Having been hastily arranged to participate in the WWE’s tag team tournament, Team Rhodes Scholars has caught the imagination of the WWE universe.
The combination of Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow has been a force of personality since joining together, due to the two heels’ gimmicks meshing seamlessly together. Sandow’s over-the-top expression of his intelligence underwrites the perpetual self-confidence emitted by Rhodes, while Rhodes’ unwavering agreement empowers everything Sandow has to say.
Across the ring from Team Rhodes Scholars on Sunday will be the equally charismatic Team Hell No. Daniel Bryan and Kane’s dysfunctional relationship has been one of the highlights of WWE television since the two were forced to align with each other.
More importantly from a wrestling standpoint, Team Hell No has consistently put on the most interesting matches in recent weeks. These two men are technically strong and have the veteran ring awareness that is sorely lacking by many in the WWE today.
The fact that both Bryan and Kane are former World Heavyweight champions gives their matches an air of importance that hasn’t been felt in the tag team division for some time.
What this means for Sandow and Rhodes is that they will be facing a team who are their equals in wrestling ability and charisma, but have a far greater overall reputation amongst WWE fans as a whole.
The WWE has tried to broach the reputation gap between the two teams by having Team Rhodes Scholars get the upper hand through sneak attacks. However, this has not fully transcended the gap, as Kane and Bryan have been defeating other teams easily despite also damaging each other.
Team Hell No has also been playing games with one another that include getting into the ring with World Heavyweight title contender Big Show.
Neither Rhodes nor Sandow would ever be given the respect at this point to be considered a legitimate threat to this version of the Big Show, let alone be considered strong enough as a unit to cause Show to back down.
Of course, Rhodes did fight Big Show at the last WrestleMania, but this is a very different monster to the easily bullied gentle giant that was being performed back then.
So if Team Rhodes Scholars—win or lose—presents itself, and is presented as, Team Hell No’s equal, then Sandow and Rhodes will have made significant strides towards the top of WWE.
Simply being considered a genuine threat to Team Hell No puts them into a prime position to be members of the traditional Survivor Series matchups that oppose whoever chooses Team Hell No at Survivor Series. This is likely to put them into a match with the top challengers to the major belts, if they are unlucky enough not to be in a match with the champions themselves.
As long as both men continue to shine in the company of champions, the individuals that make up the tag team put themselves in prime position for a run at one of the top titles when they inevitably split.
Sandow, in particular, could find that this time alongside two of the WWE’s best wrestlers helps his career. He is the bigger of the two men and Rhodes has already had a couple of failed attempts at trying to break into the title scene.
So Team Rhodes Scholars could walk away with tag team gold at Hell in a Cell, but as long as it is presented in the right way to the WWE universe, both men could take with them the far more valuable prize of audience acceptance.