Roughly twenty years ago or so, when I first became a full-blown wrestling fan, there was a flood of tag teams in both major organizations. If you tried to count all the teams in the National Wrestling Alliance and the World Wrestling Federation back then, you’d run out of fingers and, in the NWA’s case, you’d probably run out of toes, too. There were so many teams that there were a number of tag team angles in each federation, instead of just one main storyline that revolved around the championship.
In some cases, tag divisions were brimming over with so much talent secondary tag team titles and special tag team tournaments had to be created. Anybody remember the NWA United States Tag Team Titles or the Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament?
Now, here it is over two decades later and you’ve got to rack your brain just to come up with five traditional tag teams (read: no singles wrestlers thrown together on a whim) from each brand and, who knows, by the time you come up with those names, the teams will probably be broken up with the partners either wrestling on separate brands or feuding with one another.
Let’s take a quick tag team roll call for the WWE, shall we?
On Raw, there are a total of five tag teams – the World’s Greatest Tag Team, Cryme Tyme, the Highlanders, Trevor Murdoch & Lance Cade and the Hardy Boyz. Of those five teams, only one is portrayed in a serious fashion and that’s the Hardys, the new WWE Tag Team Champions.
As of late, the Highlanders have been a joke and seldom seen at that, Cryme Tyme has been backstage skit fodder for the likes of Eugene and the Divas, the World’s Greatest Tag Team is woefully underpushed and Trevor Murdoch & Lance Cade, a passable heel team at best and far inferior to Haas & Benjamin, appear to be in the early part of a program with the Hardys, but I don’t see that going anywhere beyond Backlash.
Both John Cena & Shawn Michaels and Rated RKO—two sets of former WWE Tag Team Champions who won (and lost) the titles in the past month—are either on the verge or splitting or already split up and feuding. A third team, Carlito & “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, wrestled as a team for less than a half dozen matches and they’re also on the outs and most likely on their way to feuding with each other.
The tag division on SmackDown! is a tad better, at least quality-wise, but is still nothing to write home about. Brian Kendrick & Paul London are in the midst of an almost yearlong reign as World Tag Team Champions, but who’s their opposition?
William Regal & David Taylor, my personal favorite of both WWE tag divisions, have become nothing more than the Conquistadors for the 21st Century, losing to everybody, their brother and their brother’s angry leprechaun sidekick. Meanwhile, the present threat to Kendrick and London’s titles, if you want to call it that, is with Deuce & Domino, a “throwback to the fabulous ‘50’s” gimmick that’s as menacing as Potsie Webber and as interesting as a rerun of Joanie Loves Chachi. Why aren’t Regal & Taylor the ones being pushed against Kendrick & London? And where are some other teams to mix everything up? It’s pretty sad when they have to borrow teams from Raw to book a Tag Team Turmoil or TLC match for the SmackDown! titles.
What bothers me the most is that they’re not even trying to develop any new long-term teams.
Instead, singles wrestlers are being paired up all willy-nilly and given runs as tag champions either a) because the brand doesn’t have a credible duo to wear the gold or b) to plant the seeds for an impending feud.
Whatever happened to treating tag team wrestling as tag team wrestling and not a vehicle to bring more heat in for the top singles guys?
This epidemic isn’t exclusive to WWE territory, though. TNA seems to be suffering from NTTAS (No Tag Teams Allowed Syndrome), too. Just take a gander at how many teams have broken up in the past two years – America’s Most Wanted, Triple X, AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels, AJ Styles & Jerry Lynn, Team Canada, 3Live Kru and I’m sure I’m forgetting at least one or two others. One other team, the Naturals, caught on fire and fizzled faster than a sparkler on the Fourth of July. The Voodoo Kin Mafia (aka the Team Formerly Known As the New Age Outlaws) are still going strong, but I fear they’re not long for this world, given the shaky nature of this angle they’ve got going with Christy Hemme. That leaves Team 3D and the Latin American Exchange, two teams that have been feuding over the NWA World Tag Team Championship in an angle that passed its sell-by date back in November of last year.
To borrow a line from Matt Kennedy Gould of the late, great reality TV gem The Joe Schmo Show, what’s going on? Do these promotions think tag team wrestling is passé, or do they believe the audience’s attention span has shortened to the point where they no longer have the ability to follow a tag match of significance without the inclusion of a “big name singles megastar” like John Cena or Randy Orton? Or is it something else that goes beyond fan interest?
While there’s no denying how much of the American viewing public has come down with a severe case of ADD in the past ten years or so, I still think there’s a place for tag teams in wrestling today. Sadly, I don’t think the WWE wants to put forth any real effort to make changes.
Not in the near future, at least.
Sure, they’ll throw out an occasional team, like Matt & Jeff Hardy or, to a lesser extent, Cryme Tyme, and give them a title run or fairly-pushed feud to get a crowd pop on PPVs, but, right now, it seems like tag team gold has become another means of feeding the egos of the BMOCs when there isn’t an important enough singles title to quench their thirst. Yes, in this, an age where politicking and prima donna behavior are both at an all-time high, long gone are the days of classic feuds like the British Bulldogs/Hart Foundation, the Rock ‘n Roll Express/Midnight Express or the Fabulous Freebirds/any given team from 1980-1990, all because the Triple Hs, Shawn Michaelses and John Cenas of the business don’t like being too far away from the limelight.
But that’s what happens when you let the inmates run the asylum.
As for TNA, I don’t think they’re at the point of no return just yet. They still have the potential to give the fans a decent tag division, but it’ll take a few steps forward to reach that goal.
First and foremost, develop new teams and let them live longer than a six-week cycle. The Naturals were carving out their niche in the division when they spiraled into jobber oblivion. The same thing seems to be happening with Raven’s team, Serotonin. Stop killing off teams!
Secondly, if you’re going to break up an existing team, make it beneficial to a team that isn’t going anywhere. That’s the one thing I like about the angle they’re currently doing with Voodoo Kin Mafia and Christy Hemme. Inevitably, the angle will end with the James Gang losing to whomever she brings in and maybe breaking up, but at least it will introduce a new team to the mix. They need to stop splitting teams up just because Jarrett, Russo & Friends can’t think of anything better to do with the talent pool.
Finally, put the NWA World Tag Team Titles around the waists of Team 3D already and let the boys have them for a while. Fans have been clamoring for Brother Ray & D-Von to win the belts ever since they crossed over from the WWE. I understand there needs to be a build-up to generate fan interest, but even a rabbit will stop jumping for a dangled carrot if you pull it away enough times. Interest hasn’t been lost… yet.
However, it will go the way of the dodo and discothèques if Team 3D continue to get the short end of the stick.
With that thought in mind, let’s hop into Dr. Rolf’s Spectacular Segue Way Machine and look at my predictions for this Sunday’s TNA pay-per-view, Lockdown 2007. This particular pay-per-view has always been a favorite of mine because of its gimmick.
I’ve always been a fan of steel cage matches and TNA knows how to do them right.
Add in the fact that there’s an old-fashioned War Game-style match and I’m an even happier camper. Onto my predictions…
LADIES SIX SIDES OF STEEL MATCH
Gail Kim vs. Jacqueline Moore
The mere thought of this match excites me more than anything the WWE’s Women’s division has done since, well, forever. Kim proved to be a capable worker during her short stint in the WWE and Jacqueline’s always been a formidable badass, so I think this may be the sleeper of the show. Will there be blood? Probably not, but I think we’ll see the ladies perform at least one high spot that’ll shock and perhaps even impress the smarkiest smarks.
SIX SIDES OF STEEL MATCH
Robert Roode vs. Petey Williams
I’m not anticipating anything noteworthy here. While both workers are decent in the ring, there’s not much going into this.I have a feeling it’ll simply be a vehicle to put Roode over.
SIX SIDES OF STEEL BLINDFOLD MATCH
Chris Harris vs. James Storm
The caged aspect of the match adds a new dimension to the traditional blindfold gimmick. I’ve never been a huge fan of the blindfold gimmick, but I think Harris and Storm will put on a decent match. I wish they’d just reunite AMW and forget this whole feud, but I see this angle continuing a little longer.
