Watch highlights from last year's Dusty Classic
Former NXT Champion Neville returns and joins forces with Solomon Crowe to face Jason Jordan & Chad Gable in the first round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Video courtesy of the award-winning WWE Network.09/02/2015 - 14:33
16 teams announced for 2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
NXT General Manager William Regal has announced that the 2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic will begin this Wednesday on WWE Network! Last year, the inaugural Classic saw the best and brightest duos from NXT, WWE’s main roster and the independent circuit compete for glory in a 16-team, single-elimination tournament to honor the late WWE Hall of Famer.
This year, 16 teams will once again square off for tag team supremacy. The tournament will take place over the next seven weeks, culminating with the finals at NXT TakeOver: Toronto on Nov. 19, exclusively on WWE Network.
All 16 teams taking part in this huge tournament have been revealed. Scroll down to learn more about them all, and be sure to check back with WWE.com tomorrow, when the full bracket for the 2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic will be unveiled.
Kota Ibushi & TJ Perkins
With Hideo Itami out of action due to an injury, Kota Ibushi will join forces with WWE Cruiserweight Champion TJ Perkins in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Ibushi made waves in this past summer’s Cruiserweight Classic on his way to the tournament semifinals. Now The Golden Star will be looking to do one better in this tournament and leave TakeOver: Toronto with his name engraved on the tournament trophy.
He will team with Perkins, the man who eliminated him from the CWC. These two pushed each other to the limit in an epic semifinal encounter in the 32-man tournament. In the end, it was Perkins who was victorious, earning the hard-fought victory with his trademark kneebar.
Now, these two battle-tested warriors will fight for the same cause: victory in the Dusty Classic.
The final team to enter the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is SAnitY.
For weeks, NXT fans tuning into WWE Network have seen ominous videos, seemingly promoting that total anarchy is on its way to NXT. Yet, little else is known about this mysterious group, and what its members have in store for NXT.
Watch: SAnitY is coming to NXT
All may be answered when SAnitY arrives during the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Of course, it’s also possible that their debut may leave the NXT Universe asking even more questions.
Tony Nese & Drew Gulak
Drew Gulak & Tony Nese impressed when they joined forces for a WWE.com Exclusive Tag Team Match toward the end of the Cruiserweight Classic. Now, the pair will get the opportunity to show off their skills again in the Dusty Classic.
Gulak is a no-nonsense grappler from the streets of Philadelphia. He’s just as likely to knock an opponent’s teeth out with a headbutt as he is to stretch them into submission with his patented Dragon Sleeper. Nese, on the other hand, brings a bit of flair to the team. The Premier Athlete may have the physique (and striking power) of a heavyweight, but he can fly with the best aerial competitors, too.
Even though they have contrasting styles, Gulak & Nese have shown they can gel as a team. Will that see them to victory in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic?
Austin Aries has entered the 2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, but his partner for the tournament remains a mystery. All WWE.com could learn is that “Team Aries” has thrown their name into the ring for this fall’s 16-team throwdown.
Aries has been constantly looking over his shoulder for the looming threat of Hideo Itami since TakeOver: Brooklyn II. With Itami joining forces with “Golden Star” Kota Ibushi for the Classic and looking to get his hands on Aries in any way possible, A-Double will need the right partner to help him avoid being kicked into oblivion.
Has “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” found the greatest partner that ever lived? Find out during the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic!
Lince Dorado & Mustafa Ali
These two high-flying rivals are joining forces to go after the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Cup.
The Golden Lynx of Lucha Libre and The Pakistani Prince clashed this summer in the First Round of the inaugural WWE Cruiserweight Classic. The two brought the WWE Universe to its feet by throwing caution to the wind, putting their bodies on the line in an all-out daredevil duel. Dorado walked away with the victory, but also gained respect for Ali.
Now, the two aerial artists are on the same page heading into the Dusty Classic. Will their high-risk offense bring them tag team glory?
No Way Jose & Rich Swann
The latest entry into the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic may be the most charismatic pair in the field, as No Way Jose joins forces with Rich Swann.
Jose became an instant favorite of the NXT Universe upon his debut earlier this year, as he brought the fiesta to the squared circle. The Dominican Superstar also showed that he could bring the fury, evidenced when Austin Aries made the mistake of crossing him.
In Swann, he may have found someone who likes having a good time just as much as he does. The Baltimore native has picked up a big fan following in a short period of time, based on his impressive performances (and equally inspiring dance moves) in the Cruiserweight Classic and on Raw.
This team has one question for their foes: Can you handle this? For the rest of the Dusty Classic’s field, the answer may be “No way!”
HoHo Lun & Tian Bing
The Dusty Classic is getting some international flair with the addition of HoHo Lun & Tian Bing to the tournament.
Lun is an incredibly determined competitor. He started Hong Kong Pro Wrestling Federation, China’s first wrestling promotion, after traveling the world to learn the mat game himself. His dedication earned him a spot in the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic, where he advanced to the second round.
Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 220 pounds, Bing enters the tournament as a highly-touted prospect at the WWE Performance Center. He’s the first Chinese athlete to earn that opportunity, and his hard work paid off at a recent Live Event in Shanghai, where he picked up a victory in his in-ring debut.
