Editorial Columns

What Has Happened To Tag Team Wrestling In WWE?

With no tag title matches on the main card of Summer, Ryan Boyd looks at the current state of tag team wrestling in WWE.

On a weekend where I’ve seen a plethora of tag team matches headlining shows and when not, still tearing the house down, it’s almost poetic that I get to explore WWE’s reluctance to invest time into their tag team division – Well, if we’re looking at NXT and WWE as separate entities, of course.

It seems like the right time to open up this subject for debate. The company currently has three separate Tag Team Championships and potentially the most talented tag team division I’ve ever known them to have. Despite this, it seems as though those title belts go into hiding for weeks on end and any tag matches are short-lived.

ROH Summer Super-Card, House of Glory and Impact Wrestling; two weeks on the trot, have all been headlined by tag team action as of late and NXT TakeOver was opened by Street Profits vs. Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish). All of these matches were given a minimum of 15 minutes and excelled as a result. It shows the audience that they value both tag team wrestling and the championships that are being contested.

It’s my personal belief that there are two reasons that WWE doesn’t put any stock into their tag team division and both coincide with each other. 

Firstly, Vince McMahon is always looking for that next star. In years gone by the company has produced megastars such as Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and John Cena. Although you could argue that this is only four individuals, they then need relevant competition to act as potential replacements and propel the stock of the aforementioned megastars. The company previously used and occasionally still do, the Intercontinental Championship, to mould their wrestlers before their transition into the main event picture; something else which is put ahead of tag team wrestling. 

Even during the more successful period of tag team wrestling, it involved no more than a handful of teams. The Dudleyz, The Hardy Boyz, and Edge & Christian were performing at a level that could not be overlooked, affording more screen time. Add into that the APA and the Hollys, as well as some mix and match partnerships and you,  have the “boom period of tag team wrestling” in WWE.

At that time, you had the WWF, the Intercontinental, the European, the Hardcore, the Women’s and the Tag Team Championships – six titles. That’s already a lot to get into four hours of weekly programming (RAW and SmackDown), without building up lesser talent to create contenders for these belts. Which brings me on to point number two – there are simply too many championships on the main roster. As we supposedly have two different rosters for two different shows, it means two different sets of belts. There are currently ELEVEN championships (including the Cruiserweight) being contested on the main roster, yet only an additional hour of TV time than back in the late ‘90s. 

It is impossible for WWE to keep everyone happy with a roster of that size, which is another can of worms to be opened on another day. Before tag team wrestling can ever be fully appreciated within that company, they need to downscale – massively! With so many singles championships at stake, top-level tag teams are falling by the wayside. It would come as no surprise to see some come to the end of their tether and eventually up sticks and leave. After all, there is now a genuine alternative on the horizon in AEW. (Cheap plug!)

Recently we’ve seen Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson capture the RAW Tag Team Championships again, but the Good Brothers are a team who should be one of the biggest attractions on Monday nights. The Revival has been used in comedic angles portraying hair removal when they’re one of, if not the best, tag teams in the company. They came from NXT with such promise and are being wasted; like so many others to be “promoted” from the yellow brand.

I see NXT as the ideal brand to replicate on how to fully utilize your roster. Tag teams thrive on Wednesday nights and tag team wrestling is highly thought of. This is evident with the annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team classic. Moreover, NXT has produced legitimate tag teams who’ve had historic title reigns, rather than what feels like two individual stars forced together. The Wyatt Family (Harper & Rowan), American Alpha, The Ascension, The Vaudevillains, Authors of Pain, DIY, War Raiders, Undisputed Era, Street Profits – There’s many I’ve missed and although some naturally broke up over time or are yet to move up, how many of these have gone on to RAW and/or SmackDown and continued their success? 

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You can find the author of this article on Twitter @RyanRBoyd. Thanks for reading!

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