In 1997 Paula Cole released a hit single called 'Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?' a tune that rings in my head when I look at the current tag team landscape in WWE full of bumbling geeks and comedy acts... Yeah, whatever. Do you think that's a shoehorned reference? f*** it. I love that song.
Anyway, you've landed on Planet Kayfabe. I'm your huckleberry K.C. right here on NoDQ here to talk about the sad state of tag teams in WWE. On Raw this past week there was a Battle Royal to determine the #1 contenders for the Raw Tag-Team Championship. Without getting into how I think (outside of the Royal Rumble, which is different anyway) I'm not a fan of Battle Royals deciding #1 contenders and I'm especially not a fan of clusterfuk tag-team battle royals, all that was secondary to looking out at the talent pool and WWE and having it right in front of my face...
ALL THE TAG TEAMS ARE A BUNCH OF GEEKS!
The match featured Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre (the one serious team, remember that), Breezeango (low level comedy act), Heath Slater and Rhyno (low level comedy act), The Revival (low level something), The Ascension (low level occasional "comedy") and Titus Worldwide (yes another lower dark match regular).
Ziggler and McIntyre were eliminated first. Yes, out of all these teams they were eliminated first after Dolph did his standard HBK dangle-over-the-ropes spot about 20 times before getting kicked off the apron by Tyler Breeze. Maybe WWE's logic is the ring was filled with so many geeks that Ziggler and McIntyre should get out of there quickly so the other guys jabroni-ness doesn't rub off on their image...but still, why even put them here if that's the case? Anyway they got their heat back, I guess, by hitting a few spots on guys before exiting the ring. It was pretty lame and reminiscent of many of Dolph Ziggler's start-and-stop pushes and honestly the best thing going forward is for Drew to turn on Ziggler and be on his own. He has the look and promo chops. You might think its too soon and I'm not saying they have to do it right now, but ever since this pairing started all anyone talks about anyway is how Drew McIntyre is a future world champion anyway, so hopefully that betrayal comes before Ziggler sprinkles too much geek dust on a guy with a ton of main event potential who is getting a second chance.
The B-Team ended up winning redeeming themselves for being on the ass end of their own in-ring BBQ segment that ended in a good fight because, of course it did. So there's your #1 contenders. The B-Team made up of Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. The team jobbed so far into oblivion that when they picked up their first win together they acted shocked and hugged as if they just won the lottery. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the pairing. The gimmick of them being rag-tag former heel stooges turned lovable underdogs literally penning their own t-shirts on the way to the ring is pretty cute, but I mean, come on... These are your #1 contenders. I mean, if they're going to be a championship level team, it's going to get less and less funny every time they act shocked over their victories on Raw.
The other teams in the mix are rank-and-file J. Brone's. The Revival were a great team on NXT but, hey, rinse and repeat. Guys get called up, portrayed as geeks on the main roster and people wonder why NXT'ers don't get over on the main roster. Breeze-ango is fun but more for their Fashion Files segments that have already played out anyway. Titus World-Wide is ok, but I mainly enjoy them for Tits World-Wide, Dana Brooke. Do I need to go on? The rest of the teams are all interchangeable parts in the same position on the card. The Authors of Pain were called up to Raw... at least I seem to remember them being called up but all I remember is them ditching their manager, Paul Ellering. For all you main roster apologists who are always like "OMG YOU INDY MARX SEE?! THAT SHIT DON'T GET OVER WITH THE BIG CROWDS" explain this one. They call-up the AoP with seemingly no plan for them. What's the point?
Over on Smackdown, things are a little more serious but only by comparison. The Usos who resurrected their careers after a much needed heel turn are now babyfaces who are still over, still putting on good matches but light-hearted bits aren't their strong suit. Even when they feuded with The New Day, it was the serious promos that helped get it over and got people invested in the matches. The Usos are feuding with Rusev Day which now includes Lana. Again, Rusev Day is fun but its mainly a gag. Cesaro and Sheamus are a semi-serious/semi-comedy team. They're like geeks with credibility (which hurts to say as someone who saw much bigger things for Cesaro at one time before WWE dropped the ball!!!!!!) so anyway I guess I can give them a pass since even though they do some comedy, in the ring they're still taken pretty seriously. Speaking of The New Day, you know the story. They're a comedy trio, but they're over so whatever. The world needs laughter. Gallows and Anderson are a decent team but aren't really portrayed as huge threats despite the fans being willing to accept them as bad-ass heels... but nope. More comedy (pretty much).
Now the actual champions. The "Deleters of Worlds" or whatever, 'Woken' Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt are a fun pairing, though I don't think WWE has reached the full potential with this team. It should be crazy and unpredictable wtih random shit happening almost every week. Instead WWE is content with just pushing catchphrases and merch. Again, a lot of comedy but they have credibility since Matt is an established name and the fans are willing to go along with Bray in his new role as a babyface for the first time.
