AEW star Kyle O’Reilly has explained his decision to leave WWE to seek new opportunities elsewhere.
In December 2021, Kyle O’Reilly decided to follow his former Undisputed ERA teammates Adam Cole and Bobby Fish in leaving NXT to join AEW. O’Reilly made his debut on the December 22nd episode of Dynamite, only two weeks after saying his farewells to the former black and gold brand that had been his home since 2017.
Sitting down with Chris Jericho on his Talk of Jericho podcast, O’Reilly said that AEW felt like the next logical step in his career. He also opened up about how things had changed in NXT after it was relaunched as NXT 2.0 in September.
“Seeing Bobby and Adam come [to AEW], how could you not want to be back with these guys and part of a group like AEW where every week it’s like a TakeOver crowd, just on TV. We talk about the natural progression and next steps of one’s career and it felt like, for me, it was the next logical step for me.
“NXT 2.0 rebrand happened and it felt like, before the rebrand, Kyle O’Reilly was a top guy in NXT and after the rebrand, plans shifted. That’s fine, it’s business. I’m totally willing to do what I can do get anyone else get over and for the last few months there, I tried my damndest to do so with everyone I worked with.”
Saying he wanted to be excited about going to work again, O’Reilly spoke of the new world of match opportunities now available to him. He also explained that he feels he has unfinished in New Japan Pro Wrestling, a company with whom AEW enjoy a strong relationship.
“I just wanted to be excited about going to work again and I felt like I left a ton on the table with New Japan and then here, I know there is a good relationship with New Japan. It seemed like a new frontier.
“There are so many talented guys, so many exciting matchups, so many exciting tag matches because the tag division is stacked and I love tag team wrestling and my tag team partner, the company released and now he’s [in AEW].
“My deal was done, it was coming up in December, and I ended up doing a week extension just to finish up and do good business by them and finish with WarGames and TV to put Von Wagner over and do business right. I’m happy to do so. The opportunity came to come here, sorting a deal out with Tony (Khan) a day or two before my debut and here we are.”
O’Reilly was also asked about how those in NXT took his decision. The former NXT Tag Team Champion said that everyone was positive and supportive of the choice.
“Everyone was very encouraging of, ‘go where your heart is leading you.’ That’s what got me into WWE in the first place. They were all very supportive of doing what’s best for me and my family. Everyone was cool about it all.”
Kyle O’Reilly made his AEW in-ring debut alongside Bobby Fish on the December 29th edition of Dynamite.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.