Editorial Columns

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic 2019 Preview

Shalene Hixon previews the 2019 NXT Dusty Rhodes Classic Tag Team Tournament.

Not too long ago, it was officially announced that the fourth annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic would take place over the next several weeks.

Eight tag teams from NXT are going to compete for the chance to not only take home the coveted trophy, but to also earn an NXT Tag Team Championship opportunity at NXT Takeover: New York.

It’s quite a varied field this year, with a few natural tag teams and a few pairs that could raise some eyebrows. In this article, I’m going to take a look at each team and rate their chances at winning the whole thing.

Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch

Kicking off the list is the hard-hitting team of Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch.

Both men were signed to NXT in 2015 and wrestled in mainly lower-card matches until moving their way up over the years. They feuded with each other beginning in August 2017 and would eventually form a tag team, feuding with the likes of Riddick Moss & Tino Sabatelli and The Undisputed Era.

They have experience in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, but were eliminated in the first round of the 2018 tournament by Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne.

I don’t really have high hopes for them this year; they haven’t really been on the same hot streak as they were before Lorcan suffered an orbital bone fracture at NXT TakeOver: Chicago. It’s a shame because their match against The Undisputed Era in Chicago was excellent, but I feel like Lorcan’s injury stopped their momentum dead in its tracks. It wouldn’t surprise me if they don’t make it out of the first round.

The Forgotten Sons (Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake)

Up next is a team that honestly seems rather forgettable—pun intended.

The Forgotten Sons are a team that just kind of showed up one day and have appeared sporadically in NXT for the past several months now. Steve Cutler, Wesley Blake, and Jaxson Ryker were three men who weren’t cutting it as singles competitors and got the “throw them together and see what happens” treatment.

They just don’t intrigue me at all; they seem rather bland and aren’t on NXT TV consistently enough for me to really be invested in them. With that being said, I have a sneaking suspicion that this year’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is their big push. I wouldn’t be surprised if they go further than a lot of people are expecting them to.

The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford)

Now we move to a team who always knows how to bring the party, The Street Profits.

The pair debuted as a team in the summer of 2017 and started to rack up wins rather quickly. In October 2018, WWE began a business relationship with EVOLVE Wrestling. At EVOLVE 114, The Street Profits became the EVOLVE Tag Team Champions after defeating Catch Point (Chris Dickinson & Jaka).

However, when it comes to their NXT careers, they haven’t been as successful. At one point, it looked like they were going to become top contenders in the NXT Tag Team division. But they kind of fell off the map and haven’t gotten back to where they once were.

Because of this, I don’t really have a lot of faith in them going very far in the tournament. They’re another team that I don’t see making it out of the first round.

Aleister Black & Ricochet

Then there’s the rather odd pairing of Aleister Black & Ricochet.

Both men have been two of NXT’s top stars for a while now, and have worked really well as a team so far. They didn’t start teaming together until their call-up to the main roster several weeks ago, but they’ve already had a title match for the RAW Tag Team Championships. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me.

Don’t be surprised if they’re the team to watch out for in this tournament. I could see them going pretty far—if not all the way—as one final send-off for two of NXT’s most popular stars.

Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)

Next, we have the team that has been together the longest, Moustache Mountain.

Formed in 2016, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate have been one of the best tag teams to come out of the UK wrestling scene. They had an excellent feud with The Undisputed Era in the summer of 2018, where Seven & Bate were able to capture the NXT Tag Team Championships on their home turf during the second annual United Kingdom Championship Tournament.

While Moustache Mountain is a formidable team, I can’t see them going all the way here. They might get out of the first round, but that’s about it. I think they were brought in to add to the field, and will go right back to NXT UK afterwards.

Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel

Speaking of NXT UK, here is another team who has split time between NXT and its European brand.

Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel are another example of a team formed by two guys who weren’t doing much as singles competitors. They haven’t had much experience—only teaming together since December 2018—so only time will tell how well of a team they can be.

This lack of experience is why I think they won’t be making it out of the first round this year. Maybe they’ll have more success in the next tournament, but this time they’ll be making a quick exit.

Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish)

Next, we have perhaps the best tag team on the NXT roster at the moment.

Since their debut in 2017, Undisputed Era has been the epitome of tag team success in NXT. They are two-time NXT Tag Team Champions and were named the NXT Tag Team of the Year in 2018. They also made it to the finals of last year’s tournament, winning it all thanks to Roderick Strong turning on his partner, Pete Dunne, and joining the faction.

All of this would make them an easy pick to win again this year. However, I don’t think they’ll have the same success in the tournament as they’ve had before. It should be another team’s time to shine at their expense. They might make it out of the first round, but I don’t see them going any further than that this time around.

#DIY (Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano)

Finally, we come to the most intriguing team in the field this year.

Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano were embroiled in NXT’s Rivalry of the Year all throughout 2018, which makes this reunion all the more surprising. But if you think about it, with the recent interactions between the two, it isn’t that surprising at all.

Gargano’s wife, Candice LeRae, doesn’t seem too thrilled with the idea, but he has told her to “just trust him”. To me, this sounds like they won’t be going all the way in this tournament. It wouldn’t be surprising if Gargano ends up turning on his former friend, just like what happened to him back in May 2017 at TakeOver: Chicago.

I expect them to make it out of the first round, just so Ciampa can be lulled into a sense of false security with Gargano. But then Johnny Wrestling will strike and leave Ciampa reeling. Then they can begin to make their transition up to the main roster.


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