Evaluating the Current State of WWE's Tag Team Division
This Sunday's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view is another example of WWE having a strong roster. The main event matches are usually excellent while the midcard matches are full of talented people ready to break through when the opportunity presents itself. I like the WWE roster a lot, and one aspect I particularly enjoy is the tag team division.
I think there were two different eras for the tag team division where it was at its absolute best. In the late 1980s to early 1990s, there were many outstanding teams like the Hart Foundation, the British Bulldogs, Demolition, the Rockers, Strike Force, Nasty Boys and even short runs from legendary teams like Legion of Doom and the Steiner Brothers. You could match up any of those teams and produce quality matchups on a regular basis.
The other great era for tag team wrestling occurred from about 1998 into the early 2000s. The teams that carried that era were the New Age Outlaws, the Hardy Boys, Edge and Christian, the Dudley Boys, the Acolytes (or APA), Too Cool and others. The chemistry between all of those teams was great.
Some of the greatest tag team matches in wrestling history came from that era and I think it's fair to say that the TLC matches they had were revolutionary. You had athletic teams, powerful teams, charismatic teams and, most importantly, they were men that put their bodies on the line to entertain the fans.
There have been periods when the tag division was not as strong as it could be. That's just how the business is. I think right now the WWE tag division is ready to get hot again. When you consider that the main roster in WWE currently has over 60 male wrestlers and another 40 men in NXT developmental, there's obviously a lot of talent ready to break through.
It's time to take a look at all the teams on the current roster and figure out where the tag division is headed.
Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan)
They've been the Tag Team champions since September. They have been billed as "unlikely" champions since the day they won the titles. And here they are five months later, still standing as the Tag Team champions.
I think they have a wonderful dynamic together where they can portray a comedy tag team in backstage segments and then be the perfect complement to each other in the ring as well.
I went to a house show in September after they won the tag titles. They were in a match against the Primetime Players. It was during their "hug it out" phase and they had the crowd buying into everything they did. They had the loudest reactions on the show.
I'm sure we weren't the only city to give them a big reaction, so that's a big reason why they have had a long title reign. When you can get a crowd to invest into you as much as we did, that's when I knew this team was money.
The Prime Time Players (Titus O'Neil and Darren Young)
I'm a fan of these guys. They have each come a long way since we saw them on NXT (for the first time) a couple of years ago. Their partnership works.
O'Neil has an over the-top-personality that allows him to shine on the microphone when given the opportunity. Young is more of a silent guy, but he's always consistently good in the ring while improving as a character too.
I think they have a future as good guys, too. The way they carry themselves makes them likable. The "millions of dollars" dance can be catchy, and I can see the audience picking up on it by dancing along with their friends, too.
It wouldn't surprise me if we saw these two holding the tag team gold later in 2013.
The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns)
If there's a tag team title match at WrestleMania 29, my guess is that it will be Kane and Daniel Bryan defending against The Shield. I would also expect The Shield to win that match to become the Tag Team champions. I don't know anything as far as what might happen. That's just what I would do.
The Shield is comprised of three guys in their late 20s who were brought in with credibility right off the bat. As we saw at TLC, they can put on a very entertaining match, too.
I think all three guys have bright futures as singles wrestlers. However, it will be good for them to continue to work as a cohesive group in the short term because it will allow the audience to get to know them before they branch off on their own.
The other good thing about them? They can use the old "Freebird Rule" that allows any two members of the team to defend the tag titles.
Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow)
It's a shame their tag run has ended before they could win the Tag Team titles. That's what they told us a couple of weeks ago on SmackDown, yet they're having one more match together at Elimination Chamber.
Hopefully all of this is part of the story to make them realize they're better off as a team.
I think spending the next year together as a dominant tag team would serve both men well in the long run. This is a team you could really build around. When the split happens, they can explore their singles careers again. I just think it would benefit both guys to continue this partnership because it ended far too soon.
With that said, both guys have excellent potential as singles wrestlers, too, so I do understand why they are going their separate ways. Or are they? Bad guys lie, after all.
Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara
Team SinSterio? Team ReySin? They don't have an official name, but the two masked luchadores are among the most exciting talents in WWE. Mysterio's reached legendary status as the best masked wrestler in American wrestling who has been in WWE for over 10 years. Sin Cara had a rough first year in WWE, but after recovering from a serious knee injury, he has bounced back.
I think the team has been good for both guys because it has allowed Mysterio to put less strain on his body and as for Sin Cara, he's had the benefit of working with somebody he looks up to like Mysterio.
I think it would be cool to see them have a singles match at WrestleMania 29, just because it's never been done before. Even as two good guys, they could put on a show if given a shot. If not, I think they're contenders to take the Tag Titles off the current champs or feud with other teams going forward.
Jimmy and Jey Uso
When I think of them, the word "potential" comes to mind because they're two guys that have wrestling in their blood as the twin sons of Rikishi. For the most part, they have been good guys who cater to the audience and show off their high-flying moves.
Whenever I watch them have a longer match, they always find a way to get the crowd involved. That's one of the keys to wrestling—you have to draw in the fans that are paying to watch you perform.
All they need are more opportunities to show just how good they are. It's a shame they haven't had the chance to have those big matches on pay-per-view on a consistent basis, but I hope that will happen in the near future.
Brodus Clay and Tensai
This is a new team that is looking for a name. They definitely stand out from the pack as dancing big men that the audience wants to support. Are they going to have long, drawn-out matches full of technical wrestling? No. But that's OK. Not every team should work the same way.
They're definitely a team aimed at a younger audience because of how they like to show off their dance moves before a match, or after a win in Tensai's case. It's still early for them. Perhaps they could take off as a successful team. It wouldn't shock me if they became Tag Team champions in the near future, too.
3MB (Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal)
The "Three Man Band" doesn't win a lot. They can be entertaining, though. I like their in-ring work, and they are getting better at getting the audience to hate them, which is their job.
I'm glad that McIntyre is getting more screen time again after a rough couple of years. The former "Chosen One" has main event potential.
As a team, they can certainly be used in better ways, and I think as the year goes on, we'll see that happen.
Primo and Epico
Who walked into WrestleMania 28 as the Tag Team champions? Primo and Epico. They also left their pre-show match as the Tag champs, too. The cousins have a great dynamic as a team. While they have been heels more than faces over the years, I think if they turned face they could prove to be an entertaining duo that the fans could get behind.
It also helps them to have Rosa Mendes at ringside. She's a fine-looking woman that serves her purpose as eye candy to distract their opponents. I think WWE should use more women in a similar role. They're valuable.
Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel
This is more of an honorable mention since Kidd is out for about six months with a knee injury. I love this team. I think they have the potential to captivate the audience with their fast-paced offense and ability to bring out the best in their opponents.
Hopefully when Kidd returns they are given the opportunity to contend for the Tag Team Championships, because I firmly believe they are a team you can build around. Don't forget about them.
The Future Is Bright for NXT Teams
The NXT Tag Team titles tournament recently completed, with the British Ambition team of Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey beating the Wyatt Family (Erick Rowan and Luke Harper) in the finals. Both teams are very talented and will likely be appearing on Raw and/or SmackDown very soon as well.
Neville, formerly known as Pac on the independent scene, is a guy to keep an eye on because of his high-flying offense, which has quickly won over the NXT crowd.
What's the state of the WWE tag team division? I think it's very strong. While it's not where it was in the late 1980s-early 1990s or 1998-2002, it takes time to get there. What you need is a foundation of actual tag teams to build on.
I think that with all of the teams I listed above, they have about 10 teams you can count on. You can always add more if you choose to break up some teams, too. It's certainly a stronger tag division than it was a few years ago when there were only a handful of actual teams.
Tag team wrestling is important. Not only does it provide us with entertaining matches, but it also allows for character development to help build the stars of tomorrow as well.
I'm glad that we've seen a resurgence in WWE's tag team division. Hopefully the best is yet to come.
John Canton is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. You can read more of his work at his website TJRWrestling.com along with his talented staff of writers. He also writes at LayfieldReport.com. You can follow John on Twitter @johnreport, too.
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