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The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic will be making it’s return to NXT to crown new #1 contenders for the NXT Tag Team Championships heading into TakeOver: New Orleans, and the brackets have officially been revealed today courtesy of WWE.com.

Here’s the official announcement for the 2018 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament:

“NXT General Manager William Regal announced the return of the Dusty Classic this week and revealed that matches will begin on the March 7 episode of NXT, with the tournament winners going on to challenge Undisputed ERA’s Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly for the NXT Tag Team Championship at TakeOver: New Orleans.

Eight of NXT’s top duos will compete in the tournament honoring WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes. The first round will feature four must-see matches, including a showdown between rising young tag teams Heavy Machinery and Street Profits; a rematch of the 2016 tournament final, the red-hot returning duo of TM61 vs. former Dusty Classic winners The Authors of Pain; the athletic tandem of Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli against the chaos-seeking SAnitY; and what is sure to be a slugfest pitting hard-hitters Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch against the bastions of British Strong Style, Tyler Bate & Trent Seven, aka Moustache Mountain.

Which duos will advance to the second round of the prestigious tag team tournament and come one step closer to challenging for the NXT Tag Team Titles at TakeOver: New Orleans? Tune in to NXT every Wednesday night at 8/7 C on the award-winning WWE Network as the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic returns!”

The inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic in 2015 saw Finn Balor and Samoa Joe defeat Baron Corbin and Rhyno in the finals at NXT TakeOver: Respect, while the 2016 edition culminated at NXT TakeOver: Toronto with the Authors of Pain defeating TM-61.

Tommy’s Thoughts: I’m a mark for tournaments, so I can’t properly explain my excitement for the Dusty Classic returning. Even a bad King of the Ring tournament is still worth a watch, even if the King is a creative car-crash like Mabel or Bad News Barrett.

It seems like the WWE has at least started to recognize in recent years that there is still a place in today’s “sports entertainment” world for some old-school wrestling tropes, especially on the developmental side. Even Vince McMahon himself returns to the old reliables every so often when the situation is right, like this past Monday’s WWF War Zone throwback Gauntlet Match. As a kid, I didn’t even think that was a real match except for the damn video games!

Though I’m disappointed we didn’t get a Dusty Classic for 2017, it wasn’t all that surprising to see them cut back from two tournaments in 2016 with Dusty and the Cruiserweight Classic to just the Mae Young Classic in 2017. I still say it wouldn’t have killed them to take four tag teams from Smackdown and have done a mini-Dusty Classic on the Starcade house show this past November: then again, my definition of “annual” is clearly a little different than Vince’s.

Despite previous tournament complaints, like the inaugural edition being highlighted by two singles competitors against two other singles competitors, and as much as I was a fan of loading the past brackets up with makeshift teams: the renewed focus for 2018 on genuine teams seems like we’re going to get the semi-annual NXT tag team division reboot.

It seems to happen every other year in the NXT tag team ranks, right around the time “dominating heels lose NXT tag titles to deserving challengers” and “next dominating heel team immediately take the titles”. (Member The Ascension? I member.) But considering that even the heel gangs are getting all sorts of love while building up their followings down in Florida, don’t be at all surprised if the 2018 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is responsible for the next Tag Team Revolution.

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