NXT TakeOver 31: Finn Balor vs Kyle O’Reilly remind us that less is more

Finn Balor, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa stare down The Undisputed Era on the Oct. 23, 2019 edition of WWE NXT. Photo: WWE.com
Finn Balor, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa stare down The Undisputed Era on the Oct. 23, 2019 edition of WWE NXT. Photo: WWE.com /

Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly delivered the best WWE match of 2020 and they did that without all of the extra shenanigans that are common in the WWE.

Heading into NXT TakeOver 31 the NXT title match between Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly was as highly-anticipated as any WWE match in recent memory. Once the show was over, it was clear that Balor and O’Reilly delivered in every fashion of the word. This was an exceptional example of a professional wrestling match without all the gimmicks and shenanigans that have become customary in WWE. The reception to this match not only shows how great Balor and O’Reilly are, but reminds us that WWE can put on excellent wrestling content when they make the effort to do so.

For nearly thirty minutes Balor and O’Reilly gave fans nearly everything they could ask for in a wrestling match. The match had everything, striking exchanges, top-rope spots, submission grappling and the story needed to deliver a gripping narrative.

But what was more telling is what the match did not have. Run ins, referee bumps, exploding contracts, and mysterious red lights, all of those were missing from this match. Matches on the main roster are becoming more convoluted each week. Every match seems to end in some sort of disqualification or distraction. Even PPVs are being pulled down by this frequent occurrence, nullifying any real meaning of those matches.

Removing all of that from the match between Balor and O’Reilly shows the importance of not only Balor’s run with the title, but O’Reilly’s place on the roster as well. Compare that to the NXT women’s title match that involved a series of referee bumps, Johnny Gargano’s involvement, then the return of both Toni Storm and Ember Moon within minutes. All of that immediately bumps Candice LeRae’s performance out of the conversation, making her an afterthought even though she and Shirai put on another strong match for nearly twenty minutes. The Ridge Holland – Adam Cole issue popped up right after the match ended but did not distract from the greatness that we saw between these two men, elevating their place in the industry.

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WWE has a roster full of men and women that can put on great wrestling matches without all the extra foolishness that is usually thrown in. Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly reminded everyone that when left to their abilities, they can tell the greatest of stories with just their bodies. Big time matches do not need all the extra stuff that have become commonplace in professional wrestling. Removing all of that made Balor versus O’Reilly that much more special and the greatest WWE match of 2020.