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This past year tag teams in the WWE hit a new low.
After being a major attraction in the '80s, '90s, and having a renaissance around the turn of the century where there were nearly a dozen tag teams around at the same time, tag teams in the WWE have become an afterthought.
When Evan Bourne was suspended for a second time and Air Boom dropped their tag titles to Epico and Primo at a house show, what had long been a problem became highlighted.
Suddenly, there were only two full-time tag teams on WWE TV, and one of them (the longer tenured one) had never been champions (and has still never been).
The only other pairings of note were either a stable that helped each other in singles work but never really competed against established teams, and a pair of guys who were stuck on the Internet.
Tag title matches were being given to random pairings of wrestlers.
Currently this is the tag team division:
Primo and Epico (Champions)
American Perfection (Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger)
Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins
Kofi Kingston & R-Truth or Evan Bourne
Five tag teams doesn't look too bad until you account for the fact that Reks and Hawkins only get to wrestle the Usos, who would apparently also be off television if Epico and Primo had any other competition.
Kingston and Truth have been thrown together after each of their tag teams have blown up, and have no identity yet, and Zig-Swag aren't really after the tag belts or even behave like a team.
Meanwhile a number of performers are stuck doing little to nothing from week to week. Justin Gabriel is able to feud with a singles champion but never get a title shot.
Ted DiBiase, Heath Slater and others randomly feud with no goal. There's a log jam of people just between the mid card titles and the main event.
So let's look at a series of singles performers who could benefit from a partner, and who would benefit the division if they began a team.
Or head back to check out previous entries in this series.
Part 1: Revamping the Wrestling Shows
Part 2: Injuries and the Offseason
Part 3: Non-Wrestling Prime Time Shows
Part 4: Scheduling a Week of Prime Time
Part 5: Filling the 24-Hour Schedule
Mark Henry spent the last 15 years as a jobber and an oddity: A huge man anyone could beat.
Then one day he began destroying people in the ring and viciously taking out all the other big men, removing them from WWE TV for months or worse.
He cruised through the WWE roster until no one would face him. In his wake, Sheamus became a babyface simply by uttering the words "Oi'l foight 'im," the entire company walked out for "unsafe working conditions," leading to the removal of Triple H from RAW and the appearance of Johnny Laurinaitis, which in turn made David Otunga relevant and set up one of the biggest and most important matches at this year's WrestleMania.
In short, Mark Henry was responsible for almost everything that happened in the last year not directly related to Zack Ryder or CM Punk.
Oh, he also won the World Heavyweight Championship and then was a key figure in getting the belt in Daniel Bryan's hands, Bryan's resulting heel turn, and another of WrestleMania's main events.
I could do this all day.
And yet, now Henry is out of the title picture(s) and has lost the mean streak that got him to the mountaintop in the first place.
For a man who was only recently unstoppable, he's really going nowhere.
I guess that's inertia.
Anyway, the man needs something to do without going back to being a jobber.
Then there's Ezekiel Jackson. The last ECW champion has been going nowhere fast for some time, but now is jobbing to the Folgers Soldier David Otunga, in order to remind everyone that Otunga is a wrestler and not just a bowtie-clad caffeine addict. (Can't tell you why, though.)
Jackson's whole concept is domination. It's right there in his entrance theme.
Jackson has his issues as a singles performer, but WWE hasn't let him go yet.
These two dominant big men need to join forces and become the biggest, strongest tag team on the map.
It could even grow into a stable reminiscent of the Nation of Domination.
That, of course, fits right in with Jackson's theme.
A good third member would be Titus O'Neil.
They could be led by mouthpiece David Otunga, or if he loses his GM position, Teddy Long.
Not only could they cruise through the tag ranks, they could take turns helping each other get after singles titles.
R-Truth is a talented veteran performer who can still go with speed, excitement and flair.
He's succeeded as a tag partner before.
He's really shone recently on the mic, with a popular new angle of speaking to his imaginary once-tormentor, now-friend, Lil' Jimmy.
Recently he's been teaming up with Kofi Kingston.
Personally, I don't feel like that team-up is doing either of them many favors.
Kingston was doing well partnering with Evan Bourne in Air Boom until Bourne got suspended twice. Truth had a nice run with The Miz before the two blew up their pairing when Truth was suspended.
I feel Truth might succeed with another partner, but it's not Kingston.
Right now, I think R-Truth's new tag partner should be Lil' Jimmy.
There's a little precedent for this, with people like Al Snow and Perry Saturn, also playing guys who were mentally a little off, actually fought matches with or against their inanimate friends, Head and Moppy.
Truth will essentially be fighting in handicap matches, most of which he should lose, but occasionally he could win.
This could go on for a couple months, and then you could change it by bringing him a new partner, or even have a nobody in a mask coming in as "Lil' Jimmy," or even Hornswoggle.
