It is difficult to imagine a scenario in which two era-defining tag teams have become too good for the sake of an entire division, but that is exactly the situation SmackDown Live finds itself in. Tag team champions The Usos and top contenders The New Day are so good they have diminished the overall quality of the roster.
How is it that two teams responsible for some of the best matches of 2017 have managed to hurt the overall quality of a division they have both championed this year?
The answer is more obvious than it may appear.
A Too-Reliant Writing Team
Since the brand extension that split the Raw and SmackDown rosters in July 2016, Jimmy and Jey Uso have been at the forefront of the blue brand's tag division.
First, they shook off their stale babyface personas and became the heels around whom the scene revolved. Even though it took months for them to win the tag titles, they were constantly in the championship chase. With every passing week, they became more dangerous and unrelenting.
They won the titles in March 2017, capping a shift in character and turn that re-energized their act and left fans digging the edgy and attitudinal heels they had become.
When The New Day was shuffled off to SmackDown in 2017, the natural inclination was to pair them with The Usos for a series of matches that would spark a tag team division in need of it. The teams had worked together before and nearly stolen the show on those occasions.
Their never-ending series this time, though, would stretch months and highlight just how reliant on them the show's writing team was.
Despite a division that touted the upstart team of Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin, The Hype Bros, The Ascension, the newly formed duo of Rusev and Aiden English and the immensely entertaining Breezango, writers continued to book The Usos vs. The New Day, almost to the point of overexposure.
The silver lining? The Match of the Year-quality encounters the tandems were having at every pay-per-view on which they appeared. Factor in a few televised bouts, and the only thing preventing fans from tiring of the bouts was the incredible chemistry that existed between the teams.
When Jimmy and Jey beat their rivals at Hell in a Cell, inside the titular structure, it appeared as though the rivalry had run its course. That is until Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods beat Benjamin and Gable, the most logical next top contenders on the November 28 episode of SmackDown Live.
And therein lies the problem.
WWE Creative was so unsure about any other team's ability to carry the division that it went ahead and booked New Day to defeat Gable and Benjamin, doing a great disservice to that team's ability to get over and setting up another match involving two longtime rival teams.
Changing the Norm
On December 17, New Day will join Benjamin and Gable in challenging The Usos for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships at Clash of Champions.
By continuing to lean so heavily on New Day and The Usos, by emphasizing them to the extent it has, WWE Creative has created a scenario wherein every other team looks less credible in comparison. Neither Benjamin and Gable nor Rusev and English nor Breezango nor any other team appears legitimate enough to beat these two heavily featured teams.
Perhaps the only team that can possibly change the heavy reliance on New Day and The Usos by WWE Creative is the recently reformed Bludgeon Brothers.
Harper and Rowan have been presented as a dominant force capable of rolling over either of those teams to win the tag titles.
It will be up to WWE Creative to put its faith in that team and provide Benjamin and Gable with some more momentum if it has any chance of erasing the deficit it has created for itself.
Otherwise, the division will suffer the continuation of its mediocrity.
Much like the top of the company from 2010 to 2013, when WWE used John Cena and Randy Orton as a crutch to the point the entire product suffered, the tag team division will continue to decline in quality competition and storytelling.