NXT

WWE missed an opportunity to do something new with Dusty Rhodes Classic 2020

The 2020 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is coming soon but doesn’t give us much in the way of anything new or groundbreaking. These recommendations could have filled that need for WWE NXT.

The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is a staple of NXT programming. In fact, tournaments have a special place on WWE Network content as they frequently present some of the best in-ring action that the organization has to offer. The 2020 tournament draw has been announced, and while there is some intrigue around the event, the overall response has been lackluster.

Wrestling fans are continually calling for something new and original in their content. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like the 2020 iteration of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic will answer any of those requests.

There is one change to this year’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic that some will celebrate. Instead of pairing teams from NXT against one another, this year’s edition features both NXT and NXT UK pairings.

NXT representatives include The Forgotten Sons, Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne, The Undisputed Era, and Kushida, along with an unnamed partner. NXT UK talent includes Gallus, Grizzled Young Veterans, Imperium, and lastly Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster.

In one breath, this is an opportunity to create more exposure for the NXT UK brand. In comparison to the other shows within the WWE umbrella, NXT UK is still the least known of the group. Adding Walter to the NXT team at Survivor Series should have been a positive moment, but the champion was jettisoned from the match in less than five minutes.

Putting four teams together and letting them put on classic matches against known NXT teams should help change things around, right? Yet, looking at the first-round matchups make it hard to see exactly where any NXT UK teams will get booked over their NXT colleagues.

Instead of taking the time to break apart this year’s Dusty Classic with complaints, let’s look at two recommendations for how the tournament could have been made more interesting for the viewers while creating new opportunities for the wrestlers involved.

First, perhaps it is time to shake up the stakes of the Dusty Classic. This tournament gives the winner a shot at the tag team titles, which is a major position within NXT. Now that NXT is considered on par with both Raw and SmackDown, perhaps it’s time to give the winners of the tournament the option of competing for any of the championships on all three brands.

Individual wrestlers have the Royal Rumble and branching the Dusty Classic to include teams across each brand would create some interesting matchups and opportunities to shift teams around on each show. Scheduling the tournament so it culminates at the Royal Rumble with a WrestleMania title shot on the line gives the teams more to work for, while infusing some much-needed stakes into the tag team division.

Second, this was an opening for the WWE to change who is involved with the Dusty Classic. Imagine if the Dusty Classic featured women’s teams instead of men. The WWE Women’s Tag Team titles were meant to be defended across all brands, but that hasn’t truly come to fruition as of this time. The Kabuki Warriors have been great champions, but Asuka is being pulled into the Becky storyline which means those titles will now go on the back shelf.

Think of a world where the NXT women’s roster was given the opportunity to develop tag teams that could eventually face off with the Kabuki Warriors for the titles. Or better yet, the entire women’s roster was involved. Since wrestling fans were denied both a Mae Young Classic and Evolution II in 2019, taking the Dusty Classic and focusing on the women’s tag division would have been a step in the right direction.

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The Dusty Classic is once again upon us. The 2020 version of the tournament hasn’t garnered the same amount of hype as those past. However, putting some tweaks into the tournament could have helped infuse it with some freshness. Unfortunately, this was a missed booking opportunity within the NXT creative team.

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