Earlier this afternoon, WWE released the bracket for the 2021 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. The tournament consists of veteran tag teams, frenemies, and even a mystery team! The tournament has become an (almost) yearly fixture in NXT since 2015, which has helped propel the likes of teams and individual participants throughout the years and has become one of the most anticipated events of the year for NXT fans. That being said, let’s look at how we might see win the tournament this year.
Grizzled Young Veterans
Since arriving in NXT from NXT UK, Grizzled Young Veterans have become a legitimate force in the NXT tag team division. They have an impressive pedigree, including becoming the inaugural NXT UK Tag Team Champions back in 2019 by defeating Mustache Mountain. The one thing that stands in their way of total victory may be Ever-Rise, who has had some issues with over the last couple of weeks. Even if they best them tonight, Ever-Rise may make their feeling of GYV later in the tournament.
The Way (Gargano & Theory)
If we’re talking accomplishments, then no other team can hold a candle to The Way – Johnny Gargano has most of them. Gargano is a former NXT World Champion and currently in his third run as NXT North American Champion. He’s also participated in the tournament three times as a member of DIY. Personally, I’m not a fan of either of the two, but I can’t overlook how they have been positioned as of late.
MSK (Mystery Team)
If I’ve used logic and reason to build a case for both GYV and The Way, I will throw it all out the window now by suggesting that MSK is a favorite to win the whole tournament. Instead of achievements, I’ll use a different criterion: entertainment. First and foremost, WWE is an entertainment company, and, as a fan of Scooby-Doo growing up, nothing excites me quite like a mystery! A lot of speculation that MSK is the new name of Dezmond Xavier and Zachery Wentz, who are a part of the newest NXT rookie class. If nothing else, the mystery team will add a bit of intrigue.
The Undisputed ERA
I initially omitted UE from my list of favorites, and I am not exactly sure why … Adam Cole is a former NXT World Champion and North American Champion. Roderick Strong is a former North American Champion and NXT Tag Team Champion. So it almost seems unfair that they feel like an afterthought. Tonight they face another seasoned team of former champions, Breezango. Nevertheless, I am going to place them as my “longshot favorite” to win the tournament.
Honorable Mention: Killian Dain & Drake Maverick
I love, love, LOVE teams designed like this: one chirpy overachiever and a powerhouse that somehow becomes protective of his somewhat inept tag team partner. I liked it when Heath Slater & Ryhno did it, and I like it now. Outside of the four teams mentioned above, I think there are probably three other teams in the tournament that have a better chance of winning, but I don’t care. I want to see Killian Dain in the finals take all of the big moves from the opponent, only for Drake Maverick to tag in and almost blow the match before landing his finisher for the win. The team has been hovering around the tag team title picture for a bit, and this tournament is a legitimate way to get over the hump finally. Will it happen? Probably not. Will I allow myself to believe it yell? Absolutely.
The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic kicks off tonight (Jan.13) when Ever-Rise and Grizzled Young Vets face off in the opening round. It’s interesting to see these two teams face each other so early, as they both seemed poised for a deep run in. Heck, one of them could even win it all!
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