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Byrons Articles

Great expectations: Why Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli’s ceiling keeps getting higher

It’s one thing to make a first impression in the world of sports-entertainment, but leaving a lasting impression can be an entirely different ballgame. Enter the NXT tag team of Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss. At first glance, both men look to be incredible physical specimens. As for that lasting impression? Both men also firmly believe they have what it takes to become the most memorable tag team in NXT history.

“Individually, we are the two greatest athletes this company has ever seen,” Moss told WWE.com. “We also both happen to look the part and talk the talk better than anyone else. So together? Damn. That’s scary.”

Although only in their infancy as an NXT tag team, Moss and Sabbatelli have no problem telling the world just how good they are.

“There’s a lot of talented people in NXT and WWE, but there’s a big difference between being talented like everyone else and being god-gifted like myself and Riddick Moss,” Sabbatelli said. “Things just come to us a lot easier than they do for most.”

Undoubtedly brash and cocky, the attitude of Sabbatelli & Moss may not be completely unwarranted. Prior to joining the ranks of NXT, Sabbatelli spent six years in the NFL as a safety after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the 2007 draft. Moss, on the other hand, was a standout All-American linebacker at the University of Minnesota who recorded 226 tackles from 2008-12.

Great expectations: Why Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli’s ceiling keeps getting higher
While both initially saw each other as competitive rivals during training sessions inside the WWE Performance Center, Moss & Sabbatelli have since decided to conjoin their efforts to pursue tag team greatness.

“We come from similar backgrounds, and one thing that we have in common is our love to compete,” Moss said. “I thoroughly enjoy competing, one-upping and proving people wrong — in anything. In the ring, weight room, basketball court, golf course.

“I love to argue,” he continued. “Sometimes I take the other side of an argument just to challenge myself. And I still win. I always do. I’ve never lost an argument. Sabbatelli and I love to compete with everyone at the Performance Center, but the only real competition for us is each other. So, we bonded over that.”

While their athletic prowess has been one bonding point, Sabbatelli was quick to point out that their appreciation for the finer things in life has only solidified their friendship.

(more…)



Byrons Articles

A new path forged: Are Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan the tag team of the future?

The 1974 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman has been widely recognized as one of the greatest moments in sports history. The match, dubbed the “Rumble in the Jungle,” saw Ali score an incredibly shocking victory over then-World Champion Foreman in the eighth round of the bout. But arguably just as remarkable is the close friendship both fighters would develop with each other in the wake of the historic event. The “Rumble in the Jungle” is simply one example of a common theme in sports: Two athletes who push each other to the limit soon develop a mutual respect from the moment of battle.

Enter NXT Superstars Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch, who have done just that. After Lorcan and Burch engaged in ultra-physical matches against each other, they agreed upon an alliance as an NXT tag team.

“The relationship between Oney and I is simple,” Burch explained. “It’s built around one word: respect. After we had our first match together on NXT, he gave me another chance, one more match, one more time, when he didn’t have to. He’d beaten me, but he’s a man and a competitor and thrives on competition.”

Lorcan and Burch wrote the first chapter of their newly created tag team book with a loss to the team of Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss. While understandably frustrated by coming up short in their NXT television debut as a tandem, Lorcan believes the team has a promising future.

(more…)



Byrons Articles

Their combined weight tips the scales at nearly 700 pounds, they’ve informed the NXT Universe of their fondness for steaks and weights, and their offensive repertoire is, well, different.

Most of all, Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic, the team collectively known as Heavy Machinery, are all about having fun.

“I think we just have more fun than any other tag team, and that’s our main thing,” Knight said. “We just go out and enjoy ourselves.”

Knight and the ever-eccentric Dozovic have made quite the early impression on the NXT Universe since their recent splash into the tag team picture. With all eyes focused on the NXT Tag Team Title Ladder Match between The Authors of Pain and #DIY this Saturday at NXT TakeOver: Chicago, you had better believe Knight & Dozovic will be keeping close tabs on the result.

