The Fall of WWE Tag Teams
by, 08-22-2011 at 08:57 PM (2563 Views)
The Hardy Boyz, The Dudleyz, Edge & Christian, Kai En Tai, The A.P.A., The New Age Outlaws, 2 Cool, and The Rock N’ Sock Connection, are just a handful of great Tag Teams that were together back when the WWE gave a shit about Tag Teams. The list of Tag Teams in the Attitude Era was certainly larger than the list of Tag Teams in the WWE today (The Usos, Otunga and McGillicutty… That’s about it). It was in 2002 where we began to see Tag Teams like Edge and Hulk Hogan, Chris Jericho and The Rock, Rico and Rikishi, and Booker T and Test, win Tag Team Gold; and despite scattered mini resurgences where real honest-to-god Tag Teams such as Kendrick and London, MNM, The World’s Greatest Tag Team, The Colons, and a re-united Hardy Boyz won the Tag Team Championships, for almost a decade we have been privy to make shift Tag Teams vying for the Gold.
Being part of a Tag Team used to mean something. To literally tether your success to another person required a degree of trust, compatibility, and friendship. It’s almost like getting married. All success and all failures are shared. Tag Teams succeed as a unit, so they must be in sync at all times. They need to know what one another are thinking, what one another’s tendencies are in a match, when their partner is in peril, and how to put their partner in the best position to help the team succeed. Tag Teams are two people working as one. If a makeshift Tag Team of The Rock and Stone Cold were to have faced The New Age Outlaws back in the day, I would expect the Outlaws to win, Yes Stone Cold and Rock are better individually, but as a unit, the Outlaws are FAR superior; and that’s what mattered in Tag Team wrestling. Today teams like Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre can beat the Hart Dynasty to win the Tag Titles. Tag Teams have lost their meaning.
So what caused this change in what it meant to be a successful Tag Team? In my opinion there are three main causes that I like to call the Outlaw Misappropriation, The Cena Versus Fallacy, and finally The Rockers Separation Misconception. Allow me to explain.
The Outlaw Misappropriation
In 1997 Rock-a-Billy and “The Real Double J” Jesse James found themselves in similar positions in their career. They were floundering as singles competitors and were failing to find any footing that could propel them to a higher spot on the food chain. These two men decided since they weren’t having any luck in the singles division, they’d try pairing up and attacking the Tag Team Division. They had great chemistry already, they were friends, and more importantly they had nothing to lose and everything to gain by venturing into the Tag Team ranks. It worked for them but has since been twisted into something different.
Because of the Outlaws’ success, the WWE thinks that they can pair any two singles competitors who have no real feud or storyline a the moment to get each guy over. We’ve seen it multiple times: Morrison and Miz, JeriShow, ShowMiz, Kane and RVD, etc. All these Tag teams as far as I’m concerned were founded on the principle that when two guys are floundering or stagnant, throw them in a team to kick start them again. The problem is that the Outlaws were in it for the long haul. They WANTED to be a Tag Team, and be Tag Champs. They knew they were better off that way. The other teams I listed were just in it because it was something to hold them over before they received a Singles push. They took something the Outlaws did honestly (wanting to be a tag team) and chalked it full of ulterior motives and underlying intentions, which has helped to lower the value of the Tag Team Division.
The Cena Versus Fallacy
The WWE has for years thought that having two men who are feuding, win the Tag Titles and be forced to work together is a fabulous piece of storytelling. Just look at John Cena, and the four times he’s been one half of the Tag Team Champions. He was Champion with Shawn Michaels (with whom he was feuding over the WWE Title), Batista (with whom he was feuding), Otunga (with whom he was feuding), and The Miz (with whom he was feuding).
I understand the reasoning, and on paper it really does seem like an interesting story to tell. In fact it has been at times (See Matt Hardy vs MVP feud). But to do it so often, and more times than not, so poorly is just lazy, and is killing the Tag Team division. I can only buy two guys who hate each other or are feuding with each other beating an experienced Tag Team so many times.
The Rockers Separation Misconception
Shawn Michaels was once part of a successful Tag Team called The Rockers with his partner Marty Janetty. When they broke up, Shawn rose to the top of the WWE within a matter of years while Marty, who did see success after the split, never did quite reach the heights of HBK… not even close in fact. Thus the Rockers Separation Misconception was born. The basic principle of the misconception is that every Tag Team needs to break up so that one member can become a huge star, while the other was just lucky enough to come along for the ride, however long it lasted.
Now with the WWE always looking for a new Big Star, it seems that they are breaking up Tag Teams at an alarming pace, trying to recreate what happened with Shawn. The amount of Tag Teams broken up before they had accomplished anything near what they should have as a team, in order to “create” a new star is staggering; The Hart Dynasty, Cryme Tyme, The Colons, etc. All have failed to create a star, and all superstars involved would have been better off remaining in a Tag Team for the foreseeable future. Just because this method worked and created stars like HBK, Edge, and Jeff Hardy to name a few, it needs to be handled correctly in order to work. Creating teams, with the intention of breaking them up so one guy can become a Star is counter productive for the Tag Team division.
It seems as though there is a new emphasis being put on Tag Teams, their importance, and what it means to be a member of a Tag Team. With the Usos looking very good on Smackdown, Otunga and McGillicutty gaining a little credibility, the formation of Kingston and Bourne (which I hope works but might not), and the presumed future addition of the Kings of Wrestling, things seems to be looking up for the Tag Team division, and there’s no one happier than me to see that. Just don’t screw it up WWE!