If you love tag team wrestling, the prospect of both men's and women's Dusty Rhodes Tournaments in NXT feels like Christmas and Thanksgiving rolled into one. The men's bracket, where the company has been building depth for a while, feels like anybody's ballgame. While not as many teams exist on the women's side, the famously deep women's division in NXT means a lot of talent can at least get some screen time.
If there is a favorite after one week, The Creed Brothers might be it. Not just because of their hard-fought win over Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen, showcasing two young and continuously improving teams, but because Diamond Mine might be lining up for a feud with Imperium. But this is sports entertainment where the folks who think the ring is sacred could always cause a distraction that gets the brothers eliminated.
The other team that advanced their chances is the team of Edris Enofe and Malik Blade who surprisingly bested Legado del Fantasma. It's the second do-or-die match after a play-in bout last week, so there's a good underdog story there. Unfortunately, their wins continue to look fluky and they could stand a clean victory. Also, in the next round they would take on a face team in either MSK or Jacket Time, and their act at this point works better against overconfident heels.
MSK has had a lot of spotlight which likely means a run here. A repeat title seems like something NXT isn't necessarily into, but you never know. Jacket Time is wildly entertaining but they seem most likely a one-and-done even in an unpredictable tournament.
The other two teams are a nice contrast in Grizzled Young Veterans against Andre Chase and Bodhi Hayward. While it's great to see Chase U leaning faceward now, and Hayward finally getting a chance to prove himself, GYV has been the bridesmaid in the tournament twice and seems the favorite to advance. Unless that logic means they're less likely to win.
One way or another, the Dusty should provide plenty of entertainment.
The following Tag Team Power Rankings take into account wins, power and placement of segments, recentness of appearances, creative direction and momentum for teams and factions.
WWE Tag Team Power Rankings through Jan. 21:
1. The Bloodline (last week: 1)
Pro: Still all holding gold, and yet again had the open and close of SmackDown. In the main event, The Usos once again reminded us of their excellence.
Con: The Usos weren't able to defeat Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens (who aren't quite yet a full-time tag team), which means they will be banned from ringside for the Roman Reigns-Rollins match. And Reigns' interfering shows he acknowledges Rollins as a threat.
2. Alpha Academy (2)
Pro: The Raw champs had an amazing graduation segment on Monday, where Chad Gable continues to show he's really good at sports entertainment.
Con: RK-Bro crashed the party and Chad ate yet another RKO.
3. RK-Bro (5)
Pro: Got the upper hand on Alpha Academy and are on the road to a rematch.
Con: Riddle doesn't exactly know what "rematch" means and yet is expected to carry his weight in a mental challenge? (Spoiler: He somehow will and it will be entertaining.)
4. Imperium (5)
Pro: Still the NXT men's champions, and Walter won a banger of a main-event match with Roderick Strong.
Con: So it's Gunther now? Whatever, still all fantastic wrestlers.
5. Diamond Mine (not ranked)
Pro: The Creed Brothers advanced in the Dusty, and look like early favorites. Ivy Nile scored a surprise win over Kay Lee Ray. And Roderick Strong showed once again he's simply one of the best in the ring.
Con: Alas, Strong couldn't conquer the mountainous Walter, but two out of three ain't bad.
6. Toxic Attraction (8)
Pro: Still hold all the women's gold in NXT. And Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne are back!
Con: Looks like they're gonna tangle with Kay Lee Ray, Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta next.
7. Beauty Queens (Carmella and Queen Zelina) (3)
Pro: Still women's main-roster tag champions with no real challengers.
Con: Yeah, they need challengers to make this reign interesting.
8. Viking Raiders (6)
Pro: The SmackDown #1 contenders continued their win streak with a victory over Los Lotharios.
Con: Despite all that, they feel like they're in a different galaxy from champs The Usos.
9. Street Profits (10)
Pro: Teamed with The Mysterios and got the winning pinfall in an eight-man tag.
Con: Despite all the teases related to Royal Rumble, nobody in that Raw match seems like any threat to win this year.
10. Edris Enofe and Malik Blade (not ranked)
Pro: The team with two of the coolest names knocked off Legado del Fantasma to advance in the Dusty.
Con: Would be helped if their wins didn't seem so fluky.
Best tag segment of the week: An entertaining SmackDown main event with stakes and four amazing wrestlers? As good as the Creeds' slobberknocker win was, the blue brand's best bout wins it.
The Dusty is truly a celebration of tag teams, and outside of the main-roster women's division (as usual), business is picking up across the tag scenes.