“We want everyone to know that we wanna challenge the top dogs, win the tag team titles and prove we are the best in NXT,” Knight said.
Heavy Machinery

So just who exactly are Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic? For starters, they are two men with rich amateur wrestling backgrounds. Tucker, a former NCAA All-American, was ranked as one of the top heavyweights in the country from 2011-13, during which time he attended California State University, Bakersfield, Arizona State and Portland State University

After going 48-0 in high school competition, the 330-pound Dozovic won a gold medal at the 2011 Junior Pan-American Games and a bronze medal at the 2014 Pan-American Games in Greco-Roman wrestling. Dozovic was even a prospect for the 2012 Summer Olympic team, an opportunity that allowed him to train with SmackDown LIVE Superstar and NXT alum Chad Gable.

“We pride ourselves on being big men who can go inside the ring,” Dozovic said. “Just because our team name is Heavy Machinery doesn’t mean we’re gonna wear hard hats. We are two guys built like brick walls, and we are gonna run you over.”

Outside of the duo’s imposing size and obvious athleticism, it is Dozovic’s animated demeanor that has caught the eye of many throughout the NXT Universe.

“I’ve been this way all my life,” he said. “In the past I was hired for coaching jobs at amateur wrestling camps just to hype up the wrestlers and get them going. I’m laid-back, but when it comes to competition, it’s a different story.”

Knight echoed his partner’s sentiments.

“I used to get in trouble growing up for being too animated and celebrating too much when things went well,” he said. “Now we do something sweet and we get to celebrate in our own way. It’s especially fun hanging with Dozy (Dozovic) outside the ring. He’s always making funny faces and funny noises. I like to joke that he’s got his own language called Dozinese because sometimes people have a hard time understanding what he’s saying.”

Jokes aside, Knight & Dozovic have displayed a mutual complementary chemistry that so far has brought them plenty of success. According to Knight, that chemistry is the x-factor that separates them from the pack.

“I think that we have an energy that no other team currently has,” he said. “We want to prove to everyone, including ourselves, that we are the best tag team in NXT. The quicker we can do that, the better.”
Heavy Machinery

Did You Know? Heavy Machinery fun facts

Favorite food
Tucker Knight: Burger, fries and ice cold soda

Otis Dozovic: 15 Buffalo wings, mashed potatoes and gravy, meatloaf, steak and baked beans

Favorite movie
Tucker Knight: “Good Will Hunting”

Otis Dozovic: “Friday the 13th”

Maximum squat, bench press and deadlift
Tucker Knight: 365-pound bench, 500-pound squat, 500-pound deadlift

Otis Dozovic: 475-pound bench, 610-pound squat, 710-pound deadlift

Misc.
Tucker Knight has an accounting degree from Arizona State University.

Otis Dozovic’s great-grandmother use to wrestle in carnivals under the name “Cattle Kate.”



Byrons Articles

It’s been nearly three weeks since Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano captured the coveted NXT Tag Team Championship at NXT Takeover: Toronto. The much-heralded victory marked an incredible climax to their heated rivalry with the now former champions, The Revival.

“It’s pretty surreal,” Ciampa told WWE.com. “I think it’s safe to say for the majority of independent wrestlers, the goal is to one day perform under the WWE banner. But to actually become a champion within the company, it’s truly a dream come true.”

So just exactly where did the dream begin for the NXT Tag Team Champions? While both have plied their trade inside the ring since 2005, it wasn’t until halfway through their careers that the team known as #DIY would first cross paths, prior to an independent wrestling show.

“Tommaso randomly picked me up at a bus station six or seven years ago before a Dragon Gate USA show in Massachusetts,” Gargano recalled. “I took a nap at his house with his dog, Harry Harrison. But we really didn’t get to know each other until a few years later at another indie show in England, where we wrestled to a 15-minute time limit draw later that night. We did the loop after that in America, with matches in California, New York and Illinois.”

