The Dusty Rhodes tag team classic has begun earlier than we could have expected.
Pop Culture reported on Thursday night that it was revealed at the NXT tapings at Center Stage in Atlanta that the Dusty Rhodes Classic would be returning for the first time since 2016. Surprisingly, the tournament began the very next night, with three first round matches being taped on Friday night at the same location.
The Dusty Rhodes Classic will be a 16 team, single elimination tournament. It is expected that the finals will take place at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans during WrestleMania weekend.
In first round matches taped on Friday night, Authors of Pain defeated The Mighty (formerly the team TM61), Street Profits defeated Heavy Machinery, and Sanity defeated Tino Sabbatellli and Riddick Moss. The night before at the tapings, The Forgotten Sons (a new team consisting of Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler) announced their participation in the tournament, so their first round match is still to come. This means we now know seven of the 16 teams who will participate.
WWE's foremost tag team tournament originated in 2015 following the untimely death of Rhodes, the WWE Hall of Famer and NXT coach. That original tournament was won by the team of Samoa Joe and Finn Balor, and their alliance eventually broke down into a singles feud that turned out to be one of the best in NXT history. The 2016 tournament was won by The Authors of Pain. There was no Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic in 2017.
Looking at the team's announced so far, Authors of Pain (who won the last incarnation of the tournament) would look to be one of the favorites. However, in the past, some random top singles stars have been paired up as well, so it's pretty hard to predict at this stage who could end up advancing the furthest in the tournament when there could be some formidable teams revealed in the coming weeks.