Friday, February 23, 2024
EditorialPicking Teams for the 2024 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic

Picking Teams for the 2024 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic

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Several months ago, Cody Rhodes announced the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic would be returning. Now, we finally know it will commence starting with next week’s episode of NXT.

However, we still don’t know all the teams who will be competing. So far, four have been announced, leaving at least four more, if not twelve spots open to fill. That may sound like a lot, but three of the nine tournaments have had 16 teams on the bracket (back in 2015, 2016 and 2021).

Realistically, though, we can anticipate this will be yet another 8-team tournament, with the current tag team champions (Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo and Tony D’Angelo) not factored in.

But who else might be participating?

Let’s break down the roster and see who could fill in the blanks!

Current Lineup

As it stands, the four confirmed teams are as follows:

  • Axiom and Nathan Frazer
  • Baron Corbin and Bron Breakker
  • Chase University’s Duke Hudson and Riley Osborne
  • Edris Enofe and Malik Blade

For anyone who missed it, Corbin had approached Breakker with the idea of teaming together, as nobody was going to want to team with either of them, since they’re jerks. Axiom and Frazer quickly agreed to team up, before Frazer caught himself badmouthing Enofe and Blade with them right behind his back. Jacy Jayne was actually the one to suggest Osborne teaming with Hudson so Andre Chase could focus on fixing the debt problem Chase U is going through.

Already Formed Team Options

Since there are already two “singles pairing” teams (Corbin/Breakker and Axiom/Frazer), WWE might not want to create too many other temp teams, and just pull from the current partner lineups.

Thankfully, if that’s the plan, there are more than four to pick from, so it’s an easy situation to be in.

Gallus seems like an obvious group to be included. They’ve been tag team champions in both NXT and NXT UK, and if they weren’t in the tournament, it would seem like a slight. Plus, even if one of them were injured, there’s three in the faction. It could be any pairing of those.

The No Quarter Catch Crew has four members in Drew Gulak, Charlie Dempsey, Damon Kemp and Myles Borne. For my personal tastes, I’d rather see Gulak and Dempsey team up than any other combination, but I would more so predict Dempsey and Kemp with Gulak and Borne accompanying them ringside. Again, with a group of four, it could be any combination.

Meta-Four has Noam Dar and Oro Mensah. Granted, Dar does have the Heritage Cup to worry about, so it might be better to save him from participating and put that focus elsewhere. Still, it’s an option on the table, and a team that can lose in the first round with relative ease, or even go the distance and it would make sense either way.

Hank Walker and Tank Ledger seem like locks to me. They’ve got to start doing something with that team, and they could be first-round sacrifices to a duo like Breakker and Corbin.

Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams could enter this tournament and steal the show. They would easily be the focal point and the likely winners, depending on how long this is going to last and when WWE wants to pull the trigger on their impending split. If they’re announced, assume they’re at least going to the finals.

Technically, while OTM have a title match on the horizon, it doesn’t mean they can’t also be in the tournament. I think it’s unlikely, though.

Boa and Dante Chen have been a tag team on live events, but not on television in any proper sense. Not to rag on those guys, or Tyriek Igwe and Tyson Dupont, but I think there are much bigger fish to fry and we won’t see those two groups in this tournament if it’s only an eight-seed bracket. Still, they’re available if need be.

Los Lotharios were part of the NXT roster for a while, but it seems Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo have jumped ship to SmackDown to form a new unit with Santos Escobar. Going back down to NXT just to lose in this tournament is a step backward.

Main Roster Raw and SmackDown Team Options

We do see crossover between the main roster and NXT more now than ever, in completely random situations. Ridge Holland is suddenly in NXT now. Becky Lynch had a title reign. So on and so forth. This week, the Latino World Order fought No Quarter Catch Crew, even. So it’s not impossible for a pair like Joaquin Wilde and Cruz Del Toro to enter this tournament if WWE thinks a little more Raw/SmackDown star power could help with the ratings.

If that’s the case, there aren’t many teams I would imagine being called for this task. Some are just too big for the spot, like The Judgment Day or Imperium.

LWO is one possibility. DIY is another, but I’d hope they wouldn’t, as they should be focused on gaining momentum for the main roster tag titles. The same for The Creed Brothers, who shouldn’t take that step back. I’d also rule out The Street Profits, Alpha Academy, Indus Sher, The New Day, A-Town Down Under, The O.C., Pretty Deadly and the returning AOP.

