The unlikely team of Heath Slater and Rhyno completed their improbable journey to the top Sunday at WWE Backlash. They defeated The Usos in the finals of a tournament to become the new SmackDown tag team champions.
WWE Universe provided a look at the new champions and a memorable quote from Slater:
WWE Stats & Info provided a humorous stat on what the win meant for Rhyno:
Scott Fishman of the Miami Herald thought the entire buildup to this moment was worth the payoff:
Bryan Alvarez of the Wrestling Observer joked about how effective this particular storyline had become:
Slater took to Twitter to thank the fans after the match:
The tournament final was seemingly set on the go-home edition of SmackDown when Slater and Rhyno defeated the Hype Bros and American Alpha took down The Usos. But things changed when Chad Gable suffered an injury.
Enraged by their quick loss to American Alpha, The Usos turned heel by attacking Gable and Jason Jordan. That resulted in SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon announcing on Talking Smack that Gable would miss two to four weeks with a knee injury, which threw plans into disarray.
Instead of American Alpha taking on Slater and Rhyno at Backlash, the two teams that lost in the semifinals were put in a match with the winners moving on to face the odd-couple duo to become the first SmackDown tag team champs of the new era.
While The Usos were refocused and the Hype Bros were trying to establish themselves as an integral part of SmackDown, Slater and Rhyno likely had both the most to gain and lose Sunday.
Slater was fighting for a SmackDown contract and Rhyno was looking to become a major tag team champion in the United States for the first time in his illustrious career.
Few expected much out of Slater and Rhyno as a team when they initially came together, but they have proved to be an entertaining pairing that is somewhat reminiscent of the dynamic between Daniel Bryan and Kane during their time as Team Hell No.
Slater and Rhyno have become one of the best parts of SmackDown against all odds, and they were rewarded for their progress Sunday by becoming the first SmackDown tag team champions of the new era.
The win also means that Slater has a contract, which brings that aspect of his character to a close. Slater and Rhyno must prove that they can be just as entertaining without that storyline, and their win at Backlash means they will be given every opportunity to do so.
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