Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly. Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole. They are two men that are as similar as they are different. Their history with one another is extensive, and their allegiance as part of Undisputed Era in NXT only scratches the surface of where they are today. Their time together goes beyond their working relationship in NXT or even their past history Ring of Honor. The duo’s connection can be traced back to their matches against one another with the Chikara promotion in the Young Lion’s Cup. They are very familiar with each other in the ring, despite being so different.
“It’s very interesting. Kyle and I have become best friends outside the ring just strictly based on the way that our paths have crossed. The first time I ever met Kyle was 20 minutes before I ever stepped into the ring with Kyle. It was at a Dragon Gate USA pre-show for Gabe Sapolsky in the ECW Arena in Philadelphia. Kyle and I had instant chemistry. I knew when I wrestled Kyle at that point, this was a guy I clicked with more so than anyone else that I’ve ever clicked with before, and then I thought ah, this is really cool.” – Adam Cole
Their time together initially was spent going over what they were going to do during their match against one another. It was that time, energy and effort that proved crucial in determining how it would ultimately turn out. In WWE, talent has hours and hours to discuss what will take place, the sequences of their moves, and again, the result. But that the first time around, O’Reilly and Cole didn’t have that luxury, as for both men time was of the essence. They had to come up with a rough idea, and 20 minutes doesn’t amount to much when trying to lay out what you hope will happen and what will actually happen. The room for error was great, but after that initial encounter, and the ‘feel’ they developed, Cole knew right away good things were going to come for him and O’Reilly.
“Then when we fast forward a little bit and then we both signed to Ring of Honor contracts virtually at the same time. And the truth of the matter is this: Ring of Honor signed us and they knew they wanted to use us, but they had no idea what they wanted to do with Kyle and I. So, they decided to put Kyle and I together as a team, and that was such a cool thing because Kyle and I’s big goals in wrestling was to wrestle for Ring of Honor. So we kind of got to share that experience together, the excitement together and the nervousness together. So, we not only grew together as wrestlers, we taught each other different valuable things, such as helping Kyle with promos and he would help me with in-ring stuff. We really balanced each other out.”
To be taught by someone more experienced than you is one thing, but to learn alongside someone of similar experience, someone that you knew right away complimented your ring style and ability, is quite different. The allegiance of Cole and O’Reilly as a tag team was something that came about at the hands of Ring of Honor management and developed organically afterward. At that time these men were emerging as two of the top young talents in the industry, performers that would not just change wrestling, but in fact, shocking the system of wrestling entirely.
That initial time as a team in ROH wasn’t, in fact, their most notable encounter with one another. As time passed, their best work was still to come, as they were to have a match that is still talked about to this day. It was a match that was epic in its brutality, but incredibly poetic at the same time
“Then I went on to have what I thought was myself and Kyle’s breakout performance, not only in Ring of Honor but in pro wrestling. We had hybrid fighting rules match in New York City where I think Kyle punched me in the face and my face exploded. There was blood everywhere, it was a total battle for the ages. In many ways, Kyle and I compare it, to a lesser extent, to like a Stone Cold vs Bret Hart, with the blood being so vital to that match. Ever since then our careers have just skyrocketed. So, Kyle O’Reilly and I have shared a lot of memories in the past and I’m sure we will for many years to come, and continue to do so.” To read this interview in its entirety click here.
Remember that initial comment about the risk of only having 20 minutes to prepare for a match? In this instance, the familiarity that Cole and O’Reilly had by that point, and knowing that it wasn’t ballet, led to a battle in this match, and in a battle, accidents happen. In this case, the crimson mask that Cole was sporting only highlighted that he was willing to take punishment and preserve. Cole and O’Reilly’s performance in this match succeeded because they trusted one another and were committed to ascending to the top of Ring of Honor.
“Our paths are intertwined, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We were talking after watching Payback, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn having a match at WrestleMania, and their feud goes back to their indy days. You can’t help but to think we’re on the same path, and if we are, we’re very lucky.” – Kyle O’Reilly
Before joining WWE, O’Reilly expressed how rich their history as enemies and as allies have been. It has helped shaped their in-ring experiences. Their initial team of Future Shock saw O’Reilly turn on Cole, and later it was Cole who turned his back on O’Reilly when the two appeared to be reforming Future Shock. They have pushed each other and in each instance are committed to making their matches stand out. However, the more things change, the more they tend to stay the same. After going their separate ways and competing independently in different promotions, they were reunited, along with Bobby Fish as part of the NXT faction the Undisputed Era.
Fish and O’Reilly already had a longstanding relationship with one another, having been tag team champions in ROH and New Japan Pro Wrestling as ReDragon. At NXT Takeover: Chicago O’Reilly and Fish laid out the challengers and champions in the NXT Tag team championship match, and later assisted Cole who was revealed as, the third member of their group.
After their alignment, it appeared as though they would once again become Future Shock, given that they stated that they will shock the system. This was clearly a reflection of their past together, which was called upon to help build their future. As individuals, they both have had some of the most impressive and entertaining matches anywhere in the world. Whether it was in North America or in Japan, O’Reilly and Cole have stood out on a number of different occasions. They have faced each other time and time again. While some may think that for this renewed partnership, at any given moment one won’t need the other, but in this case, it appears that Cole and O’Reilly not only want to work with one another, but that working relationship has helped make them better individually.
An injury to Bobby Fish once again pushed O’Reilly and Cole together, as they then defended the NXT tag team championships in the finale of the Dusty Rhodes Classic at NXT Takeover: New Orleans. That teamwork and knowing one another proved to be meaningful, though Cole was incapacitated for a large portion of the match. In the end, they defended their titles after another ROH alumnus Roderick Strong turned on his partner, WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne and helped Undisputed Era to retain. This was the same evening that Cole became the inaugural NXT North American Champion. Trust, reliability and a friendship that is longstanding is what makes this relationship as successful as it has been.
Which leads us to today. What does the future hold for these two friends on the NXT roster? Both have the world in front of them and continue to develop their skills. Whether they are heels or faces, both men have good things ahead of them. They were sought after and were brought into the company not simply as a means to bolster the roster, but because they have a skill set is admired and welcomed in WWE.
Fans have seen that the styles of both men are becoming more and more of a feature on the brand. Cole has been positioned as the face and spokesman of the group, but that doesn’t mean he is the only voice among the Undisputed Era members. What it does is immediately position Cole to be in the role of both a solo member that contends for either the NXT North American Championship or NXT Championship, and to work with O’Reilly, who teamed with Strong for most of the last year. There’s also Bobby Fish when talking about O’Reilly. What shouldn’t be forgotten in all of this is that when given the opportunity to showcase his personality as part of reDragon during segments of Bobby Fish’s ‘Fish Tank’ talk show, he was more than capable of going outside the box and presenting himself a manner that was either comical, or direct.
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