Let’s face it, folks. . . Tag team wrestling, at least in the WWE, stinks. As I blogged about in my HIAC recap, there have been 3 sets of tag champs in the last 12 months… Two of those teams are the ones we saw on Sunday (Dust Brothers and Usos) and the other is Mr. Ass and Road Dogg, the New Age Outlaws, who were 50 and 44 years old during their reign.
Let that sink in for a second; Billy Gunn is 50 years old.
We’ve seen a lot of Rhodes and Usos in 2014, mainly because they are really the only teams going. You can’t (and I won’t) count Slater-Gator and Los Matadores, at least not until they show me they are more than comedy duos, and that’s it.
It’s a shame - tag team wrestling can be some of the most entertaining - the psychology involved with cutting the ring off, isolating a single opponent; the struggle leading up to the hot tag, then the fresh man coming in like a house of fire - just the fact that 4 wrestlers allows for more combinations and ideally more intrigue.
So this is a problem in today’s WWE. You know what another problem is? A seemingly non-existent direction for many superstars, particularly the ones on the lower tier, though many established talents are suffering as well.
Putting on my fantasy booker hat, I am setting out to fix both problems at the same time. I submit to you, dear reader, 9 tag-team possibilities that would revitalize a barren division and flailing gimmicks. I’ll even go as far as to recommend a tag finisher, since I seem to have match-ending moves on the brain lately.
Adam Rose and Fandango
No superstars define the term ‘flailing gimmick’ quite like these two. First you have Rose, who is now relegated to escorting guest hosts and being overshadowed by a bunny. Though at least he’s on TV, unlike his prospective partner. Both men have suffered from a one-dimensional gimmick and a catchy entrance song that quickly became more popular than the wrestlers themselves.
I’ve mentioned this before a time or two, but the time has come for both of these men to drop the corny gimmicks, and forming a tag-team would be one way of doing that. Come out and ‘throw down’ the party hats and dancing shoes, tell the world you want to be respected as wrestlers, and then go out and contend for those titles. Rather than using the Party Foul (in my opinion, a dumb name and a dumb move...Seriously, it looks like he’s just face-planting himself), Rose hits a neckbreaker followed by Fandango’s Guillotine Legdrop. I just can’t decide if ‘Serious Business’ is a better name for the tandem or the finisher.
If that name doesn’t work for those two, perhaps it would for
Cesaro and Rusev
Moving on to another pair I’ve been hyping for quite some time, even if its an unlikely one. Between Rusev’s year-long mega-push and Cesaro’s year-long trip to the WWE doghouse, I doubt we’ll see these two tagging anytime soon, but it does make sense. This alliance would be one of the most physically imposing and technically dominant in history.
Allow me to illustrate my thinking, and forgive me if you’ve read this from me before. The duo comes out in Olympic-style wrestling warm-up jackets. I bet Rusev could pull off a singlet, too, though that’s entirely optional. No more anti-American stuff either, these two are just the strongest, toughest and overall baddest wrestlers on the planet. Imagine the World’s Greatest Tag Team, but actually able to live up to the hype (and I say this as a huge Shelton and Charlie fan).
As for their finisher, the world is their oyster. Right now I’m partial to Rusev lifting a guy up for a wheelbarrow suplex (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a28_RKlRUu0), holding him in place for a Cesaro European uppercut before finishing the move, but seriously, limitless potential. Why do you need a single finisher when you could have 5 or 6?
Kofi and Big E
Those of you who frequent WWE house shows may argue that these two are already a team, but until I see them as such on television, it’s not official in my book. I don’t need these two along with Xavier Woods to reform the Nation, although it isn’t entirely a bad idea (Mr. Langston, Mr. Kingston and Dr. Woods), but just give these two SOMETHING.
KofE (as I just decided to call them) has that combination of power and speed/skill that you see in a lot of the great tag teams over the years. The Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs, even to a lesser extent the Dudleyz and Legion of Doom, all these teams had that mixture. Given a legitimate push and some time to develop, I really think these two could make a name for themselves in the tag ranks.
Speaking of the Road Warriors, we’ll borrow a bit from their playbook for the finisher here. Big E lifts up the opponent, just like the Doomsday Device, but instead of a clothesline, Kofi runs up the ropes and hits Trouble in Paradise instead, with Big E adding a little extra “Oomph” on the drop down.
Bo Dallas and Jack Swagger
This one is a bit of a stretch, I grant you, but hear me out. These are things we know. Bo is a talented talker. Jack does his best work when he keeps his mouth shut and just looks intimidating. Dallas is in need of a ‘bo-liever’ or two in order to further his character. Swagger’s “All-American American” schtick is played out, especially since he failed to beat Rusev three or four opponents ago. Have Bo motivationally speak his way into Swagger’s mind, have Jack ditch Zeb Colter, and you’re set.
