In the past, tag team wrestling has been an integral part of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) brand, such importance as singles wrestling in many a fan’s eyes. The success of a pairing would often earn them an opportunity for the Tag Team Championship, and to prove that they are the very best in the company. The challenge for the two identical gold plates would prove to be an exciting commodity for teams and fans alike, and an enjoyable change of pace from the casual one-on-one action that usually takes up most of the broadcasting.
Between the early 80’s and late 90’s, many tag teams made their way through the world’s top wrestling promotion, earning several runs with the Championship belts and cult followings in the process. The “Golden Age” of wrestling thrived with such teams as The Wild Samoans, Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, and The British Bulldogs, with the likes of The Legion of Doom, The Hart Foundation and Demolition towards the latter end of the decade.
The 90’s was no different, if better than the previous era. With many of the 80’s legends still existing within the ranks, the division was boosted with additions in The Rockers, Money Inc, The Steiners, Natural Disasters, The Quebecers, The New Age Outlaws, Owen Hart and Yokozuna, and many more.
Lest we forget the vast evolution the Championship undertook in the late 90’s and early 00’s, as The Dudley Boyz, The Hardyz, and Edge and Christian took the competition to the next level, incorporating their favourite weapons in tables, ladders and chairs into feuds and thus creating the spot-fest that is the TLC match.
Since the turn of the 21st Century the division has been hit-and-miss, and lacklustre in comparison to the previous decades. That is not to say there hasn’t been some great tag teams, nobody can suggest that Booker T and Goldust, Paul London and Brian Kendrick, MNM, The World’s Greatest Tag Team and The Guerrero’s were awful pairings; all were entertaining in their own right.
However, the competition has vastly declined over the past two years. The WWE has seemingly become trapped in a trial and error vortex, where they pair two random superstars together in hope of building a successful, entertaining team, only to break them up after without warning regardless of their achievements. Some of these teams have only been made to give wrestlers a fair chance on-screen, or to elevate and individual. This has been evident with Rated RKO, Carlito and Primo, The Dirt Sheet, JeriShow and ShowMiz.
In the rare case, a tag team have been promoted to the main screen only to suffer the same fate, or have been released. Anybody remember Deuce and Domino? Could The Edgeheads (Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins) have been a force to be reckoned with? And when did Cryme Tyme have their fair slice?
Lastly, there is the easy way around it – the reunion of a former tag team; The Hardyz and DX being the obvious returns.
So suffice to say, the WWE Tag Team Championship is quickly becoming obsolete. The lack of any real teams and the limited chances given to those that manage to make it into the ring is killing what was a great division. With that, the IWC has speculated reasons as to why the titles are becoming unimportant.
Theory #1: Vince McMahon hates tag team wrestling
It has been rumoured across the internet that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon is not a fan of tag team wrestling. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this is true, but it doesn’t explain why he decided to bring in new belts, and it would be in sharp contrast of how he saw it in 2000 to allow the TLC match to happen. It only begs one question – what the hell happened?
Theory #2: A lack of any “real” tag teams
Utter rubbish. The Briscoe Brothers, Beer Money Inc, Generation Me, Motor City Machine Guns... Heard of them? These are a few of the best teams in the world right now, and I am pretty sure there are more hidden gems awaiting Vince’s phone call.
Theory #3: The fans don’t care about the titles as much
Again, this is rubbish. I have seen many articles and comments on the internet pleading in vain for the tag team division to renew the spark of times gone by. It is quite possible that the fans are more passionate about the titles now.
As it stands, there are little plausible reasons for the WWE’s under-valuing of their Tag Team Championship, only speculation. However, it is evident that the fans want the titles to return to their former glory. With the resources available to the WWE’s disposal, is that actually possible?
Without further ado, I assess the tag teams currently in the WWE, if there are possibilities of building new teams, and if there is a chance of a revival of the glory days for the Tag Team Championship.
Existing Tag Teams
The Current WWE Tag Team Champions: Drew McIntyre and “Dashing” Cody Rhodes
I am going to be completely honest here – I do not like this tag team, and they're unconvincing. For a start, they barely had any build-up heading into their title victory at Night of Champions. I admire McIntyre as a singles competitor, Rhodes is ok, but these two are a complete mismatch. Also, the team falls into the “thrown together to elevate one” territory – Vince is very high on Drew McIntyre, I don’t see him staying in a team for long.
The Hart Dynasty (Tyson Kidd and DH Smith)
A pure tag team that I always love to see in the ring, The Hart Dynasty are a pair I could see going very far as single and tag team competitors. I would predict many more reigns as WWE Tag Team Champions, however as I started this article I read some frightening news – WWE creative are considering splitting them up. This would be a terrible decision if it comes to the fore.
For a team that have only one title reign to their names, and a team of their quality, they deserve a few more runs before a split. The split could also destroy any momentum they have garnered, which has only been hit since the loss of their championship belts. They haven’t been together a long time, and hopefully the WWE will keep them together for at least two more years.
