For what feels like decades now, the tag team divisions within the WWE have been overshadowed. As we all know, there is a tendency within the company to break up natural tag teams; instead cramming the division with makeshift, unnatural teams. We’ve seen this for years now. Cryme Tyme (JTG and the late Shad Gaspard), Big Cass and Enzo Amore, the Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil), American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable) and Heavy Machinery (Otis and Tucker) are just a few examples of natural teams who were broken up prematurely to free up space for makeshift teams. The Usos (Jimmy and Jey) are one of the few exceptions; a tag team which has survived a decade without unnecessary breakup. More on them shortly.
Natural tag teams, that have spent years developing together as a concise unit, get replaced with the likes of the makeshift teams of JeriShow (Big Show and Chris Jericho), ShowMiz (Big Show and The Miz), Rated RKO (Edge and Randy Orton), John Cena and Batista and the more recent example of Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler. Midcard and main event level talent effectively using the tag divisions to further their own individual feuds. Eventually, the makeshift teams also break up, to further their stories – leaving behind a gutted, empty tag team division which lacks fan interest; a result of the poor booking of the remaining teams, who were defeated regularly by the makeshift occupiers of the division. Present-day SmackDown is trying to change that.
— WWE (@WWE) May 22, 2021
Fresh Hope on SmackDown
It is notoriously difficult to become invested in WWE’s tag team wrestling. As soon as you begin to relate to a team, a premature breakup strikes them down. Then the division is left a directionless, derelict state until the next sorry attempt to build something new. The current SmackDown tag team division, though far from perfect, appears to be bucking the trend. Yes, the makeshift Dirty Dawgs (Roode and Ziggler) are one of the prominently featured teams, but there is still much to be excited about. That’s not to knock the Dirty Dawgs, either, as both men are terrific performers. The development of Dominik Mysterio as one-half of The Mysterios (with father, Rey Mysterio) has been something fresh. The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) are a natural team with plenty to offer. Alpha Academy (Otis and Chad Gable), though an unnatural team made up of two tag team competitors taken away from natural teams, have the talent to work. Then there is, of course, The Usos; an undoubted, potential claimant to the title of “all-time great tag team”.
It is the story of The Usos, as part of the larger Roman Reigns story, which has led to the tag team division becoming more prominently featured. Jey, the converted Uso, has become a core part of the show – having been Roman Reigns’ right-hand man for the past few months, whilst his twin remained on the sidelines. With the prodigal son having returned in the form of Jimmy, who is increasingly rebellious towards Roman and hoping to bring Jey back to the light, the story has become potentially heated. This is, of course, going to spill out into the tag team division. After all, on last night’s SmackDown (May 28), the reunited Usos overcame the Street Profits to earn a shot against The Mysterios for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. Roman is unhappy, as he had been trying to break up The Usos – fearing losing his right-hand man to the influence of his brother. Jey is conflicted, torn between allegiances to his cousin-turned-Tribal-Chief, Roman Reigns, and his returning brother, Jimmy Uso. Jimmy himself is typically buoyant with the chance to reclaim not only the SmackDown Tag Team titles, but his brother, too. It is a story increasingly Shakespearean in nature.
The Usos Are An Opportunity To Bring Eyes To the Division
As mentioned, the SmackDown tag team division is imperfect. However, renewed focus in the division could be what it needs to finally get going. In recent weeks, we have seen the Intercontinental and Women’s Championships both featured in the main event of SmackDown. There is a conscious effort being made by the blue brand’s creative to feature other titles and talents outside of the typical main event feuds. This week saw The Usos both open and close the show, which is a good start towards developing the division further. If they can take this further and use the current interest in the Roman Reigns/Usos arc to bring fresh eyes to the tag team division, this would be strategically sound booking. Whoever works with the Usos right now, and the Mysterios appear to be next in line, is going to gain from involvement in the hottest angle in pro wrestling right now. Roman is a despot; he rules over SmackDown with an iron fist. He seemingly controls the brand. Weeks before Apollo Crews turned heel and eventually became Intercontinental Champion, he was shown backstage – where he was receiving advice from the Tribal Chief. Roman now has an opportunity to also control the tag team division with a puppet champions.
Whether they win the SmackDown Tag Team Championships or lose to the Mysterios, the Usos’ involvement, right now, is great for the division on SmackDown. The division which, perhaps, requires the most attention from creative. Not only are they capable of bringing something extra to the division with their current fan-interest, but they are also two of the best workers in the WWE today and, undoubtedly, the best tag team when at the top of their game. The SmackDown tag team division needs The Usos – the natural tag team with all the tools necessary to provide it with the boost it needs to succeed on a largely enjoyable SmackDown show. Jimmy and Jey adding to a division which already includes the Mysterios (a still developing tag team) and the Street Profits – a team with plenty of potential is a good start. Maybe it is impossible for a perfect tag team division to exist in current day WWE. However, the best they can do is try – and SmackDown appears to be.
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