On this Monday’s past episode of Raw, the Tag Team title picture was centered around a jobber team trying to bribe other teams with a BBQ to get a tag team title match… Yes, this happened; and you couldn’t imagine what happened next – a food fight…
From The Shield to the B-Team, the fall of Monday Night Raw’s Tag Team division has been fast and furious, completely collapsing in a little under a year.
There are a number of things that have lead us to this juncture in Raw’s Tag division, but how could it have happened so fast? How could we go from The Bar and the New Day tearing the house down on a weekly basis just a year ago, to Braun Strowman winning the titles with the help of a 10 year old child named Nicholas at WrestleMania.
As we will see, it’s all comes down to the two simple culprits for many of wrestling fans biggest woes -poor booking and gimmicks failing to meet expectations.
The Division can currently be split into 3 sections: The Jobbers, The “we-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-them guys” and the Tag Champs. All have major flaws.
There are currently 9 formal tag teams on Raw, with 5 of them being considered Jobber, throw-away, or comedy teams at this point. Those teams are: The Ascension, Breezango, The Revivial , Slater & Rhyno, Titus Worldwide.
After these teams, you have The B-Team which is gaining massive popularity with the story of them being a lovable Job-Squad-Esc team that wants to be legitimate.
When it comes to more serious teams- you have The Authors of Pain, who have been off TV for weeks, The Show that’s made up of both Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre (who are staying as far as possible from the rest of the tag division), and of course the Raw Tag Team Champs -the Deleters of Worlds – “Woken” Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt.
So with all these teams, how is the product stale? To begin, WWE has effectively destroyed any credibility of teams like: Slater & Rhyno, who were champions in their own right on SmackDown Live, and The Revivial; who were at one point considered by many to be one of the best tag teams in the world. Along with teams like The Ascension who have been dead in the water for seemingly years now, and Titus Worldwide.
Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins moving completely out of the Tag Division (due to Ambrose’s injury), didn’t help. With almost all the major star power has been sucked out of the division. Not to mention the loss of teams like Enzo and Cass – who were entertaining regardless of their in-ring work.
Another loss has been the breaking up of the Hardy Boyz, as many were hoping that a “Broken” (now “Woken”) family reunion would provide some fun segments and breathe life into the division. However due to a mix of injury, and WWE wanting to give Jeff Hardy a renewed singles push, the move was made to put Jeff on SmackDown Live.
Jeff wasn’t the only one to make the move to the blue brand either. With The Bar moving to SmackDown Live, joining teams like: The USOs, The Bludgeon Brothers, the New Day, and a yet to debut – sAnity; its not even a fair comparison. SmackDown Live crushes Raw when it comes to quality tag teams.
We won’t even mention NXT, as the developmental brand is having a massive revival in tag team wrestling itself; with teams like: The Undisputed Era, TM-61, and Heavy Machinery.
So what does this tell us? There are almost zero legit competitive tag teams on Raw.
While on paper, Hardy and Wyatt should be killing it with their “Woken” antics, the team is for whatever reason not translating well on TV. The gimmick itself feels very handcuffed, with WWE seemingly having zero idea of how to book it.
Anyone who had fantasies that the gimmick would be just as out there and wild as it was in TNA or ROH, were just fooling themselves. However, there was an expectation that the gimmick would have at least some marginal success, as it had such popularity on the Indy circuit.
Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case.
While it did take some time for WWE to fully turn Matt Hardy “Woken”, the biggest flaw in the team is not just the shackled characters. Its the in-ring work as well. Its always been understood that Jeff was the more athletic of the Hardys, and this was true up and until their last run as a team. The dynamic worked, Jeff could be the crazy risk-taker and high-flyer, while Matt could be the striker and ground based worker would occasionally went to the top rope, but also provided the comedy with his “Woken-ness” (We’re just making up words at this point).
However, both Wyatt and Hardy’s work-styles make for sluggish matches that tend to drag on for seemingly ever. Their chemistry didn’t work when they were in a feud against one another, and while no one wants to admit it, it isn’t working now either.
So what about the future? The B-Team’s new push should not be confused with a renewed faith in Axel and Dallas’ abilities to draw or a newfound liking to the team. Instead, this is just something for the tag team to do until creative has something for the Authors of Pain. With none of the other teams being credible threats to the champs, WWE is trying to make a comedic underdog story of the B-Team to get fans invested and not be completely bored. Will it lead to entertaining TV? Probably. Will it lead to a legitimate rise of Axel and Dallas? Probably not.
The Raw writing staff is this close to fans dubbing tag team makes as “bathroom break” matches once again, after a steady rise in quality over the past 5 years.
Even when the Authors of Pain start their march toward the titles, what’s left for them after they eventually win them?Likely, the same that’s for the champions now – nothing. Only time will time will tell.
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- Matt Hardy Twitter