World Wrestling Entertainment Tag Team Division. Six words that have nothing to do with each other.
For what seems like an eternity now, fans have been lamenting the slow death of tag team wrestling in the house that McMahon built. Gone are the classic matches of the past, when Edge and Christian battled The Hardy Boyz and The Dudleyz in epic TLC matches.
The company’s focus on tag teams had arguably never been bigger, and the teams responsible for bringing fans to their feet also put money in the bank. Those were the days.
Impact Wrestling, in addition to being known as the promotion that at one time highlighted younger stars, were also known as the company that truly cared about tag team wrestling.
While at times this seems to have changed, at least the effort is there at showcasing good tag teams and making them relevant in the fans’ eyes.
While the current “big two” hit or miss when it comes to tag team wrestling, Ring of Honor, the third most popular, most well known promotion, tends to hit nothing but home runs with their tag division. And, now that division is being headlined by one of the best.
Perhaps the greatest in wrestling?
Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, now known as Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team, are the ROH World Tag Team Champions.
Performing in a no frills, no flash, promotion like ROH, is perfect for two accomplished mat wrestlers like Haas and Benjamin. They are right at home and are finally getting the respect they deserve.
When they were first referred to as The World’s Greatest Tag Team during their initial run in WWE back in 2003, I was a little skeptical.
After all, such a gimmick is a big deal, especially for a team that had barely been together for a year.
Of course, they were heels, and the most important thing for a heel to do is generate heat. Claiming to be the best in the world at anything when you just got started is a time tested, proven tradition for heels in the business.
So, I settled for that and began watching.
What I saw was tag team wrestling at its finest.
Haas and Benjamin became a great tag team, a well oiled machine, working as one, every time they were in the ring. They ceased to be two young, talented pro wrestlers and became the best tag team I had seen in years.
And for me, yes, they were quickly living up to their moniker as The World’s Greatest Tag Team.
Then, 2004 came, and the decision was made to split Haas and Benjamin up.
Still not sure who authored that little plot twist, but whoever it was should be ashamed of themselves.
Shelton was drafted to RAW and enjoyed three Intercontinental Title runs. Haas stayed on Smackdown, where he won the WWE tag belts with Rico.
Each guy looked fairly good on his own, with Benjamin perhaps becoming the favorite to excel over his partner. But after a while it became apparent that WWE was not very committed to either man, and they were reformed as a team in 2006.
But no matter what action or push they saw after that point, it simply was not the same as their first successful run in the company.
Indeed, as both men saw their eventual WWE release in 2010, fans began to sing their chorus of “wrestler under appreciation,” with a good measure of validity.
They recognized the talent in both Haas and Benjamin and also recognized the level at which The World’s Greatest performed and wanted to see it again.
Now, in a company that cares more about the substance and less about the style, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin are once again being given the opportunity to shine.
Once again, tag team wrestling is being given its due, with the respect and excitement that it has earned through the years and so richly deserves today.
Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team? You better believe it.