Are the Dudley Boyz the last of a dying breed?
(alternate title – How Shawn Michaels helped kill tag team wrestling)
Wrestlezone Forums are in a bit of an uproar. About everything, really, from turning John Cena heel to Matt Hardy potentially going to TNA and everywhere in between. A small bit of noise has been made, however, about a subject I think is vastly more impactful. Why would the WWE even tease a break-up between the Hart Dynasty?
I blame Shawn Michaels for this. I have often called the end of the Rockers the "prototype for all tag team splits." Tease it for a while, give Michaels a mild attitude, make it look like everything is cool, then BAM! CRASH! More onomatopoeias than the original 1960’s Batman TV Series. What made the split so amazing, though, wasn’t just the fact that it was done so well. It’s what Shawn Michaels BECAME. One of the 5 greatest professional wrestlers of all time, on my list at least, even though I was always a Marty Jannetty fan. (Yes, I know. Shut-up.) Since that moment, the tag team split has been overused as a vehicle to try to manufacture the next HBK, or:
Steve Austin was originally a Hollywood Blonde and had a big split with Brian Pillman. The rest is history.
Harlem Heat were 10-time champions, but Booker T became the true breakout star and a World Champion.
Edge and Christian were tag team stalwarts in the late 90’s / early 00’s. Edge alone is a future hall of famer.
Scott Steiner, Bret Hart, Jeff Hardy, Davey Boy Smith, and so many others went from tag team to singles stars. But the key with the all time greats was the amount of time they spent as a team. After the early 90’s were over and the Mega-Powers, Rockers, and Blondes had all busted up, it seemed that no tag team would ever be safe.
And then there’s the Dudley Boyz. The dying breed. The pure tag team.
I realize that WWE tried to give them singled careers for a cup of coffee when the brand split first occured, but that was mainly just to drive shock value and show the fans that the brand split was unpredictable. The Dudleys were inseparable, and more than any team in history other than MAYBE the L.O.D., their legacys were inexorably linked. ECW. WCW. TNA. WWE. Japan. It never mattered because these guys were together ’til the end. We speak of their legacy the way we speak of many massive singles stars – an entity unto themselves – the whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
One thing I credit TNA with is how they’ve handled some of their tag teams. America’s Most Wanted had several runs on top, and their breakup was extremely well done, despite being a blatant copy of the Rockers. (replace ‘window’ with ‘beer bottle’ and there you have it.) The Motor City Machine Guns have been fantastic together, and despite the fact that an eventual split and riveting feud seems inevitable (though I’m convinced Russo and Co. could burn cereal just by pouring milk over it), you really buy into them as a team.
The Hart Dynasty may well be shotgunned into a breakup to give Tyson Kidd and DH Smith a match against one another for no apparent reason other than to further stomp on the tag team division of the WWE. At this point, neither will be a breakout star. WWE is trying to use a microwave on a recipe that calls for a slow cooker. Tag Teams rarely get the chance to make a name together before they are forced into the split —> feud. The Dudleyz will go down in history as the last surviving pure tag team with the heads chopped off of the other teams in a world mad with singles stars.
The Dudleyz are a dying breed. And it’s Shawn Michaels’ fault.
Until next time,
Chris "IrishCanadian25" Fitzpatrick
Wrestlezone Forums Moderator
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