The spotlight flickers on WWE's second-tier tag teams.
That leaves talented wrestlers dealing with stop-and-start momentum, or worse yet, forced to watch the action from the locker room far too often. The Shield, The Wyatt Family and Cody Rhodes and Goldust are thriving while too many of the teams below them are being underutilized.
The Prime Time Players are good for more than just throwaway matches on Main Event and SmackDown. Hunico and Camacho are too talented to be the unforgettable prey for Great Khali.
The best way to improve the entertainment value of these squads is to tweak some of their gimmicks, provide them with reasons to battle each other and establish a goal for teams to aspire to other than the championships.
Address Percentage of Comedy Teams
WWE will always rely on silly, chuckle-inducing gimmicks like the one that Tons of Funk employs, but comic-relief shouldn't outweigh the drama it's designed to come between.
Aside from Brodus Clay and Tensai's dancing and pants-ripping routine, the tag-team division also hosts a pair of bullfighters with a little person in a bull's costume and a trio of air-guitar playing goofs. Does WWE really need Tons of Funk, 3MB and Los Matadores to provide essentially the same element to the product?
The problem with such a high percentage of teams that are hard to take seriously is that feuds are harder to build.
The Wyatt Family locked in a rivalry with Tons of Funk doesn't sound appealing. The same goes for Los Matadores taking on The Shield.
With so many of these goofier gimmicks on the roster, options for the WWE booking team are limited. That's likely why we saw Los Matadores battle 3MB seemingly every week for so long.
Pitting them against most other teams feels like having Jim Carrey star in a movie opposite Geoffrey Rush. Can fans really take them seriously as threat to The Shield or Luke Harper and Erick Rowan?
You don't build a division on teams like Too Cool or The Bushwhackers; you make them the side attraction.
Tweaking Tons of Funk to make them more serious would increase the tag-team division's depth. Perhaps they are billed more as monsters having been the company's also-rans for so long. Letting Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal find more threatening teams to be on gives the babyface teams new, legitimate challengers.
Pare down the comedy portion of the division and it's far easier to have these teams be a part of compelling stories, championship-centered ones or otherwise.
Rhodes and Goldust's story has been one of the year's best. Before them, The Shield's rise to power was highlighted by winning the championships. Team Hell No thrived with the belts, providing an ideal blend of humor and hard-hitting action.
The top level of the tag division is handed narratives to work with and rivals to overcome.
There aren't nearly enough rivalries beyond that level, though. So when The Prime Time Players face off against The Wyatt Family, there is a lack of spark.
As well as these four men may perform, nothing beats the kind of electricity that intense animosity can provide. That's why The Shield and the Rhodes brothers' matches have been so engaging. Victory meant more than a win; revenge, pride and livelihoods were all on the line.
That's missing on the second tier of the division.
Tons of Funk have no rival right now. Hunico and Camacho aren't in pursuit of anyone. The Usos have their issues with The Shield, but they haven't been developed well enough.
Get these teams a reason to hate each other, and their matches will mean more and be a greater showcase of their talents. The headlining acts will, of course, take up much of the available airtime, but there doesn't need to be complicated stories here, just ones that drive up the stakes of winning and losing.
What if Rikishi appeared on TV one week and a rival team attacked him? The Usos' matches with those foes would suddenly have more fire.
What if McIntyre broke away from 3MB to join up with Justin Gabriel? Mahal and Heath Slater would then have plenty of reason to put a hurting on that new team.
Give them a catalyst and watch the resulting explosion. These kinds of stories could lead to a team with a healthy supply of momentum then seeking the tag team championships or else a secondary prize—a tournament win.
Only one team can hold the tag titles, receiving the boost that position provides. Creating an annual goal, a resume-builder for teams besides these champions, allows more teams to be showcased and would generate great matches along the way.
The Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank ladder matches provide paths to glory and highlight Superstars. Tag teams don't have a similar path to follow.
From 1986-1988, tag teams battled for the Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Cup. The Road Warriors won the first of those tournaments, further amplifying their growing momentum.
All Japan Pro Wrestling has put on a tournament called the World's Strongest Tag Determination League since 1977, allowing such teams as the Funk brothers, Ted DiBiase and Stan Hansen, and Bubba Ray and D-Von to have something highly valuable to boast about.
Have a tag tournament in WWE once a year as part of several episodes of Raw, and a numbers of teams will benefit.
Hunico and Camacho could win a single match and benefit greatly from it. It would be more than they have accomplished since joining forces.
There are sure to be some classic bouts throughout this process, and the winners will get some of the spotlight saved for the tag champs.
Here is a place to have feuds ignite or be initiated. Here is a way to do for tag teams what King of the Ring once did for Bret Hart and Steve Austin.
The Prime Time Players, Hunico and Camacho, Tons of Funk and all of WWE's second-tier teams can either be humdrum filler or they can be thrilling additions to the midcard. Dilute some of the comedy in the division, dole out some feuds and have the division go to battle in an annual tournament and more stars will be sure to emerge.
Talented as they are, these teams can't entertain the audience while standing behind the curtains.
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