On Smackdown you have The Bludgeon Brothers who won the titles at Wrestlemania and they've been on TV so little and had such a small amount of matches that I almost forget they're even the champions, but whatever. They're still on more than your current Universal Champion. Even if they aren't in matches why aren't they on TV destroying shit? Instead we're watching them melt action figures like a couple of bored 9 year olds. Also, this past week on Smackdown Luke Harper (who was always the more popular of the two going back to the Wyatt days) ate a roll-up for the 1-2-3 in a singles match. I know it's old-time WWE logic that tag champions can lose singles matches and be alright because they're "tag-team specialists" but I hate this shit. Like I said, these guys should be destroying shit and striking fear in their opponents. Instead they are inserted in the WWE homogenizer and have to lose in a non-title situation for no real good reason. This team has potential, but they aren't fully over as a unit just yet. They need to do more segments in front of the audience where they are serious threats and send their targets out on stretchers like they did with New Day and The Usos before Wrestlemania. That was going on 3 months ago. Now I'm watching Harper get rolled up to do a job after missing a kick while the camera cuts to him and Rowan looking at each other like their mallets are stuck up their asses. Next time some corporate shill says 50/50 booking isn't a thing and just internet fan bullshit... here ya go! It's a thing!
It has always been my understanding that Vince McMahon runs hot and cold on tag teams, like many other things (the brand split, cruisierweights, managers/valets, Dolph Ziggler) and right now it is as cold as I can ever remember. I'm not against comedy in wrestling. Obviously I don't watch this form of entertainment because of its sophisticated nature, but comedy doesn't always pay the bills in wrestling. The New Day has built an empire on it, but not all these teams are The New Day and they all cancel each other out to where no one really stands out.
Tyler Breeze responded to someone on Twitter who said "funny characters don't get main event status" and he responded with this:
...and well, the fan is right even thought the thread is filled with a bunch of marks ingratiating themselves to Tyler hoping he acknowledges them with a "like" but the fan is 100% right. Breeze references Rock, Austin and Angle. Yeah, they did comedy, but they weren't comedy characters and they didn't get over because of their comedy. They did comedy once they already got over and Austin did more comedy later in his career as a heel when his body started breaking down and retirement was nearing. As for Kurt Angle, he's unique. Vince McMahon once said they could do anything with Kurt because he already had real credibility. He's a real Olympic Gold Medalist in wrestling. So, he could go out there and be a white-meat geek and still get over because in the ring he beat everyone because he was still a superior wrestler.
Also even if I wanted to buy Tyler's point, give me examples other than Rock and Austin because if you gave me a wrestling promotion with Rock and Austin I could probably be the worst booker in the world and people would still think I'm a wrestling genius because those guys would be out there getting over huge regardless and after watching that battle royal on Raw -- just going out on a limb here... I didn't see a future Austin or Rock in that ring.
The 2016 renewed brand split also plays a role in the diminished state of the WWE tag-team division. Before the split, the division was on the rise. It wasn't at 2000 E&C/Hardyz/Dudleyz level or even close, but it was the best it had been in many years. They even used to have JBL every week say the the tag division was hotter than its been in over a decade, so the company was interested in pushing the tag division as a serious part of the show, but then split happened and in one moment a once thriving division was fractured in two pieces, splitting the star power. This is why in the past I've suggested if indeed they keep the split (again, hot and cold, it could end at any moment) to just have one set of tag champions traveling between shows. Just open it up because on each brand at any given time you're lucky if you have more than one credible team worth feuding for a fresh match up. Its come to the point where people are pretty much begging for Jason Jordan to come back to re-form former Tag Team Champions American Alpha to inject some life into this.
Not everyone is a fan of tag-team wrestling but it is an important part of the show. A lot of great singles stars got over first as either part of a tag team or stable. Both guys can use each other to get over and share the workload. Obviously not everyone in a tag team makes it on their own, but if a tag team is credible and has success, that credibility carries over once they branch out on their own and they have a better chance of swimming than sinking. It isn't a perfect theory, but it is a tried and true method that has proven to have a measure of success. They need to work on the serious : comedy ratio a bit because I'm sorry Tyler Breeze, but if you start out a geek, chances are you're always going to be one in WWE unless you go away for a while and do the Jinder Diet or something. There's a place for comedy, The New Day has made a great living off of it, but without these teams being portrayed as serious competitors and serious talents it will always be an up-hill battle to get over and have their matches and segments taken serious by the fans enough to a point where they will be emotionally invested in the feuds. Fans didn't hang on every angle of the Uso's / New Day feud because they were waiting to get hit in the face with pancakes.
There's my thoughts on the current sad state of the tag division in the WWE. Thanks for joining me again. I appreciate all the feedback, so leave a comment below and hit me up on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe . Its my pleasure to interact with you candy assclowns.
I suppose the bottom line is for the tag division to mean something again, Vince just has to want it to and all the focus right now and has been for half a decade is making Roman Reigns likable. Yeah, you knew I wouldn't go a whole piece without bringing it up. Here's to better days for tag teams. We'll keep waiting, I guess...
I'm KC, this is Planet Kayfabe once again from NoDQ, thanks for stopping by. Have a good weekend and enjoy the music.