Dead" Or Just Sleeping"
The Art Of Tag Team Wrestling
February 8, 2006 by Matthew Jones
Now it's often said that tag team wrestling is a dead art form, and when you compare today to the glory days of the 80's and early 90's you can see why. To be a real tag team you had to have matching clothes, a team name and team finisher back then. Today to be a tag team you have to be two wrestlers with nothing better to do or two upper midcarders whom need to still look dangerous whilst between real conflicts. Examples of this modern day occurrence can be seen only too frequently on RAW. Tyson Tomko/Snitsky or Venis/Big Vis had nothing better to do and had a loose connection i.e.
They are big or have a sexual gimmick, so why not chuck them together. Or the current RAW tag team champions Big Show and Kane. They had nothing better to do at the time after they lost the Taboo Tuesday 2005 vote to face John Cena and Kurt Angle in the main event, so they decided they'd be given the belts, destroy any other "tag team" and then quietly forget the tag belts even existed....great!
Some fans remember when the belts meant something back in the days of the Hart Foundation, Bulldogs, The Brainbusters and The Road Warriors and again in 2000 when the Hardyz, The Dudleys and Edge/Christian had a brutal series of matches throughout the year. Yes tag team wrestling was made worthwhile again only 6 years ago, which is amazing considering the state it was before that. The modern day view of tag teams reminds me of the dark dark days of 1996, when rather being the tag team division, WWF gave us the "Sunny" show. For those who don't remember the main storylines for many months back then was the fact that Sunny would manage any team that won the tag team gold, which was mainly the awful Body Donnas or the bland Smoking Gunns. Its seems today if you become a tag team you deserve to hold the belts for at least one week, in 1999 there was over 15 tag team changes alone. Were the likes of Kenzo/Dupree, London/Kidman, RTC, La Resistance or Cade/Murdoch so over with the fans that they deserved the belts" No, but they were the only options left. I was read an interview with Eric Bischoff in which he said he didn't like to use tag teams, as they didn't make money. If one wrestler in a team is popular, he'll make more money on his own. This maybe true, but to become popular the team needs to gel and develop characters rather than being two bland guys chucked together (Jindrak/Reigns).
It's funny when compared to the late 80's when even some good real tag teams didn't win the WWF tag belts. Did we ever see a full Rockers title run" Hell even the Killers Bees had created more interest than most modern teams.
It's a bit unfair to say that between 1992 and 2000 that there were no glimmers of hope for the tag team division. Owen Hart and the British Bulldog teamed regularly between 1996 and 1997, and whilst people don't remember any of their matches in awe, they still stopped the rot from kicking in and carried the Godwinns and Headbangers to decent matches.
While neither of the New Age Outlaws will be remembers as a classic wrestler, their odd ball antics and over the top microphone style made them a hit the MTV generation. The only problem was like Hart/Bulldog they had no real challengers to fight, and once the stunt tag team wrestling style came into play the Outlaws looked very average. It is not an understatement that both teams will be under-rated in the eyes of many, yet they were important to stop the WWF's tag scene from dying completely. Even since the post TLC era there have been some highlights involving the tag teams. The creation of the Smackdown! Tag titles in late 2002 seemed a really bad idea. The Federation barely had enough teams on RAW, however the new titles created some of the WWE's best matches between 2002 and 2003. Angle/Benoit/Rhino, The Guerreros, Haas/Benjamin and briefly Kidman/Mysterio produced top class matches that even the most the begrudged old schooler would admit were good adverts for just how good doubles matches can be. While many will disagree I can see a slow renaissance occurring on Smackdown today, starting with perhaps the best thing to happen to the WWE's doubles division in years, the current champions. MNM.
MNM: A flashy modern gimmick, based on old school ideas. Two guys and a heat seeking manager, playing and over the top celebrity gimmick, simple and effective. Rather than being putting two inexperienced wrestlers together MNM consists of a hungry youngster (Nitro) and a well travelled, indie veteran who can be the team's workhorse as Nitro develops. (Mercury). Melina, their manager knows how to wind up the fans, and this in term makes every MNM match seemed so much more important than any other tag team match. The squad had also been given time to develop in OVW, so they were ready for the big time. Their debut was memorable as well; gate crashing Carlito's Cabana on a Smackdown! episode, the team went on to destroy Rey Mysterio, before removing the belts off Rey/Eddie the week later. The staple of the tag team Smackdown's tag team division, MNM will be around for some time.