The team of Lun & Bing will surely be out to make their respective homelands proud in this year’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
The Authors of Pain
WWE Hall of Famer Paul Ellering is officially sending his monstrous Authors of Pain into this epic tournament.
Little has been revealed about the towering Akam & Rezar since their arrival in NXT earlier this year. The Authors have preferred to do their talking in the ring, where they have pummeled their opposition into the canvas in brutal fashion.
Ellering has promised that the next chapter for his towering charges will result in a “plethora of pain.” There’s no better battleground for The Authors of Pain to make good on that promise than the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight
The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic just got heavy with the addition of Otis Dozovic & Tucker Knight to the field.
Dozovic has been making waves since his arrival at the WWE Performance Center earlier this year, thanks to his penchant for throwing up inhuman numbers of reps in the PC’s weight room. Although the man known as #BrotherThick has bulldozing power in the gym, he’s no slouch in the ring, either. Dozovic was a standout amateur heavyweight wrestler at Colorado State University-Pueblo and a medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling at the Pan-American Games. He also trained extensively at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and studied under Olympic gold medalist Rulon Gardner.
Knight’s bona fide talent on the canvas makes him just as big a threat in the ring as his partner. The 300-pound Oregonian was a top wrestler at Arizona State University, earning All-American honors and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament on three separate occasions.
This heavy-duty duo likes big weights and big meals, and will be looking to pick up a big trophy as victors of the 2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
The pair of Australians debuted in NXT this past spring, making an immediate impact with their high-flying, hard-hitting offense. Thorne & Miller also have a great deal of experience together, having teamed for more than five years, racking up championships in their homeland, as well as Japan.
TM-61 may be one of the more experienced duos in the tournament, but will it translate to success in the unpredictable Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic?
The Bollywood Boyz
Gurv & Harv Sihra are bringing a little Bollywood flair to the Dusty Classic.
The brothers burst onto the WWE scene in this past summer’s Cruiserweight Classic, showing off their unique charisma in singles competition before getting together for a victory in the WWE.com Exclusive tag team throwdown as the tournament came to a close.
The brothers are in familiar territory in a tag team tournament, but will they be able to take down NXT’s best and take home the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Cup?
Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss
Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss, two of NXT’s newest stars, are out to make a big impression in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Fans who watched WWE Breaking Ground on WWE Network got a brief glimpse into the big money lifestyle of the brash Sabbatelli. Not much has changed since the acclaimed show came to a close. The ultra-cocky Sabbatelli has been waiting for the right time to make a big splash between the yellow ropes, and there’s no better time than the Classic.
The former NFL player may have found someone equally as confident in Riddick Moss. The University of Minnesota standout linebacker is a top prospect at the WWE Performance Center, and he knows it. Moss isn’t afraid to let anybody know just how good he is, and can back up his claims of greatness in the squared circle.
This pair of elite athletes will get the opportunity to back up their boasting when the Dusty Classic begins on Wednesday, Oct. 5.
Bobby Roode & Tye Dillinger
The first team to throw their hat in the ring for the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic may also be the most glorious duo in the field.
Bobby Roode approached Tye Dillinger and said that one of the reasons he came to NXT was to win the Classic, but to do that, he needed the perfect partner. The Perfect 10’s motivations for entering the tournament run deeper than achieving personal glory. Dillinger was very close with “The American Dream” and has made it clear that he’s doing this “for Dusty.”
Though they may have vastly different reasons for taking part in the tournament, Roode & Dillinger may be the team with the most motivation to take home the trophy in their home country of Canada.
Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa
One year ago, Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa shocked the sports-entertainment world when they entered the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and defeated Tyler Breeze & Bull Dempsey in the first round. Since then, the DIY duo have established themselves as one of the top teams in NXT, climbing up the ranks to earn an NXT Tag Team Title opportunity at TakeOver: Brooklyn in August.
Gargano & Ciampa are eager to enter the Classic once again, and certainly hope to get their hands on The Revival in the process. With a year of NXT experience under their belts, there’s no telling how far they can go in 2016.
NXT Tag Team Champions The Revival
Last year’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic was a coming-out party for Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder. The Revival made a statement in the second round with a huge win over then-NXT Tag Team Champions The Vaudevillains, before putting on an impressive performance in the semifinals against eventual tournament champions Finn Bálor & Samoa Joe.
The run in the tournament empowered Dawson & Wilder, who went on to become two-time NXT Tag Team Champions. Now, the self-proclaimed “top guys” are back in the Classic to show that they are what they say they are: the best tag team on the planet.
Andrade "Cien" Almas & Cedric Alexander
The two squared off against each other in singles competition recently, with the debuting Alexander emerging victorious. Almas looked perturbed after the bell, but eventually showed that the newcomer had earned his respect.
Almas has electrified since his arrival in NXT, while Alexander quickly earned the respect of the WWE Universe — and WWE COO Triple H — with a gutsy performance in the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic.
Can these two hot prospects form a cohesive unit and make a run in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic?