Check This Out...


Re-building the WWE Tag Team Scene

If there is one positive to come out of Monday Night Raw’s expansion to a three hour slot, it has to be thethought that the tag team division is about to be seriously kick started.

In recent weeks, tag teams have had more consistent attention than they have had in years and with good reason.  The company has a lot of time to kill.

In order to make a tag team division appear truly viable, you need four key elements.

1) Credible and believable champions

Whenever the WWE has thrown the titles onto a team that hasn’t had time to be established or was literally thrown together, the fans responded with a collective yawn.  The champions need to have credibility and need to look like they are capable of hanging onto those titles for as long as they want.  Think of teams like The Steiners, The Legion Of Doom, The Hart Foundation or The Horsemen.  When they held those titles you looked at the roster and wondered who could possibly take the straps away, and when someone eventually did – it meant something.

Right now, the WWE is looking at R-Truth & Kofi Kingston as their championship duo.  While they do have chemistry together, the audience still views them as two singles who will likely split up the second they lose their spot.  That prevents the audience from going all-in to support them.  Truth should either lose Little Jimmy, or let Kofi sink into his own dementia and introduce an imaginary friend of his own.

2) Creative Booking

In a phrase; Tag team feuds that don't revolve around the number one contender status.  For years, any tag team program that did happen on WWE television was between the champions at the time and whoever had been magically deemed the number one contenders. 

More often than not, any team that challenged for the titles would win them.  This forces the audience to lose any interest and prevents even the most naïve viewer from being able to suspend their disbelief.  If champions never come out on top of a feud, then they don’t have any credibility (see point 1).
Some of the best tag teams in the WWE never held the titles.  The Killer Bees, The Young Stallions, The Rockers, The Rougeaus and the a team that should have been champions on multiple occasions - The Bushwhackers. 

All of these teams got over and were involved in key storylines that had nothing to do with the championship at all and they allowed the audience time to buy into whatever they were selling and develop long term, emotional attachment. 

On a current episode of Monday Night Raw, I’d like to see no less than two tag matches that feature teams from the division (not a match that features four guys who will be involved in two separate matches on the upcoming PPV and have been thrown together to build interest). 

One match should involve the champions, and another featuring two teams who may or may not be the next challengers but are being given the chance to get over. 

3) Commitment

If the WWE is truly interested in revamping the tag team division they have to be committed to it.  Devote the proper amount of time on all broadcasts: Raw, Smackdown, NXT, Saturday Morning Slam and all pay per views. 

The tag team titles cannot be held off a pay per view -ever.  The tag team titles cannot be defended in a WrestleMania dark match – ever again. 

The WWE also must resist the urge to go with the easy pre-made storyline of a team split.  It’s been done to death and no longer means anything to the audience because virtually every team splits now.  Build continuity and longevity with new teams, and show the audience that these guys are down with each other.  Resist the urge to consistently look at your tag teams and think that the one guy who’s always taking the hot tag is going to be the next Shawn Michaels. 

If he’s getting over – great!  Let him get over and drag his partner with him.  Tag teams are a terrific way to introduce characters to the audience and can be a safe place to build your future singles stars.. but don’t rush it.

4) Depth

If the tag team division only has two or three credible teams in it, it will never mean anything.

Right now, in the WWE we have:

Kofi Kingston & R-Truth – Champions

The Prime Time Playas - #1 Contenders

And then…

The Puerto Ricans, Epico & Primo

The Uso Brothers

Tyler Reks & Curt Hawkins who have been repackaged with a Magic Mike gimmick which may or may not have Billy & Chuck undertones.

o & Hunico

That’s not bad!  That gives us six teams right off the hop to build on top of.  Now what is needed is an injection of names that the audience is already familiar with to give the rub to the younger guys and to teach them the psychology of this unique match.

Several months ago on Tha O Show, I suggested that Kofi & Truth should become a team.  The very next week – they were.  I also suggested on that episode that Rey & Sin Cara should form a full time tandem. 

They tagged together at the Smackdown tapings this week in order to further their individual storylines, but they would be so much better off as a team.  Both are heavily criticized for their in-ring errors at this stage of their careers, and both are in need of a reboot.  Matching colour schemes, and a set of that arm gauntlet gimmicks for Mysterio and suddenly we have a team that LOOKS like a team!  What a novel concept.

I’d like to create a couple of other teams while I’m at it... 
Wade Barrett has had a series of vignettes announcing his return, but I’d be shocked if he actually managed to carve out a spot at the top of the card.  Team him with his NXT mentor William Regal.  The Englishmen would be an awesome old school team, and a great way to really push Barrett.

Tyson Kidd is the most under-utilized and under-appreciated hand in the company.  He had been teaming with South African high flyer Justin Gabriel, but to be honest, I’m not crazy about that duo at all.  I don’t see much in Gabriel other than his finish and I’m shocked he is still under contract.

Let’s make an old school, pretty boy team that consists of Kidd and Evan “This is my last chance” Bourne.  If Bourne’s heat is too extreme for the push, then cut him loose and use recently signed gravity hater, PAC.

Antonio Cesaro teaming with his old pal from ROH Kassius Ohno makes too much sense.  They have awesome chemistry and can watch each others backs on their way to WWE relevance.

I also think that the WWE should capitalize on the TV time they gave recently to DX on Raw 1000 and re-hire Billy Gunn and re-connect him with The Road Dogg.  As the wiley vets of the division they would add so much value.  The storylines write themselves. 

I have booked The New Age Outlaws on several occasions, and I can tell you that in addition to still being over like mad, they can still go inside that ring as well as (or better than) they did in their prime.  There is no substitute for experience.

A great team team match that is well worked is pure magic.  Many of us fell in love with this style a generation ago because it offered so many subtle moments that simply cannot occur in a singles match.  Here's hoping that the WWE decides to go full speed ahead with this plan, and a year from now we can debate the relative merits of a tag team title match headlining a pay per view.

6 comments: on "Re-building the WWE Tag Team Scene"

Ian said...

Yeah It'd be nice to see the WWE develop the tag division instead of wasting time with Tout videos.

Dante said...

Tag team wrestling used to be one of the best things about the sport when I was little. LOD, Demolition, The Steiner Brothers to name a few were just amazing. I can make a list of over ten tag teams from the 80's that I will still watch matches of but I'll be damned if I have seen one Kofi/Truth match. Not one. I didn't even know they had the belts.

The thing that I forget is that when two guys who really have each others backs get in the ring, it is a beautiful thing. They werent forced together and arent scheduled to battle one another at the next PPV. As much as you hated them, London and Kendrick was one of the last teams to hold that distinction in WWE.

Anonymous said...

great piece!!

Anonymous said...

dont forget to sign THE FLATLINERS!

T.I.D said...


Anonymous said...

I can not see WWE resigning the NAOLs. I think it was great, the reunion and all, but their time in the Sun, has come and gone. Time to move on. Would love to see Hero, and Claudio though, and even better, Briscoes brothers.