Match Point: The Revival Return to NXT for Dream Match with Undisputed ERA (11/20/19)

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Credit: WWE

Match Point is an on-going series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, where we look at intriguing matchups in indie wrestling and beyond. They may be dream matches, hotly anticipated rematches, or first-time matchups much like what today’s edition focuses on. Known as the mecca of tag team wrestling over the past few years, Wednesday’s go-home NXT for Survivor Series brings two of the promotion’s best teams together as for the first time ever, the Revival will take on the Undisputed Era duo of Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly.

On Monday night, Triple H made a statement and laid down a challenge, telling the entire Raw and SmackDown rosters that he was opening the doors to NXT on Wednesday night. Welcoming an invasion, Triple H essentially told the blue and red brand rosters, to quote John Cena, “if you want some, come get some.”

With NXT a full participant in this year’s Survivor Series for the first time, it only makes sense that the black-and-yellow brand would play host to some of these tri-brand fights, much as Raw and SmackDown have over the past several weeks. And after Triple H’s attempted recruiting efforts of Kevin Owens, suggesting that people only cared about him when he was with NXT, it makes sense that the talent likely to make appearances on Wednesday are those having history with the brand. Talent such as the Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder), who played a pivotal role in defining the excellence of the NXT tag team division during their years as part of it. On Tuesday, it was announced that the former two-time NXT tag team champions would be returning to the black-and-gold brand to face the current NXT tag team champions, the Undisputed ERA pair of Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly.

Following the Undisputed ERA coming to their house, interfering in the Revival’s chance to regain the SmackDown tag team titles from the New Day (Kofi Kingston and Big E), the Revival made it clear that they won’t stand for what happened. Undisputed ERA, according to the Revival, stuck their nose in business that wasn’t theirs, and now, they are going to pay for it. Welcoming the match, O’Reilly responded to Dawson on Twitter, noting that while the Revival may have laid the foundation for tag team wrestling in NXT, it was the Undisputed ERA that made the belt the most prestigious title in the world.

This will be the first meeting between the Revival and the team formerly known as reDRagon. It will also be the first televised meeting between the Revival and Undisputed ERA (Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong) after the two teams faced off twice last year during the NXT Live events circuit.

As far as tag team dream matches go, fans have a list of them when it comes to the Revival and most of them involve teams outside of WWE. But in many ways, while this may not be at the top of the list for most people, it might be the most meaningful Revival dream match out there. Because in 2016, the Revival dominated the NXT tag team division, putting on stellar show-stealing match after show-stealing match. They were the first team to win the titles twice and the only ones to do so until the Undisputed ERA came around in 2018. Now, the faction that holds all of NXT’s gold, also boasts a total of three reigns with the tag titles, shared between O’Reilly (owns the record for most tag title reigns with all three), Fish (two) and Strong (two).

Breaking it down even further, Undisputed ERA seemed to have taken the torch that the Revival never officially had the chance to pass. On Wednesday night, that might be the case, or, we could see the crafty duo of Dash and Dawson do what they do best, and that’s find a way to win no matter what.

The road to NXT glory has been very different for these two decorated teams as their journeys are quite opposite. Let’s start with the Revival.

In 2012, former Carolinas indie circuit wrestler, Scott Dawson, was signed to a developmental contract with NXT. Over the ensuing two years, Dawson failed to gain any traction, whether as a singles star or as a tag team wrestler, going through a few different partners but none quite clicking. But then, in 2014, Dash Wilder, another North Carolina native, who was known for his time with NWA Anarchy, was signed to his own developmental deal. WWE wasted no time in pairing Wilder with Dawson, who was set to return from injury and in desperate need of a repackaging. In fact, Wilder’s first-ever match with the promotion was on the live event circuit with Dawson as his partner. The two were known as the Mechanics.