One thing that WWE seems to have forgotten is that main event-level singles competitors can be tag team members. Not only prior to their singles success, but after and even during.
Likewise, while most successful tag teams feature partners who connect well, in terms of in-ring skills and in terms of personality. Brothers, cousins, men with similar styles and abilities. People that think with one mind and operate as a unit.
However, there can also be successful teams of guys who can't stand each other.
One of the most singular teams of all time was the Rock 'n' Sock Connection.
So why not bring that back with a top of the heap Superstar and a wacky, unusual enigma again?
The Punk 'n' Funk Connection.
Tyler Reks: The idea has been put out there that the two could form some kind of prehistoric-themed duo. I'm on board in theory, but I can't figure out how to package them.
Zack Ryder came up with Curt Hawkins, as Edgeheads and Major Brothers.
Hawkins is currently mired in NXT with Tyler Reks.
Ryder has had an up-and-down year, catapulting himself onto TV, finally earning the U.S. title and then becoming the Devil's Favorite Punching Bag, then dropped his title to Jack Swagger in an unfair contest, then got stuck pining after Eve.
Ryder is very popular but is lacking a direction. Hawkins is talented but lacking in support.
How about a little deja vu?
The only real problem here, other than Hawkins' online-only pairing with Reks, is the fact that Hawkins is a heel while Ryder is a face.
That's not really a huge problem. Hawkins can latch onto the higher-profile Ryder without even turning face.
These two could be Major Broskis.
Trent Barreta, Yoshi Tatsu
Drew McIntyre needs help.
The kid is talented, draws a fair bit of heat as a heel, people like to see him struggle, etc.
But losing and getting fired is not an angle that has long-term legs.
There has been talk about giving him a new gimmick, but either way he needs something more to really get going again.
He could join Sheamus in a Celtic Connection, or Wade Barrett in a UK team, or if he does change to this "playboy" gimmick, he can join up with Dolph Ziggler in a new "pretty boy" team.
The Great Khali isn't going anywhere.
Mark Henry inducted him into the Hall of Pain, wrote him off TV, and people speculated that Khali was gone for good.
Guess who's back?
Khali is neither a talented worker in the ring or on the mic, but he's huge and he's a huge star in India.
You can just keep him around to bring out whenever you need to put a little guy in an uphill battle, or you could give him a partner to help shore up his weaknesses.
Specifically, someone talented on the mic and the ring.
Or you could just pair him with Hornswoggle and make every match a joke.
Santino Marella is enjoying a rare moment of singles success right now, but that moment can't last.
Earlier this year, Marella was about half the tag team division, as he spent consecutive weeks challenging with a new partner each time.
He had a nice thing going back when he was paired up with Vladimir Kozlov, and if you can find him the right partner, he can do it again.
His ideal partner doesn't have to be a great mic worker, but needs a certain amount of charisma. He needs to be able to play the straight man, or throw in the odd punchline to Santino's setups.
Actually, Khali might not be a bad choice for Marella.
Here's an idea that's been floating around for a while:
Ted DiBiase and Joe Hennig (Michael McGillicutty) as The Fortunate Sons or Sons of Fortune.
Basically Legacy 2.0
Tamina Snuka, Natalya
FCW talent: Raquel Diaz/Shaul Guerrero, Husky Harris/Windham Rotunda, Bo Rotundo/Taylor Rotunda.
I brought up Justin Gabriel as the nucleus of a new team or stable at the beginning of the year.
I still think he needs a partner or a crew, preferably with a better talker involved.
I still think it should be a group of young guys, good looking guys with a slick rock-star look and attitude.
Alternatively, there could be a group of guys from different countries.
(For the young money/rock star group) Alex Riley, Alicia Fox, Darren Young, Brodus Clay, Drew McIntyre, Kaitlyn, The Miz, Percy Watson, Trent Barreta, Zack Ryder
(For the international connection) Drew McIntyre, Great Khali, Kofi Kingston, Santino Marella, Sin Cara, Yoshi Tatsu
The best tag teams always had a strong team identity, a visual connection, a team name (Edge and Christian being the exception), and a distinctive in-ring style.
That should be the goal for at least the central three or four teams.
Around that core, various pairings of wrestlers can come and go, so long as there are at least six established teams who compete as teams with some regularity at any one time.
Having multiple recognized teams chasing the titles allows for a greater variety of match types and stipulations.
It's important to remember that while tag team work is a great way for undercard performers to establish themselves, it's also a viable position for established mid-card and even main event performers.
And members of a team or stable do not have to abandon all hope of singles gold. Many men have held the tag titles while carrying another belt at the same time.
It also doesn't matter if a particular team never finds its footing or breaks up after a short time, as long as teams are tried, so that they have a chance to catch on.
Continue on to Part 8!
Or return to the Home of WWE: Overhaul and catch up on the rest of the series!