The Dudebusters (Caylen Croft and Trent Barreta)
The Dudebusters have been on WWE TV for little under a year, debuting on the now-liquidated ECW brand before moving to Smackdown. Since then they have been lost in the shuffle, left to rot on Superstars and for the life of me I cannot understand why.
As a team, Caylen Croft and Trent Barreta are very impressive, and I liken them to Edge and Christian. Now I am not saying they are as good as E&C, but they have potential – all they need is an opportunity to run with it.
And maybe a name change!
Vance Archer and Curt Hawkins
Another team on the verge of meltdown, due to Hawkins' turn on Archer, I really hope that the creative team turn the tables on their break-up somehow. These are also another team that, despite showing impressive prowess, have been overlooked and shoved on Superstars.
The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso)
The twin sons of former WWE favourite Rikishi, The Usos have been quick to make an impression in the company in their short stay. Managed by Tamina – the daughter of WWE legend Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka – The Usos boast great aerial abilities despite their big body frames, and impressive strength.
It is probably a little early to have them run with the titles, however, I believe their time is not far away. I predict The Usos to be a dominant force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Santino Marella and Vladimir Koslov
I am not going to waste much time on Santino Marella and Vladimir Koslov. Every tag team division needs a comedy pair, e.g. Goldust and Booker T, The Bushwhackers, but unlike the two teams mentioned I cannot take Marella and Koslov serious enough to be considered Championship contenders.
That is the WWE Tag Team roster in it's present format. Six teams is enough for the WWE to carry the company, but when you can only seriously consider pushing just over half of the division, and two tag teams are close to breaking up, it is no wonder the prestige of the Championship is flattening faster than a flan in a cupboard.
But that doesn't mean there isn't hope, there are resources that lie within the company that can be put together to contribute towards healthy competition.
Here are a few select “thrown together” tag teams that I feel could provide stable competition. (For this purpose I have overlooked the brand separation).
Shad Gaspard and Ezekiel Jackson
Since Shad Gaspard split with his long-time friend and tag partner JTG, he hasn't had the best of luck. After the break-up of Cryme Tyme, Shad was made to look a dominant threat, cutting impressive promos stating it was “my time.” However, after a loss to JTG at Extreme Rules, Shad has since been demoted back to WWE development territory, FCW.
Ezekiel Jackson's luck hasn't been to great, either. After defeating Christian to become the last-ever ECW Champion, Jackson was drafted to the Smackdown brand, where he suffered a tear in his right quadriceps muscle in a match against Kane. During his injury, he has been moved to Raw, and has only recently made an in-ring return – a dark match victory against Zack Ryder prior to the September 13 episode of Raw.
Both Shad and Big Zeke are tall, big-built guys – sticking them together would be beneficial as not only would they gain a purpose and TV time, but would also make them a dominant force.
Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston
Since the feud with Randy Orton fell apart, Kofi Kingston has been moved to the “blue half” of the WWE, where he has held the Intercontinental Championship and embarked on a rivalry with Dolph Ziggler. With that storyline seemingly burnt out, Kingston could very well lose the momentum he has built over the last year.
Evan Bourne is still yet to hold a Championship in the WWE. After being thrusted into a Raw main event alongside John Cena, many believed that this would be a start of a huge push for the high-flyer.
Unfortunately, “Air” Bourne has since bombed to the ground.
There is little doubt that Bourne and Kingston are exciting prospects, and arguably the most entertaining and daring in-ring workers the company holds. An alliance could spark a return to the electric, extreme tag team wrestling that The Hardyz and Edge and Christian pioneered.
Goldust and Cody Rhodes
Now I know that many readers are going to be sceptical about this pairing at first sight, but hear me out...
It is no secret that Cody Rhodes and Goldust are the offspring of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, so the blood connection is a factor here. Goldust has made fame for being self-obsessed, and Cody's new “Dashing” gimmick is in similar vein.
With the similar egotistical qualities, the half-brothers could make for an entertaining heel-face team. I imagine Cody trying to persuade Goldust to change his image, with the “Golden One's” reluctance or sarcastic attempts providing laughable results.
Not quite Booker T and Goldust, but close.
Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero
This is unlikely to ever happen, but it would be awesome if it did, due to their shared love for the late Eddie Guerrero, their history and similarities.
As it stands, Chavo isn't doing much and is in need of a Championship to contend for. But with the Cruiserweight Championship inactive, any hopes of a challenge is slim.
Rey Mysterio is in a different category altogether. Presently, he is in a feud with Alberto Del Rio, and he doesn't really need World Heavyweight or Intercontinental gold around his waist to gain any recognition. This would stand in good stead for Chavo, but the unfortunate issue here is it is said that Mysterio does not like to put people over at his own expense, so I doubt he'll pass up his desire for singles gold.
Maybe he would spare a favour for a person who he is considered a family relative with? We can all hope...
It is under no illusions that the WWE has a vast amount of talent and the Tag Team division really should be in better shape than it is. Personally, I doubt the division is going to get any better any time soon, but that doesn't mean it won't. Despite that, I find little reason to shelve the Championship, at least for the time being.