WWE's tag team division has welcomed its latest odd couple—Health Slater and Titus O'Neil.
The newly formed duo has an entertaining married-couple dynamic and enough in-ring skills to be a valuable tag team, even if competition is too stiff at the top for Slater and O'Neil to be tag champs.
Look for "Slater Gator" to be the rivals who push the division's kingpins.
O'Neil and Slater both felt lost without their former partners.
The Prime Time Players' breakup didn't propel O'Neil as he must have hoped. He's been used as enhancement talent since, with no feuds or big pay-per-view matches to his name after Elimination Chamber.
Slater's three-man band becoming a solo act again—Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal were released by the company in June—has left him as one of the forgotten members of the roster.
Together, they have a whole new energy. On the July 11 edition of SmackDown, they joined forces in a losing effort to The Usos.
They looked like two jobbers working together—filler for the division and nothing more.
That's definitely a possible direction for them, but they are capable of being bigger contributors than that. Their bickering and dysfunction represent potential for a lot of fun.
Martin Dixon of 4 Corners Radio agrees:
Slater Gator, Slater Gator, you should all, stand up and cheer, A mismatched pairing of two wrestlers, so much laughter, it brings a tear.— Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida) July 31, 2014
Fans saw some of what the duo has to offer after The Wyatt Family's ambush of The Usos cancelled its match with the tag team champs. In an interview afterward, Slater told his partner to let him talk, bouncing up and down like a toddler and yelling, "Shut up!"
While not as amusing as Team Hell No was, this pairing looks to have some entertainment value.
This is the funniest Slater has been in his WWE career. He's whiny, delusional and a loudmouth. Those traits have made him more intriguing than he was with 3MB.
He and O'Neil's backstage segments will be among the best the division has to offer.
Like with Kane and Daniel Bryan's forced alliance, there are sure to be funny moments of miscommunication between Slater and O'Neil in the ring as well. That will improve their matches, turning them from generic performers to a reliably bumbling pair.
Hints of that are already showing.
On the July 29 episode of Main Event, O'Neil barked at Slater from the apron during their match against Zack Ryder and Tyson Kidd. Even after they managed their first win together, the two allies were at odds. O'Neil pushed Slater away, clearly annoyed with his antics.
Through all of it, Slater grinned and ignored his partner's animosity toward him.
Being interesting by virtue of their squabbling will have bring them a decent level of popularity. Los Matadores and a team like Ryder and Kidd don't offer that same level of interest.
Slater has claimed that he and O'Neil will win the tag titles. The team is likelier to be added depth than a division centerpiece.
There are just too many teams ahead of it.
The Usos, The Wyatt Family, and Stardust and Goldust have all compiled great matches on their resumes. Naming the five best matches featuring Erick Rowan and Luke Harper is an exercise in thoughtful selection.
Doing the same for Slater and O'Neil's former teams is a much harder task.
They haven't proved that they can deliver the kind of pay-per-view-worthy bouts that the top teams have.
Titles don't always equal talent, but there's a reason Slater and O'Neil have both yet to win singles gold. WWE clearly doesn't believe in them as much as other members of the roster.
That puts them at RybAxel's level—workhorses filling out the card. However, they have the ability to surpass Curtis Axel and Ryback, should their shtick catch on.
It's hard to imagine Slater Gator garnering enough momentum to surpass The Rhodes Brothers, The Usos and The Wyatt Family. With Big E and Kofi Kingston moving up the tag ladder, the title picture is set to be more crowded as well.
Instead, count on Slater and O'Neil being the tag division's version of a midcarder. They can get some quality ring time on WWE's weekly TV programs and provide an increasingly tough challenge for the title contenders.
WWE history says that the odd-couple team often thrives. Booker T and Goldust as well as Kane and X-Pac are two of the best examples.
Slater and O'Neil's personal history points to them being more on Steve Blackman and Al Snow's level of success, becoming an amusing team that gets a crack or two at the belts but never takes them home.