Posted by: sportsandbeans | August 25, 2006

Choose one, discard the other


by Milo

Welcome to World Wrestling Entertainment’s “How to Create a Big Superstar.” WWE is well-known more for trying to find the “next big thing” rather than developing their talent usually at the expense of another.

In this article, we shall take a look into one of the most underutilized and forgotten aspects of this WWE era, the tag team division, and its purpose to forge the next superstar in the wrestling business causing the deterioration of the division itself.

When I mean tag team, I am not referring to two singles competitor teaming up to form a formidable group. So cancel out the likes of Power Trip (Triple H & Stone Cold Steve Austin), The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage), Money Inc. (IRS and the Million Dollar Man), or Vitamin C (Christian and Chris Jericho.) I’m also not referring to factions like Evolution (Batista, Ric Flair, Randy Orton and Triple H), NWO (Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall), or Degeneration X (Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chyna, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn.) I’m talking about the real tag teams, the ones that start out as a tag team like the Hardy Boyz, the Rockers, the Highlanders, Too Cool, the Nasty Boys or the Headshrinkers.

In WWE’s vast history, there have been many times when a certain tag team reaches the peak of their popularity, then the WWE management decides to split them up. This in turn destroys the credibility and the prestige of being in the tag team division since those “top” teams are broken up once they reach that upper tier or superstar status, and we are left with discards or teamed up lower midcarders whom the audience hate or can never relate. No wonder why many WWE fans believe that the tag team division is a joke, or think that the division does not even exist at all.

However, there is a reason why I believe WWE breaks up tag teams at the peak of their career. They want to turn somebody in that team to be the next singles superstar, or what I like to call it, “the Rockers formula.”

The Rockers formula is derived from the tag team of Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty in the midyears of the WWE. More often than not, one of the members in a tag team becomes more popular than the other one during the course of their career. When they manage to reach the peak, when fans regard them as one, if not, the best tag team in the business, no matter which way you cut it, there’s always one in the tag team who garnered more popularity and a larger fanbase. In the case of the Rockers, when they broke this tag team, Shawn Michaels catapulted into stardom gaining Heartbreak Hotel segments, columns in the WWE Magazine and more, and now survives as a legend and arguably one of the best wrestlers in the business ever. As for Marty Jannetty? He was buried into obscurity, along with his drinking problems, only to be used to bring nostalgia to the current scene.

The success of the Rockers formula varied amongst tag teams throughout the years. Some examples of the successes, or so-called successes are Men on a Mission (Mabel [aka Viscera] & Mo), breaking it off shortly after Mabel won King of the Ring, Smoking Gunns (Bart and Billy Gunn [who became Mr. Ass, 1/2 of New Age Outlaws, the One], The Acolytes (Faarooq & Bradshaw [JBL!]),

The Hardy Boyz (Jeff and Matt Hardy) was supposed to go that way also, Jeff Hardy being the Shawn Michaels, but due to drug problems, that project turned into a waste. The Spirit Squad (technically a tag team) is also bound to undergo this formula once they break up, with Kenny as the leading candidate to be the team’s Shawn.

Some of the failures were Too Cool (Grandmaster Sexay & Scotty Too Hotty) [They never got enough heat behind them], and La Resistance (Sylvain Grenier & Rene Dupree) [misused by WWE], 3-minute Warning (Rosey and Jamal) [they pushed Rosey, but failed, dragging down the Hurricane as well. Jamal, is making waves right now as Umaga after getting fired in WWE shortly after the breakup].

This constant search for the next superstar has killed formidable tag teams in the WWE, making the value of the titles only slightly valuable as the current status of the light heavyweight title. What light heavyweight title? Isn’t it already defunct? Exactly.

Hence, we rarely see a tag team title match nowadays, causing a title to be stuck on a tag team without title defenses, much like when Stephanie McMahon held the WWE women’s title. If ever it gets defended, it would be against a not-yet-established tag team, some jobbers, or on WWE Heat/Velocity. It also only appears once in a blue moon in Pay-Per-View events. How the heck would it add value to the titles if they are defended against nobodies or the subshow of a brand? Where are the times when winning a belt was equal to getting an olympic medal? Gone.

And what does WWE do to remedy this? Dismantle the tag team, and fire away. Remember Akio, Spike Dudley, Shannon Moore, Matt Morgan, Mark Jindrak, and Billy Kidman among the many who’ve suffered this fate?

Maybe they’re lucky to get released. I believe their status is much better than becoming a glorified jobber tag team joke like Scotty 2 Hotty and Funaki.


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