lunch money, the Australian marsupials become the dominant and weirdo lifeforms we know today.
And it only took them 120 million years to get there, when they could have just turned left and gotten to Australia in the Jurassic, instead of taking a global, multi-Era f*cking detour.
So take heed, Adam Cole. Despite being undersized and having less-than-dazzling offense, you’ve done well in NXT, WWE’s land of neat but not-so-threatening wrestlers. Maybe don’t be so quick to move up to where the competition is much more developed, lest you take a trip around the C-shows only to wind up right back where you started.
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