SIX SIDES OF STEEL MATCH
“Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels vs. Jerry Lynn
Lynn may be one of the older guys on the roster, but he still has what it takes to produce a five star mat classic. Christopher Daniels has always been a solid worker, so I see this being one of the more entertaining matches on the card. I also see this being a rubber match of sorts, with the winner moving on into title contention and the loser moving on to a new midcard feud. I don’t see Jerry Lynn getting elevated any higher than he is at right now, so I predict this match will serve as Daniels’s springboard to bigger and better things.
ELECTRIFIED SIX SIDES OF STEEL MATCH FOR THE NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
The Latin American Exchange (c) vs. Team 3D
Like I said earlier, Team 3D needs to win the titles already and what better platform to do it than in an “extreme” match like this?
I think this will have all the predictable elements – chairs, run-ins and, of course, tables – and the end result will, hopefully, be a clean, decisive victory for Brothers Ray and D-Von.
(New NWA World Tag Team Champions!)
SIX SIDES OF STEEL XSCAPE MATCH FOR THE NWA X-DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP
Chris Sabin (c) vs. Jay Lethal vs. Sonjay Dutt vs. Alex Shelley vs. Shark Boy
What in the world is Shark Boy doing in this match? Don’t get me wrong. I love the gimmick and I think he’s an exciting worker to boot, but why did they have to inject him into this match for no rhyme and reason? It would’ve been perfectly fine with Sabin, Lethal, Dutt and Shelley. Ah, well, it’s still going to be a kick-ass match, I’m sure. This is the hardest match to call on the card. Each guy has a reason to win and a reason to lose. In the end, though, I think they’re going to have Jay Lethal win the belt, more than likely via interference from Kevin Nash and his band of merry misfits.
(New NWA X-Division Champion!)
SIX SIDES OF STEEL TAG TEAM MATCH
Voodoo Kin Mafia vs. Christy Hemme’s Mystery Tag Team
Who do I think Christy’s team will be? Well, I’ve read reports on the Internet stating it’ll be the Bashams and, don’t ask me why, but I can’t seem to shake the feeling Joey Mercury will somehow figure into this. I haven’t read any spoilers regarding this match and the recent IMPACT tapings, so I have no idea if the team’s identity will be revealed before the pay-per-view. I’ll be happy whoever it is because the angle’s been entertaining, thus far. I see the new team winning via interference by Christy and dissention between Kip and BG.
Hemme’s Mystery Tag Team
SIX SIDES OF STEEL MATCH
WITH SPECIAL GUEST REFEREE BOB BACKLUND
Senshi vs. Austin Starr
I love how TNA’s brought back Bob Backlund and his “insane” persona. It’s nice to see a promotion resurrect a legend and use him properly. He’s really added to this angle, giving both men the rub. I see Mr. Backlund giving Austin Starr his just desserts, leading to a victory for Senshi and a close to Backlund’s TNA involvement… for now.
LETHAL LOCKDOWN MATCH
Team Cage (Christian Cage, AJ Styles, Scott Steiner, Abyss & Tomko) vs. Team Angle (Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Rhino, Sting & TBA)
I’m so looking forward to this, boys and girls. It’s being contested under modified War Games rules and it features several of the best pro wrestlers in America today. As an added bonus, the man who scores the winning fall gets a shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Champion at Sacrifice. I’ll take those kinds of stipulations over WrestleMania 23’s Battle of the Billionaires shtick any day of the week. Have to admit I read the spoilers and I know who Angle’s fifth man is. I just hope he isn’t used the way I have a feeling he’ll be used. Assuming that hunch is incorrect, I see this match being about four men – Cage, Styles, Angle and Samoa Joe. When the smoke clears, I think one of Cage’s partners will betray him and lead to the NWA World Heavyweight Champion suffering the losing fall at the hands of Samoa Joe.
Team Angle w/ Samoa Joe securing the winning fall and the shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship
And that, my friends, is my inaugural column here on MopSquad.com. Look for another rant by yours truly here on the site around this time next week.
Thanks for reading…
… and, yes, even my dachshund is more extreme than Bobby Lashley.