Their paths would intersect once again during a week-long WWE tryout in 2015. Company officials decided to pair both men in the same hotel room, and they shared a rental car to travel to and from the tryout camp. It’s an experience Gargano says built the foundation for the friendship that exists today.

“I don’t know why, but they put us together by pure happenstance,” he said. “We were friends before that, but that whole experience definitely brought us closer together.”

While neither man earned a WWE contract during that 2015 tryout, they did become fixtures on NXT television. The exposure to a new and larger audience brought a lot of satisfaction to the tandem, but also a lot of angst.

“Obviously, our goal was to be here full time,” Gargano said. “It was a very stressful time period as there was just so much uncertainty. There were no promises. After every show, we just hoped we’d be asked to come back next time.”

For Ciampa, the stress may have been even greater. In 2007, Ciampa signed a WWE contract to train and compete in WWE’s former developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling. Less than a year later, that contract was gone.

“In this business, one learns to persevere at a very young age,” said a reflective Ciampa. “Imagine acquiring your dream job at the age of 21, only to lose it six months later. I was devastated. However, the journey back to this point has been nothing short of incredible. This past year, we have gone through so much together and, honestly, it will make for a crazy chapter in a book some day.”

If such a book is ever written, there’s no doubt one chapter will be centered on the eventual dual accomplishment of both men signing full-time WWE NXT contracts this past summer, followed by their improbable win in Toronto over The Revival. Nearly 12 years after lacing up their first pair of wrestling boots, Ciampa and Gargano are now roommates, best friends and NXT Tag Team Champions. Their incredible success is underscored by the meaning of their tag team name, #DIY: Do It Yourself.

“Tommaso and I are two guys who traveled the world for 12 years before we got here,” Gargano said. “We’ve never had a multimillion-dollar company backing us. We got here through our own hard work. People see that and people relate to that. DIY is a way of life. If you want something, go get it. Nobody will do it for you.”



Byrons Articles

When Peyton Royce and Billie Kay first joined the ranks of NXT, it seemed their story was something out of a fairytale. Two Australian-born women who attended the same high school in Sydney, trained at the same wrestling school and eventually achieved their lifelong dream of joining WWE at the same time. A year and a half later, the fairytale is now a nightmare for the rest of NXT’s Women’s division.

“Our partnership is so strong because of its foundation,” Billie Kay told WWE.com. “A lot of teams in NXT form because they have the common goal of winning. Peyton and I are much more than that. No one has our back story.

“We were the only two people who got signed by WWE at our tryout in Melbourne, Australia. We moved here together and lived together. I know what Peyton is thinking before she thinks it and she knows what I’m going to do before I do it. Our bond to each other is what makes us iconic.”

While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how highly Royce and Kay think of themselves, it’s their antics that have placed them in a questionable light. Those antics have been on display with the mental and physical intimidation both ladies have used to target Liv Morgan.

“Liv Morgan is dumb if she thinks she can make waves in NXT by herself,” Royce said. “Billie and I are smart. We are well aware we can get the job done on our own but we are also humble enough to realize we can run this division together. Her little friend Aliyah found that out after we beat her up, too.”

Could Kay and Royce’s alliance follow in the footsteps of other previously impactful groups, like the BFFs and the famed Four Horsewomen? Both ladies say the key to their journey toward greatness lies in their ongoing ability to keep each other motivated.

(more…)



Byrons Articles

It was nothing short of a groundbreaking matchup that the NXT Universe was moments away from witnessing: Bayley vs. Asuka for the Women’s Championship at NXT Takeover: Dallas.

Just minutes before the epic encounter inside the sold-out Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, with the cheers of the rabid NXT Universe reverberating in the background, NXT Women’s Champion Bayley found solace seemingly away from the rest of the world. A dark hallway, with no soul in sight, provided her the opportunity to digest the magnitude of her impending title defense. Sadly, despite a valiant effort, the beloved Superstar would fall to Asuka and thus watch her 223-day reign as NXT Women’s Champion reach its conclusion.

