ROH/WWE: A Tale of Two Tag Team Divisions


Kings of Wrestling – Source: The Wrestling Fans Review

A Tale of Two Divisions
Tag Team Wrestling in Ring of Honor and WWE

Tag team wrestling is one of the most time honoured and beloved institutions in professional wrestling. I don’t know what it is, but when tag team feuds and matches are done well they can be the best thing about the whole sport. Yes, it’s a sport. If golf is allowed to be called a sport then professional wrestling damn sure is as well.

Over it’s history WWE has been one of the stalwarts of tag team wrestling. As far back as you want to go you will find that the cards of most events were built around different tag team matches. It was the building block of the midcard and occasionally even the entire main event program for months on end.

Whether it was the Mega Powers of Savage and Hogan, the sleazy exploits of D-Generation X that kicked off the Attitude Era or the epic feud between the Brothers of Destruction and the Two Man Power Trip in early 2001. Hell the main event of the first ever WrestleMania was a tag match between Hulk Hogan and Mr T against Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff.

Ring of Honor too has always held tag team in high regard. From day one tag team wrestling was pushed to the forefront and had time and creative energy dedicated to it. You can see this in the months it took to build up the Age of the Fall, or the sheer amount of tag team matches that ROH continues to fill it’s cards with.

But for WWE something changed around seven or eight years ago. All of a sudden tag team wrestling seemed to be treated like the red headed stepchild of the wrestling world. Long term feuds up and vanished from the shows and if there was even a tag team match booked on the card it would be short and be between two sets of jobbers and all in all no one would really care about it, or it would be the main event of Smackdown and invariably involve The Undertaker teaming up with some other main event face who had nothing better to do than be in a tag match facing whosoever happened to be the heels of the week.

Question Time: can anyone name me a set of tag team champions who formed between 2006-2011? Other than Evolution or Legacy? I can’t. I doubt whether “Tag Team” Teddy could either. Now think back to 1980-2005 and ask yourself the same question. Its a long, long list and you wouldn’t even have to do a Google Search to look for answers. Its a sad state of affairs.

So, its safe to say that a solid tag team division is one of the signs of a healthy professional wrestling company. It allows lots of different wrestlers time in the ring, entertains the fans with it’s naturally faster paced and crowd involving style and in the time honored tradition of Hall of Famer’s like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, it allows you to steadily build up the wrestlers you want to push further up the card. Hell the break up of a tag team is a story that writes itself.

Ring of Honor knows this all too well. During that same period I mentioned (2006-2011) ROH’s events would invariably involve the main event World Championship match, backed up by one or two tag team matches. Whether it was El Generico and Kevin Steen, the Briscoes or the Kings of Wrestling, tag team matches were the foundation of the card.

Where did it all go wrong for WWE? From 2002 onwards tag team wrestling essentially sold Friday Night Smackdown all on it’s own with the rise of the so called “Smackdown Six” (Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Edge, Rey Mysterio and Eddie and Chavo Guerrero). I don’t know why but it seems that at some point it became against McMahon Family Law to book a meaningful tag team match.

To be fair to WWE though, recently they have been trying to rebuild their division. 2012 saw the birth of Team Hell No. For the first time in a long, long time a tag team was the focus of the show and the entire story was about them as a tag team. You couldn’t watch a WWE show and not come away with the idea that Daniel Bryan and Kane were a great tag team and then they won the tag team championship and every smark worth their salt could feel that something special could be happening.

Unfortunately WWE seems to have a really bad habit of not knowing how to handle something when it’s hot and instead of giving Bryan and Kane a series of matches with different opponents, matches that would build both teams and the championship. Team Hell No was forced down our throats and shoved into the main event scene against the Shield. It’s a story we’ve heard far too many times recently, from the overcooked Summer of Punk after Money in the Bank, the return of the masked Kane only for him to be fed to John Cena or the entire Nexus-Corre debacle.

Speaking of the Shield, they were another prime example of WWE ignoring the blind obvious and instead seemingly doing the opposite. Instead of reviving the ancient ‘Freebird’ rules which allows any two members of a stable to defend the tag titles, they decided to just stick them on Rollins and Reigns. This was a huge mistake as since they first appeared the Shield were billed as the ultimate unit, their flawless team work made them an unstoppable force in WWE. Then they stopped booking them on PPV’s and never had them defend the titles. Instead of seeing three or four teams desperately chasing the dastardly champions, we got a long and drawn out feud with Team Hell No through the entire Road to WrestleMania.

