At WWE’s Money in the Bank PPV in just over a week, four, yes four, tag teams will be competing in a fatal four way for the tag team championships.
This is a title that many would say has long been neglected, and has finally risen to prominence on the back of those meme-loving New Day chaps and their wacky shenanigans. Prior to The New Day turning around the boos directed at their stereotypical, dancing black men gimmick, I would argue that you would have to say the only really over pure tag team was Team Hell No.
Daniel Bryan and Kane had a great run with straps because of the same thing that has kept the New Day afloat for so long: their personal interplay. Team Hell No’s interactions with each other out of the ring were invariably more entertaining than what they did in the ring because the tag division at the time was so weak (incidentally, I’m not counting The Shield in this because they were a faction).
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The belts were basically out in the wilderness for a number of years before Bryan and Kane were shoved together; sure you had your odd Air Boom or Kendrick and London, but for the most part the division was quite dire, acting as a second thought. Stephanie McMahon herself is said to have told Triple-H that they should lose tag wrestling because you’re paying two people to do one man’s job.
The period that most jaded wrestling fans will tell is the best in history is the mid-80s to the early 90s (we shall never speak of the period immediately preceding the Attitude Era again. Techno Team 2000, I’m looking at you).
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Good and Bad
Indeed there were some great tag teams during this massive boom period for pro wrestling: The Hart Foundation, The British Bulldogs, The Rockers, The Fabulous Rougeaus et al. But on the other side of the coin you had Demolition (great look, but that’s about it), The Dream Team, The Twin Towers and The Powers of Pain and more. Did the good outweigh the bad, and was tag team wrestling ever any good? In the WWF, I would say not.
Aside from The Hart Foundation’s classic run with The British Bulldogs, can anyone name a truly classic tag team match from back in the day in the golden boom period? There are some mitigating factors, of course: matches were shorter in those days; talent travelled more strenuously; the WWF was more about physiques than ability. Perhaps people look at this era with rose tinted glasses and imagine it was a time of non-stop classics, but it really wasn’t.
Skipping past the ‘92-‘97 ‘we’re going out business’ period (Techno Team 2000, I’m still looking at you, unfortunately), The Attitude Era had The New Age Outlaws - who were a team before joining DX - The Godwinns, an aged Legion of Doom – soon to be followed by The Hardy Boyz, Edge and Christian and The Dudley Boyz.
Those last three teams, in various combinations, could put on a helluva show and were the bright spot of many a PPV with their wince-inducing high spots and bumps. But when the three either split up or left for pastures new, the division stalled and didn’t really recover until quite recently. I can name you some team names from the intervening years, though perhaps not team member’s names or any signature moves.
The New Era
At Money In The Bank The New Day will defend their WWE world tag team championships against The Vaudevillains, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady and Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows.
I expect it will be a bit of a car-wreck of a match, as there isn’t really a ring general in amongst that group of eight (or nine) men. What there is, however, is four teams with unique characters that have been clearly defined in terms of the ongoing story line. If you look at the teams from the eras listed above (not Techno Team 2000 though, obviously) you’ll notice that they all had memorable gimmicks, looks and other characteristics without necessarily being very good inside the squared circle.
Perhaps all that tag team wrestling needs to succeed is a decent set of memorable characters? As noted, I’m expecting the fatal four way this month to be not be a very good match, but I expect that it will linger in the memory longer than other matches in recent years have because of who is involved.
But then tag team wrestling has never been that great has it? Really?