Long in the Truth: What Ever Happened to the Tag Team Division?

What ever happened to the tag team division?  This looks like a broken down version of a once great tradition in the wrestling world. Tag team wrestling used to provide some of the most athletic and compelling entertainment you would find on a given show. Now you’re more likely to find four guys thrown together having nothing to do with one another, lumbering around the ring in hopes of putting  together something that resembles a wrestling match. This once storied divison in wrestling history has become a shadow of its former self and is in need of some serious overhaul, otherwise it could suffer the same fate as the now late Cruiserweight division. (lets all take a moment take a moment of silence…moving on)
 A tag team was defined by two men who were brought in together, wearing similar outfits with ONE theme music, who only wrestled together as a tag team. They weren’t some random pairing of superstars who creative didn’t have ideas for that week.  If someone wanted to emerge as star they did it the old fashion way, they earned it. If a tag team superstar was meant to become a breakout star it happened over time. If the duo couldn’t cut a good promo they were given a manager who could(something that seems to be lost on creative now a days). If one of the members was a stronger in ring performer or had more charisma they gave him a run as a singles competitor and let the fans decide. Sometimes it works (Johnny Nitro) and sometimes it doesn’t (Brian Kendrick) No more taking every single guy who comes up like Chris Masters or Umaga  and having to saddle them with a Cal Ripken Jr. like winning streak just to get him over.                                              



Taking a look back at a few periods in time when the tag division was successful you’ ll find several common themes. Lets start with the time frame around WrestleMania V when the division was at its height. This event which was headlined by one of the most star studded main events at the time between Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior, was filled throughout with FIVE different tag team matches, of well defined times, something unheard of in modern times. These were teams that had a history together, teams the calibur of The British Bulldogs, Strike Force, The Brain Busters and Demolition. Not some of the pairings we have seen in recent years, (ahem) Tajiri and William Regal, Booker T and Goldust and lets not forget the travesty that was Rene Dupree and Kenzo Suzuki. (my apologies to 13 people that liked them) There were enough teams and talent to fill out a roster without taking away any of the top stars from the main event.
The other era of similar talent was in the late 1990’s. This was when three young teams emerged all around the same time and helped revolutionize the tag team division with some of the most innovative and amazing matches in wrestling history. I’m of course talking about The Headbangers, Too Cool and Men on a Mission. Ok seriously, what Edge and Christian, The Dudleyz and The Hardyz did for tag team wrestling was cement the fact that if you bring up two young hungry superstars and put them together, they can create excitement while taking part in memorable fueds and change the landscape of both singles and tag team wrestling for years to come. And if you have to wonder if the formula works, just look at the the success of Edge, Matt Hardy, Christian and Jeff Hardy over the past five years and picture Smackdown and ECW minus those superstars. For those of you still not convinced, just watch any WWE PPV between 1994 and 1997 and take a look at the mark left by tag team wrestling that defined the era. One of the most entertaining and controversial fueds in wrestling history, was headlined by two men who got their start in the tag team division. The Rockers and The Hart Foundation (who by the way were two of the teams I failed to mention that competed at Wrestlemania V) catapulted the careers of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, who are responsible for what many consider to be the greatest Wrestlemania match of all time. (spoiler alert..upcoming article, top 10 greatest WM matches of all time)

 The tag team dvision is in a weakened state but it’s not without promise. While we are forced to deal with makeshift tag teams like Mark Henry, MVP, Vladamir Kozlov and Ezekiel Jackson and Chris Jericho and The Big Show there is still some very positive attributes for the survivial of tag team wrestling. The most important resource being it’s oldest, Degeneration X. They have the talent and star power to captivate an audience, while they have the momentum,  I think the best idea is to center the division around Michaels and HBK, have them challenge for and win the belts and put  tag team wrestling back on the map. They have several up and coming teams who could compete with them for the titles, the first being of course their Breaking Point opponents Legacy. They have every tool a successful tag team could hope for. Talent, athleticism, charisma, a built in gimmick and the pedigree of a superstar. A sure fire sign they will be a successful duo for years to come if things are handled properly. With that being said it’s not too far from describing word for word the next biggest asset of the tag division and that is The Hart Dynasty, talk about a pedigree. You have the big powerhouse in D.H Smith, the young athletic high flyer in Tyson Kidd and while I’ve yet to hear them speak very much they have their own personal valet who can do that for them. And if she has pipes anything like her old man, this team has got everything you could ask for in a young stable.
There is main event talent in the division now along with the stars of future, which leads to hope for the long term success of tag team wrestling. But let’s not forget that these are the same people that gave us Charlie Haas and Rico, Kane and X-Pac, Bull Buchanan and the Goodfather (ok I kind of like Right To Censor but still ) and countless other teams who were completely unworthy of tag team gold.  I’d like nothing more than to think that the creative powers that be, will be make all the right moves, keep Legacy and The Hart Dynasty together for the upcoming months, put the belts on DX and capitalize on their star power while the division has time to grow and develop the stars of the future. But this is the same company that gave us all the collective cringe that was Animal of Legion of Doom and Heidenreich, so it’s tough to be optimistic. I guess the real question isn’t what happened to the tag team division but what will happen to the tag team division? Your guess is as good as mine. Stay tuned.

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