Although to be fair to WWE the matches between Team Hell No and the Shield were some of the best tag team matches WWE has ever put on television. But it doesn’t really take a brain surgeon to know that that’s what is going to happen when you put Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins in the ring together on a regular basis.

The problem is that the feud just really didn’t matter in the slightest. After Extreme Rules; Hell No were never going to win back the titles, Reigns and Rollins were never going to lose the titles and Daniel Bryan was clearly heading for bigger and brighter things. Sometimes you just have to wonder what they put in the water in Connecticut.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. WWE could so easily have a tag team division that would give even the Attitude Era or the golden age of the Hart Foundation a run for it’s money. They have the Shield. They have the Prime Time Players. They have Primo and Epico. They have the Wyatt Family. That’s a good bunch of different wrestlers with a lot of contrasting styles which is the essential recipe for a solid tag team division. Think back to 2000 and the swift Edge and Christian or the rough house Dudley Boys. Almost overnight they could have a division that’s raring to go. It’s not like WWE has a stacked card of midcard matches anymore. All they have is bullshit singles matches between Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston, or yet another Alberto Del Rio vs the perennial #1 contender Christian.

But then they also have people like the “Real American” Antonio Cesaro floundering around doing not much of anything at all. While Kassius Ohno seems eternally stuck in NXT purgatory. That’s modern WWE in a nutshell: They have one of the greatest tag teams that the sport has ever seen (the Kings of Wrestling. The name says it all really) and they aren’t even on the same show each week. One of them isn’t officially part of the company. If WWE were to reform the Kings they would have one of the most experienced tag teams ready to go against the Shield, and much further down the line the break up of Ohno and Cesaro is a sure fire upper midcard or even main event level feud.

If WWE were to give me the chance to rebuild the division I would take the teams I’ve already mentioned, reform the Kings of Wrestling and then form new teams like Sin Cara and Sami Zayn. I’d also throw as much money as it takes to get the Briscoe Brothers to join WWE. Then I’d set up a tournament over the course of a few months for the #1 contendership that would give each team a chance to show off what they can do.

At Survivor Series I would have the Shield lose the titles to Primo and Epico in a hard fought contest. All this would eventually build to the mother of all Tables, Ladders and Chairs matches between the Shield, the Kings of Wrestling, the Briscoe Brothers and the reigning champions the Matador’s at WrestleMania XXX. Picture it. The WWE Tag Team Championship hanging high above the ring in New Orleans while such wrestlers as Seth Rollins, Kassius Ohno and Jay Briscoe fight it out with table, ladder and chair.

ROH at least remains a bright light in the tag team world. They continue to showcase high octane tag team matches between the likes of ACH and Tadarius Thomas and the C & C Wrestle Factory. While they don’t have teams on the level of the Kings of Wrestling or Steenerico any more they are doing a great job of building up the teams they do have.

As you can tell from the article, I’m a big fan of tag team wrestling. I have great memories of watching the hey day of the Attitude Era and I just want to see great tag matches on the level of the epic feuds between Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley’s again. It’s not too much to ask, is it? Thanks for reading!



2 thoughts on “ROH/WWE: A Tale of Two Tag Team Divisions

  1. I don’t think it’s a lack of teams during the 06-11 era that was the problem, it was how they were booked. And the fact that singles stars were just thrown together to give them something to do. During that period, John Cena won the titles with Shawn Michaels and Batista, Chris Jericho won them with Edge and Big Show – the latter of whom also won the belts with The Miz. Punk and Kofi won the titles – hell even Ric Flair and Roddy Piper won them (yes I did search for them (no I never said these were memorable reigns)) and that was just on Raw!

    But at the same time you also had legitimate teams like Carlito and Primo, the Hart Dynasty, Paul London and Brian Kendrick, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, Deuce and Domino – and to a lesser extent Rated-RKO and John Morrison and The Miz.

    Most of those teams have faded from memory, because the booking was horrible and the fans didn’t care. For me not much has changed – the only teams I care about now are The Shield and the Wyatts. They’ve tried to push the Usos and I think they are starting to make some progress, but there’s a long way to go for the rest.

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