It was July 2015 when we first really met the team of Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson. Then named ‘The Mechanics’, Wilder and Dawson had earned TV time due to seemingly undeniable performances on the fledgling brand’s live events. NXT was a very different place back then. Finn Balor had just begun his dominant NXT title run and Bayley was about to make magic with a departing Sasha Banks. For a variety of reasons the product had caught fire and it showed by the then upcoming Brooklyn TakeOver event. In their first match back on television, The Mechanics defeated the beloved Enzo and Cass, bringing a stunned hush to the usually raucous Full Sail.
Next the duo would be featured on the Brooklyn event, teaming up with future rivals American Alpha to take on Enzo and Cass as well as the Hype Bros in a match taped for television. Alpha had recently emerged as a team themselves, regularly featuring with comedic skits that originally had positioned them as heels. Though it may have seemed unlikely at that time, the teaming of Alpha with Wilder and Dawson was an insight into the divisions very near bright future. The Mechanics’ act as a throwback, no nonsense tag team was an enjoyable one but it soon became clear that the duo were going to be more than just another team in this growing division.
Featuring in the Dusty Rhodes Classic, The Mechanics found themselves in the tournament semi-finals after scoring two wins on live events. They were flying under the radar but put on a good TakeOver match with the team of Finn Balor and Samoa Joe nonetheless. It certainly wasn’t at the level of what was to come from the pair but it was a showing that highlighted their immaculate ability to work a body part and create an engaging and innovative heat segment. Though they’d fall short of the final, the duo left the bracket with credit and had even beat champions The Vaudevillains in the quarter final.
With ‘The Mechanics’ name now removed, Dash and Dawson would take out Enzo and Cass before taking the titles from The Vaudevillains in a rematch of their Dusty Rhodes Classic match. It had been a spectacular rise for the new champions but even still, I’m not sure anyone expected what was to come--in fact Dawson and Wilder may have been the only ones.
The returning Enzo and Cass were the perfect first title feud and the two teams clashed at NXT TakeOver: London with the champions retaining before re-matching at the unique Roadblock event. It was another win for the team now aptly named ‘The Revival’ and while their work in the matches was excellent, the focus still didn’t seem to be on them.
Most simply felt that the feud proved that Enzo and Cass needed to be called up sooner rather than later and those people would be proven right but the champions seemed to still be flying under the radar. However, what they brought would soon be impossible to ignore as the team next entered a program with the aforementioned American Alpha. The now babyface duo Alpha had gained incredible momentum with Jordan and Gable creating a thrilling dynamic in ring and an entertaining one out of it. If you had been paying attention you knew that the two teams were a match made in heaven and that showed at TakeOver: Dallas when NXT’s biggest event played host to a spectacular tag team thriller.
Alpha took the belts that night but the match elevated both teams tremendously in both popularity and recognition. Once again though, it felt like The Revival were taking a backseat in both departments as most seemed swept up into the flashier Alpha, almost ignoring that Dash and Dawson had provided them a base to shine with their own brilliant heel work. Regardless, the two teams continued to battle with The Revival regaining the belts before finishing the series by successfully defending them in a two out of three falls match.
It’s a trilogy of matches that has almost been forgotten due to what The Revival have followed it up with since but together the two teams provided a beautiful throwback to a time when tag team wrestling was a legitimate main event attraction.
Either way much of the focus was understandably on a potential Alpha call-up--something that would come almost immediately, leaving The Revival in need of a new babyface foil. Filling that role would be the duo of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, a team soon to be known as DIY.
Returning to Brooklyn one year after their 8-man tag match, The Revival put on a tag team masterpiece opposite the pair of independent wrestling standouts who were clearly desperate to prove their now undeniable worth. Both teams wanted to create something that would leave lasting memories and I wholeheartedly believe they achieved that not just here but also in the incredible Toronto rematch in which DIY finally claimed the gold.
That pair of TakeOver matches were two of the greatest pure tag team matches I have ever seen and in my mind stand up to any alternative from past or present. Not only that though, it felt like in the DIY program The Revival really allowed their personalities to shine through on a whole new level. Dawson and Wilder seemed to find their respective identities behind the microphone more than ever as they constantly mocked and derided their underdog foes. There was one more chapter left in the Revival’s TakeOver chronicle though and it came with this past Saturday’s triple threat elimination match with DIY, as well as the recently crowned champions the Authors of Pain.
In a show-stealing spectacle, the three teams weaved in athletic and exciting spots amongst dynamic and intriguing storytelling. Simply put, it was tag team brilliance and as the referee counted three, this time it was a Revival call-up that everyone anticipated.
After a year of spotlighting and showcasing their opposition, it was now The Revival’s time to shine and that they did, debuting on RAW and defeating the New Day right away. The match or finish wasn’t what made this special though, it was instead the crowd’s incredible response to their arrival. There was a legitimate roar from the Florida crowd and that really encapsulated everything that the team had achieved in an NXT run that will be looked back as a great one in history.
Though fans were often more engrossed in following their babyface counterparts, eventually The Revival became the constant and could no longer be ignored. The Revival had earned people’s respect and adoration with outstanding work and hopefully, are only just getting started. Fortunately, the duo’s performance on Monday suggests that this was actually the perfect time for a call-up. There was a swagger and confidence to their step that only comes with the experience of delivering on the big stage time and time again, and that’s what The Revival have done for the past eighteen months. It’s been a special run thus far but now on the grandest stage, don’t be surprised if The Revival reinvent and rejuvenate tag team wrestling to a level it hasn’t reached in decades. Either way, doubt them at your peril because these two ‘top guys’ have made a habit of proving people wrong.