Reliving The Usos' Road to WWE Glory 4 Years Later
It's been a long, difficult journey for Jimmy and Jey Uso, who are currently setting WWE's tag team division ablaze as its champions. Long before they were holding gold, however, the twin brothers were nothing more than faceless undercard competitors on the WWE roster.
The Usos recently celebrated their four-year anniversary of when they first made their WWE debut. Few people expected them to win the WWE Tag Team Championships upon their arrival, and even fewer people ever expected them to capture the titles at all. They may have the family lineage, but it was going to take a lot for officials and fans alike to take them seriously as wrestlers.
It's safe to say that in the last four years, they have done just that. From the various gimmick changes to being pulled from TV completely at one point, the Uso brothers have proved themselves as mainstays in WWE. A true tag team, Jimmy and Jey have been together since birth and don't look to be parting ways anytime soon.
Far too often are tandems in WWE compromised of two singles competitors and far too often are they given the straps on Day 1 without even earning them. The Usos have been the exception since 2010, showing that a slow build toward glory will go a long way in making that eventual title win feel all the more special.
Arrival on the Scene
At the 2010 WWE draft, The Hart Dynasty defeated Sho-Miz for the WWE Tag Team Championships. It made for a great moment and The Hart Dynasty were very deserving of the straps, but they had a shortage of true challengers.
Most of the tag team division at the time consisted of singles competitors being paired off together. At Over the Limit, The Hart Dynasty successfully defended their WWE Tag Team titles against Chris Jericho and The Miz, but the division was in need of a real shake-up.
Following a victory over Vladimir Kozlov and William Regal on the May 24 edition of Raw, The Hart Dynasty were ambushed by three unknown individuals. Tyson Kidd and David Hart Smith were attack by two twin brothers, while Natalya was taken out by a ferocious female.
In unison, the twin brothers hit top-rope splashes on Kidd and Smith simultaneously. A new team had arrived on the scene, and their name was The Usos.
From night one, The Usos set out to make a name for themselves against the biggest names in the tag team division at the time: The Hart Dynasty. They got people talking with their ambush on the WWE tag team champions, but they still had to prove themselves as viable threats to the titles.
In the weeks that followed, The Usos continued to get the better of The Hart Dynasty at every turn. With so much momentum, it appeared they could have been champions within a month of being on the main roster, but that would soon prove not to be.
At the Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view in June, The Hart Dynasty emerged victorious over The Usos and Tamina in six-person tag team action. Despite that, The Usos earned themselves a shot at the WWE Tag Team Championships at the Money in the Bank event, but they were unsuccessful.
The Usos and The Hart Dynasty once again faced off on the July 22 edition of WWE Superstars, but the Samoan natives once again came up short. In their many matches with Kidd and Smith that summer, The Usos proved their worth in the ring, but their journey in capturing the gold was only beginning.
And Then There Were 2
Once their feud with The Hart Dynasty concluded, The Usos were directionless for the remainder of 2010. They received another shot at the WWE Tag Team Championships in a Tag Team Gauntlet match at Night of Champions but were eliminated by Evan Bourne and Mark Henry.
In November, The Usos faced Santino Marella and Kozlov in a match to determine who would contend for the straps at Survivor Series, but they came up short. They were also unsuccessful in winning the gold during a Fatal 4-Way tag match in early December.
Around this time, Tamina became infatuated with Santino. This wouldn't be the first time that Santino would capture the heart of a Diva, as the former intercontinental champion also had Maria and Beth Phoenix as his valets in the past.
As time progressed, Tamina spent less time with The Usos and more time with Santino. Things got even more awkward once The Usos faced off against Santino and Kozlov on the January 3, 2011, edition of Raw.
When Tamina sided with Santino against The Usos after the match ended, it was evident that her alliance with her former stablemates had officially ended. Their partnership with Tamina may have been over, but their drive to become tag team champions was certainly not.
The Usos continued to tread water going into 2011 with no clear direction. They appeared as regulars on WWE Superstars more often than not, rarely ever receiving any television time on Raw.
