Never mind Ryback or AJ Lee; WWE’s true success story for 2012 was Team Hell No, the wacky paring of Daniel Bryan and Kane.
Per the storyline, the two were placed together earlier in the summer after they attended Dr. Shelby’s anger management classes. Then-GM AJ had gotten sick of the two unhinged wrestlers getting into fights—with each other and everyone else in sight—and demanded they get help.
This led to several skits in which Bryan and Kane opened up their feelings to the shell-shocked group and attempted to deal with their deep emotional issues.
This entire thing was tremendous. Heck, the truly awesome segment in which Kane ran down his violent and often criminal past—the various kidnappings, setting his co-workers on fire and torturing them and the like— in front of the increasingly terrified group will likely go down as one of the all-time great backstage scenes in the company's long history.
And so Team Hell No—fans chose the name on a recent edition of Raw—have fast turned into one of the highlights of the WWE product. With the well-meaning but utterly hapless Dr. Shelby coaxing them on (alas, he has disappeared in recent times, which is a shame because he’s one of the best non-wrestling supporting characters the company has ever had), the two opposites have been forced to put aside their differences and work together in pursuit of WWE gold.
They’ve managed to revive WWE’s stagnant tag team division for one thing. Prior to their pairing, the company’s tag division was going absolutely nowhere—frequently marginalized by the booking team and ignored by the fans, it was a joke. After Bryan and Kane became an official team, however, things drastically turned around.
With the creative team—and the WWE Universe—firmly behind them, the two rocketed to the top, winning the official tag team belts at the Night of Champions pay-per-view last month.
They also needed more credible competition, which they received in newly formed tag teams like Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes (Team Rhodes Scholars) and Rey Mysterio/Sin Cara. For the first time in ages, WWE has a thriving tag division, something that can attributed mainly to Bryan and Kane, who kick-started interest in it.
The angle has also helped reanimate the long-running Kane character.
Glen Jacobs has found his career bogged down by some truly awful storylines over the last few years (just how many times has he killed Paul Bearer anyway?), but this current pairing with Bryan has turned things around for him in a major way. Indeed, it is wonderfully refreshing to witness WWE acknowledge for the first time that Kane is truly one of the most ridiculous characters wrestling has ever seen and play it for laughs on-screen. The character works best when we don’t take him too seriously.
So, with booking and fan support, things look very good for Kane and Bryan at the moment.
Of course, the duo are still having on-air quarrels and squabbles: on Monday’s Raw, a deeply jealous Bryan loudly complained about his partner tag-teaming with The Miz against Team Rhodes Scholars and even attempted to sabotage their match. But that’s part of the charm. They may be one of the best—and possibly the best—dysfunctional tag teams ever.