WWE TLC 2013: Tag Title Fatal 4-Way Match Showcases Division's Massive Growth

David Bixenspan@davidbixFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2013

Cody Rhodes and Goldust
Cody Rhodes and GoldustWWE.com

On this week's SmackDown, WWE announced the WWE Tag Team Championship match for this Sunday's TLC pay-per-view: Goldust and Cody Rhodes will defend their titles in a Fatal 4-Way match against challenging teams The Real Americans, Rybaxel and the new pairing of Rey Mysterio and Big Show.  The match sees two new teams involved as WWE tries to beef up the tag team division.

After both Ryback and Curtis Axel came out on the losing end of the CM Punk-Paul Heyman feud, Heyman was written off TV and the teased feud between the two was off. The Axel-as-Intercontinental champion experiment also came to an end to help push Big E Langston.

Both aren't really going anywhere right now and would risk spiraling to the bottom of the card as singles wrestlers.  As a team making a run at the Tag titles?  They're fresh and come off as a pushed midcard act again.  They're probably not winning the titles any time soon, but it doesn't at all look "wrong" that they're in this match when The Shield, The Usos and the Wyatt Family aren't.

More interesting and notable is the other new team: Rey Mysterio and Big Show.  One word sums up my reaction to this pairing: finally.  A team of the wrestlers then known as Rey Misterio Jr. and The Giant was teased over 15 years ago in WCW.  It was exciting, as the visual of the pairing was great, and it seemed like a great way to elevate Misterio Jr.  Being WCW, it was dropped, and they never teamed up.

Both are older chronologically and much older than that physically, but they still have mileage left as stars.  Whether they have much left as singles stars is a lot more questionable.  Mysterio is very injury prone, to say the least, while Show is nearing the end of his career and coming off a flat ending to a main event run.  As attraction babyfaces, they'd be treading water, but as a tag team, they can ease the load on each other physically while giving the division a brand new star team.

While the tag team division has provided consistently good to great action thanks to Team Hell No and then The Shield, it has really picked up with the Rhodes Brothers entering the division and winning the titles.  Goldust/Dustin Rhodes is a great, great tag team wrestler and has been for most of his career.  Cody Rhodes is no slouch, but his older brother is putting an exclamation point on his career with an amazing "second prime," having some of WCW's best tag matches (think of the ground that covers) in his early 20s and some WWE's best in his mid-40s.

In addition to four viable teams in the title match, The Shield, the Wyatt Family, The Usos are established as either former champions or being at the level of strong challengers.  The Prime Time Players are good enough to be right up there, they just need a serious push.

As always, WWE has something in the neighborhood of 100 wrestlers in the developmental system, many of whom don't appear on the weekly NXT TV show for a number of reasons.  It's been noted by Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (F4WOnline.com subscribers-only link) that Paul "Triple H" Levesque is a big proponent of both the booming tag team division and bringing developmental talent to the main roster in new teams.  There's even talk of a tryout camp exclusively for tag teams in the coming months.

One team that may benefit is Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards, who have paired up as the American Wolves in independent promotions.  While Meltzer has reported that Triple H is skeptical of signing them, the tag team initiative got their foot in the door as "interns" at NXT.  They are spending a week in Orlando at the Performance Center around each monthly TV taping as a trial run to try to earn contracts.  As smaller wrestlers with very "indie" styles, they likely wouldn't be nearly as lucky on their own.

After years of being an afterthought, this is the most exciting the tag team division has been in WWE since either the late "Attitude Era" period of 2000-2001 or the latter days of the "Hulkamania Era" during the late '80s.  Is there anyone you think WWE should pair up?  Indie teams the company should hire?  Let us know in the comments.


David Bixenspan has been Bleacher Report's WWE Team Leader and a contracted columnist since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @davidbix and check out his wrestling podcasts at LLTPod.com.