When the Royal Rumble rolls around—and Old School Raw is hosted a couple of weeks before—you are often guaranteed returning legends.
Whether it is Diesel circa 2011 or The Godfather circa 2013, you can always be sure that somebody will cause the crowd to raise to their feet.
However, one return this year has stuck more than most—the return of Road Dogg and Billy Gunn, the New Age Outlaws. They returned alongside a raft of ex-WWE stars for Old School Raw, but it has become quickly apparent that they are desperately needed to stick around.
It wasn't supposed to be like this for the tag division. It should have been thriving under the stewardship of a fresh, innovative team in Cody Rhodes and Goldust. For a while it was working—but now the division has just gone backwards again.
Creative clearly doesn't have enough faith in one of the teams that are permanent fixtures on the WWE roster—the likes of The Real Americans and The Prime Time Players have had half chances, but have never really gotten close to seriously challenging for the belts.
That is a shame, to be honest. Forgetting about the Outlaws for a minute, the tag division does have some potential, and it is remarkable that nobody has been able to draw out a meaningful and lengthy rivalry with Cody Rhodes and Goldust.
The state of the tag division is perhaps best epitomized by the Royal Rumble card this year. Whilst the pre-show normally features a match of very little significance to get the crowd going, this time we have a tag title match.
However, both Road Dogg and Billy Gunn—five-time tag champions—can step in at the Rumble and pull the tag division back from the brink.
They have turned heel of late, when they sold CM Punk short on Raw in a six-man tag match against The Shield. However, they can still draw a reaction from the crowd and will almost certainly be dragged further into the spotlight as WrestleMania approaches.
If CM Punk ends up feuding with Triple H at the biggest event of 2014, then the New Age Outlaws will play a vital sideline in that story. In essence, that is similar to when Cody Rhodes and Goldust were at the peak of their powers as tag champions.
When they were in a power struggle against The Authority, they became a lot more popular and gained a lot more momentum. The reaction that night when they won the belts was noticeable and led to a pretty good edition of Raw—and a remarkable way to end the show.
It felt as if Cody Rhodes, in particular, had arrived on the main stage. Fast forward a few months though, and some pretty awful defeats for a team who is supposed to be champions have left him in limbo once again.
With the Outlaws alongside the most powerful figures in the company, the tag division could once again rise to prominence. It would also enable a team like The Usos—who have been mightily impressive over the past few weeks—to make a claim for the belts as number one contenders.
There is a future for the tag division—and the team who were once the top guys in tag team wrestling could help to return it to a credible level. Nobody would have considered that three months ago.
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