What To Do With The Headless Chicken (Or The WWE Tag Team Division)?
Yup. I’m going to gripe and groan about the WWE Tag Team division (if you can call it that), and if you think I’m one of those smarks that get off on criticizing anything and anyone everybody else is, you’re not worth my time, and can jump off the St. Louis gateway arch for all I care.
I’m a new WWE fan, and thus, couldn’t relate to all these claims of the tag team division being the worst in all of history. All I could compare it to was the tag team division in 2003 or something (when Kurt Angle, Big Show and Brock Lesnar were battling it out for the World Title). So, I was a bit unhappy with all the MVPs and Mark Henrys, but not intensely dissatisfied. I loved JeriShow and ShowMiz (particularly due to Jericho’s and Miz’s antics and Show’s work in the ring), and DX were good for me till they did that inevitable split.
So, continuing in this vein, the Tag-Team division was, for me, more of an additional feature in the WWE, and complemented singles fights rather than being incredibly special in itself.
And then one day, I opened TNA, and saw the Motor City Machine Guns.
Whoa, was I surprised.
I won’t claim to know anything about those teams everyone seems to go nostalgic about, but the Motor City Machine Guns entertained me like no other Tag Team had (at least when you talk about in-ring action). They seemed to function, as Matt Striker would say, like a cohesive unit, rather than two random guys thrown together. Their combo moves were actually entertaining, rather than the stuff Truth and Morrison did together. They worked like a Tag Team, thought like a Tag Team, having insouciant confidence in the other, gelling together.
It was sort of like noticing the difference between a compound and a mixture.
Then it struck me. The rut in which the current WWE tag-teams seem to be.
The Hart Dynasty is coasting more on their surname than on their tag-team work.
The Usos are in a bizarre storyline, where Tamina seems to be unable to realize that Unibrow is NOT equal to “U Da Man”, and Pasquale and Franchesco have been lost forever because their owner was forced to become even more of the in-house clown.
Vladimir Kozlov and Santino Marella are as near to being a good tag-team as Michael Jorden is near to selling hair gel and wearing Barbie costumes. At least Kozlov and Regal had some promise.
Curt Hawkins and Vance Archer are so non-existent that I don’t even know the brand to which they belong. Raw? SmackDown!? Superstars?
Truth and Morrison were forgettable. Seriously, if Truth does that split YET again, I’m gonna flip out and wear a “TRUTH IS A PIECE OF CRAP” T-shirt.
Do Tatsu and Goldust still count as tag-team? I guess not.
So, what does the WWE Creative Team do?
Give them some damn storylines. Or even gimmicks:
The last conceivable piece of plot my mind remembers regarding the tag-team division was when DX did their best to get Jericho out of Raw, and he kept trying to get back in. Seriously, Jericho asking for hypocritical, gelatinous tapeworms and parasites to sign his petition was ridiculously funny.
And no, I do not consider Bret Hart being forced to say that ShoMiz was the greatest tag team of all time and then the Hart Dynasty becoming Unified Tag Team Champs as a bit of plot. Even if Miz cut a nice promo on Extreme Rules regarding that.
I thought that maybe the Usos would engage in a dynasty related feud with the Harts, but nothing has come out of that yet.
Come on, playa. For God’s sake, give them SOMETHING to work with, and not throw in some matches randomly.
Tag Teams just come together to fight because the division’s just got a pair of belts. No proper feuds, no build-up to two guys joining, no nice promos or anything like that. Without a plot as a overbearing presence behind it, tag team matches rarely become great.
Something’s better than FRICKIN’ nothing.
Let me try with an example:
Kaval, on his debut, loses to McIntyre. Next week, he loses to Del Rio. Next week, he loses to Rhodes. Next week…
OK, you get my point. Kaval goes on a loosing streak, as he faces defeat after fighting hard in every match. Point is, he never looses fair (except the first week). He would put his foot on the ropes when he was being pinned, but the ref wouldn’t see. His opponents would not be disqualified even when using unfair means because the referee was looking elsewhere. It was slightly fishy, but could be attributed to human error.
At the same time, Bourne tries to get another shot at the World Title, but Sheamus disposes of him easily, yet again. The GM says that Evan has got a few Title matches just by playing the ‘new kid on block’ card, but this is too much. Next week, he’ll have to face Orton in a match and if he loses, he’s out of Raw.
Orton ends Evan’s Raw tenure with an RKO in midair (again), and Bourne goes to SmackDown. Here, Bourne faces the same thing as Kaval did, and they both try to find out what exactly is happening.
They see CM Punk chatting away with some refs, and they both assume it is him pulling the strings by paying ‘em money. They confront him, and Gallows and Punk blow a gasket. They pummel both the guys.
Next week, Punk cuts a promo basically saying they need Straight Edge, ‘cause their exposure to this addicted world is causing them to lose grip over reality, and all that.
Kaval attacks him, but Gallows plays defense. In return, Bourne comes out and saves Kaval. After that, they cut a promo, stating they both would ruin Punk for harming their careers. They start interfering in Punk’s matches, even with Gallows and Mercury being there. Punk gets angry after two weeks, throws out Mercury and gets in Shad Gaspard, who’s become a member of the SES. Then, he tells Gallows and Gaspard to take care of both of them.
