Analyzing The Shield's Place Among WWE's Best Tag Teams in the Last 10 Years
This past weekend, WWE.com noted that Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns of The Shield have now made it into the top five of the longest reigning WWE Tag Team Champions, hitting the 147 day (and counting) mark of their current reign. They slipped past Air Boom and The Hart Dynasty, who were tied at 146 days.
If those numbers sound low, that's because when the World Tag Team Championship (the former WWF Tag Team Championship, defended on Raw) was unified with the WWE Tag Team Championship (newer SmackDown belts) in 2009, WWE went with the younger lineage for some reason.
The same thing happened the following year when the Women's Championship (Raw) was absorbed into the newer Divas' Championship (SmackDown).
Anyway, with all of this in mind, I thought it was a good time to try to get a better overall picture of the recent history of WWE's tag team divisions and where The Shield stands.
Right now, at least, they're in the best spot they've been in several months, as they're in the middle of a hot feud with Cody Rhodes and Goldust, coming off of a show stealing non-title match at Battleground that should lead to a rematch for the belts at Hell in a Cell.
Before the Rhodes feud, The Shield was generally having really good matches but had cooled off for a few months. As much as I like The Usos, they and the other tag team division regulars were definitely a comedown for a team that spent their first six months or so in WWE mostly facing main eventers and other upper level stars.
The Shield won the titles from Kane and Daniel Bryan, otherwise known as Team Hell No.
While generally pushed as a comedy team that happened to consist of big stars who could be competitive in main events, they had very good to great matches pretty regularly.
While he's had bigger pushes, the Team Hell No run and the feud with Bryan and CM Punk that led into it was undoubtedly the best in-ring run of Kane's career.
Teaming with and sometimes facing the best in-ring wrestler in the world, he stepped up his game dramatically, and they were one of the most consistently entertaining acts in the company both in and out of the ring.
While Team Hell No and The Shield are bigger stars than those who traditionally get the tag team titles, the division's best run for star power was a 10-month period from Summer 2009 to Spring 2010.
After Carlito and Primo Colon unified both sets of titles by defeating The Miz and John Morrison (making them look more important because each champion had two belts), they held the titles for a few more months before losing them to Edge and Chris Jericho.
At this point, WWE was actively trying to rehab the belts, and it was a really exciting period for tag team wrestling. While Edge quickly suffered a torn achilles tendon, putting him on the shelf for the rest of the year, he was quickly replaced by another big star in Big Show, forming the team known as Jeri-Show.
They took on a mix of both regular tag teams and other main eventers, setting up a pattern for the rest of this period where the belts moved to D-Generation X (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) and then ShoMiz (The Miz and The Big Show).
When it was time for the "regular" teams to fight over the belts again, The Hart Dynasty (David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd) won the titles from ShoMiz, and that was the end of that experiment, with the current physical belts replacing the two old sets that represented the titles during the "main eventers" era.
From an in-ring standpoint, the aforementioned run of top guys is up there for obvious reasons, but they're arguably behind a few teams who either got more opportunities to have great matches week to week or were just plain outstanding performers.
MNM (Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro/John Morrison), who dominated the SmackDown/WWE titles in three reigns over the course of a year, immediately comes to mind.
While they had a number of very good to great matches as champions with teams ranging from Batista and Rey Mysterio to Paul London and Brian Kendrick (who ended MNM's last title reign), the highlight of their run came when they weren't champions.
Mercury returned after six months off to deal with personal issues for a sort of dream match feud with the reunited brother team of Matt and Jeff Hardy. All of their matches were good, but the blowoff at Royal Rumble 2007 was possibly the greatest tag team match in WWE history.
Words can't do it justice, but it was a perfect modernization of the Midnight Express vs. Rock 'n' Roll Express feud of two decades earlier. Considered the ultimate study material for tag team wrestlers, their matches were known for creativity, a fast pace and incredible ring psychology.
The Rumble match between MNM and the Hardys was paced and structured similarly but with too many creative new spots (many of which I haven't seen since) to count.
Who is the best WWE tag team of the last decade?
I could go on and on, as London and Kendrick also had their own quiet year-long reign full of great matches, The Miz and John Morrison did their best to pick up where MNM left off and so on, but you get the idea.
The Shield is, right now, sort of at a mid-point of stardom and great matches. They're not what they were, a heavily protected act that could easily main event shows, when they won the titles, but they're not close to being "regular" tag team wrestlers, either.
They still have very good to great matches whenever they have good opponents, and when given the opportunity, they can steal the show like they did at Battleground. They don't have the sheer number of great matches of a MNM or London and Kendrick yet, but they're close enough to be nipping at their heels.
What does everyone else think? Where does The Shield fit in for you? Let us know in the comments.
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