Offbeat Shenanigans #9 – Dude, Where’s My Tag Team Division?

Kevin McElvaney


And here we are, WrestleZone readers, with the latest edition of Offbeat Shenanigans. This week, weâ<80><99>ll be taking a look at WWEâ<80><99>s second most endangered species – the tag team. (For those of you keeping score at home, the cruiserweight is the most endangered.) Before we get to that, though, Iâ<80><99>m going to share with you an email I received, in response to my most recent ECW review.

I enjoy reading your reviews. And I am a fan of Offbeat Shenanigans. But something in your ECW Review left a bad taste in my mouth. â<80><9c>If John Cena participated in an average of 6 segments (including backstage skits, promos and matches) on a two hour episode of Raw, why then, did Punk not have at least a backstage interview this week?â<80>

Ok let me just ask WHEN has John Cena EVER been on Raw 6 times in 2 hours? Hell if anything they never showed John ENOUGH in my opinion. I think you have your guys confused and you’re actually thinking about HHH. He was the one that hogged air time. The most time John ever got was a live crowd promo, a match, and maybe something backstage. So your comment has no merit.

– Thomas

After reading Thomasâ<80><99> email, I realized I was misleading in saying Cena was on Raw â<80><9c>an average of 6 segments.â<80> This is usually not true, even if you count a commercial break-interrupted match as two segments. A more accurate thing to say would have been that John Cenaâ<80><99>s current program, typically, accounts for at least six segments of Raw. This includes backstage segments, interviews, promos, and matches for both him and his opponent. Honestly, I think Cena gets something of a bad wrap, and I didnâ<80><99>t mean any disrespect to him with my comment. Still, with so much emphasis on the main event in each WWE brand, where do the tag team divisions end up? This is one of the questions weâ<80><99>ll be looking at today, in…

â<80><9c>Dude, Whereâ<80><99>s My Tag Team Division?â<80>

Thanks to Ashton â<80><9c>Casey Kelsoâ<80> Kutcher for the title to this weekâ<80><99>s column. This weekâ<80><99>s ECW broadcast got me to thinking a little more about the misplaced art of tag wrestling in WWE. John Morrison and The Miz defeated Jesse and Festus in a run-of-the-mill tag match. In my weekly review of ECW on Sci-Fi, I gave both teams high marks. And, for their general abilities, they certainly deserve it. My problem, though, rests with the matchâ<80><99>s winners.

You see, the one thing which I feel is killing tag team wrestling is the crowning of makeshift tag teams as champions. Morrison and The Miz werenâ<80><99>t allies, but rivals. Suddenly, they are the top team of both the ECW and Smackdown brands. While I think itâ<80><99>s a positive to put the title on an ECW team, as it makes the roster sharing concept seem a bit more fluid, Morrison and Miz were the wrong guys. WWE has overused the idea of two â<80><9c>rivalsâ<80> becoming champions together to a point where itâ<80><99>s no longer exciting. To add to that, rivals seem to be holding on to tag gold almost as much as allies, nowadays. Why is this? It cheapens the idea of wrestlers having to “work” at teaming together.

I donâ<80><99>t really expect Morrison and Miz to hold on to their belts for very long, though. Who will the next champions be? Well, this isnâ<80><99>t a hard case to crack. The next champions will be a man whoâ<80><99>s worn another underappreciated Smackdown title, and a guy who has main evented for the brand. And, despite their respective places on the card, the two share similar gimmicks. So, essentially, itâ<80><99>s about as close to a classic, packaged team as one could get. Before you get too excited, Iâ<80><99>ll spoil you: Smackdownâ<80><99>s next tag champs will be…Finlay and Hornswoggle.

No, unlike my â<80><9c>Kevin Nash is facing himself in a tag matchâ<80> prediction, Iâ<80><99>m not talking out of my backside, this time. As Mr. McMahonâ<80><99>s â<80><9c>son,â<80> Hornswoggle has been one of the main focuses of WWE programming. Finlay is about due for a push and, after his recent face turn, this will be it. Need more evidence? Well, if you watched Smackdown last night, you saw the duo defeat former tag champs, Deuce and Domino, in just a few short minutes.

What exactly is going on here, WWE? Hornswoggle is entertaining when heâ<80><99>s used right, and Finlay deserves a prominent spot on the card. This is not the way to go about it. The tag team division shouldnâ<80><99>t be a place to throw wrestlers, in order to get over angles for the singles divisions. Tag team wrestling used to be something special, and WWE has been home to many of the greatest tag team moments in wrestling history. From the British Bulldogs vs. The Hart Foundation, to The Rockers vs. Demolition…and The Hardys vs. Edge and Christian vs. The Dudley Boys…The New Age Outlawsâ<80><99> pre-match promos…God, I even thought Billy and Chuck were entertaining. Thereâ<80><99>s plenty of great moments we could reminisce about. But what about lately?

Cade and Murdoch are being pushed as the team to beat on Raw, but whereâ<80><99>s their competition? Occasionally, the tandem are challenged, in that stale, modern WWE way, by another team on Raw. Tag team member #1 gets pinned by a member of the other team. So, weâ<80><99>ll say, for the sake of my argument, London beats Murdoch. The following week, Kendrick defeats Cade. Then, after that, London and Kendrick win a non-title match against the champs. At the pay-per-view, theyâ<80><99>ll face off, with Cade and Murdoch retaining. On the following nightâ<80><99>s Raw, the angle starts over with a different team. Sometimes, Cade and Murdoch go back to Heat or – worse – compete in six man tags for the next two months.

Where is the desire and the passion which used to accompany tag team wrestling? The other teams on Raw shouldnâ<80><99>t just be locking up, with C&M, in singles matches. They should be competing regularly, with each other, to earn the number one contendership. Meanwhile, Cade and Murdoch should be defeating jobber tag teams, and the like, to further establish themselves and prepare for their competition. Instead, though, theyâ<80><99>re more likely to team up and lose to Triple H in a handicapped match. Sheesh.

Again, I go back to the idea of using tag matches to get singles angles over. Apart from crowning singles wrestlers as tag champs, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that most Raw matches are, in fact, tag team matches. Very dry, cut and paste, tag matches, for that matter. Most of the main event wrestlers arenâ<80><99>t tag team guys and, even if they are, they share little to no chemistry with the guys theyâ<80><99>re being paired up with. In my opinion, this hurts the actual tag teams on the show. This happens, to a lesser extent, on Smackdown and ECW, but WWEâ<80><99>s â<80><9c>flagshipâ<80> brand is the most guilty.

If tag matches really must be used to advance singles angles, then the tag team division needs to be booked differently. Iâ<80><99>m not saying crazy bumps and high spots every night. Thatâ<80><99>s not healthy for the wrestlers. But, surely, there must be something that can be done to avoid the doldrums caused by wrestling the same tag match every time. Old WWF tapes will reveal different and forgotten ways of competing in tag matches. Rather than the typical: faces dominate for a minute or two, smaller face gets beat up most of the match, a bunch of restholds from the heels, bigger face gets the â<80><9c>hot tag,â<80> melee with everyone in the ring, and then some kind of finish.

Iâ<80><99>ve seen, to an extent, wrestlers playing around with the format…using false finishes, more teamwork, and some different ideas. This is a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, if tag wrestling is to ever regain some semblance of importance on WWE programming, the company is going to need to put some kind of emphasis back on its tag team divisions.

Kevin McElvaney is also a contributing writer for Pro Wrestling Illustrated and The Wrestler. Send questions or comments to kjmcelvaney@yahoo.com.

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