For the better part of the next year, Wilder and Dawson mainly worked the live event circuit as they learned how to gel as a team. In April 2015, the two were repackaged, losing the Mechanics name and simply going by Dash and Dawson. And it was as Dash and Dawson that the two found success and established themselves as one of the best of the best in NXT. In October 2015, the two won their first tag title and successfully defended it against the Vaudevillains (Aiden English and Simon Gotch) and Enzo and Cass before losing it to American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable) at NXT TakeOver: Dallas in one of the finest tag team matches in recent memory in WWE. The whole card was incredibly well-received by Dave Meltzer’s star-ratings with Alpha vs the Revival earning four stars, second only to Sami Zayn vs Shinsuke Nakamura in Nakamura’s NXT debut.

The Revival didn’t have to wait long, just two months, to regain the titles and make history in the process. Continuing their fantastic trio with American Alpha, the Revival won back the tag team championship at TakeOver: The End. It was the second consecutive four-star TakeOver match for the two teams. But the best was yet to come as the Revival and Alpha fought the rubber match on an episode of NXT in the form of a two-out-of-three falls contest which was won by the Revival. The duo begun making a statement as per what their new gimmick reflected. They were there to revive tag team wrestling by bringing it back to its roots and back to prominence. At the time, the so-called main roster had all but forgotten about tag team wrestling but thanks to the Revival, who won various Match of the Year and Tag Team of the Year accolades, the opposite was going on in NXT. They referred to themselves as NXT’s Top Guys and their in-ring talent absolutely backed that up.

From the feud with Alpha to the feud with #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa), the Revival continued to prove why they were at the top of the mountain of tag team wrestling. The two teams wrestled a 4.5 star match at TakeOver: Brooklyn II followed up by a second 4.5 star match, which saw #DIY ascend to the top of the division. This allowed the Revival to move on to the main roster, where the duo are former Raw and SmackDown tag championships and even enjoyed a reign as co-champions for the 24/7 title.

The Revival elevated the NXT tag team division and its championship to the best in WWE, and quite possibly the best tag team division in all of wrestling. The quality of matches made tag team wrestling in NXT a must-see. The tag matches often stole the show with the Revival carrying the belts or being right there in the chase. And when they left NXT, they left it in good hands, that of #DIY. But Gargano and Ciampa were headed for a breakup meaning the tag division was ripe for new blood. Enter the Undisputed Era, a group that has shattered expectations and redefined what the tag team division could be.

The Undisputed Era have only been a four-man unit for a little over a year, but these four men all knew each other before they got to NXT due to their time in Ring of Honor. And it was there that Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly were the hottest young team in the company as Future Shock. It was also there that O’Reilly and Fish were paired up in 2012 as a team that would be one of ROH’s best, reDRagon. And much like the chemistry of the Revival, it didn’t take too long for these two hard-hitting fighters to gel and find success. By early 2013, reDragon had won their first set of belts, defeating ROH’s best-ever tag team, the Briscoes (Jay and Mark). It was Fish and O’Reilly’s first of three reigns with the ROH tag titles. Additionally, they won the IWGP Tag Team Championship twice.

It was reDRagon’s final ROH reign that was their best, as O’Reilly and Fish held the titles for 322 days, a mark that stands as the second-longest reign of all-time. During this reign, reDRagon fended off challenges from the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), the Kingdom (Matt Taven and Michael Bennett), the Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian), the Decade (Jimmy Jacobs and Roderick Strong), the Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA), and more.

Having spent the better part of the prior six years working as a team, it was no surprise when NXT signed the two together with plans to have them remain as a duo. And while that hasn’t quite gone the way WWE would have hoped due to Fish’s injury, the former reDRagon have still managed to become two-time NXT champions. O’Reilly is a three-time champ as he’s picked up reigns with both Fish and his other Undisputed ERA partner, Strong. As a four-man unit, Undisputed Era has firmly taken over NXT and rebuilt it in their image. That’s gone for the NXT Championship and Cole, and for the tag division, where Fish, O’Reilly and Strong picked up right where the Revival left off.

The Revival represent NXT tag team division’s old guard, the Undisputed Era, the new. And on Wednesday, two of the teams that have meant the most to NXT’s tag division and its evolution over its history, will finally go head-to-head in the ring to see which one is the absolute best.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can watch NXT every Wednesday night on USA at 8PM.

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