June 22, 2009
Tag, You're It
Well, the time has arrived. No going back.
It’s been months in the making and now it’s finally happening.
The greatest match ever.
No, not HHH v Randy Orton – I’m talking about my wedding of course!
July 1st for those of you keeping score.
But enough shameless shilling and on to the main event.
I have been wanting to do another column before getting married and heading off on honeymoon, etc, and I was thinking about what it should be on. And it hit me over the last couple of weeks when I’ve been watching The Miz of all people, on Raw (quick note – I was pushing for Miz as a top heel months ago – and for once, I was right!)
But the reason was this – at the time of the draft I couldn’t believe that the WWE would break up their most successful heel tag team in years (Miz & Morrison) with so little fanfare and attention.
Not that I should have been surprised – Vince (and Steph, Gewirtz, HHH et al) don’t see tag teams as ‘money’, they see them as mid card entertainment.
And on some occasions, they’re right (Hawkins & Ryder, Jimmy Wang Yang & Shannon Moore, etc) – although some of the blame there must lie with management. Then there were teams that got over and weren’t really meant to (London & Kendrick, New Age Outlaws, Too Cool, etc) – but some of these were for a number of reasons (work rate or charisma being the main ones).
There were the teams that should have succeeded, but didn’t (Spirit Squad, Jesse & Festus, Haas & Benjamin to name but three) for a variety of different reasons that I won’t go in to just yet.
Then, over the years, there have been some that have plain and simply blown the roof off arenas (for example, DX, New Age Outlaws, LOD, Steiners….) – all for reasons different to the others. Now, DX could (rightly) be called a stable rather than an actual tag team (see nation of domination, DOA, etc, for the difference) but the point is this – tag teams CAN draw.
Looking back at the WWE since the WrestleMania era, we’ve seen teams such as The British Bulldogs have to go on last at house shows because no-one else on the card could follow them. We’ve had The Hart Foundation, Strike Force, Demolition, LOD, The Hardys, Edge & Christian & The Dudleys – all teams which can claim to have been money teams. There were others that could be on the list, but you get my drift. Tag teams can draw money.
And then there was Mick Foley & Al Snow (Just messing, they’re two of my long term favourites for lots of reasons).
With that in mind, I want to look at any current tag teams (and one or two stables) that are in WWE and see if there is a bright future in the horizon for tag teams. TNA as a company is trying, bless them, to have their tag titles mean something and to a degree it is working. This is making them stand out – they are promoting themselves, amongst other things, as the organisation were tag teams come to be taken seriously (insert your own jokes here).
In WWE we currently have Carlito & Primo, Legacy (Priceless), Cryme Tyme, Haas & Benjamin (or should that be Haas and Knox? Can the booking team decide one way or the other?) and The Hart Dynasty. On paper they are all good to great tag teams. But 5 tag teams? Where are the days of Survivor Series 1988 when one of the elimination comprised 10 tag teams in its own right? (For the record, the match was – The Powers of Pain/The Rockers/The British Bulldogs/The Hart Foundation/The Young Stallions v Demolition/The Brain Busters/The Bolsheviks/The Fabulous Rougeaus/The Conquistadors – not all main event teams, granted, but you get my drift).
The same event also featured a few stables, such as the Mega Powers (Hogan & Savage), The Twin Towers (Akeem & The Big Boss Man) and even the seeds of The Million Dollar Man starting a stable (Virgil was in his corner). They had an emphasis on teams, and it was easier to develop a feud if there were several people for the face to go through before he could get to the heel he’d been chasing for months. Not the most difficult concept in the world, right?
Currently there is a dirth of tag teams; not that we should be surprised, as stated above. How do the 5 teams mentioned above stand at the minute?
Carlito/Primo – they are (currently) the Unified Tag Team champions (although maybe not for much longer). Primo has made Carlito step up his game, but they received a slap in the face when their WM match with Miz/Morrison was relegated to dark match material. They deserved better in what had been a decent mid card feud that the audience had bought in to. If they lose the belts, I’m not sure where they go from here, as Carlito could very easily lose his focus again. They both have charisma and could mean something if WWE could be bothered.
Legacy/Priceless – need I say any more? They (DiBiase & Rhodes) are two of the 3 members of WWE’s elite heel group, with Ted jr. being seen as future main event material. Cody not so much I think, but we’ll see. They are maturing as performers and should be applauded for not looking out of place in this group – well, when HHH’s ego allows them to, that is.
Cryme Tyme – last year I talked about them being overlooked as they has potential to connect with the audience, and I stand by that. JTG, especially, has charisma to burn and they could mean something if tag teams were focussed on more – groundhog day anyone?
Haas/Benjamin – not a permanent tag team by any means, but it’s great to see them use Charlie again as he is a superb wrestler, albeit one devoid of money making charisma. They are easily the best team on the roster by way of skills, and it may take a similar team to really get them over (a la Hardys/Dudleys/E&C back in the day).
The Hart Dynasty – they are the lowest on the totem pole, in so far as they are on ECW, but they have been made to look competitive against the main eventers on it and have been spared losing when on Raw this past week, for instance. They are more valuable as a unit than they are apart. If they get a big name in to head the group, they could really light things up. I wonder if Vince has Bruce’s number……..
