Kyle O’Reilly is going to give Finn Balor a great fight, but the right choice to make for New Year’s Evil should have been Pete Dunne.
Last week, Pete Dunne and Kyle O’Reilly battled in what was possibly the best wrestling match of the week. They were fighting for an opportunity to face Finn Balor for the NXT championship at New Year’s Evil on January 6. After putting on a Match of the Year candidate, it was O’Reilly who came out on top. Securing his position to face Balor again and attempt to claim the most important title on the black and yellow brand. But the question is whether KOR was the right selection to make at a time when fans are calling for fresh matches.
Pete Dunne is one of the best wrestlers in the world. At times, it is hard to believe he is only 27-years old and already putting out the type of matches that are expected of performers with years of more experience. He is put on great outings every phase of his WWE run, and it would have been especially engaging to see what he could do as the foil to this version of Balor.
Balor versus Dunne is a match wrestling fans have wanted to see since Balor’s return to NXT but have yet had the opportunity to enjoy. This was the perfect time to make the match. O’Reilly and Balor just put on an instant classic at NXT TakeOver 31, so for some this match is too soon. Karrion Kross’s return is paving the way for another title run, with Balor being the likely candidate as the man who will drop the title. This makes his upcoming match with O’Reilly a bit more predictable. While predictability in wrestling is not always a bad thing, there are times when having some people involved in predictable matches hinders the interest that can be built for it. This is one of those examples.
Then there is the other side of the coin. What if O’Reilly defeats Balor? Does that mean he is going to quickly drop it to Kross? That would hurt Kross’s viability as a champion because fans are firmly behind KOR now. Putting Dunne in this match does create the air that he is not going to take the belt off Balor, but it protects O’Reilly from being involved in a storyline where fan backlash would likely come swift and loud. Plus, the short time to build to the match at New Year’s Evil does not help, which would have been another opportunity to protect O’Reilly from any mistakes in the booking.
The fans and viewers win with any pairing that can be made with Pete Dunne, Kyle O’Reilly, and Finn Balor. At this point in time, the better decision would have been to go with Dunne over O’Reilly to help further the angles that are coming down the line and protect KOR from damaging booking. Still, we got the match that we have, and the two men involved are two of the best that WWE has to offer.