SuperBrawl ’98. Scott Steiner turns on his brother Rick, delivering a double axe handle to his back while in the middle of their trademark pose, and joins the nWo. It was the first time (of many) that I swore off watching professional wrestling. Today, over a decade later, it’s still a sore point for me. Why would you break up the Steiner Brothers, one of the most solid tag teams to exist in WCW at the time? Why spoil such a good thing?
Today, that question is more pertinent than ever. What happened to tag teams? Why, when a company has a team that works, must they be split? Tag team wrestling is a legitimate career path, why does the endgame always seem to be to establish guys as singles competitors? The members of the Legion of Doom wrestled their entire careers as parts of a tag team, and this year they’re heavily speculated to be inducted into the Hall of Fame for it. Teams like the Black Jacks and the Wild Samoans are already there. So I repeat, why spoil a good thing? Why, today, is it unacceptable for a wrestler to primarily be a tag team competitor?
In the glory days, tag teams were just as important as singles wrestling. Teams like Demolition, The Hart Foundation, and Money Inc. made the Tag Team Titles every bit as important as the World Championship. Since then teams like the New Age Outlaws, The Acolytes, and London & Kendrick have carried on that fine tradition. At some point, however, it became evident that WWE looked at tag team wrestling as an afterthought. Instead of the tag team titles being the primary goal of a tag team, becoming successful singles stars took precedence.
Sure, there had always been tag teams that weren’t true tag teams, partners that that were thrown together to enhance storylines outside the tag team division. Pairings like Steve Austin & Dude Love or The 1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly come to mind. But these teams were the exception. Today, they’re the rule. We no longer have legitimate tag teams in wrestling. Occasionally, one will spring up, but it’s usually disbanded before it has a chance to get off the ground. Take a quick look over WWE’s current roster and you’ll find that The Corre and The Usos are the only tag teams on it, unless you include Santino & Kozlov, although for me they fall more into the category or two singles wrestlers with nothing else to do right now.
The problem isn’t exclusive to WWE, either. TNA, who once prided themselves on their tag team division, has begun the practice of splitting their tag teams in hopes of converting members into successful single stars. It’s been months since the Motor City Machine Guns have been on TV. At Victory Road, the seeds were planted for a Generation Me breakup. I have to question, WHY? Generation Me, the Young Bucks, whatever you want to call them, are a fantastic tag team! Do you really see Max or Jeremy Buck as equally fantastic singles wrestlers? If one of them takes on Kazarian for the X-Division Title, can you see them winning it? Moreover, if they did, could you buy into a serious championship reign for either one of them? The split is ridiculous. Also at Victory Road, a breakup of Ink Inc. was teased. Again, why separate guys whose chemistry is so good? Shannon Moore & Jesse Neal are a legitimate tag team in a world that lacks legitimate tag teams. I have no desire to watch either one launch a singles career. Where’s the reason in this split?
Personally, I blame Edge & Christian. Tag team wrestlers had transitioned into successful singles stars before them – look at Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels. But Edge & Christian were the first duo to split and have both members of the team establish themselves as top-tier singles talents. Now, as a result of their unprecedented success, it seems like wrestling promotions seem to believe that this kind of transition into singles stardom is possible for all tag teams. It’s not. Guys like Rene Dupree & Silvain Grenier, guys like Grandmaster Sexay & Scotty 2 Hotty – they’re tag team wrestlers. That’s it. For every Edge & Christian, there’s a La Resistance & Too Cool. For ever Shawn Michaels, there’s a Marty Jannetty, for every Bret Hart, a Jim the Anvil. It’s just the way it is.
I understand wanting to give guys their chance to show what they can do, and that’s swell. I support the recent Team 3D breakup, those guys did everything that could be done as a tag team. And sometimes, as in the case with Miz and Morrison, both guys were clearly ready to step into their own spotlight. But teams like Inc Ink and the Hart Dynasty? They weren’t even given the chance to establish themselves. So again, I ask you, why? Why is it that tag team wrestling takes a backseat to singles competition?
Oh well, at least we’ve still got the Kings of Wrestling…