As a veteran of over 16 years, Delta, British Columbia native Kyle O’Reilly has made a career of hitting hard, hitting often, and doing it all over the world.
O’Reilly first began his career competing on the Canadian West Coast’s Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling. Less than a year later, after being trained by the likes of Aaron Idol, he graduated from ECCW’s House of Pain Wrestling academy. O’Reilly, in fact, defeated Idol at his graduation show. By the Summer of 2007, O’Reilly would capture the Pacific Cup tournament. His time in the promotion was met with notable matches such as the Last Man Standing battles, NWA Canadian Junior Heavyweight Championship & Heavyweight title matches.
However, the challenge to be the best wouldn’t come without its struggles. While wrestling has often seen men and women of all different shapes and sizes battle to achieve fame in the industry, O’Reilly’s challenge isn’t something he was going to allow define who he is, the type of wrestler he is, and limit him in how far he would go in wrestling.
“I visited a doctor to get my physical done for wrestling, to get my Washington State wrestling license, and the doctor comes back and asks me if I have type 1 diabetes. I was like, ‘no.’ So that was awkward (laughs). The diagnosis kind of came out of nowhere, but after that, it’s been a blessing in disguise. It keeps me accountable for my own health, and I’m a lot more on top of everything now. Once I was able to get on insulin therapy, I was able to gain the weight back.” – Kyle O’Reilly on diabetes diagnosis and ability to achieve despite it.
By his own account, O’Reilly would allow this to be more mindful of what he would do. Ensuring his own health wouldn’t be compromised in the process. As fans have often seen, O’Reilly would maintain a physique that represents his skillset. Even those that have trained with or under him can attest to how committed he is in the ring. As both a competitor and as a trainer. It didn’t matter when, where, or with who – Kyle O’Reilly doesn’t come in lightly. As retold by the former Curt Stallion, he spoke of how it was O’Reilly that would be ready to train at any time.
Kyle O’Reilly is hands-on in the ring, and he would show up because he lives here in St. Louis, or he would text me at an obscure time like 11 in the morning and be like, ‘Hey, do you want to train today?’ I would say, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ His training is definitely hands-on. – Curt Stallion on training with Kyle O’Reilly
It would be important for O’Reilly to stretch his legs and move beyond what he had learned on the Canadian West Coast. O’Reilly would compete for Full Impact Pro, facing the likes of Davey Richards. Upon his entry to EVOLVE, O’Reilly would face someone that would soon become his tag team partner – Bobby Fish. During his time in EVOLVE, O’Reilly would also face such luminaries as TJP and Ricochet. From EVOLVE, O’Reilly would compete for Dragon Gate USA; he would face someone he would long be tied to, Adam Cole.
After competing in various places over the course of a couple of years, O’Reilly would join Ring of Honor in 2009. While in ROH, he would face several notable names early on in the promotion, including the ROH Champion at the time Austin Aries. However, it would be with Adam Cole whom O’Reilly would form a tag team with. Together they defeated the likes of Kevin Steen (Owens) & Steve Corino and the All-Night Express. They would challenge for the ROH Tag Team Championships as well. Cole & O’Reilly remained a team until 2012, where they split up and formed new alliances with others in the promotion. Although they had formed different teams, there was no animosity between the two. That was until O’Reilly defeated Cole at Best in the World: Hostage Crisis. After their match, O’Reilly would slap Cole in a sign of disrespect, ensuring his heel turn.
It was a huge moment for me. It was my seven years in Ring of Honor finally reaching that moment that I worked so hard for. When I first broke into wrestling, I was a huge fan of Ring of Honor. The guys I was watching, like Joe, Punk, Bryan Danielson, those were the guys who I looked up to, even more than mainstream wrestlers at that time. It was always my goal to get into Ring of Honor – Kyle O’Reilly on defeating Adam Cole for the Ring of Honor World Championship.
As much as O’Reilly had been successful in singles, it was in tag team action that he truly thrived in Ring of Honor. By the Winter of 2012, O’Reilly would align with Bobby Fish forming the tandem reDRagon. Together they would capture the tag team championships and face several high-caliber teams during this time. O’Reilly and Fish would defend their titles all over the world, including Japan, as part of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s annual Wrestle Kingdom event. However, after eight years with Ring of Honor, Kyle O’Reilly would depart the promotion. After capturing the Ring of Honor World, Television, and Tag Team Championships, O’Reilly would explore other challenges outside the ring.
Our styles are different, but there is a common thread between what we both do. There is a discipline to pro wrestling and martial arts, and there is no substitute for repetition. MMA has a strong influence on pro wrestling these days, but if you’re going to do that, you can’t fake it. You need to know your stuff. We’ve been sharpening that sword over two continents in multiple companies. A culmination of that was Kyle’s TakeOver match with Finn Balor. Kyle blends the two worlds, and that’s also what keeps my flame burning.” – Bobby Fish on teaming with Kyle O’Reilly.
O’Reilly & Fish would have one of the most dominant Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship reigns in recent memory. As mentioned earlier, they defeated the likes of The Addiction, The Briscoes, and The Young Bucks. However, capturing the IWGP Junior Tag Team Championships showed how this duo were world-class athletes defeating the best talent from all over the world. Whether it was against The Young Bucks, Roppongi Vice, or the Time Splitters, O’Reilly and Fish had become one of the most dangerous teams in wrestling in their time together.
Fish put it best when he stated how he and O’Reilly’s are both influenced by Mixed Martial Arts to shape how they compete in the ring and against who. The very nature of how they strike and whom they strike is equally effective. Regardless of the size of their competition, O’Reilly and Fish would humble the biggest of men and tear through the tag team division in various companies.
One of O’Reilly’s challenges included returning to Southern California’s Pro Wrestling Guerilla. During this time, he would face the likes of Michael Elgin and square off against Matt Riddle & Jeff Cobb. It would take nearly seven months in 2017 before Kyle O’Reilly would join the WWE’s NXT brand. For the first twelve years of his career, O’Reilly evolved from the most dangerous talent in Canada to one of the most underrated talents in the independent wrestling scene. His growth in the industry is as much a testament to his work ethic in and out of the ring. But if fans are impressed with what he achieved before now, they are encouraged to explore his matches in wrestling before he came to the WW(E)