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By Drew Kannegiesser

Tag Teams.

*vomits loudly into my lap*

Sorry. I think we all can agree on that one. Modern tag team wrestling fucking blows...not Kelly Kelly keeping her job blows, not oh-shit-Benoit-merc'd-his-handicapped-son blows, not thinking-of-Big-Daddy-V-during-sex blows, but just straight up blows. Either they suck, get pushed and then break up, a la Deuce and Domino and Cade and Murdoch (more in a moment on them) get over, get buried, and break up, a la London and Kendrick and probably Jesse and Festus, or they break up, then feud, a la the Hardy Boys v.1, Kane and Big Show, The Mega Powers, The Rockers, The Gangstas, Edge and Christian, Owen and Yoko (Yoko gets blamed for this breakup too), and pretty much every tag team since Stanislaus Zybysko was in short pants.

The problems are numerous, but one obvious culprit seems to be stale booking. Honestly, you could write this shit as a choose your own adventure, only its far more boring, and you can't flip to the cool parts right away. It makes little sense, especially considering that the only tag teams we remember in history got over BECAUSE THEY STAYED TOGETHER LONG ENOUGH TO GET OVER.

Ever since Batista and Mysterio took the belts from MNM for two weeks (prior to Mark Henry's interference botch in the rematch, proof that silverbacks, like all gorillas and monkeys, have difficulty with cages), there have been a slew of awkward tag matchups: Edge and Orton, Flair and Piper, HBK and Cena, (initially) Morrison and Miz, and Holly and Rhodes all come to mind. Morrison and Miz have since redeemed themselves by improving exponentially on the mic and in the ring. If only they turned the "fag" knob down on their wardrobes. Turning the fag knob down helped Edge's career, and he's had more reigns than JBL too.

TNA is just as guilty, having an ENTIRE FUCKING TOURNAMENT devoted to bizarre matchups. Not surprisingly, the finals were LAX vs. 3D - two of the only ACTUAL tag teams in the tourney. ROH isn't so bad, as their booking is usually a bit more future-oriented (not like Max Moon). While I don't like the Briscoes, and think their style is just high spots and burying potential stars, they demonstrate how tag team psychology, the interaction between partners, should be done. Actual brothers, Mark and Jay have such synergy that when one gets Ricky Mortoned, the other looks like he's genuinely concerned, as opposed to just standing there clapping his hands. It's the little things that make the difference (not like Max Mini).

Which is why Night of Champions made good calls in both their tag matches. I love Finlay, but Morrison and Miz have momentum, and must make the most of the moment, and you should always avoid alliteration as well. Plus, if we learned anything from the recently-defunct but chronically-meaningless Cruiserweight belt, it's that putting the belt on a midget may not be the best idea in the world. Suspenders are fine. I mean, the dude needs to keep his pants up somehow. Hell hath no fury like midget balls.

Ditto for the DiBiase-Rhodes turn. While everyone knew it was coming, it was the best way to do the angle, I think. Holly can retire now, having his last title run for all the ass kissing and kicking he did over the years, and Rhodes and DiBiase have the chance to push young talent and make a name for themselves. However, I'm a little worried about putting the belt on a dude who wrestled about two minutes of a match. Even Goldberg had to do that about fifty times before they booked him over Raven. However, having not seen DiBiase really wrestle, maybe the DubDubEe knows something we don't. Obviously they have enough faith to practically give him a title. Maybe they felt bad about refusing his dad's attempt to buy it.

Anywho, when all is said and done, do any current tag teams really stand out in the same realm as the APA, Edge and Christian, vintage Hardy Boyz, The Hart Foundation, or even the Nasty Boys? When Jerry Sags is more historically important than you, you know your career was a total fucking waste of time, which I fear short-term tag team psychology is going to turn each match into.

TNA : Totally Not Aware

Okay, I'm not gonna lie. I rip on TNA a lot, but I used to like it better than the dub, and for a reason: much more focus on wrestling than storylines. And when your roster contains a who's who of the indy world, that's a pretty good thing. And as much as I hate to admit it now, I used to think that someday, but someday within the next decade, TNA could overtake the stagnant and bloated heavyweight of the WWE. Two, maybe three years ago, I think you could respect almost every single wrestler in the fed as a solid worker. Of course, this discounts Apollo (aka Aportion), Scott Steiner, and multiple forms of Dustin Rhodes. I feel bad for the guy. Apparently he can't afford therapy, and has to wrestle his demons out in a literal sense. Why would one's evil personality manifest in the form of a wrestler? Is he evil, but bound to the rules of the squared circle? What if everybody's schizophrenia forced them to split their workrate in half and charisma in quarters? Think of how many gimmicks Sybil would have; Chris Daniels ain't got shit on that.