It wasn't until late April that The Usos were finally met with a fresh change of scenery when they were sent packing to SmackDown as part of the 2011 WWE supplemental draft. In June, they underwent an impromptu face turn during a series of matches with The Corre's Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater on Superstars and SmackDown.
In addition to becoming fan favorites, The Usos started doing the Siva Tau, a signature Samoan war dance, as they made their way down to the ramp. It's a unique aspect of their entrance that they still perform to this day.
In revisiting their native roots, The Usos slowly started to build momentum and get over with audiences, more than they ever did as heels.
Close but No Cigar
As The Usos gained more and more momentum, they seemed to be shoo-ins to become the next WWE tag team champions. Officials were obviously high on the duo as they scored more television time and victories by the week.
With their new entrance, The Usos were finally connecting with crowds as fan favorites. Tag team wrestling was in a sad state at the time, and many fans saw The Usos as being the tandem that the WWE could build the division around.
The Usos took one step closer to winning the gold when they defeated the then-WWE tag team champions David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty in a non-title match on the July 15 SmackDown. However, they came up short of winning the straps on the July 29 SmackDown and weren't put back in contention for the remainder of the year.
This was the only time Otunga and McGillicutty defended their belts in their three-month-long reign as champions. While the former Nexus members ended up dropping the titles to Kofi Kingston and Bourne a month later, wouldn't it have made more sense to put them on a real team instead of two singles competitors thrown together?
Back to the Basics
After failing to capture the WWE Tag Team Championships from Otunga and McGillicutty, The Usos' television time was greatly curtailed. They were rarely seen on either Raw or SmackDown, and when they were, they were used as enhancement talent.
Instead, they spent the remainder of 2011 competing on NXT: Redemption. No longer a competition to become WWE's next breakout star, NXT was now a show that featured mostly lower-midcard matches, or WWE Superstars 2.0 as some would say.
Despite that, NXT gave The Usos a platform to not only hone their craft but also have a handful of great matches with teams such as Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks, The Prime Time Players and others. They may not have been on either of WWE's main shows very often, but they were at least slowly starting to prove themselves to management and the WWE Universe once again.
The Usos regularly appeared on NXT until its revamping in June 2012. They appeared on the final episode of NXT: Redemption on June 13, defeating Johnny Curtis and McGillicutty in tag team action.
Debuting on the Grand Stage
Days before WrestleMania 28, it was announced that a match would be held the event's pre-show. Airing exclusively on WWE.com and WWE's YouTube channel, pre-shows became a regular occurrence for all of WWE's pay-per-views from that point forward.
The match pitted The Usos against Primo and Epico as well as the newly formed tandem of Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd in a Triple Threat match for the WWE Tag Team Championships. It was the first time in nearly nine months that The Usos were given a shot at the straps ,and they weren't going to take it for granted.
One night prior to The Show of Shows, Jimmy and Jey Uso, along with their father Rikishi, posthumously inducted the legendary Yokozuna into the WWE Hall of Fame. Everything was lining up perfectly, and it seemed like it was finally The Usos' time to become champions.
This also marked the first time that The Usos were gracing the grand stage of WrestleMania. Granted, they participated in the dark match Battle Royal that took place prior to WrestleMania 27, but this was the first time their 'Mania match was being broadcast for the whole world to see.
Despite an impressive performance in the matchup, The Usos were unsuccessful in capturing the WWE Tag Team Championships on that night. Regardless, they showed that they were capable of delivering a fun contest in front of an immense audience.
It's All in the Face Paint
Following the end of NXT: Redemption, The Usos floundered for the remainder of 2012. They became regulars on WWE Superstars and scored a few victories here and there, but they were never granted a shot at the WWE Tag Team Championships.
They made their only Raw appearance in 2012 on the Christmas Eve edition, emerging victorious in 12-man tag team action. They built a bit more steam going into 2013 but were still neglected in favor of other teams such as The Rhodes Scholars, Tons of Funk and Team Hell No.
