A proven entity in the squared circle, Kyle O'Reilly established himself as a main event player recently, when he became the number one contender to Finn Balor's NXT Championship. Although most have followed only his career in WWE, O'Reilly cemented himself as both a single and tag team champion in many promotions such as Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Ring of Honor, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. With NXT TakeOver: 31 about to take place on Sunday, he is more ready than ever to show the WWE Universe just how worthy he is as a singles challenger.
"You're right. I haven't had a lot of singles matches in my WWE career. I mean, Finn has probably had more singles matches in this last month then I've had in three years here," O'Reilly calculated during his interview on WWE's The Bump. "That's not going to change my outlook. I'm a strategist; The Undisputed Era, we're a team. We're going into this match as a team. I'm still studying the matches.
"A match with Finn is something that I've wanted for a long time. I mean, we just missed each other throughout our careers up until this point. When I finally came to America, he was in Japan. When I finally got over to Japan, he came here. So, the fact that this match is finally happening is one thing, but putting it as the main event at TakeOver for the NXT Championship, that's just icing on the cake. It's a beautiful thing."
Before they made their debut in WWE as The Undisputed Era, O'Reilly had established a brotherhood with Adam Cole and Bobby Fish, who he had won tag team titles with as reDRagon. Even though things look neat and polished on the outside, many wonder if there could be a divide among Cole and O'Reilly's long-standing friendship, especially if he wins the NXT Championship. O'Reilly doesn't think he has anything to worry about.
"I don't think there would be a Kyle O'Reilly - as you know him - without Adam Cole," he admitted. "Our careers have been in sync for many years. One of my breakout matches, when I moved to the states, was with Adam. We were just two kids on a pre-show match for some notable independent promotion, but we just killed it!
"We've been tight every sense. Whether we're tagging with each other as part of The Undisputed Era, or heaven forbid, as opponents, there's just some magic there. There is this brotherhood and bond that I've never experienced with anybody else in my career."
O'Reilly has cemented himself as one of the best technical grapplers in the game. As he was honing his craft long ago, he found that Daniel Bryan made quite an impression on his trademark style. If it wasn't for Bryan, O'Reilly doesn't believe he'd be as sound as he is now.
"A guy who really has influenced me a lot since I've been wrestling has been Daniel Bryan," he replied. "Man, his style and the way he's blended, I was like 'ok, this is what I want to do and want my wrestling to look like.' He's one of the greatest of all time. I've never had the pleasure of wrestling him one-on-one. I think we wrestled a tag [match] many years ago, but even from that encounter, I learned so much."
When looking at the big picture, O'Reilly hopes that after tonight, he'll walk out the new NXT Champion. If he does win this main event title, his championship strides will continue towards other venues, which include reclaiming his former tag team gold as well.
"Well, I've had singles success before coming to NXT," he clarified to the panel. "I was always able to juggle that singles success while still remaining a top tier tag team wrestler. I love tag team wrestling. I've had a lot of amazing partners, The Undisputed Era included.
"The fact that I'm getting this singles opportunity, I'm going to run with it and make the most out of it. I'm never going to wash my hands completely from being a tag team guy because that's something I absolutely love, and I can always go back into doing. When I'm NXT Champion, I'll go get the tag team titles as well and become the double champ."
You can watch Kyle O'Reilly's full interview here. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE's The Bump with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.