Kendrick/London: While I'm not sure of the relevance of their golden masks yet, these two talented cruisers have been produced quality matches for months as a unit on Velocity, (for example their match with Noble/Kash 01/28/06). Anyone who has seen Ring Of Honor can justify the fact that these two can really go in the ring. Their wrestling ability is as good as any wrestlers outside the main-event; it's just their size that holds them back. The potential is there for them to be the modern day Rockers, perhaps their connection to
Shawn Michaels can be used in a storyline to help them along. They also aren't afraid to take a big bump, which would make them appeal to Jeff Hardy's old fan base, and what's more in all honesty Kendrick and London are probably better all-rounders than Hardy ever was. Perhaps the WWE will allow them to be the first Kendrick/London not a copy of previous tag teams.... it may happen!
Gymini: I'm going to be honest, I haven't seen much of these guys. I saw them briefly in TNA as The Johnson's and I wasn't impressed. But I've been told they've worked really well and have become a good tag team. Looking like two mini Goldberg's, they can be a real asset to the division if WWE's plays up to their strongpoint, i.e. that they are twins and powerful. The use of Simon Dean as their mouthpiece will help cover any charismatic issues, and lord knows Dean has enough charisma for three wrestlers.
Mexicools. - While Juvi maybe a past memory, Super Crazy and Psicosis are still going strong in WWE. Despite the racial undertones to their gimmick, it's worth mentioning the stereotyping could a lot worse (Kai En Tai anyone..." Indeed!). What's more the fans really love these two. At Armageddon 2005 they fought MNM in a short but entertaining match, which perhaps would have meant more if it involved the tag belts. Their fast pace matches, and fan support meant they may deserve a title run. Just image how good a triple threat match with MNM and London/Spanky would be. It could help create the fuss about tag teams that existed around 2001.
The division is also supported by teams such as The Dicks and the FBI (Vito/Nunzio) whom like the other teams mentioned apply to the idea of having a team name, matching outfits and team manoeuvres. Talking only about Smackdown! I have highlighted six teams, all of which are helping slowly to give credibility to the WWE's tag team division. There are other possibilities to strengthen it even more:
The depth and of TNA's tag team has been profiled on here recently, we all know about Team Canada, The Naturals, Team 3D and AMW so I'm going to carry on and look at some indie talent.
ROH is struggling itself to form a strong double league but in the past has had the Carnage Crew, Special K, Maff/Whitmer e.t.c While they're all good wrestlers its is highly likely they'd fail in WWE. And current champs Strong/Aries are much more value as solo wrestlers.
OVW was the home ground for the Dicks, Team Spirit and MNM. The group is currently developing more teams such as Chet The Jet and Skyfire. By putting teams together early in OVW and allowing to them develop like MNM, the WWE could end up producing some classic teams. It seems that the unit to look out for now are Mike The Miz and Chris Cage, who have been given a modern day skater boy look....Dynamic Dudes anyone"
Free Agents: I often feel the Backseat Boys have never been given enough credit. A solid unit, who have been together for years, their only performance for TNA was an awesome match. WWE should really take a risk on them. Now that Mark is fully fit it would be nice to see The Briscoe's join one of the bigger two to show off their skills. They've got so much talent; they just aren't another brother tag team. The Havana Pitbulls have the talent, but again do they have the size" T.J Wilson and Harry Smith are getting better all the time, and with the connection to Davey Boy Smith id surprised if Harry doesn't get a call up sooner or later.
It would appear that the WWE's tag division has a bright future. No point being negative, lets look out its potential. Perhaps in ten years time we'll talk about the glory days of 2007, who knows"
by Matthew Jones..
[See What People Are Saying About This Column on the Forums]
James Watts wrote:
I agree with some of the things that you are saying in your column, but I do have to object to others.
Firstly, your comments about Kidman/London and the RTC not being over with the fans. Well, obviously they were, or the WWE wouldn't have given them the belts. Kidman and London are both talented cruiserweights, with so much athleticism and the ability to stun a crowd with a series of breathtaking aerial maneuvers, such as the Shooting Star Press. And the RTC, though not very popular, were over with the fans as the team that everyone loved to hate, and giving them the belts gave them a boost that they needed, gave the fans an excuse to hate them even more, and to see them in matches against tag teams such as the Hardyz which enabled them to show off their own tag team skills. The same could be said of La Resistance (except for facing the Hardyz).
