Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - The Tag Team scene is pretty exciting, but can it last? Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan have the match they should have had in September and October, and more!
By Will Pruett
One of the biggest messages coming out of this week's Raw is about the resurgence of the tag division. It makes a lot of sense, when one World Championship is being eliminated, that other titles would gain some competitors. WWE is making a real effort to rebuild the tag division and it's exciting to see. I want to look at the new (and not so new) teams and figure out if WWE can keep this up.
At the helm of this new division are Goldust and Cody Rhodes. This team is out performing any of the expectations I had for it. Honestly, when I see them scheduled for a match, I know the match will be exciting. Goldust is (almost inexplicably) the workhorse of this team (and one of the best workers on the WWE roster). Cody is gaining a character closer to his real personality (not dependent on a diabolical mask or a mirror). The division is helping Goldust and Cody as much as the Rhodes are helping it.
Beneath them, on the babyface side, are a few teams comprised of singles stars teaming together. Rey Mysterio and Big Show (who fought the Rhodes on this show) are a team trying to hide a few things. With Show, they're trying to hide how bad his push and story have been over the last four months. With Mysterio, they're trying to hide the brokenness of his knees. Tag teams are good in this way. They can make two wrestlers relevant, even without the best support.
Big E Langston and Mark Henry are the other babyface team ascending the ranks. Big E can use this experience and the little bit of rub Henry gives. Henry, who is often injured, is kind of in Mysterio's role. The tag team keeps him from having to do too much. I'm not sure I love this team together, but I want to see them play out before making a real judgement.
Ryback and Curtis Axel (AxelBack) are one of the few heels teams in WWE. They become far more valuable than they should be based on this. They don't fit together perfectly and the team feels like a made up story after Paul Heyman cast them away. They should be protected, just by virtue of being decent heels, but this is a team in need of a mouthpiece.
There are also quite a few established teams hanging out in the division. The Uso's, some combination of The Shield, The Wyatt's Harper and Rowan, The Primetime Players, The Real Americans, and Los Matadores were already hanging out in the tag scene. These teams are a nice anchor when other teams comprised of singles stars are coming in. They aren't all going to shock the world with greatness, but they offer solid support.
I'm looking toward The Real Americans to break out in this division in the near future. They may have the best wrestling talent and, with Swagger, Colter, and Cesaro, they have become a kind of cult favorite. This act when from compelling, to stale, to now, more compelling than ever. Good for them.
Can this continue? I'm not sure. WWE doesn't usually support the tag division for long stretches of time, but they haven't supported the division at this level in many years. The mix of teams trying to gains the Tag Team Championship right now is a delightful blend of established and new talent. It's also a nice blend of characters. Give the challengers and champions some promo time, and WWE could actually main event a TV show or two with the tag division. It's strong. It can continue. WWE just has to write for them the way they write for main eventers.
And one for some random thoughts:
- Does the entire roster have to gather onstage to celebrate every Randy Orton championship win? You'd think he'd get tired of seeing everyone.
- Orton may be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but he still cannot deliver a compelling promo. I wish he could.
- I enjoyed the John Cena interruption of Randy Orton right up until Cena had to start speaking up for Daniel Bryan. Bryan is more than capable on the mic. Why is he being slotted into the mute little buddy role to John Cena instead of being able to hold his own? WWE continues to mystify me with how they script Bryan to act. Apparently he doesn't get angry and never talks.
- Triple H and Stephanie once again left a segment with Randy Orton by putting all the heat on themselves. Orton looks like a pawn for them instead of a devious champion. Why do authority figures need more heat than the people actually wrestling? Who does this help?
- Want to know now I knew Goldust and Cody Rhodes vs. Mysterio and Big Show would be good? Goldust and Cody were involved. They haven't had a bad match yet.
- Good Santa vs. Bad Santa next week? Looks like I won't be writing a Pause about Christmas Raw.
- Bad News Barrett is the worst news.
- Although it comes off as silly WWE posturing, I like the idea of the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion having double the competition. He kind of does, in a weird way.
- Ziggler and Fandango seem to be this month's holding pattern until one of them challenges Big E Langston or becomes Santa.
- I was depressed by the lack of a Cesaro Swing on Mark Henry. I know he'll be dizzy for a week afterwards, but this needs to happen.
- A.J. Lee is a heel. I didn't know this before, but she's with Bad Santa. Can we get this kind of clarification on every character?
- Why was Tensai teaming with Brodus Clay after kind of breaking up with him at TLC?
- The most absurd moment of Raw was R-Truth asking the Funkadactyls to dance with him. Is the sole purpose of their character to dance? Do they have any other motivations other than wanting to dance? Are Cameron and Naomi actual people? I'm not sure about any of these things after this show.
- Tensai should turn heel on the Funkadactyls, since they ditched him to dance.
- The C.M. Punk and Shawn Michaels promo started out brilliantly. Both men playing with the crowds chants made me smile. The chemistry between them made me smile. It worked.
- What didn't work between Punk and Michaels was the lack of a resolution to their segment. It just kind of stopped and hung there. There was no moment where the two men made an important point. Shawn Michaels doesn't seem at all engaged by his current direction in WWE.
- I'm enjoying the teases of a Shield breakup, which are normally followed by a coherent team performance. Rollins, Ambrose, and Reigns are amazing together. Let's hope they last until (at least) WrestleMania to have a six man clash with The Wyatt Family.
- Look at C.M. Punk and The Uso's greeting each other before their match. Rarely to wrestlers actually seem this cool. It's hard to explain what the "cool factor" in wrestling is, but these two acts comprised of three guys have it.
- Bray Wyatt's promos about Daniel Bryan are great. I love the big screen approach. Hopefully a good story comes from the great individual effort.
- WWE's announcers need personal pop culture coaches, who will update them on current trends and proper pronunciation of said trends. JBL making a Harry Potter reference he didn't understand, then not knowing Will Ferrell's name was embarrassing for everyone.
- Renee Young is awesome. That's all.
- How is it that Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton couldn't have a match as good as this one on one of the three pay-per-views they wrestled on? Where was this spirit and story for the last four months? This match was excellent.
- Daniel Bryan's character connects so organically in the ring. Why is WWE afraid of letting him do so on the mic. People will support him. Fans love him already. Bryan is talented enough to cut a WWE-style promo.
- John Cena kind of deserved the RKO he got for coming down to the ring. He didn't need to do so,
- Is the endgame at Royal Rumble a triple threat between Cena, Orton, and Bryan? I could get behind this. Bryan could be the glue that holds together the awkward Cena and Orton matchup.
This week's Raw was decently compelling. I'm not expecting much more than a holding pattern for the next couple of weeks with the holidays. WWE has a long time to build towards the Rumble. They're putting the pieces together to have a few nice things happening, so it's hard to dislike this week's Raw.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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