Kaval and Bourne face Gallows and Gaspard in singles matches, and lose. They have a tag team bout, and win. Win big. They’re very happy, until Punk enters the ring. The SES has a go at both of them, but they somehow hold them off. They cut a promo, saying they’re steadily improving, and are gelling together, and maybe they should stick together, ‘cause they are the Lone Warriors.
Then, and only then, they get in a tag team. They both wear red and black stuff, and have their tag-team logo on their clothes, along with a combined entrance song. They keep dealing with the SES, manage to injure Punk, and defeat G&G at a PPV, in a Tag Team Match.
They cut a promo saying they destroyed the SES, and Gallows and Gaspard intervene. Suddenly, the not-so-injured Punk enters, roasts the SES for being the greatest stable ever, and hands out GTSs to G&G, after they rise against Punk. Thus, G&G go face, and become a tag-team too.
They’re fighting in a match next week, when the Lone Warriors enter the ring, destroy G&G, and start going heel. They say that Gaspard and Gallows damaged their careers, so they’ll resurrect themselves by destroying both of them. They start going and interfering in tag matches and pummeling others with combo moves.
One day, they interfere in a Harts’ match, and when Bret tries to interfere, Kaval Warrior Stomps on him, and Bourne follows up with an Air Bourne.
Hart Dynasty derides them in a promo, when the Warriors interrupt, and say that the Dynasty ride the coattails of the name ‘Hart’, and all heel stuff. They continue feuding with each other, including references to Owen Hart, harassing Natalya and special attention to Tyson Kidd’s left foot; and interfere in each other’s matches. In one such match, they somehow make Curt Hawkins split from Archer. Both of them say that they had differing ideas regarding what they should do (the Harts interfered in a HawkArcher vs. LWarrior match), and thus they split.
The HD and the LWarriors have a match at a PPV, and they’re both flanked by one member of HawkArcher. Midway through the match, HawkArcher attack both the teams and the match ends in a No Contest.
This sets up a HawkArcher and LWarrior feud, in which Vickie Guererro starts making decisions in the favour of the Warriors, as she and Bourne get in a relationship. HawkArcher fueds with them for sometime, but by the time TLC (PPV) rolls around, they’ve defeated HawkArcher, forced them to go to Raw and are back in the reckoning for the Tag Titles.
In a wild TLC match, they deal with the Harts, particularly concentrating on Kidd’s left foot. In the end, the Harts are defeated, after an Air Bourne sending Kidd through a table, and the Warrior’s Stomp doing the same to Mr. Smith. Then, as happens always, they reveal that Vickie was a stepping stone, beating her up and continuing their reign as tag champs.
OK, that wasn’t the best example, but at least it had a semblance of plot, which seems to be missing from most tag team feuds.
Second, give tag teams some particular get-ups and themes: Yeah, it isn’t integral, but a combined theme (particularly the ones done like Crank The Walls Down) reinforces the impression that the two people are parts of a proper, serious Tag-Team. At least mash up their themes, but for hell’s sake, don’t let them come out ambling in to the other guy’s music. John Morrison and “Wassup” don’t match at all, and neither do MVP and “Somebody’s Gonna Get It”.
Also, why not try getting some merchandise through Tag Teams? The WWE seems to like doing so through individual merchandise, but a good Tag Team can have the same, if not better, results.
Third, STOP cobbling together random guys into tag teams: If you don’t have the required guys, don’t do PPV tag matches. I didn’t want to see JoMo and Truth in their Wrestlemania match against ShoMiz, because they weren’t any special unit, and everybody thought they’d lose.
If you wanna add guys in a tag team, at least give them a build up
Give some respect to tag teams. If you want to avoid boredom in a feud, putting guys together in a tag-team match isn't a very bright idea.
Look back. Tag teams had star power. The Brothers Of Destruction were legendary before they got together. So were Edge and Randy Orton. Give them (the tag team guys) some promos to cut, some shocking stuff to do, and put some damn thought in their work, and see what wonders they just might do.
Fourth, HAVE A FRICKIN' BUILD UP TO THE SPLIT:
Tag teams split. Just like the seams of Big Show's clothes, they just do. No offense, Show. Again.
Let us take the example of Cryme Tyme. True, these dudes were certainly not like the team of Edge and Christian, but they were examples of a good tag-team. They weren't singles competitors who didn't fit in the creative team's plans. They weren't dissimilar people who just worked together, rather than functioning together as a single unit. They had similar styles of dressing, a common gimmick, and got over well with the WWE.
Then, what do we have?
They are split apart before one can say "Wuzzat?!", Shad turns heel (and I don't even know for what 'reason'), we have the oft-repeated despair, a forgettable match at a forgettable PPV, the inevitable victory of the face, and the end.
In one month, they turned from a capable tag-team into two unknowns. JTG is doing nothing much, and Shad's not even on SmackDown!
Come on. You don't treat even a minor Tag-Team like that. Have a build up. They could've let JTG get some good singles action, and Shad having the opposite, and then the gradual break up.
So, what do you guys think?
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