In its short tenure since becoming NXT, the WWE developmental brand has exploded, becoming the talk of the wrestling world, with their regular Takeover events being some of the best in the entire wrestling world. The promotion, which is now its own full fledged travelling brand has featured some of the best stars in the wrestling business, stars such as Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura and even Kota Ibushi have appeared, making it WWE’s best weekly product for the past several years. Then there is the women’s revolution, which began in NXT with the Four Horsewomen, who have put on some of the best female matches in wrestling history, WWE or not.
But the often over looked part of NXT which has been fantastic for the last year or two is the tag team division, with teams like the Wyatt Family, the Shield, American Alpha, Enzo & Cass and the Revival all making it the best division in WWE. This may be over looked no longer following the amazing matches the division has put on in the year 2016, so here is a look back throughout NXT’s entire history, and the best 15 matches in their tag team division.
17 Enzo & Cass vs. The Revival – Roadblock 2016
While this match didn’t take place on an NXT event, as it was part of the WWE Network live special WWE put on in the lead up to WrestleMania, it was contested for the NXT Tag Team Championships, and proved to the wider audience that NXT has the best tag team wrestling in the business. It was fairly similar to their match at NXT Takeover: London (just with less crowd heat, you know how English crowds are), and it showed that both teams were going to be major players on the main roster one day, as Enzo & Cass have proved so far. The match saw the Revival winning clean in a back and forth, hard fought contest, which set them up for a date with American Alpha in Dallas, and it made Vince McMahon (or Triple H convinced him) a believer, so much so that the duo made their main roster debut shortly thereafter.
16 The Revival vs. The Vaudevillains
This match saw the crowning of the Revival as NXT Tag Team Champions, which established them as two of the best tag team workers in the company, as they would go on to have great matches with Gargano & Ciampa, American Alpha and Enzo & Cass. This match that crowned them may have not been the best, but it gave fans an insight into what we could expect from the Revival, which is exactly as they proclaimed, ‘No Flips just Fists.’ Fans were very high on the Vaudevillains at the time, even though many felt Enzo & Cass deserved the spot more, which made it quite easy for them to hate the Revival, making their victory when Scott Dawson tapped out Aiden English even better inside Full Sail Arena.
15 Adrian Neville & Corey Graves vs. The Wyatt Family
Before the Ascension began their record reign at the top of NXT’s tag team division, there were some very familiar faces battling for tag team supremacy, as this match featured 4 current main roster performers, Neville, Corey Graves (commentary on the main roster) going up against Bray Wyatt’s monsters Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. The match featured 4 fantastic performers and story tellers, as Graves and Neville would go on to dethrone the Wyatt Family to become the third NXT Tag Team Champions in history, after just 6 weeks as champs. The match allowed each performer to show off their unique traits that make them great, with Adrian Neville’s high flying offense being the stand out, it’s just so unfortunate the Graves can no longer compete.
14 The Ascension vs. The Lucha Dragons – TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way
This match may not have been the most technically sound or the most exciting tag team match in NXT history, but it did see the dethroning of the dominant Ascension (as opposed to the poorly treated one we see on Smackdown today), who were the longest reigning NXT Tag Team Champions in history. The Lucha Dragons were hot at the time, and despite not having the longest reign in the world, they were beloved by the NXT fans, as they left NXT with the potential to be one of the most exciting tag teams in recent memory. It may not hold up as well as matches from other popular NXT tag teams, but it is a must watch for any fan looking to familiarize themselves with the ‘good’ Ascension, or the illustrious tag team history of the young NXT brand.
13 British Ambition vs. The Wyatt Family
This one was both a great match and a historic one, as it saw Rowan and Harper battling Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey, know as the British Ambition in the finals of the 8 team tournament to crown the first ever NXT Tag Team Champions. In terms of historical significance, no match is more important in the NXT Tag Team division, as Grey and Neville were crowned the first NXT Tag Team Champions, in a match and rivalry with the Wyatt’s that defined the early NXT brand. It’s quite a difference in appearance between then and now of the performers involved and NXT as a whole, but this match still stands as one of the most exciting and important matches in the early NXT, it’s just a shame that Oliver Grey got injured, or we might be seeing Neville with a much more important role on WWE TV in 2016.
11 Rhyno & Baron Corbin vs. Finn Balor & Samoa Joe – Dusty Rhodes Classic Final
This match was fine for what it was, as it was just a way for the story of Finn Balor and Samoa Joe to progress, and while it found its way onto this list, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. For starters, many fans were disappointed that Rhyno and Corbin topped the exciting young duo of Chad Gable and Jason Jordan earlier in the night, taking away the electricity of the final match, and the finish was very similar to the semi final finish for Finn and Joe. Negatives aside however, the match was a good one, which featured back and forth action throughout. What happened post match was the highlight here, with both Balor and Joe being cemented in NXT history, and the emotional tribute to an NXT legend in Dusty Rhodes made this one of the most memorable matches in the promotions history.
9 The Ascension vs. Hideo Itami & Finn Balor – TakeOver: R-Evolution
This match was historic, as it was The Ascension’s last NXT tag team match (before they returned for several one off matches), and it saw the introduction of NXT icon, Finn Balor. For over a year, the duo of Viktor and Konnor were absolutely dominant in NXT, that is until they lost to the Lucha Dragons, when they decided to take their frustrations out on newly signed KENTA, who became Hideo Itami. Itami held his own for a while, but brought in the backup of Prince Devitt from NJPW, who we know as Finn Balor today, and the actual match was a great way to introduce both to the NXT audience. As is customary, the Ascension put over others before making their way to the main roster, and given the success that both men have and will go onto, it is a fairly significant match in the history of NXT and its tag team division.
