THE STATE OF TAG TEAM WRESTLING 2012
Okay, I’ve been teasing this literally for months, and now I’m finally gonna do it:
My official stance on tag team wrestling.
First of all, let me start by saying I’m a HUGE fan of tag team wrestling. In fact, my passion for sports entertainment started with watching the Midnight Express feud with the Rock & Roll Express every week on the old NWA. The Midnight Express were the clear bad guys, and I wanted SO bad for Rock and Roll to win, but Midnight (and Cornette) always cheated to get the upper hand. Then, on the WWF, it was watching The Hart Foundation decimate dudes, hoping that someday The Killer Bees would get in the ring and show those villains what for, and finally getting my wish. It was watching Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine take the British Bulldogs to the limit at Wrestlemania (including one SICK armbar suplex move Beefcake pulled on Davey Boy Smith) before the Bulldogs were able to pull it out for the win. It was great stuff to watch back then.
Good tag team matches have that great back-and-forth of classic matches, except with the added aspect of teamwork and different matchups within a match. And then there is always the “look” of good tag teams. When two guys put on a unified front, it just looks cool as heck. Think of teams like the LOD with its spiked shoulder pads, or Demolition with its executioner’s masks, or the Quebecers in their matching mountie outfits. These are just cool visuals that are always memorable.
So it saddens me to see the current watered down product that is modern tag team wrestling in the WWE. I’ve heard for the last few months that Mr. Levesque wanted to revitalize the division, but I have yet to see that onscreen, and I think the WWE is wasting opportunities and talent by not seriously addressing this. I read from another blogger (at www.squaredcircle,com) that Vince doesn’t want to pay four guys for one match, but conversely, events like Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, MITB and The Scramble (all great matches BTW) feature multiple wrestlers getting it on in a single ring. True, these are all PPV matches, but why not give the fans a little taste of that with some good, solid tag team matches every week? And I don’t mean the stupid “impromptu tag matches between whoever is headlining the next PPV” that we’ve been getting and which is very much becoming Old Hat.
So here’s my solution to make tag team wrestling relevant in the WWE again.
1. First of all, you need more career tag teams. The days of Demolition and Legion of Doom, The Killer B’s, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudleys have passed. But a unique tag team with its own identity, that looks like more than just two singles guys thrown together, can still be marketable. Often times WWE has a promising tag team, only to break them up after a few months. Usually when this happens, one or both members fall into obscurity and eventually leaves or gets future endeavored (re: Cryme Tyme, Dudebusters, The Original Colons, Hart Dynasty, Edgeheads, London & Kendrick, MVP & Mark Henry, Jackson & Kozlov) Tag teams have to be more than just a testing ground for the next breakout singles star. And if you STILL want to use tag teams to test the waters for singles stardom, you can find a way to do it while still keeping the tag team intact. The Hardy Boyz still tagged together despite Mat and Jeff seeking solo championships. Same with HHH and HBK, and now with Ziggler and Swagger. It can be done.
2. WWE needs to sign more proven tag teams and let them do their thing. They did this a lot in the 80’s and early 90’s, but since signing the Dudleys, they have shied away from bringing in tag teams. I want to see the best teams in the business (like Kings of Wrestling, Motor City Machine Guns, British Invasion, LAX, Generation Me, The World’s Greatest Tag Team, and the gold standard of tag teams – Beer Money) on the best show in the business. But bringing them over will do no good if there isn’t an environment that works for tag teams.
3. There needs to be a focus on the tag teams that does not involve the tag team championship. These guys need screentime, period, and there needs to be other storylines involving the tag teams than just the tag titles. Make more feuds over more stuff, and get these guys a chance to shine.
You can accomplish this by devoting a chunk of time on your lesser shows like NXT or Superstars to the tag teams. Heck, WWE has its own network coming, make a whole show for just tag teams. Use that to develop your tag teams and build rivalries and star power, then when they have enough fan support or heat, move it up to the big time on Smackdown or Raw.
4. Extended title runs might increase the prestige of the singles belts, but they are detrimental to the tag titles, especially if screentime for the tag titles is limited. People got tired of seeing Air Boom beat everybody. Also, those belts are Fugly. Replace them, please.
5. Tag team matches have become waaaaaay too predictable. Match starts. Good guys get early upper hand. Bad guys cheat and take control. Bad guys cheat some more. Beaten down good guy somehow makes hot tag, other good guy comes in and cleans house. All four guys in the ring, then either a) bad guys cheat to win, b) good guys hit finishers and win, or c) somebody interferes. If you want to spice things up in the tag division, make more compelling tag matches. Study the old lucha libre tag matches, or the old ECW stuff. Or the old WCW stuff when legendary teams like Harlem Heat, DOOM, The Skyscrapers, Wrath & Mortis (with James Vandenberg), Fire & Ice, The Steiners, The Flock Inc. (where it was just Raven, Saturn and Kanyon) and Faces of Fear tore the ring up on a regular. Heck, you can even look at TNA footage. If you let putting on a good match take precedent over furthering some stupid plotline, you’d be surprised what it can do for your suddenly-not-quite-as-stupid-anymore plotline.
6. You need at least one trio so you can bring back the Freebird rule. And once again, there needs to be a bunch of other, normal teams in the mix so that the trio stands out more.
7. And, of course, more innovative gimmick matches exclusive to tag team wrestling. Ten years ago, the WWE redefined what a tag team wrestling match could be when they invented TLC. It’s time for something new again to revitalize that division.
Do this stuff, and people will be clamoring for your tag team division. The breakout stars will most certainly rise to the top, and you get a lot more variety and excitement in your overall programming. It’s time for this to happen, guys.
And if it doesn’t?
To quote Smash from the Demolition:
“WE’RE GONNA KICK YOU’RE STINKIN’ TEETH IN!”
Ohhhh, what a rush……