Their entrance was cool and all, but they were in need of some more character development to get them back on the right track. The Usos needed another element that would make them more of a threat in the ring to their competitors.
On the June 3 edition of Raw, The Usos came out to the ring for the match against The Prime Time Players wearing face paint. Jimmy had half his face painted, and Jey had the other half of his face painted, paying tribute to their late uncle Umaga.
The Usos came out on top in that match, marking their first victory in standard tag team action on Raw in years. It was a sign that they were ready to rumble once more and that they were hungrier than ever for a run with the straps.
Who knew a little face paint was all they needed to give them motivation?
Chasing the Champions
Appearing on Raw more regularly from that point forward, The Usos looked to be once again inching closer toward the WWE Tag Team Championships. They had been pushed for title contention in the past and never won the straps, but they looked to have a different outcome this time around.
They embarked on a winning streak in subsequent weeks, becoming the new No. 1 contenders to the tag team titles on the June 24 Raw by defeating 3MB and Tons of Funk in a Triple Threat match. With that win, the stage was now set for Money in the Bank: The Usos vs. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns for the WWE tag team titles.
In the weeks leading up to the event, The Usos and The Shield collided in various matches. In one of the biggest upsets of the year, The Usos teamed with Christian on the June 28 SmackDown to hand The Shield their second defeat in six-man tag team action.
The Usos built up a head of steam going into the Money in the Bank, giving some fans the impression that they just might be the ones to dethrone The Shield as tag team champs. Although they placed on the pre-show, they still stole the show in the best kickoff match to date.
The red-hot Philadelphia crowd loved every minute of the matchup, and The Usos were made out to look like equals to The Shield. They may have come up short that night, but they proved to the masses that a reign with the twin titles was undoubtedly in their future.
The Usos continued to feud with The Shield in the months that followed with the two teams trading wins on Raw and SmackDown. Even when Cody Rhodes and Goldust captured the gold in October, The Usos showed no signs of slowing down.
The ruthless rivalry between The Usos and The Shield finally culminated at Survivor Series when Team Shield emerged victorious over Team Mysterio. Despite that, the Samoan natives continued to produce show-stealing matches every night and vowed that they would not be satisfied until they were wearing gold around their waists.
Fulfilling a Destiny
The Usos once again entered the WWE Tag Team Championship picture in February 2014 when they defeated the then-titleholders The New Age Outlaws in six-man tag team action on SmackDown. With wins over Road Dogg and Billy Gunn in singles competition, The Usos earned themselves a tag team title opportunity at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
At the event, The Usos came close to winning the gold but couldn't get the job done after The New Age Outlaws cheated to pick up the victory. Nevertheless, The Usos won the non-title rematch the next night on Raw, making the championship rubber match official for the next week's Raw.
On the March 3 Raw live from Chicago, The Usos were given one more shot at the straps. They had contended for them countless times in the past, but the stakes were never higher than they were on that night.
The two teams battled for the chance to call themselves champions. Every time it looked like The Usos would win, The New Age Outlaws were just one step ahead.
In the end, The Usos double-teamed the duo and hit their signature splash for the win. The arena came unglued for the title change because they knew just how deserving The Usos were of this monumental moment.
A four-year odyssey, completed. From losing on WWE Superstars to headlining several episodes of Raw and SmackDown, Jimmy and Jey Uso overcame a lot to get to this point and among the few elite teams to wait four long years to finally get what they deserved.
In the months since, The Usos have been lighting the tag team division on fire, even successfully defending their straps at WrestleMania 30. They're one of the most over acts in the company today and have earned every single bit of success they've garnered thus far.
What's left for the twin brothers to accomplish, you ask? Well, Jey Uso recently stated in an interview that his ideal WrestleMania opponent would be his brother Jimmy, so perhaps careers as singles competitors are in their future.
In the meantime, though, let's just keep on enjoying the ride The Usos have taken us on since 2010. When I say Uce, you say O!
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.