Apart from that, we’ve no other tag teams of note. This is tantamount to a cardinal sin. I remember during the Attitude Era when The DOA, NOD and Los Boricuas were feuding. It wasn’t a main event feud, but it provided great storylines through the weeks & eventually made a star out of The Rock.
Hand the division over to someone like they did (for a while) with the women’s division when Finlay ran it. He really got the girls working better in the ring, they were allowed time to connect with the audience, they got over and in turn made themselves, and WWE, money. It was a win/win situation, but one that was given time to succeed.
Why not now? Why not allow Steamboat or Rotunda to develop tag teams again, either on ECW or SmackDown? Why not copy TNA and ‘invite’ teams from over the world for a tournament after a heel team pronounce themselves better than everyone else and in need of a challenge? And it’s not like the majority of WWE’s audience have ever seen TNA, let alone heard of them (and I do mean that sincerely as taking house shows into account there are LOADS of kids coming to them again).
Do they have anything to lose by doing this? If anything they might actually discover one or two teams that they never thought could succeed (hey, that’s what happened with The New Age Outlaws, and they were really over, before and during DX).
I’ve had a thought, and I can see the possibility of a few teams being formed on all 3 brands, by way of developing and reinventing several WWE on screen (and developmental) characters. Allow me to indulge myself…..
Chavo Guerrero & Jamie Noble – let them both complain about being overlooked and underused. Align them with an authority figure and let them go. Their only problem is their size, but feuding with the likes of The Colons wouldn’t be outside the realms of possibility.
Goldust & Festus – not exactly rocket science here. They could provide the kind of comedy that Gewirtz loves (he’s a bit hit and miss for me) and see how they go from there.
Kendrick & Ryback (FCW) – personally I wouldn’t have spilt him with Ezekiel Jackson, but c’est la vie! He needs a big, kick ass bodyguard associate that they will spend time getting over, a la HBK & Diesel.
William Regal, DJ Gabriel & Paul Burchill – if the tag champs can appear on every show, then have Gabriel & Burchill (somehow) win the titles, meaning they can appear on any show, so they could easily be aligned with Regal. They would also have an (obvious) natural feud with an ECW team (see below).
Jimmy Wang Yang & Kung Fu Naki – to be honest, I’m surprised it hasn’t happed before now. They would no doubt be 100% stereotyped, but they can both go and they provide an athletic foil that the cruiserweights aren’t allowed to anymore.
Jesse & Curt Hawkins – the team to feud with Yang & Funaki. Jesse has never had a chance to shine like he can and it would be an interesting dynamic. Seriously…..
R-Truth, Rey Mysterio & Eric Escobar (FCW) – a high energy, high flying trio to take down Edge & Y2J, who could be joined by a returning from injury Kaval/Low Ki.
Drew McIntyre & Ricky Ortiz – a new (heel) Strike Force, although admittedly not as good in the ring. They both have natural cocky, heel charisma, and could try to charm all the ladies in a Rick Martel/Val Venis/Rick Rude way, so why not?
Yoshitatsu (FCW), Yujiro, Naito & Kiyoshi (all TNA) – Kaientai for the new generation of WWE fans. Exciting, flashy tag team wrestling – if they can’t get over doing that, then they never will. Possibly the least likely to happen, but worth a thought. Maybe they need to contact Jim Mitchell first to manage them……..
Finlay, Sheamus O’Shaunessy (FCW) & Lawrence Knight (FCW) – to feud with Regal/Gabriel/Burchill. Yes, it’s a straight forward inter-British rivalry, but they have to think ahead, and it could draw in the UK as well as the USA. And it would (finally) allow me to see another Finlay/Regal match!
Brett DiBiase, Wes Brisco & Joe Hennig (all FCW) – once they’ve got more experience, put them on ECW as a poor man’s face version of Legacy and allow them to go. Maybe have someone well known mentor them too, like Orton has dome with Cody & Ted.
Are there other combinations? Yes, several of which might include other TNA people jumping ship. Say someone such as Kurt Angle (a possibility later this year), Homicide (maybe in the next year or two), Sting (surely before he retires!) or even Jesse Neal (tribute to the troops anyone?)
A few mid card stable feuds also means that more people can be used on screen, that storylines are easier to write & that potential matches increase at a great rate. Success all round surely?
I guess I would just like to see Vince, Steph, Hunter and the rest of the WWE power team look to tag teams or stables as a way of developing people for the future. HHH, The Rock, Ric Flair, HBK, Bret Hart, Kevin Nash, Randy Orton, Batista and others have all made it to the top via a tag team or stable. Yes, most of them had other intangibles, some were over before being in a team and there are always exceptions to the rule, but you see my point.
It’s just a shame Vince doesn’t.
Well, as per usual, if you agree, disagree or have any ideas of your own, let me know. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org but if I don’t reply before July 1st don’t expect one until late in the month – I’ll be sunning myself in the Dominican Republic with my beautiful wife (hi Emma!)