Nearly four months later, Bayley now finds herself on the verge of a redemptive opportunity to right that unforgettable loss in Dallas.

“Winning back that title has always been my top priority, because being the best has always been my goal in NXT,” Bayley told WWE.com.

In the same week that Bayley witnessed seven of her colleagues get drafted to the respective brands of Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live, it seems the quest to regain the NXT Women’s Championship has taken permanent residency in the mind of the beloved NXT Superstar.

“Ever since I lost the Women’s Championship to Askua, I feel like I’ve been targeted in a whole different way,” she revealed. “People have tried to keep me down and keep me away from the title picture to make sure that I never get a chance again. And personally, I’ve struggled with a lot of doubt in myself at times.”

Last night on NXT, Bayley took a major step toward shaking that doubt by pinning newly drafted Raw Superstar Nia Jax. Now, the inevitable — a rematch with NXT Women’s Champion Askua — appears to be around the corner.

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Byrons Articles

The Revival aren’t satisfied with being the only two-time NXT Tag Team Champions in history. Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder are intent on showing the world that they’re one of the best duos of all time.

Following the NXT Tag Team Championship Match at TakeOver: The End…, there were two predominant emotions exuding from the hallway leading back to the locker rooms. On one end, a feeling of heartbreak and disappointment as American Alpha’s Jason Jordan & Chad Gable were forced to part with their identity as NXT Tag Team Champions. The other? Exuberance and triumph as Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder accomplished what no other team has ever achieved in NXT, becoming two-time Tag Team Champions.

“There’s a reason we’re called The Revival,” a beaming Dawson told WWE.com. “It’s not a cute name to slap on a T-shirt. We’re bringing back the art of team fighting. When I say we’re the absolute best tag team on this planet, I postivitely mean it, 100 percent.

“Now, being the only team to be champions twice over, we’ve proven we’re the best team ever in NXT history — official ‘top guys,’” Dawson added. “Soon, we’ll prove we’re better than The Midnight Express, The Hart Foundation or The Brain Busters ever were.”

Though Dawson’s aspirations of legendary status may seem farfetched to some, the motiviation for his attitude is legitimate. Once deemed a tag team that was destined for opening matches and little else, The Revival found a way to ascend to the top of the Tag Team division. Yet, following their loss to American Alpha nearly three months ago at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, doubts were once again levied about Dawson & Wilder’s ability to achieve consistent success.

“What people think carries no weight or influence. They do not matter to us,” Wilder yelled. “They do not have any effect on the outcomes of our matches. They can believe or feel whatever they want — that won’t change things. We’re the top guys, and we have the potential to be one of the best teams of our generation. People said we’d lose the titles to American Alpha and that we’d never have them again. Now we get to look at their faces every time we walk out with our championships.”

One might surmise that the new two-time champions could be even more dangerous than before. After all, The Revival have already displayed a willingness to injure and disable their opponents, all in the spirit of winning. The question is, to what lengths are they willing to go to keep those titles? Dawson provided some insight with what he refers to as “The Revival’s Rules for Success.”

“One, never deviate from our plan,” he explained. “Two, never care whether we please the fans. Three, show zero remorse. Four, walk back thorugh the curtain and straight to the pay window.”

For a team that fashions themselves as the “best on the planet,” could those rules of success very well create the perfect recipe for the greatest tag team in NXT history? Will American Alpha once again regain the crown, or will another team rise from the shuffle to steal the thunder of the NXT Tag Team Champions? For those would-be challengers plotting to spoil The Revival’s reign, the titleholders have a stern warning.

“This ain’t a fantasy world,” Dawson said. “This is our real life. This is how we feed our families. Big money goes to big winners, and The Revival fight to win. Anyone who tries to take food off our families’ plates will be dealt with accordingly.”

Follow Scott Dawson on Twitter @ScottDawsonWWE and Dash Wilder @DashWilderWWE.