Butch and Tyler Bate would be the only group I think I’d be okay with, as Bate’s still in NXT and Butch coming down for a guest spot is never a bad thing.

But I’d venture a guess to say NO tag teams from the main roster will be appearing in this. They already have Baron Corbin involved, and that might be good enough.

New Team Options

Assuming WWE doesn’t want to pick four out of the list above with Hank & Tank and Meta-Four and such, there could always be some new random pairings.

Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs have gone their separate ways, so they’re out of the mix. I would hate for WWE to backtrack like that. But I could very much see Jensen trying to find a new partner for this and failing at it. After all, he was in the locker room when Axiom, Frazer, Enofe and Blade were talking. Maybe next week, he’ll say that he talked to Ava and/or Shawn Michaels about getting in the tournament and he’ll be on the lookout for a partner. If that happens, I think we’re looking at an obvious person to fill that void: Joe Gacy. He’s bouncing around lately in a weird babyface type role who seems to be latching on to other groups like Hank & Tank, Gallus and The D’Angelo Family. Maybe he’s just looking for a new friend, and they can have an oddball pairing.

Would anyone team with Lexis King? Maybe Javier Bernal? It’s a stretch, for sure, but not one that I would immediately toss aside if I heard it pitched in the writers’ room. Certainly not Trey Bearhill, at least, but he could pair up with Eddy Thorpe, possibly.

Von Wagner hasn’t been seen in a little while, but I can’t think of anyone to team up with him outside of Mr. Stone, who hasn’t been used as a legit wrestler ever in WWE, so I think we can rule him out. The same goes for Dijak, who doesn’t seem to have any friends and is unlikely to make any new ones in the next few days.

Ultimate Lineup Prediction

With all this in mind, the eight teams I think we’ll see competing this year will be:

  1. Axiom and Nathan Frazer
  2. Baron Corbin and Bron Breakker
  3. Chase University’s Duke Hudson and Riley Osborne
  4. Edris Enofe and Malik Blade
  5. Gallus
  6. Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams
  7. Hank Walker and Tank Ledger
  8. Brooks Jensen & Joe Gacy OR Meta-Four OR No Quarter Catch Crew (leaning less toward the Meta-Four option on this)

Fantasy Booking the Bracket

I’ll take this one step further. Instead of just a prediction, what would I do if WWE approached me tonight and said “Here are the keys to the kingdom. How do you want to do this tournament?” Time for some fantasy booking!

This is the bracket that I would choose:

Breakker and Corbin obviously need to win at least one match, if not go to the finals or even win the whole thing. A win over Hank and Tank, two big dudes, starts them off strong.

Chase U upsetting Gallus is good for the babyfaces and I doubt anyone would care if Gallus lost in the first round. Then, we get the sad moment with Corbin and Breakker ending Chase U’s run in the second round. Boo those heels.

On the right side, Axiom and Frazer get humbled by Enofe and Blade, who I’d like to see possibly turn heel, since the babyface act hasn’t been working for them. Axiom and Frazer could win this to set off the heel turn for Blade and Enofe, but I think I’d just cut straight to it. Trick and Melo beat No Quarter Catch Crew (or Meta-Four) and would win against either Blade/Enofe or Axiom/Frazer. It doesn’t ultimately change much. Either they have a hard-fought double-babyface match with either team, or Blade/Enofe do that heel turn and they beat the heels. All three scenarios work.

All of this takes place over the next 3 weeks (2 matches per week), leading to the final taking place at NXT Vengeance Day.

As far as who wins, it would depend on the plans for NXT Stand & Deliver. I’m assuming we’ll get a Triple Threat between Ilja Dragunov, Trick Williams and Carmelo Hayes, rather than just a singles straight-up Melo vs Trick match. If that’s the case, they’re in need of stretching this to fill time between Vengeance Day on February 4th and Stand & Deliver on April 6th.

Going with Trick and Melo getting the tag title match allows at least two weeks of that material (setting up a promo with the champs one week and a “See you next week” thing, and then, the match itself.) They lose. Hayes turns on Williams for real. We get the reaction week with Trick saying “How could you do that?” and the reveal that Hayes had attacked him in the first place. No. 1 contender’s match between the two that ends with a draw, setting up a Triple Threat. You’re halfway there already, and that doesn’t even factor in what Dragunov would do in the meantime.

But hey, I’d also be down for Breakker and Corbin winning this tournament and even potentially winning the tag titles, so either way is a win-win in my book!

Who do you think will be in the tournament this year? Which team do you think will win? Keep the discussion going by dropping your comments below!

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