With the recent announcement that the WWE will be hosting its second annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic this season, the company has its sights set on making NXT the place to be for tag team wrestling from now until NXT TakeOver: Toronto in November.
There are 16 spots to be filled in the bracket for that tournament, and even though NXT already boasts an impressive tag team roster, that means we’ll need to either see more teams being brought in, or new alliances being formed, and we’re already starting to see the latter.
Naturally, you’re going to see stars like Andrade “Cien” Almas and Cedric Alexander being thrown together as a way to send established entrants such as The Revival through without having to sacrifice any real tag team prospects this early, but as we found out this week, you’re also going to see some very popular singles stars join forces with a real shot at making it to the end.
After defeating Angelo Dawkins, Tye Dillinger was approached by Bobby Roode in an effort to enlist his abilities for Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. If the roar of the crowd in Full Sail when the two shook hands wasn’t a tell-tale sign that this was the right move, I don’t know what could be.
Looking at both men from the outside, Tye Dillinger and Bobby Roode come across as quite different.
Dillinger has been an NXT mainstay for years, but has yet to strike oil with a big victory or even a substantial push on the line-up. The debut of his “Perfect 10” gimmick was a big step in the right direction, because it’s gotten him one of the hardest things to acquire as a WWE Superstar — organic fan support — but he’s still been used in much of the same way since freshening up his character.
He’s put over so many debuting stars that continuing to do so could put him at risk of never emerging from the rut he’s been stuck in on NXT. Some have said that it would be more beneficial to promote him to the main roster immediately, but as we’ve seen before, just because you aren’t being put to best use in NXT, that doesn’t mean it will be better on the bigger platform.
What Tye Dillinger needs is progression — something to look back on when his time on NXT comes to an end so that he can say that his efforts on the brand weren’t futile, and a strong showing in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic this fall might get him to that point.
It would at least show Dillinger as someone with ambition. His recent winning streak has been a good start, but it doesn’t matter unless it’s leading up to something meaningful, and the opportunity to honour the late “American Dream” is the right next step on the road to Dillinger’s relevancy.
Bobby Roode, however, hasn’t had much of an issue when it comes to making an impact. He made his in-ring debut just over a month ago, and in that time he’s already amassed tremendous popularity with the fans to the extent that many have pointed at him as the next NXT Champion.
When he joined the roster, he said that he was making it his mission to take NXT to the next level, and in doing so he needs to make a lasting impression. Entering this tournament is the right way to do that, because if you look at the first winners last year, Samoa Joe and Finn Bálor, you can already tell that whoever wins the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is sure to have a big future.
Having had a very close relationship to Dusty Rhodes, Dillinger is entering this tournament to honor his mentor in victory, while Roode is going in to increase his stock and add another trophy to his list of accolades. But despite coming into this alliance with different backgrounds, Tye Dillinger and Bobby Roode make such an intriguing duo because they have the same endgame, and that’s to win.
Fans should be weary, however, as this tag team might not even last until NXT TakeOver.
Since coming to WWE, Roode has proven that he doesn’t often play well with others, so this could boil down to Tye Dillinger losing a match and Bobby Roode turning on him as a result, leading to an eventual match between the two instead. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
You can take issue with “The Perfect 10” losing his matches if they’ve been given little to no prior build-up, but whatever the outcome of this new alliance, it promises to have some good story involved and will allow both Roode and Dillinger to work off of each other to get to the next level.
Either way, this is the first time in a long time that we’ve seen much in the way of character development for Tye Dillinger, and if he and Roode can make it to their home of Ontario with their allegiance intact, it could make for the biggest moment of their respective WWE careers to date.