Sunday Sermon: The State of the WWE Tag Team Division

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Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow & Brian Damage

We continue our look at the title divisions in this latest Sunday Sermon. In previous editions we’ve looked at the divas division and the state of play with the Intercontinental Title but today all the focus is on the WWE’s tag team division.

Craig: I’ve enjoyed the previous Sunday Sermon title discussions and due to how much I love talking about tag team wrestling, I’m sure this will be a good one too.

Again with this division, I think that there are some good competitors involved in the scene but it fundamentally lacks direction.

The strategy of the WWE when it comes to PPV tag team title matches at the moment is to throw as many as possible into one match and hope something sticks. It was done at WrestleMania, at Elimination Chamber and we look to be on course to see the same thing happen at SummerSlam.

I think it’s the wrong answer, is lazy answer and an example of the failure of WWE creative to build up any tag team as a viable threat for the titles. So much focus is on the top end of the card while the rest of the card receives zero focus and as a result the matches end up being nothing of significance.

Prime-Time-Players-MITB

The Prime Time Players celebrate their title win at this year’s Money in the Bank PPV.

Jamie: In a recent post I think I described the modern day Tag division in WWE as “the champions plus three or four other teams”. That about sums it up, far more than the term ‘Tag Team division’ can. For me the tag division – I’ll call it that for ease of writing – is a bit like the Divas division. As numbers in the division are so low there is only a finite number of pairings WWE can book until they repeat themselves and, through no lack of effort from the wrestlers, fans start to get bored of the same old performers in the same old matches. The Usos are a prime example of a good tag team gone stale because they had nothing new or interesting to do.

What the Tag division does hold over the Divas division, though, is the ability to add new teams with relative ease. Wrestling is still a male dominated profession and WWE has plenty of guys doing nothing in particular that can be thrown into a tag team at a minute’s notice. Curtis Axel and Damien Sandow anyone? Apparently Brad Maddox and Adam Rose are forming a team now too…

This will sound completely against the whole ideology of tag team wrestling, but a simple way to boost the division could be to make use of guys who are currently at a loose end to form more teams. With more depth to the division it will be clearer to fans who the top combinations are, rather than “the champions plus three or four other teams”. This would also allow for more than one tag match per show and more than one rivalry within the division.

Brian: While tag team wrestling will probably never be like it once was in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s…I do see improvement to what it once was when it was horrendous. We no longer are seeing big name stars like say John Cena and Seth Rollins feuding and all of a sudden become tag team champions to add to their rivalry. We are seeing more and more tag teams on the main roster like the Lucha Dragons….Prime time Players….New Day and the Ascension. There is more of an emphasis on tag team wrestling down in NXT with teams like the Vaudvillains, Blake and Murphy, Enzo Amore and Big Cass and Jason Jones and Chad Gable.

That in itself is a good sign, because it allows tag teams to grow and mature before getting the call up to the main roster. I did read about Brad Maddox and Adam Rose teaming on a house show. Granted, it was just a test to see how fans would react to the duo…but it is a good idea to start pairing wrestlers that are going nowhere and give them a chance at a second life so to speak in the tag team division. I like that.

The Vaudevillains

The Vaudevillains are making a name for themselves in NXT and could be the next team to make their way to the main roster.

Jamie: That’s a good point about the number of genuine tag teams on the roster. It’s not so long ago we would have been complaining about the lack of actual teams and bemoaning the abundance of singles wrestlers temporarily paired together. For the first time in a long time I cannot think of a current tag team that does not have a tag team name. What’s better is that most, if not all, current teams dress alike too. Small details, but they help to differentiate tag team wrestling from singles wrestling.

What I find frustrating is how good Tag Team Championship matches tend to be these days. Tag team matches are now consistently the second or third best match on most PPVs. My frustration is with the fact that there’s usually still just one tag match per PPV. Tag teams in WWE are a good thing right now, and I’d like more of it.

Brian: I tend to agree with you there and another small detail……do the tag team titles have to look like two oversized pennies? Aside from that, as long as the tag team matches are good to great…I really have no problem with where they are slotted on a show…as long as it isn’t the pre show. A way that the tag titles were so prestigious during the Attitude Era was when teams like the Dudleys, Edge and Christian and the Hardys battled in TLC matches. I’m not saying they can replicate those matches…but I wouldn’t mind seeing teams like the Usos, Lucha Dragons and Los Matadores in a match like that.

Craig: I’d agree with much that’s been said, too. It’s great to see so many actual tag teams as opposed to two random main eventers carrying the gold. I still think there’s very little creatively done with them and return to my initial point, the WWE can’t just keep picking four or five tag teams and lobbing them into a PPV match and expect that to be all they need to do. Look at Raw and Smackdown, all we’re getting is tag teams beating each other with Prime Time Players on commentary. There is no structure and seemingly no long term plan.

For all his faults, rest assured that if Vince Russo was booking Raw at the moment as well as J&J Security on a poll matches, the rest of the card would have solid storylines and a bit of direction. I genuinely believe that with the tag team division that’s all that’s lacking. There’s no notable feud of any sort. It’s 8 man tags with two face teams taking on two heel teams. That’s it. That’s lazy. That’s shit.

Brian: Solid storylines would be great for the tag team division. Let’s face it though, Vince McMahon is not a big fan of the division for whatever reason. In that regard, tag teams do take a backseat to everyone else. As long as they continue to be featured with solid wrestling action I’ll hold my complaints because as I said earlier….it’s better than what it was…much better. I mean the days of Bob Holly and the 1-2-3 Kid and MVP and Matt Hardy teams seem to be over.

Craig: Those days are certainly over and for a very good reason. It seems strange that more emphasis isn’t on it. I get Vince’s reservations about tag team wrestling but it’s such a simple way to get guys over and to create feuds. Seems like a missed opportunity to me.

Jamie: I do find it perplexing that, despite it perhaps not being Vince’s cup of tea, the tag division is not allocated more time on Raw and PPV. Featuring heavily on Smackdown, Main Event and Superstars does not count for me, because I routinely miss these shows and am never out of the loop with any storylines. I get that WWE like to put more emphasis on singles wrestlers, but Raw is three hours long. At two hours one could forgive WWE for somewhat overlooking tag teams in attempts to squeeze their favourites (singles wrestlers) onto the show, but at three hours there really is no excuse for just cramming all their tag teams into one match so that the bouts featuring singles wrestlers can last ages. WWE can argue that tag team wrestling is not a draw, but what main evented this weeks Raw? Oh yes, a six man tag!

You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.

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3 thoughts on “Sunday Sermon: The State of the WWE Tag Team Division

  1. Pingback: This Week in Wrestling 2015 week 33 | Ring the Damn Bell

  2. Pingback: Sunday Sermon: A Look ahead to WWE SummerSlam 2015 | Ring the Damn Bell

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