8 The Revival vs. Finn Balor & Samoa Joe – Dusty Rhodes Classic Semi Final
Although the duo were known as the Mechanics at the time, and weren’t as polished as the Revival we see today, working with two top guys such as Finn Balor and Samoa Joe proved that these two were a force to be reckoned with, as they won the NXT Tag Team Championships not long after this loss. Balor and Joe may have picked up the victory en route to the over all tournament win, but the Revival drew praise for their tag team psychology and old school feel, making them many fans within the wrestling industry. Some fans and experts even argued that the Revival should have gone over, given their amazing chemistry together and the fact they are full time partners, but ever since this loss, their stock in the company has been rising, to where they are one of the premiere tag teams in the entire world.
7 American Alpha vs. Rhyno & Baron Corbin – Dusty Rhodes Classic Semi Final
American Alpha are currently the stand out team in a Smackdown tag division which is slowly growing, with Ryno & Heath Slater and the heel Usos, and could be one of the best tag teams in WWE history if treated correctly. But it was this match, in a loss no less, which is when the two found their footing as a tag team, and showed the audience they were for real. From false finishes to Chad Gable’s breathtaking rolling German Suplex, the two looked at home with two main event NXT stars, and gained the duo many fans, even though they were working heel at the time. While this may not go on American Alpha’s career highlights when it’s over, it is a notable match in the history books of the amazing amateur duo.
6 American Alpha vs. DIY
Even in a losing effort, this match established the team of Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa as future players in the division, as the 15 minute TV match featured several high spots and non stop action throughout. Fans who knew of Gargano and Ciampa didn’t know how they would work as a team, but solid chemistry with each other and their opponents made this a fun way to introduce them to a whole new audience (as they didn’t get much of an opportunity to show off their full arsenal in the Dusty Rhodes Classic), all which made for a more than solid TV bout. It’s no surprise the match was this good given the talent of all 4 men and the matches they have gone on to have, but this one is definitely worth watching if you have enjoyed their other stuff, or are just a tag team wrestling fan in general.
5 Enzo & Cass vs. The Revival – NXT TakeOver: London
In front of the hottest crowd NXT has ever seen, Enzo & Cass delivered their pre match promo to an absolutely deafening crowd, who completely expected the brash duo from New York to leave as NXT Tag Team Champions, despite constant criticism of the duo’s in ring ability. Those were all silenced in this match, as all 4 men (and even Carmella) played their roles to absolute perfection, as the crowd were completely buying into the underdog team of Enzo & Cass finally capturing the titles that had eluded them for 3 years. One of the best false finishes in NXT history ensued, as Enzo hit the rocket launcher for the supposed pin, until Dawson broke up the pin, moments before the Revival deflated the entire crowd, hitting the Shatter Machine for the 1-2-3. While not a classic from an in ring stand point (especially compared to the Revivals following defenses), this match beautifully showcased amazing character work, and how good a heel team the Revival is.
4 American Alpha vs. The Revival – 2 Out Of 3 Falls
Although it’s the first match featured on this list in the rivalry, this was the conclusion of NXT’s greatest tag team rivalry, as American Alpha and The Revival had their final match on NXT TV, contested under 2 out of 3 falls rules, and as you would expect, did not disappoint. After their first two encounters, this one was always going to struggle to top it, but added another classic layer in their rivalry, one that has to make its way to Smackdown in the near future. The match itself, much like their first two encounters featured amazing story telling and old school tag team psychology, making it fun for any type of wrestling fan, and ended 2-1 to the Revival, giving them momentum as they were set to take on the likes of the talented DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tomasso Ciampa) and TM61.
3 American Alpha vs. The Revival – NXT TakeOver: The End
This was the much anticipated rematch from American Alpha’s ultimate triumph at TakeOver: Dallas, and what ensued no one could have predicted, as the Revival became the first ever 2 time champions in any division in NXT in its entire history. The match didn’t quite live up to their first encounter a few months prior, but solidifies both teams as future stars in the business, as American Alpha are now the top team in the Smackdown tag team division, only a short year after their debut. Surprisingly, the Revival regained their tag team championship, becoming the first 2 time champions in NXT history, in what was American Alpha’s last Takeover match in NXT before heading to Smackdown, and with the 4 men showing their amazing chemistry over three matches, fans can only hope the Revival end up on the blue brand in the near future.
2 American Alpha vs. The Revival – NXT TakeOver: Dallas
The third match on this list between these two (but their first match) came at NXT’s biggest event in their history (at the time), in Dallas for WrestleMania weekend, and it could not have opened with a better match. The Revival were the most hated tag team in NXT, were hot off defeating Enzo & Cass, and American Alpha were by far the hottest and most popular team in the promotion were riding an unstoppable wave of momentum, something have to give. The match was an absolute master class in story telling and old school tag team psychology, this match would have fit in as a classic in any era of wrestling history, as the amateur stand out duo of Chad Gable and Jason Jordan finally tasted success in their first shot at NXT Championship glory. This match was the reason that many within the industry and fans of the business felt that NXT TakeOver: Dallas topped WrestleMania that happened just 2 days later.
1 DIY vs. The Revival – NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 2
The most recent NXT Tag Team Championship match, this one took place in front of the largest crowd in NXT history, and managed to do something not many fans though possible, top the 3 match series that Champions the Revival had with American Alpha. Just after their absolute classic in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano pushed the old school Revival to the limit, with quite possibly the best use of false finishes in recent WWE memory, as the 16,000 strong were on their feet the entire match. The two time NXT Tag Team Champions proved too much for the independent stand outs however, as they used fantastic tag team psychology, and hung on against the will of the Brooklyn crowd, with Scott Dawson making Gargano tap out at the end of what will be considered the crown jewel of the NXT Tag Team division’s short history.
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