The Vaudevillians Are Old News

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At NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, The Vaudevillians defeated the team of Blake and Murphy to become NXT Tag Team Champions. For months, fans had been clamouring for this throw back tandem to finally capture the gold and usher in a new reign of entertainment and tag team excellence. What we ended up getting was anything but. On November 11, the tag team of Dash and Dawson defeated the duo of Simon Gotch and Aiden English in dominant fashion. The victory was not just a celebration for the roughneck team that captured the gold, but it was also a mercy killing to one of the most disappointing tag title reigns in the history of NXT.

If one is to examine the history of the NXT Tag Team Championship, then one would see a lot of short reigns and only three reigns that really stand out, and all of them come from the WWE Network era of NXT. The Ascension hold the record for the longest reigning tag team champions with an astounding 364 days as champions. They were one day short of holding those titles a full year before being dethroned by another team with an impressive reign. The Lucha Dragons held the titles for 126 days. Not nearly as impressive as the team they took the titles from, but an impressive number nonetheless. More impressive would be the men who took the belts from them, Blake and Murphy. In total, they would reign for 219 days as champions before being dethroned by the old school sensations who reigned for an astounding 61 days. Astounding because it holds rank as the second shortest reign in NXT history, right behind The Wyatt Family and their 49 day reign.

Less impressive than the length of time they held those championships was what they accomplished during that time. In those 61 days as champions, Gotch and English did manage to defeat enhancement team Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins on TV, but only defended the championship on television one time, against the former champions Blake and Murphy. When it came to house shows, they did fair better, with 11 successful defenses over their 61 day reign, but included in those 11 defenses was a victory over the thrown together team of Baron Corbin and Riddick Moss.

The rest of those 61 days were spent in six man tag team matches, and one huge non title loss to the team of Dash and Dawson. That match was a part of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, a tournament to showcase the absolute best tag teams that NXT has to offer. How is it that the NXT Tag Team Champions, the team that has the title to lay claim as the best in the company, not only didn’t win the tournament, but got knocked out in the second round by a team they had beaten countless times in the past?

Looking back, it was around this time that the Vaudevillians began missing more house shows and competing in six man tags with increased frequency. Is it possible that the loss to Dash and Dawson shook something loose inside Gotch and English, some doubt that had been lingering inside of them since winning the titles? It is one thing to climb the mountain to the top. Staying there can be much more difficult. When you’re climbing, you’re hungry, determined, and focused. Once you reach the top of the mountain, there is a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment, but that feeling doesn’t always last.

Some people are driven by the need to face new challenges. Once the Vaudevillians turned back the challenges of the former champions and some upcoming talents, is it possible that they got comfortable with their position of power and maybe even bored with the fact that they had no dragon to slay. When that happens, competitors can get lazy, or sloppy, or lose focus. Is that what happened to the Vaudevillians? It certainly doesn’t paint them in the best light, but it is a more comforting thought than the alternative, which is that the NXT Universe were sold a bill of bad goods. Perhaps the simplest answer is the most accurate, that Simon Gotch and Aiden English just aren’t the tag team we thought they were or wanted them to be.

If it happens to be the former instead of the latter, then there is still hope for the Vaudevillians to win back the public, and the NXT Tag Team Championship. Perhaps this loss will light a new fire under them, give them back that hunger they once had. Many champions have had disappointing first runs, only to come back better than ever. Edge, CM Punk, Yokozuna, and The Rock just to name a few. Let’s hope that Gotch and English can regroup and make history as the first team in NXT history to hold the titles a second time, instead of ending up as an ironic joke of a tag team obsessed with the past, forced to live in their glory days.