Off the heels of a widely acclaimed WrestleMania, WWE has fallen back in the pattern of drab, uninteresting rematches and attempts at making Big Show and Kane relevant once more.
Seth Rollins is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and the two secondary titles are held by Daniel Bryan and John Cena – not a bad plan. John Cena’s open challenges have been intriguing and produced some quality matchups. Seth Rollins is pure gold as the “beatable heel” a la Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, and Edge.
Still, it all seems to drag on for 3 hours every Monday night. The argument for moving Raw back to 2 hours is a strong one, but one that would stray from the point of this piece. For the time being, we’re stuck with 3 hours – but there’s an unexpected jolt produced from the lower levels of the midcard each week.
The tag teams are once again an entertaining part of the overall WWE product.
The division that has been booked without much foresight for the better part of a decade saw resurgence in talent in early 2014, when The Uso’s won their first WWE Tag Team Championship. Fans celebrated as the Hardy Boyz incarnate excited fans around the globe.
Tag team wrestling had its premier draw again!
But – weren’t we saying the same thing about MNM? Haas & Benjamin? Kendrick & London? Cade & Murdoch?
(okay – maybe I’m the only one around who was saying this of Cade & Murdoch..but they were enjoyable characters and good workers!!)
The problem with the one-good-tag-team formula was that it never did much to create buzz for tag team wrestling as a whole. Contenders were built up, only to be defeated. They’d disappear or earn several repetitive rematches, and then it was on to the next team.
The tag team titles were around….just ‘cause.
If there wasn’t a reason to look forward to tag team wrestling, people grew apathetic even towards the prolific champions.
I was afraid that the same would happen to Jimmy & Jey Uso. They’d work the New Age Outlaws for a few shows. They’d work the Wyatt Family for a few shows…..Curtis Axel & Ryback…Goldust & Stardust…so on and so forth….until eventually, the fans cooled off.
And then, Cesaro and Tyson Kidd were paired up. I was certain this was done to further perpetuate the formula described above….and then, they won the titles. Interesting.
The two are A+ level workers, and have formed a great, entertaining partnership.
Around this time (forgive any historical inaccuracies), the New Day was budding, and The Ascension debuts on the main roster. “They may be onto something,” I thought…still not ready to believe that the tag team division may be getting additional TLC (pun intended) from the creative staff.
With The Uso’s and the always reliable Los Matadores still hovering around the title picture, WWE’s tag team division appeared to be getting a re-stock.
When Darren Young returned to WWE television earlier this year, there wasn’t much fanfare. I feared he would be lost in obscurity at the bottom of the card, until Titus O’Neil came to his rescue. Alas, The Prime Time Players were back.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was the début of NXT darlings, the Lucha Dragons, the night after WrestleMania 31. The combination of Sin Cara and Kalisto are already over with the WWE Universe, and remain undefeated as of this writing.
Sure, The Ascension seems to be hitting a roadblock in terms of forward progression. The fan response hasn’t been great, but they weren’t given any favors with the ridiculous face paint and garb. The idea to own the Legion of Doom/Demolition knockoff jokes with insults and disrespect didn’t help them either.
Still, they are two talented guys with unique looks and a finishing move that elicits a response from the crowd.
The Prime Time Players are the most entertaining tag team in the division, and they haven’t even wrestled in 2 weeks – simply cutting backstage promos making fun of the other tag teams in WWE.
Even The New Day has an interesting storyline. “We clap so we don’t snap” teases the idea that these 3 have a mean streak, but their positive attitudes keep them from bringing that to the surface.
Lest we forget, the division is headed by a duo of the most technically sound and entertaining wrestlers on the active roster.
We’re approaching a show in Extreme Rules that could (but won’t) reasonably have 3 tag team matches. While I don’t anticipate the division getting 3 spots on a “pay-per-view,” it’s still worth noting that we haven’t witnessed a division this strong since the early 2000s.
It bodes well for 2015 and beyond, when we will likely see NXT standouts Wesley Blake & Buddy Murphy emerge to the main roster. Likewise, Big Cass & Enzo Amore (the Realest Guys in the Room) appear to have all of the entertainment value of Edge & Christian (and you can’t. teach. that). Adding these two teams will only further fortify a division that is improving exponentially.
It’s a good time to be a fan of classic tag team wrestling.
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, and is a Tennessee Titans Staff Writer for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT’s Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.