But I had hope. Yeah, they had some pretty awful ideas at first (the weekly pay-per-views, for instance, where even they had no clue what was going on behind the scenes), but so did the WWE. Look at their mid-80s VHS catalogue, where you can find such classics as Repo Man vs. Razor Ramon, followed by hahathatsnotfunny sketches featuring Al Hayes playing golf. It makes you wonder how the federation managed to stay afloat. Look at today's product, and it's not so much better. Only now, we get Cena-JBL in another streetfight and sketches with Eugene. Ah, Eugene. Yet another guy who was given the pure wrestler gimmick, then was switched to a crazy retard with even worse hair than Angle. I honestly think that Eugene was the manifestation of McMahon and company's view of the average fan. He even marked out for Kamala, for fuck's sake. Who marks out for Kamala? But pushing him as a sympathetic heroic face always felt like they were saying "Cheer the retard! He's just like you!" That said, he got to wear Angle's medals, and from the real Olympics, no less. Name one Down's case who can say that.

But back to Down's cases, TNA has begun imploding as of late. While Jarrett's nepotism isn't quite as bad as it's made out to be, despite his attempts to emulate a certain Jean-Paul Leveque. Maybe he thought that booking himself as champ, threatening refs to get his title back, relying on a foreign object of little practical value, possessing the most devestating finisher in the business, and having a stupid moustache would lead to a similar amount of success. I think the real problem arose when TNA started picking up so many ex-WWE and especially WCW castoffs. Scott Steiner got pushed, 3D got pushed, Angle got pushed, Morgan gets pushed (despite winning like one fucking match since his debut. Can anyone book this guy right?), and even the 43 year old Booker T gets pushed. Not only does it suggest that the "superstars" from the other leagues can outwrestle their homegrown talent ad nauseum, but it also prevents TNA from having a distinct roster image. Guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Chris Daniels, and the MCMG, LAX, or TRARI (Jesus, does every team need an acronym?) haven't really received much exposure compared to the WWE lockers (especially if JBL is around), so they are recognized as distinctly TNA wrestlers. Of course, the smarks know them from ROH and PWG, which is good for business as well; smark culture is growing, and TNA has done right by signing a lot of solid independent talent. I tune in to TNA because it`s the only place I can watch Low-Ki, Doug Williams or Samoa Joe wrestle. More importantly, until ROH got the pay-per-view deal, TNA used a talent sharing system similar to the mid-90s WWE, which allowed the guys not being used to work in other feds and do whatever crazy shit they wanted. These are the guys that represent TNA.

So the talent is there, and the fan interest is there, but the booking has run everything into the ground. Rather than push the young guys they have and get them over on ability alone, Russo and his minions have created a product that eerily resembles the final year of WCW, and not in a good way. It makes one wonder how long before their revenue does the same. The wrong guys get pushed, the announcers babble about storylines, and crazy swerves and tag team feuds happen every ten minutes. They need to realize that trying to copy the other guys will only maintain their status as the small time. It`s like being in high school with a ten year old brother always tugging at your sleeve for attention. But lightning doesn`t strike twice, and what may have worked five years ago doesn`t really mean anything today. The business evolves pretty quickly. Look at XPW, which I think is the wrestling analogue of the XFL. Honestly, between those two, X-Pac, and the S.E.X. stable, X names in wrestling seem to be cursed.

But this is the time when TNA needs to choose whether it wants to become a distinct, young and energized federation, or a nonsensical mishmash of guys who failed drug tests. I don`t know why Andrew Martin didn`t use that name in TNA. Wasn`t it appropriate? If they choose the former, they establish themselves as an original product, and by focusing on why it's DIFFERENT, they can establish a broader fan base. They will truly be an alternative to the WWE, not just a watered down version of the same thing. At that point, they simply need to hold steady and watch the WWE get worse. The product has been allowed to slip because of the lack of serious competition. If TNA gets serious, then maybe they have a chance of survival. If they choose the latter, then all TNA will become is a cautionary example, how bad booking is all it takes to fuck up a good thing.

But think about it. TNA is owned by Panda Energy. WWE is not the WWF anymore because of the World Wildlife Fund...whose mascot is a Panda. I know I said lightning doesn't strike twice, but maybe energy does.


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November 2006


by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).