The SmackDown tag team division continues to impress, and while last Tuesday’s showing from the tag team division gave us one of the drastically overused eight-man slugfests deployed solely to give talents something to do, it did a tremendous job of continuing the feud between The Usos and American Alpha — which is currently one of the best feuds on TV right now.
One of the teams that is somewhat suffering, however, is the team of Health Slater and Rhyno.
The pair rarely dominate in matches, and in spite of his success, Heath Slater is still being portrayed as something of a bumbling hick. In matches where “Beauty and the Man-Beast” are victories, it usually falls to Rhyno to swiftly intervene and pick up a sudden victory after an extended beat down on Heath Slater.
Now, Slater and Rhyno are “feel-good” and charismatic enough to be over with the fans without a lack of victories necessarily impacting on their popularity, but it doesn’t do much for the legitimacy of their tag team title reign. One of the many criticisms levied at Rey Mysterio’s ill fated run as World Heavyweight Champion was the fact that he suffered a string of fairly decisive losses in non-title matches, and Slater and Rhyno are gradually beginning to look more and more like placeholders before the rejuvenated Uso brothers sweep in at No Mercy and swipe the titles.
While a victory and title run for The Usos would make logical booking sense, they don’t actually have to pick up the titles from Slater and Rhyno to continue their trajectory. The booking of this team on SmackDown is strong enough right now that whichever way that match goes, the follow-up is going to be compelling.
If anything, having them lose to Slater and Rhyno could make for a more exciting promo.
Look at it this way: If The Usos pick up the championship from Slater and Rhyno, then the bereaved former champions are going to be the first in line to start pursuing Jimmy and Jay for a rematch.
If American Alpha, who have a strong personal beef with The Usos right now, enter into the fray, then either AA or “Beauty and the Man-Beast” are going to be third-wheeling the rivalry something rotten. If they don’t, then it is going to needlessly put the brakes on one of the most old-school, classic tag-team feuds going on right now.
The WWE has a lot of options on the table, but whatever it does, it needs to allow for Slater and Rhyno to pick up some impressive victories in some well-worked tag team matches. WWE often either has strong back-and-forth matches with no emotional investment, or puts on throwaway, poorly worked matches which coast solely on the personalities involved. That latter is happening here, and if their string of losses (or rather, Heath Slater’s clumsiness and propensity for being the guy who always gets pinned) continues, then it is only going to cheapen whichever dead-cert feud creative tries to pursue.
You can have a strong slugfest between Slater and Rhyno and The Usos which could genuinely go either way, only for the Samoans to have victory snatched away by outside interference, a match that could go either way with Slater and Rhyno winning cleanly, or a completely obvious match which makes the tag team champions look so weak that a shenanigan-laden finish is completely predictable. It falls to WWE to book Rhyno and Heath strongly to prevent the latter.