In the last few weeks the WWE Tag Team division has made great strides and the matches are becoming the must-see encounters at WWE events. A few months ago the division had grown incredibly stale and a lack of competition had resulted in the decision being made not to include the title match in the main show at WrestleMania. A sad state of affairs and a real crushing blow for the titles held by some of the greatest stars in wrestling history. You would have been forgiven for declaring Tag Team wrestling dead, apart of course from matches to be shown on Main Event and the regular “Authority”-driven matches on Raw and SmackDown between different combinations of the same singles competitors.
Then the Usos were put out of business when Jey suffered an anterior shoulder dislocation which looked like the final nail in the coffin. The Usos had held the belts from March of last year through to September and then again from December to February of this year. In-between they had been challenged by the teams of Gold and Stardust and The Miz and Mizdow but neither of those combinations were to hang around very long. Newcomers The Ascension flopped immediately despite weeks of build-up and Cesaro, whose career was seemingly moribund, was thrown together in a new team with Tyson Kidd in a move that smacked of desperation. The New Day, who had debuted in November a couple of weeks before Cesaro and Kidd, were launched with a gospel face gimmick that looked destined to fall flat.
This situation was extremely disappointing as Tag Team wrestling has always had the ability to be far more exciting than singles, as with the best teams you are always getting fast paced action from start to finish with no let up. The reason is simple in that there is no need for rest holds (as long as you don’t have two teams of lazy workers of course!). Some of my favourite WWE/WWE World Tag Team champions were The British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation, Edge & Christian, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz. These teams have all competed in some of the best WWE matches of all time and have all been responsible for innovation within the division in some way. The fatal four-way at WrestleMania was a good match and left me wondering if it was just a final hurrah or the start of a new era.
What a difference two PPVs makes and although not yet at the level of the teams mentioned above, the title matches have been reinstated to PPV events and against the odds the teams of Cesaro & Tyson Kidd and The New Day are taking WWE by storm. Always destined to fail as faces, stable The New Day have dropped the gospel gimmick although they are still running with their “positivity” mantra. WWE have really stumbled upon something with them and they are getting as much heat as anyone in the company. Cesaro and Kidd went face and made it a double turn in what has proved to be a master-stroke.
At Extreme Rules Cesaro & Tyson Kidd dropped the belts to The New Day in a ten minute match that was a serious contender for match of the night. Well at Payback they did it again in a two out of three falls match which set the bar very high for the rest of the night. Cesaro & Kidd have clearly worked hard on becoming a good double act and are not the same two individuals that were thrown together at the end of last year. Their double teaming is improving all the time and it is obvious they both enjoy innovating new sequences as a tandem, they have the potential to become a great Tag Team. Cesaro looks a top star and the singles division's loss is now the tag division's gain. After last night's finish it clearly wont be the last time we see these teams face off and I couldn't be happier about that if they maintain these same standards.
In last month’s Extreme Rules predictions I wrote that I thought Erick Rowan and Luke Harper would go on to dominate the tag team division last year. Therefore I was upset at the time of The Wyatt family split as I felt they still had so much unfulfilled potential. Despite a short Intercontinental Title run for Harper both have found their opportunities limited as singles competitors. As is the case with the likes of Ryback and Dolph Ziggler they have flirted with main event billing, both taking part in various six man tag team matches on opposing sides, Harper siding with The Authority and Rowan supporting “Team Cena”. However neither have consistently appeared on TV or PPVs and nothing has really happened for them in terms of story-lines and character development. It made little sense to break them up so soon and it makes sense to reunite them to add to the much improved Tag Team division while also giving their characters some sort of direction. I think this powerful and terrifying pair will be great opponents for Cesaro & Kidd and the matches could even top what we have seen with The New Day. They also bring something completely different with their characters which will keep the division fresh and diverse.
With these three teams, the return of The Usos to come and The Prime Time Players reunited the Tag Team division can continue to go from strength to strength. The Ascension won in the Payback pre-show and although their gimmick hasn't translated to the main roster you only need to look at The New Day to see how a change in approach can reap rewards, so I wouldn't rule them out completely just yet. A SummerSlam TLC match between New Day, Kidd & Cesaro, Wyatt Family and one of the other teams chomping at the bit could be something to compare to the matches of the "Attitude Era". It is certainly a huge turnaround from a few months ago and credit must go to all involved.