AEW star Kyle O’Reilly spoke about hearing a certain phrase that indicated change was on the horizon in NXT, and that he would be better off joining AEW when his contract expired.
As part of the Undisputed Era, Kyle O’Reilly spent a good deal of time as part of a group that was a pillar of the black and gold brand, finding success as a three time NXT Tag Team Champion alongside his Undisputed Era stablemates.
However, as NXT began to leave the black and gold era behind in favor of the brightly colored NXT 2.0, Kyle O’Reilly saw that he might not fit into the new landscape of NXT as well as he once had. When his contract expired in early December, he made the decision not to re-sign with the company, and debuted with rival AEW on the Holiday Bash episode of Dynamite on December 22.
Speaking to Renee Paquette on The Sessions, Kyle O’Reilly opened up about his time in NXT and what led him to the decision to leave. He first detailed how Triple H saw NXT as a brand during the black and gold era as compared to the main roster shows Raw and SmackDown.
“When NXT got its TV deal, there was something Hunter said that I loved when he compared NXT to the main roster. He said ‘NXT was like the broadway show. It’s where the real performers get out there. They’ve got the chops, they can act, they can sing, they can dance, they can do it all and there are no special effects. There’s no big-budget blockbuster movie special effects that are hiding it all like RAW and Smackdown would be.’ I just thought that was such a great analogy, and it really rang true.”
However, the shift to NXT 2.0 has mean massive changes to the brand, even seeing long-tenured employees such as William Regal and Road Dogg released from the company in a reported effort to clear out the people most associated with Triple H’s regime.
Further in the interview, Kyle O’Reilly revealed that he’d heard rumblings of the changes being made, and revealed a certain phrase that set off alarm bells in his head as to his potential future if he remained part of the company.
“‘We don’t want pro rasslers’ was something I heard. And it was like ‘alright but I am a pro wrestler. And I want to be a pro wrestler still. So I want to go where I can be a pro wrestler.’ And I know that the things are the same, sports entertainment, wrestling, it’s all the same. But I don’t know if everyone looks at it that way.”
Kyle O’Reilly took part in a “curtain call” after his last NXT 2.0 appearance
Kyle O’Reilly’s final NXT 2.0 appearance took place on the December 7th episode and saw him lose to former partner Von Wagner in a steel cage match.
After the episode went off the air, fans in the arena sent images of a curtain call featuring O’Reilly and fellow departing star Johnny Gargano, a scene that seemingly spelled the end of the black and gold era once and for all.