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31 Days of Wrestling (12/15/16): #DIY vs. The Revival, NXT TakeOver:Toronto (2 Out Of 3 Falls)

Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. It's that time of year again when we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match a day for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling this calendar year produced for us.

Today, we look at what may be considered the pinnacle of 2016's tag team scene in WWE.



In the same way that women’s wrestling defined NXT in 2015, the tag team division experienced a renaissance of sorts throughout the crazy year that is 2016. From the rise and eventual promotion of American Alpha (previously covered in 31 Days of Wrestling) to the main roster to the introduction of new teams like the Authors of Pain and TM-61, there is so much to love about tag team wrestling in the supposed developmental system (besides Shinsuke Nakamura, of course). But when you ask any wrestling fan what the pinnacle of tag team wrestling was this year, many fans will easily point out to the rivalry between The Revival and #DIY.

The two teams first made their waves in the inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic in 2015, making an immediate impression on the Full Sail crowd. But it would be Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, the eventual Revival, who would eventually beat The Vaudevillains after the tournament to secure their first NXT Tag Team Championships. 

Along the way, despite the loss during the Dusty Classic, the popular indie duo of Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano would slowly gain momentum and popularity as a duo, further establishing themselves as a tandem in NXT. This fresh tag team would eventually score an upset win over the tag champs, setting up a future tag title bout at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II. The newly christened #DIY (or Do It Yourself) were close to securing a tag title win against the self proclaimed “Top Guys” of the tag team division if it wasn’t for a close save, leading to a submission victory on Gargano. After The Revival once again screwed over #DIY in a Dusty Classic semi-finals match against the Authors of Pain, NXT GM William Regal decided to reward the only 2-time NXT tag champs with a Two Out of Three Falls title defense against #DIY at NXT TakeOver: Toronto, sending fans into a hyped frenzy knowing the chemistry between the two teams.



And true enough, when the time finally came, these two teams delivered the goods. The Revival scored the first fall when they managed to counter a Gargano spear into the Shatter Machine, but #DIY eventually tied the series with the running knee–superkick combo. The first two falls demonstrated tag team intricacies and psychology, with each team having learned from previous encounters with the other. 

But it would be the third fall where the action and drama would increase ten-fold, with numerous heart-stopping close calls, high impact maneuvers, and a frenzied Toronto crowd emotionally invested in the bout and, more importantly, the prospect of a #DIY win. And in a sense of poetic justice, Gargano and Ciampa locked in their respective submission finishers on Wilder and Dawson, scoring the win and resulting in one of the biggest pops in 2016. In many ways, this was the match of the night and a bonafide new standard in tag team wrestling for WWE.



With all the focus on the Women’s Evolution in WWE, it is easy to forget that there is a renewed revolution coming up within Full Sail University. Don’t get anyone wrong: The New Day remains one of the integral anchors in the larger tag team picture (and one of the saving graces of 2015), and teams like Beauty and the Manbeast and the New Wyatt Family are slowly bringing prestige to the SmackDown Live Tag Team Titles. But NXT has slowly been preparing for the long-term future of the often-maligned tag team division, with the impact already slowly being felt with the likes of American Alpha making it to the main roster, as well as the other NXT tag teams tearing it up. If #DIY and The Revival are of any indication, 2017 is expected to be the year of tag team wrestling, leading up to a new tag team golden age.


*****

31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2016.

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