This Sunday, Brodus Clay, Tensai and the Funkadactyls will team to face Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow and the Bella Twins in an eight-person mixed tag team match. There has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding the match, especially since it was announced on Monday's Raw that the Intercontinental Championship match between Wade Barrett and The Miz had been bumped to the pre-show festivities.
Many wonder why a match that appears as useless as the mixed tag does gets a spot on the show while a championship match does not. Truth is, mixed tag team matches are somewhat of a tradition at WrestleMania.
While not involving women, the first WrestleMania mixed tag match came in 1987, at WrestleMania III, when King Kong Bundy teamed with little people Lord Littlebrook and Little Tokyo to face Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver and Haiti Kid. The match was meant to be nothing more than a spectacle, and that is exactly what it turned out to be. Bundy received a ton of heat by delivering his Avalanche Splash to Beaver before Jim cleared him out and celebrated with his partners.
Three years later, WrestleMania VI would be the setting for a match pitting Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire against "Macho King" Randy Savage and "Sensational Queen" Sherri. Rhodes and Savage had been feuding in the weeks leading up to the event, and Sapphire and Sherri had their issues as well. The best way to settle the differences of all four involved, it was decided, was in the first-ever mixed tag match involving men and women in WrestleMania history.
Mixed tag matches would be missing from WrestleMania events for four years when WWE brought them back in time for WrestleMania X. Combining the matches from WrestleMania III and VI, the company promoted a bout featuring "The Beast from the East" Bam Bam Bigelow teaming with the vicious Luna Vachon to do battle with Doink the Clown and his little buddy, Dink. It was largely a comedy bout that eventually saw Bigelow and Luna get the win over the duo of clowns that had tormented them for so long.
Up until that point, mixed tag matches had largely been special attractions. They were meant to be different, to garner the interest of the fans for a midcard match that really had no impact on anything else. Fans would pop for the women finally wrestling one another or they would be amused by the little people during their crowd-pleasing spots.
By the time WrestleMania XIV arrived, the mixed tag match would take on a much more important role. In Boston, at the Fleet Center in 1998, it would create a star for the company that would become one of the faces of the Attitude Era.
Sable was gaining in popularity each and every week in WWE, largely due to her stunning looks and undeniable sex appeal, but also because of a story being told involving Marc Mero. Mero had returned from a knee injury and immediately became jealous of his valet, who had become more popular than him. He berated and embarrassed Sable and soon, Goldust and Luna joined in.
At WrestleMania, Mero would team with Sable after taking exception to Goldust putting his hands on her, in a mixed tag match that featured one of the better stories heading into that year's show.
Sable completely stole the show, laying into both Goldust and Luna with hard shots before delivering a thunderous power bomb to Vachon that caused the fans in Boston to erupt. A TKO to Luna would result in the only WrestleMania win in Mero's career, but it was clear coming out of the match that the true star of it was the blond bombshell Sable, who would go on to become one of the most recognizable stars of the Attitude Era.
Does the eight-person tag match belong on the WrestleMania card?
In the years that followed, mixed tag team matches would continue to be included on WrestleMania cards. In 2000, Chyna teamed with Too Cool to face Saturn, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko in a match where men and women could compete against each other. Six years later, Sharmell would team with her husband, Booker T, in a loss to The Boogeyman. And at WrestleMania 27, Trish Stratus would return to the ring to team with John Morrison and Jersey Shore star Snooki to take on Dolph Ziggler and LayCool.
Sunday night at Wrestlemania, WWE will keep the tradition alive when it present its eight-person mixed tag team match. Like the mixed tag matches of early years, this year's bout exists more for entertainment purposes than to elevate any given star.
Naomi and Cameron have had issues with the Bella Twins, and the match will give them the opportunity to blow off their short rivalry while also giving Brodus, Tensai, Rhodes and Sandow something to do on the "Showcase of the Immortals." All four men have worked hard and deserve their spots.
The decision to include the match at the expense of others will not be popular. But it does not have to be. With so many huge main event matches, there will need to be some sort of buffer in between to calm the fans down before picking them back up again. A quick, harmless, entertaining match that will not suffer because of a small amount of time is the perfect choice.
After all, an Intercontinental Championship match should have more than four minutes between marquee matches.