I like this finisher idea a lot, though I’ll freely admit to tweaking the idea lots of people have had when it comes to Bo Dallas. Swagger puts the opponent in the ankle-lock (the Bo-lieve lock). Bo doesn’t touch the opponent, just gets down on the mat face-to-face with him, encouraging him NOT to tap out. “You can do it. . . Don’t give up. . . I Bo-Lieve in you!” It’s sad how giddy I am at just the idea of seeing that on WWE TV.
The Ry Guys
Full disclosure: I was halfway through typing an explanation of how RybAxel never got a fair shake when I came up with this idea and totally changed direction; as such, the tag team name is a working title. Feel free to send me a better one.
We saw on Monday that Ryback still has some serious love from the San Antonio crowd. You know who else has that love, or at least he did once upon a time? Zack Ryder. With their powers combined, they would be Captain Over! with the WWE Universe!
(Too much? A Captain Planet reference? Just want to see where my limits are, gang.)
I’m sure the powers-that-be have much grander plans for Ryback than in another tag team, but admit it, if these guys starting teaming up tomorrow you’d be ordering their t-shirts from WWEShop by the end of business hours.
Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel
Most of these teams consist of guys that need a new start - with these two, it’s about talents who deserve it. Both Kidd and Gabriel have been super impressive in NXT, and while it seems their fates are set as the “established veterans” who eventually job to the younger talents, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Not to get all NX-Tangential on you, but with the influx of stars like KenTami, Prince Balor and the newly minted Kevin “Beef” Owens (you’d have to be paying attention on Twitter to understand that one), you don’t need to be taking precious NXT time and giving it to two guys who could be making waves in the WWE tag team scene.
Tyson and Justin (with just their first names, they sound like another version of 3MB. Note to WWE: that was NOT a suggestion!) could easily be a force in the tag team scene right now, and who knows? Maybe that would lead to individual WWE success.
Borrowing for another tag-team of my youth, the Quebecers, Kidd locks the opponent in the Sharpshooter, then Gabriel comes off the top with a somersault legdrop or some such. Match finished.
Sheamus and Bad News Barrett
Another stretch, probably even a bigger one than Dallas and Swagger, since both these talents are established in the “upper mid-card to lower main event”. Here’s my thinking.
Sheamus is going nowhere, gimmick wise. Sure, he’ll wind up giving Rusev a run for his money, but that US belt is not long for the Celtic Warrior’s shoulder. After that, what does he do? Then you have Barrett, who will be coming back from injury, so probably should take it easy, which a tag-team, even a short lived one, would allow for. Also, as popular as he will be upon his return, he’ll need a bit of time to re-establish himself before ascending fully to the main event, which I think we all agree is only a matter of time. So for 3-4 months these two are partners and provide some power, both in name value and in muscle, to the tag division. Makes sense, right?
Ok, you caught me, I’m just trying to keep the idea alive for my “Heel UK stable” of Barrett, Sheamus, Paige and Adrian Neville. Let me dream, dang it!
Finisher, finisher. . . Either Sheamus lifts the guy up and Barrett hits the Bull Hammer or Bad News does the lifting and Sheamus hits the Brogue Kick. Hell, they can do both.
J&J Security, aka Stooges 2.0
There hasn’t been enough time spent heralding the work Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury have been doing as Authority lapdogs these last few weeks. Seriously, they’ve been incredibly entertaining, and with the tag division as weak as it is, there’s no reason not to run with this and let them have a “legit” tag push.
I use quotations here because obviously it wouldn’t be legit - This would be a reward Triple H and Stephanie McMahon give Noble and Mercury for services rendered. A title match is set (Usos would need to have the belt for this to make the most sense), Kane comes out and destroys the champs, allowing J&J to capture the belts.
Silly? Yes. Would it work for a month or two? Yes. Such is the state of WWE tag team wrestling.
Finisher? Being picked up by Kane and draped over an unconscious opponent. That counts, doesn’t it?
This would be a step back for both these guys, as the promos we’ve seen of late indicate that WWE has intentions to let both try their hand at singles careers. However, if Bray Wyatt is going to be in the main event picture, these two are going to be associated with him no matter what, so another tag run works for them, especially if they are no longer (officially) members of the Family.
As such, everything about them should be new. New ring gear - obviously they can’t transition to tights and such, but get Erick Rowan out of the janitorial garb and give Luke Harper a clean shirt. Promos on their own, stories on their own, thinking on their own. I don’t remember exactly what their double-team power finisher was, but I do recall not liking it. Go back to the Harper lariat (is it as good as JBL’s? Maybe not, but it’s close) and the Rowan splash. That worked for me.
While we won’t see all of these teams. . .Frankly, it’s likely we won’t see any of them. . . I hope this thought experiment proves that the potential is there to save this division. Tag team wrestling has a place in WWE - I just hope they realize it.