NXT New Year’s Evil: Why Kyle O’Reilly was the right pick but won’t win

WWE NXT Title Credit: WWE.com
WWE NXT Title Credit: WWE.com /

A world title match has been set for NXT New Year’s Evil between Kyle O’Reilly and Finn Balor, and it was a wise decision to have a rematch.

At NXT TakeOver 31, Finn Balor and Kyle O’Reilly had a title match for the ages in the show’s main event. And on Jan. 6 at NXT New Year’s Evil – another WCW-inspired television special for the Black and Gold brand – they will renew their rivalry.

O’Reilly’s performance at TakeOver 31 blew a lot of wrestling fans away. Most people knew “KOR” was capable of having a match for the ages and being in the main event in singles competition, but the Undisputed Era member still managed to exceed expectations in what can only be described as one of NXT‘s finest matches of 2020.

Balor and O’Reilly beat the hell out of each other, to the point where Balor was put out of action for several weeks due to a legitimate injury. He’s back now, and O’Reilly and Balor can pick up where they left off next month to kick off another year of wrestling in NXT.

The emerging Undisputed Era babyface earned this second title opportunity against “The Prince” by defeating Pete Dunne. Before the match, I actually thought Dunne would get the win for a fresh matchup with Balor. But after watching Dunne and O’Reilly put on their excellent No. 1 Contender’s bout, I was more than satisfied with the outcome of O’Reilly having his hand raised.

For starters, I want WWE to save Dunne vs. Balor. That could be a massive main event of a Pay Per View, especially with a crowd, and it’s better to have a couple of blockbuster matchups like this saved for the hardcore NXT Faithful.

As for O’Reilly, I’m intrigued. I actually think he has a shot of winning, but since WWE seem intent on pushing Karrion Kross HARD, it’s hard to see that happening. Because Kross is probably winning the NXT Title back soon, so it’s not in the brand’s best interest to hot-shot one of their two most valuable titles.

O’Reilly can afford to take another loss, especially with heavy interference, which is what NXT seems to lean on to protect stars. And I’m honestly OK with that when it’s done in a way that brings another story forward. I think that would be the case if Kross interferes, and he could even get some help from Pat McAfee’s stable. Dunne is spiteful and would want some “revenge” for this result, and there are already enough reasons for the group to dislike Undisputed Era.

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Tying in all of these factors, I think O’Reilly was the right man to win and face Balor at NXT New Year’s Evil. The match is going to be great, the story should be continued, and O’Reilly can afford to lose to make way for Kross next. And I actually think that if NXT play their cards right on Jan. 6, they can plant the seed for O’Reilly’s big babyface title run which truly begins by taking the title off a main roster-bound Kross after several months. So if you want two long-term matchups to stick to your brain, as a professor of mine used to say, look at Balor vs. Dunne and O’Reilly vs. Kross.