With the news of their release, The Revival find themselves free to seek out their wrestling fortunes away from the WWE. The team and their time on Raw and Smackdown has been the source of much debate on social media and a whole lot of complaining by the boys themselves. Both Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder have been vocal on Twitter about their dissatisfaction for some time and have reportedly asked for their release on more than one occasion. And now that they got it, it’s time to take an honest look at their time since getting called up from NXT. Were they misused as they claim to be, or were they way off base to think that? Where you fall on that spectrum more than likely determines how you feel about all of this, and there are arguments that can made on both sides. There’s also the subject of tag team wrestling both in and out of WWE and how that plays into all of this, because one constant to their endless griping on social media has been that tag team wrestling just was not valued enough there for their tastes.
First, let’s take as objective a look as we can at the three years they were on the main roster. The Revival debuted on Raw the night after WrestleMania 33 and scored a couple of wins over the New Day. Then Dash Wilder got injured and they were out the rest of the year. They came back in early 2018 but outside of being in a brief angle to set up Roman Reigns match at Extreme Rules with Bobby Lashley they were mostly in limbo for the year taking a back seat while the Raw tag team titles were mostly shuffled around between several makeshift teams. That’s around when the rumors started of them asking out. 2019 came and they finally won the Raw tag team titles from Bobby Roode and Chad Gable; they’d lose them at WrestleMania 34 to Zach Ryder and Curt Hawkins, win them back, and then lose them to Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson before moving over to Smackdown and trading the tag belts there with the New Day. Their last hurrah for all intents and purposes was at TLC when they lost a ladder match to the New Day. Since then they’ve more or less been off TV and off the road, too. The writing on the wall became obvious once they were not included in the Elimination Chamber match for the Smackdown tag team titles.
So in short 2017 was unfortunate, 2018 was kinda weird, but 2019 seemed to be what the doctor ordered. The Revival won three time tag team champions, were involved in multiple important angles that saw them get a lot of TV time, and got to do their best work on the road stealing the show on a lot of house shows all year. I’m not sure what else it is that could have wanted that wasn’t there in 2019. They eventually did bring up the ever mentioned creative control, but outside of getting to stay as a trio with Randy Orton like they reportedly wanted what did that even mean? Were they expecting to get to work main events? Or 30 minute matches like on the indies? Neither of those were likely in WWE for various reasons. Despite their tremendous talent as in ring workers they just didn’t move the needle with the larger audience enough to warrant being that high on the card and 30 minute tag team matches on television let alone a pay per view are just not things that are going to happen in 2020 or any other time in WWE or most any other company outside of maybe AEW. And even if they did these guys are not the ones that would have held the audience’s attention for that long.
I’m sorry but ‘we’re great workers and a great tag team‘ has never been a thing that has generated much popularity within the confines of WWE or many other places. In fact the best way to sum up The Revival seems like this to me:
It’s a Tully and Arn tribute act without the necessary charm that Tully and Arn had.
— Dave: DNP – CD (social distancing) (@daveusesthis) April 10, 2020
Tully and Arn were great on the microphone and displayed actual personality traits as characters that The Revival to date have not, even when they were getting rave reviews in NXT. Seriously, try describing either Dawson or Wilder from a character standpoint that doesn’t include being a tribute act to ‘Great Tag Team Wrestling’. New Day, the Usos, Heavy Machinery, and the Street Profits all have personalities. Even the Lucha House Party has more to offer on that front than Dawson and Wilder ever showed. And look at the teams that have flourished elsewhere like the Young Bucks, Gorillas of Destiny, the Briscoes, etc – all of them do more than just wrestle really good. As you can see on Wednesday nights (the audience for ‘great wrestling matches’ is not anywhere near what you might think it is (check out what I said earlier about that here). It seems to me at least like that if you’re on the ‘The Revival was misused’ train you tend to think that great ring work and great tag team wrestling are things that are higher on the list of priorities for most fans than they really are.
Which brings me to the next thing. Vince McMahon has been accused of not caring about tag team wrestling, which has been confirmed by guys who’ve been there. In his eyes tag teams are there to add variety to a show and not run the show themselves, and that the best thing a tag team can do is provide a launching pad for a future singles star (see Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Edge, Christian, both Hardys, and Davey Boy Smith to name a few). And to be honest, well……he’s not entirely wrong. Outside of a few teams like the Rock n Roll Express or the Road Warriors how many tag teams or trios have been a draw as an entity unto themselves? I don’t think you can name ten if you’re being honest. And forget WWE for a minute and look at all the other companies out there. The tag divisions in ROH, New Japan, Impact, and MLW aren’t very deep now and even AEW’s much deeper slate of tag teams is very much playing the background while a pair of singles wrestlers (Kenny Omega and Hangman Page) hold the tag belts. What you’re told tag team wrestling should be and what actually works business wise aren’t the same thing most of the time. That’s a tough hill for The Revival to climb.