The Curious Case of the Bludgeon Brothers unfolds further this Friday at the Greatest Royal Rumble in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This team of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan will defend their WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championships against Jimmy and Jey Uso, in what will undoubtedly be a good match. Both teams can work a match that’s psychologically sound, while still incorporating those fun high spots. What makes this match-up so interesting, however, is the development of the fan responses these two teams have received.
Luke Harper and Erick Rowan history together goes back to NXT, where they first teamed together as members of the Wyatt Family, and captured the tag team gold there. However, their time spent on the main roster has been a roller coaster to say the least. From continuing their membership in the Wyatt Family, to splitting up, Rowan’s rotator cuff injury, Harper’s mixed results as a solo act where he actually faced Rowan at Backlash last year, and now this new gimmick, their time on RAW and Smackdown has been varied, both in storyline and in reality.
However, last October, WWE debuted a series of vignettes featuring Rowan and Harper repackaged as the Bludgeon Brothers, before making their in-ring debut as the new duo on the November 21st episode of Smackdown Live in a winning effort over the Hype Bros. They have been booked as dominators since the very beginning, even having some old school squash matches on Smackdown to build them up as monster heels. During this, the response from the crowd has been somewhat middling.
The Usos and the New Day, who were and are the top two tag teams on the blue brand, were so much more over than Harper and Rowan, that their injection into the tag team title match at Wrestlemania this year felt something short of what was hoped for. Admittedly, the New Day versus the Usos had been done to death, and simply another rematch of the two teams would have been stale. The Bludgeon Brothers forced themselves into the title picture after attacking the other two teams during their tag team championship match at Fastlane. The triple-threat match itself at Wrestlemania was very good, but the heel Bludgeon Brothers were so dominating against the much more popular New Day and Usos, that the title change to the undefeated duo created mild disappointment instead of heat. Their gimmick is fine, but wholly unoriginal, lacking any kind of spark to incite the crowd against them, as they are supposed to do. They’ve proven they are reliable workers over the years, but they have yet to have that stellar match as this new team to really put them over the top as the stars they have the potential to be. This Friday, against one of the best tag teams in the world, they have that opportunity.
The Usos have overachieved the last couple years in the WWE, shining brighter than expected from them. How? By consistently having killer matches. Yes, their promos have improved as well, but it was their feud with the New Day last year, culminating in that terrific Hell in a Cell match, that firmly established them as one of the best tandems on the planet, and elevated the importance of the tag team belts in the process. They held on to those belts from that hell of night (pun intended) in October until Wrestlemania, even reignited the rivalry with the New Day in the process, until that was interrupted by the Bludgeon Brothers. The Usos, despite being the former champs and being owed an automatic rematch in theory, had to earn their title shot at the Greatest Royal Rumble, by defeating their old foes the New Day, and created a little more babyface sympathy for themselves by having to do so.
On the go-home show of Smackdown, Jimmy Uso got a singles win with a roll-up on Rowan, all because of a distraction caused by Naomi (Jimmy’s real life wife), which, in WWE, is essentially a guarantee that the Bludgeon Brothers will win. However, the inclusion of Naomi in recent weeks in the angle is surprising, since she won’t be in Jeddah this Friday, per the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There is no indication that the strong booking of the Bludgeon Brothers is ending anytime soon. It will extend until Summerslam, so expect Haprer and Rowan to defeat the Usos this Friday in Jeddah, and then to soon move into a team-on-team feud with New Day, without the Usos being involved this time.
Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers