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And now, the Best and Worst of NXT TakeOver: Respect for October 7, 2015.
Best: The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Trophy
NXT’s understanding of what makes wrestling important to people (and what makes it work) doesn’t stop in the ring. When it was time to unveil the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic trophy, they did it the right way, by having Dusty’s family — his entire immediate family, including Eden Stiles — do the honors. Seeing Dustin as Dustin and Cody as Cody again put things into perspective, and let us know that the evening wasn’t a tribute with ulterior motives to set up some bullsh*t wrestling program, it was a sincere, actual tribute.
That’s part of what I liked about how the tournament itself went down. In our TakeOver: Respect predictions post, nearly everyone on staff predicted a turn, or a swerve. Joe’s gonna turn on Finn! Finn’s gonna get possessed by The Demon and it’s gonna compel him to attack Joe! Rhyno and Corbin are gonna attack each other! Cody and Dustin are going to challenge the winners!
On the show itself, what happened? They had two great, straight-up tag team matches, put in enough psychological teases to make us think our fantasy booking was right, and then closed it out with a third, great, straight-up tag team match.
In the end, that was the tribute of the tournament. Dusty Rhodes’ voice lives on in NXT, and his perspective on how to reach out through a television screen, or over the ropes into an audience of thousands of people and grab them is almost single-handedly what makes NXT different from WWE proper. It doesn’t feel “old school” … it evokes the attention to detail and the reasons why, and filters them through these incredibly hungry, talented people to make the wrestling product some of us have been begging for since we were old enough to beg. Sometimes the expectation of a swerve is enough, you know? This was the Crockett Cup. It was wrestling for the sake of wrestling, for all the right reasons. I’m so happy with how it turned out, and I hope WWE puts out a DVD set with all the matches in full.
And hey, any excuse to see the Rhodes family is a good one. If Stardust has to stay Stardust, can we lean on that concurrent, alternate reality of NXT and let Cody Rhodes exist again somewhere?