Greetings, and welcome to My Pinterest Is Piledrivers, the ideally-weekly wrestling column. I am your oft-beleaguered host, James A. Carter, and before something else befalls your flesh-and-blood Charlie Brown, let’s get right to it.
“The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. Bret “The Hitman” Hart. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Edge. What do all of these superstars have in common? Questionable life decisions. What else do they have in common? They all started out in tag team wrestling.
Tag-team wrestling is the perfect place for a young up-and-comer to learn the ropes. And how to run the ropes. And if he’s lean enough, to springboard the ropes. It was invented way, way longer ago than I could have imagined. San Francisco in 1901, where the first tag team champions were also crowned in the 1950s. Hmmm, two men teaming together in San Francisco, I… I will show restraint and let the jokes come to you.
What popular forms of media need to do is to know when to incorporate things from other forms of media… and when to do things that show off how different and unique they are. Tag teams, as a concept, can only exist in the world of professional wrestling. You will likely never see tag team boxing, or tag team MMA. The professional wrestling industry would do well to emphasize what makes it different from other “combat sport-entertainment” entities. For one, when you pay for three hours of action, you’re getting
three hours and not a five-minute knock out. Well, hopefully. Sometimes you get Punk-Bryan, sometimes you get Funkasaurus-Dignity. But to reiterate my point, tag teams are recognizably mainstream pop culture, and the business should remember that.
And while not created explicitly for this purpose, it is great for a young grappler to learn about pacing, crowd psychology, the importance of a varied and exciting moveset, and other concepts that go far beyond the simple lessons of how to fall and how to make other guys fall. At their best, tag team matches are among the most exciting and well-paced matches to watch.
The tag scene is also a great place to put two guys that have that special something, or at least the hint of a special something, but that you just can’t find a place for anywhere else. Scotty 2 Hotty and Brian “I’ve Made A Lot Of Mistakes” Christopher joined together to make Too Cool, one of the more over comic tag teams of recent memory. Another good, fairly recent example was the rechristening of The Roadie and Rockabilly to “The Road Dogg” Jesse James and “Badd Ass” Billy Gunn, the New Age Outlaws. Those two dudes
regularly got some of the biggest pops of one of the biggest eras in wrestling. Let’s not… let’s not dwell on what happened when these teams broke up.
It’s a surefire and simple way to have a storyline and even a good way to train not just wrestlers, but writers. Introduce a young tag team, or bring together two jobbers who are frustrated by their spinning wheels. Have them chase the championship. Have them collide with other teams who want to do the same. Mix in their managers and valets, and/or the managers and valets of others. Then have one win a singles belt or become vain and egotistical. Have one throw the other through a window. Boom! Now you have a singles storyline. Repeat per audience memory requirements.
During the WWE’s most recent peak period, their active tag team roster included not just Too Cool and the New Age Outlaws, but the Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian, the Dudley Boys, the Rock and Sock Connection, the Brothers of Destruction, the Two-Man
Powertrip, and the APA. TLC matches became mainstays and bouts for the tag team championship ended Raw sometimes and were the focus for some of the top plotlines.
Now? Now, uh… well, you got the Usos. They’re hanging around there. Then you have the Colon brothers. They’re doing stuff. You have Kofi and whoever you put with Kofi. Um… I think there’s another team. A clown and a German guy.
The WWE should really ramp up their efforts. You have two teams of brothers, the Usos and the Colons. Go ahead and make Hunico and Camacho an official team. You can have Rosa switch from the Colons to those two and turn the Colons face. Bring in
Chris Hero for a Kings of Wrestling reunion with Claudio Castagnoli, or whatever the Hell they call him now. Bill Brasky or something. Rehire the other halves of the Hart Dynasty and Cryme Tyme. And do something with Trent Beretta, Curt Hawkins, Tyler Reks. Spin some of these guys off, keep some of these guys together, as per potential star power. Then sit back, confident with the knowledge that you are actually using people that you are already paying.
Thank you. I end this column with a celebration of tag teams from the halcyon days of the early 1990s.
Tags: Bret “Hitman” Hart, christian, cm punk, Cryme Tyme, curt hawkins, Daniel Bryan, edge, Epico, hbk, Kofi Kingston, Primo, Rosa Mendes, Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Dudley Boys, The Hart Dynasty, the New Age Outlaws, the usos, Too Cool, Trent Beretta, Tyler Reks, WWE