When the WWE first announced a tournament to crown the No. 1 contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championship, I had to stop and process what I just heard.
A tag team tournament? In the WWE? I thought I was dreaming.
As we all know, the WWE hasn’t exactly made tag team wrestling a priority over the last few years, but that’s started to change, as the tag division has grown to feature more teams than at any point in recent memory. That’s evidenced by the ongoing tournament, which features eight teams and will crown the next No. 1 contenders for the tag titles.
The tournament began just a couple of weeks ago. It started with eight teams, but we’re now down to just four.
Although the outcomes of all of the first-round matchups were pretty obvious, it’s hard to complain about the tag team division getting the spotlight after years of lying in the WWE’s cellar.
With four teams remaining in the tournament, the two semifinal matchups look like this: Rhodes Scholars (Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes) vs. Santino Marella and Zack Ryder, as well as The Prime Time Players (Titus O’Neil and Darren Young) vs. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara.
I think the outcome of the first semifinal match is rather obvious. On one side, you’ve got a Ryder/Santino pairing that randomly unites every once in a while but is primarily a comedy babyface team that’s there to make the heel tag teams look good.
That’s what Santino and Ryder will do for Sandow and Rhodes, aka Rhodes Scholars. In fact, that’s exactly what they should do.
With Santino clearly a comedy character and Ryder showing no real signs of getting out of this major slump he’s been in, it’s very apparent that Rhodes and Sandow—two of the WWE’s best current and brightest future stars—should pick up the victory and move on to the finals. They both figure to be a huge part of the WWE’s future, so having them lose to a comedy tag team wouldn’t do them any favors.
Though I think this match will go the way most expect it to, the other semifinal match doesn’t seem to be as much of a lock.
It’s clear that the creative team is behind the Prime Time Players (and I think they have more of a long-term future together than Cara and Mysterio do), and given that their real feud at the moment is with Mysterio and Sin Cara, I think that there’s a chance that they cheat to pick up the victory. But then again, this is the WWE, a company that loves its babyfaces, so I’m leaning toward Mysterio and Sin Cara getting the win.
After all, I think that’s the outcome that makes more sense.
Having Young and O’Neil win here would set up a heel/heel tournament final, which I guess is fine, but it seems like the most logical scenario would be to have the very over Rhodes Scholars heel tandem taking on the very over babyface pairing of Sin Cara and Mysterio.
That will set up a star-studded finals featuring four of the WWE’s top midcard performers. But the ones who will emerge as the new No. 1 contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championship?
Sandow and Rhodes.
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via WrestlingInc.com), that’s been the plan all along, with the Rhodes Scholars expected to go on to challenge Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) for the tag team titles at Hell in a Cell.
And how do we get there?
Sin Cara and Mysterio beat the PTPers in the semifinals, but Young and O’Neil get their revenge by interfering in the finals and costing Sin Cara and Mysterio their match against Sandow and Rhodes.
This is one of those rare situations when I think the creative team should do exactly what it’s expected to do, because booking the tournament just like this sets up a lot of potentially entertaining angles for the tag team division.
If Sandow and Rhodes get the victory in the finals, they will likely start a feud with Kane and Bryan that should ultimately seal Bryan’s ongoing face turn and even further cement Team Hell No as one of the most entertaining tag teams in recent memory. On the flip side, it will also further the storyline between the Prime Time Players and the Sin Cara/Mysterio pairing.
A tag team feud that doesn’t involve the tag team titles? We haven’t seen one of those in years, so it’ll be nice to see two tag teams get to shine without the focus having to be on the tag team titles.
Of course, we’ll also likely get a great WWE Tag Team Championship match at Hell in a Cell and more of Kane, Bryan, Rhodes and Sandow on both Raw and SmackDown.
As a fan of all four, I don’t say Hell No. I say hell yes.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!