Tag Team Wrestling
November 4, 2006
As you may or may not know I write a monthly article called "The Storm Front" for "Fighting Spirit" magazine in England. The following is an article I wrote on Tag Team Wrestling for the July issue, and is being reproduced with permission from Uncooked Media Ltd.
With no specific goings on in the wrestling world catching my eye this month I thought I would put Tag Team Wrestling on The Storm Front and take a look at how I feel the fine art of tag team wrestling is dieing out.
Iíve always enjoyed tag team wrestling, both as a fan when I was a kid, and as a performer during my career. The current state of tag team wrestling is perhaps at an industry all time low, and Iím not sure it will ever come back. Gone I fear are the days of extensive tag team divisions, and exclusive tag team performers. Tag team ring psychology seems to be a dieing art form and if the problem isnít rectified soon it will likely be lost forever.
When I was a kid tag team wrestling was a big thing, WWE (WWF back then) had a huge tag division and WCW (The NWA) had two sets of tag team titles. I remember the first Survivor Series PPV, which featured a tag team Survivor Series match with two teams consisting of five tag teams each. Ten legitimate tag teams with only one WWE brand. There were so many good tag teams: The Hart Foundation, The Killer Bees, The Rockers, The British Bulldogs, The Midnight Express, The Rock & Roll Express, The Road Warriors, to name but a few. These were exclusive tag teams, which stuck together and competed for years as a unit. Now RAW has maybe 3 tag teams, and only two of them (The Spirit Squad and The Highlanders) have a legitimate tag team moniker and are featured on TV.
Even during my career, which was heavily tag team oriented I didnít stick with any one partner for much more than a year. Over my 16 year career I had tag runs with, Chris Jericho, Chris Candito, Brian Lee (Briefly in SMW), Yuji Yasuroka (WAR), Justin Credible, Mike Awesome, Billy Kidman (Briefly in WCW), Christian, William Regal, Chief Morley (and Val Venis), I would have had a tag run with Goldust too had he not been released. That is nearly 12 different tag team partners and with only a select few of those did we have an actual tag team name.
So why you ask, are tag team divisions shrinking to near oblivion? Why do tag teams not stick together and why doesnít WWE just higher more teams and bring back the glory days of tag team wrestling? Well the answer unfortunately is that they canít. The current wrestling landscape wonít allow it. The RAW and Nitro era of big name matches on TV has killed it off.
The Monday Night Wars accelerated angles and booking speeds to such a rate that programs between individuals go by in weeks instead of months or years. To stretch a singles feud out over 2 or 3 PPVs tag team matches have to be utilized on TV to further the angles and post pone the singles confrontation. The only way to really further a Booker T vs. Bautista feud without giving the singles match away for free on Smack Down is to feature them in tag team matches.
With tag team matches between singles star on the show there is little room left to highlight legitimate tag team feuds. For the most part we get to see the champions and who ever they are programmed with and that is the extent of the tag team division. With such a shallow tag team talent pool, programs and teams get stale quickly and broken up and moved on.
This is the real sad part, for me at least, because I like quality tag team wrestling and the specific tag team psychology is dieing out. With so few teams competing solely as a team they donít invest the time or have the experience necessary to learn the tag team psychology properly and utilize it well. Iíve talked about ring psychology a lot over the years but tag team psychology is a completely different art form. Stories are told differently in tag matches and with so many singles feuds being furthered in tag matches the singles stories get told and the tag team one gets over looked.
My last real hope for preserving the tag team art form was MNM. I thought they were the best tag team to hit the scene in years. They werenít Steve Smith and Bill Jones, they were MNM, they had their own look, gimmick and tag team identity, and more importantly they knew tag team psychology and used it as well, if not better than most tag teams in the last 5-10 years. Now granted my opinion is somewhat bias as I worked with them extensively in OVW but you have to admit their matches were exciting, had heat, and built to great near falls and the end. They got their opponents over huge, had great matches and keep themselves strong and credible at the same time, a true dieing art. Most tag teams now focus on getting themselves over and to me that is only a third of the battle. You have to get the match over, your opponents over, and yourselves, to do the job completely. MNM did that, The Midnight Express did that, the Hart Foundation did that, and Iíd like to think that I did that with at least a few of the partners I worked with.
Thatís all from the Storm Front; Iíll catch you guys next month.
If you enjoyed this article you may want to look into subscribing to Fighting Spirit (there is a link to their site in my links section). I will not be reproducing that many of my articles and when I do so it will always be with at least a 3 to 4 month delay.