NXT TakeOver always delivers, but there’s something special about TakeOver 31 and its main event.
Kyle O’Reilly breaks out from The Undisputed Era as a singles star when he challenges Finn Balor for the NXT Championship in a match that’s got many fans – including Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque – buzzing.
“This is going to be one I think you will remember for a long period of time,” Triple H said.
“I always believe there are moments where matches happen that you didn’t necessarily see as being this game-changer in the business but I do believe this one has the potential to change the direction of a lot of things in our industry and change people’s perceptions.”
After years of show-stealing performances with The Undisputed Era, O’Reilly punched his ticket to the main event by winning NXT’s first-ever Gauntlet Eliminator Match. As such, he receives his first opportunity at the NXT Championship.
Significant changes to the NXT landscape in the past six weeks have created a perfect storm for O’Reilly and NXT Champion Finn Balor to collide.
Karrion Kross vacated the NXT Championship due to injury after winning the title at TakeOver XXX; former double-champ Keith Lee left NXT for Raw; Finn Balor became the new NXT Champion with a win over Adam Cole, shutting Cole out of the title picture for now.
While he mightn’t have received this opportunity just yet without the other circumstances, Triple H said it was always in the cards for O’Reilly to have his moment as a singles star.
“I would have liked to have had more time to flesh out that story in the long-run but stuff changes on a week-to-week basis right now, sometimes day-to-day, so you’re really trying to put the pieces together and get to where we can get to,” Triple H said.
“We’ve been talking about Kyle as a singles guy – he’s such a great performer … he’s naturally charismatic, he’s funny, he’s all those things you’ve seen doing what he’s doing but I think now people are going to get to see that at a completely different level and I’m excited for him and he’s excited for that opportunity.”
One supporter of O’Reilly who’ll be watching with great interest is Tony Kozina. Now living in Auckland as a trainer at Fale Dojo, Kozina sent a message of support to O’Reilly – his former trainee in St Louis – on WWE’s The Bump.
“You’ve done all the work, now it’s time to focus and do everything you know,” Kozina said. “All of us down here in Auckland, New Zealand are watching, as is the rest of the world. Now it’s up to you to be great, and I know you will.”
Triple H echoed Kozina’s sentiment.
“I know it’s going to be spectacular. [O’Reilly] and Finn [Balor] have been clamouring about working with each other for a long period of time to me and everybody that would listen, pretty much, so here we are and it’s exciting.”