And sometimes, throwing two random superstars together works. Look at the tandem of RVD and Kane. They were hugely popular, and they held the tag team titles for months together.
Secondly, I find MNM to be an immensely boring team, who constantly rely on their manager to win their matches. Just look at the recent match with the Mexicools, when Melina "knocked out" Super Crazy with her boot. Come on! If the WWE allowed MNM to develop as a team, and show off some of their more athletic moves (Johnny Nitro can pull off a standing Shooting Star Press) and maybe win a match without constant interference from Melina, then maybe they could go places.
But like you, I would also love to see Harry Smith enter the WWE.
Aaron Tolles wrote:
You make a very strong case and I am glad to see that I am not the only one who feels this way.Tag team wrestling has really been on and off in the toilet basically for the last 12 years or so.With the exception on the early period in 2000/2001 WWE hasn't kept a steady stock off teams during this period and seemingly just randomly throw two guys together.WCW is what really helped kill tag team wrestling,as Eric Bischoff was within inches of just discontinuing the tag titles.From that point on they never really had many actual tag teams.WWE hasn't had a strong tag division since before the brand extensions,which I still feel was a bad idea.I can only name a handful of tag matches that really caught my eye in the last 5 years.We may never see the days of the mid 80's to early 90's again,when tag wrestling was great.And although WWE has appeared to be trying,can they respark the art of tag teams"
Steve The Rambler wrote:
Fantastic article. Did you see the Mexicools/ MNM match and the MNM/ London-Kendrick match in successive SD!'s" The ending with the Mexicools was so unreal, but BOTH were fantastic matches. Not to mention, now MNM has supposedly started this "Invitational" thing which is ALWAYS to bring in somebody (or in this case a team), i.e. Angle invitational bringing in Striker
Steve Feds wrote:
I agree with you completely in saying that the tag team division in WWE has declined over the last 6 years but there has been points in those 6 years which produced many of my favorite tag teams of all time. Tag teams like Los Guerreros, Eddie and Rey, Benoit and Edge and though I didn't like them the members of Evolution served as good tag champs. Today none of those tag teams are still around but I can still see some of there members becoming tag team champs. Chavo Guerrero and Eddie was one of the greatest tag teams of all time, now I believe Eddie would have influenced the industry a lot right now if he was still with us and he always had things on the horizon and I wouldn't be surprised if he was lined up for a tag title run before he passed away, but never the less back to his partner Chavo why wouldn't he still participate in the tag division now that he's older,wiser and stronger. I can really see him and Rey being awsome tag champs but of course this is only if Rey and Chavo don't get bigger belts. Edge and Benoit right now are fighting for bigger belts, and I'd love to have either as WHC or WWE champ but if the WWE doesn't want them holding those belts what about a huge surprise by throwing em together at mania for the tag titles on either brand. Batista with Rey was a great tag and a lot of people loved it Batista may be injured now but I could see him coming back fighting for those very belts with almost anyone! But a tag team I always wanted to see would be Batista and Randy Orton not my favorite superstars but they are amazing in the ring and both have charisma. Now the real problem in the WWE isn't the lack of teams but the lack of creativity throw singles superstars together that have past experience they won't dissapoint.
George Kneller wrote:
Wow, man, great article. I agree, the WWE tag team division isn't nearly what it used to be, but still has a few glimmers of hope. I don't see why WWE felt the need to put the tag team titles on Kane and the Big Show, because no they're in a lose-lose situation (in my opinion). If they continue to carry the championships, it will get dry and everybody will forget about the titles, seeing as the two powerhouses barely ever even work in tag team matches. And unless some real talent is bought to Raw, nobody will buy Show & Kane putting some average tag team over, because they have been beating the hell out of every other team on Raw, working in squash matches. It was a bad mistake. Another thing that gets on my nerves is when real talent is introduced with a bad gimmick. Just look at the Dicks. Because of thei name, nobody will ever take them seriously. WWE really needs to step up it's game when it comes to the tag team division, because TNA is quickly overtaking it.
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