On Wednesday’s episode of NXT, General Manager William Regal unveiled the final four entrants into the 2019 Dusty Rhodes Classic Tag Team Tournament, making its return for its second straight year and fourth tournament in total (it skipped a year in 2017). The prize for this year’s winner is an NXT Tag Team Championship match against War Raiders (or whoever is tag team champions at the time) at NXT TakeOver: New York over WrestleMania weekend. Previous winners were Finn Balor & Samoa Joe (2015), Authors of Pain (2016) and Undisputed Era‘s Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly (2018). Four teams were announced last week and with the final four announced tonight, here’s a look at the eight teams competing in this year’s Classic.
Aleister Black & Ricochet
Two of the four NXT call-ups in recent weeks, the tag team of former NXT Champion Aleister Black and former NXT North American Champion Ricochet have been on a roll of late in their showcase matches on Raw and SmackDown LIVE. This week they picked up a non-title win over Raw Tag Team Champions The Revival and on Tuesday defeated Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev. While the duo is unlikely to remain a tag team once they find their respective brands, much like the inaugural winners of ad hoc tandem Finn Balor and Samoa Joe, they have the momentum to take the whole thing.
#DIY (Tomasso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano)
The other two competitors recently getting the call-up, DIY officially reunited on NXT tonight to enter the Dusty Classic. The two have been on shaky ground of late, with a reluctant Johnny Gargano allying with Tomasso Ciampa, the man who betrayed him and tormented him for a year, during their Raw and SmackDown showcases, looking impressive in wins over the Revival (non-title) and The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus). Now that DIY is officially back together, they’ll be determined to show that they are as still as dominant as they were when they were NXT Tag Team Champions only a couple years ago. DIY made their debut in the inaugural Dusty Classic, defeating Tyler Breeze & Bull Dempsey in the first round, before bowing out in the second to Baron Corbin & Rhyno. They returned in 2016, defeating Ho Ho Lun & Tian Bing in the first round and The Revival in the second round, but lost to eventual winners, Authors of Pain, in the Semi-Finals. DIY will be the first tag team to have competed in three Dusty Rhodes Classic tournaments.
European Union (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel)
The pairing of Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel (formerly Axel Dieter Jr. in Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) in Germany) has proven to be an effective one, as the duo has made their presence known in both NXT and NXT UK of late. They’ll be looking to make a big statement in the tag division for both NXT brands in 2019, and winning the 2019 Dusty Classic would be a great start.
Forgotten Sons (Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler)
The Forgotten Sons have also been on the rise of late, as Blake and Cutler, alongside their enforcer Jaxson Ryker, have steamrolled over the opposition. Now it’s time for them to put their money where their mouths are and face the toughest competition since their NXT debut last year. Blake competed in the inaugural Dusty Rhodes Classic in 2015 while still tag partners with current WWE Cruiserweight Champion Buddy Murphy, but bowed out with a first-round loss to The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch).
Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)
NXT UK’s Moustache Mountain will be taking a time out from their quest for the NXT UK Tag Team Championships to enter their first Dusty Classic and attempt to go for the NXT Tag Team titles for their second reign. They held the titles briefly last summer, after defeating Undisputed Era’s Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong at the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament special in London, England.
Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
The US-UK connection of Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch enter their second Dusty Classic, after a strong showing last year in the round. Unfortunately, they lost in the opening round to eventual finalists Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong, but they’ve had an impressive year since and will be looking for a better overall showing.
Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins)
The Street Profits have emerged as one of NXT’s most exciting tag teams of the past year, but so far have failed to truly bust out in the tag team division in contention for the NXT tag team titles. Last October, they headed to EVOLVE Wrestling, winning the EVOLVE Tag Team titles and the reigning EVOLVE Champs will be looking to secure a tournament victory and head to TakeOver: New York for a shot at becoming double tag team champs. This is the second straight year the Street Profits have entered the Dusty Classic, last year defeating Heavy Machinery in the first round before losing to Authors of Pain in the Semi-Finals. It will mark Angelo Dawkins’ third appearance in the Dusty Classic, as he took part in the first one in 2015 when he paired with former SaNitY member Sawyer Fulton.
Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish)
Undisputed Era enters their second straight Dusty Classic, but this time it’s the tandem of O’Reilly and Fish, formerly known as reDragon in Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling, who will be carrying the Undisputed Era banner. Fish was supposed to be O’Reilly’s partner last year, but an untimely injury sidelined him, and he was replaced by Adam Cole. The defending champions will be looking to prove that NXT is indeed in the midst of an Undisputed Era.