Would it have seemed feasible, just a couple of months ago, to anticipate that SmackDown would see its tag team division rise head and shoulders above its Raw equivalent?
Don’t be mistaken — SmackDown’s division is far from perfect. Two of its tag teams are complete jokes, and its inaugural champions are feel-good and popular but haven’t shown much in the ring, and are expected to be nothing more than placeholders.
But the storytelling has been solid.
Raw, on the other hand, has struggled. Being dealt a much greater hand from the start — immediately snatching up The Club, The New Day and Enzo & Cass — it was assumed that its division would hit the ground running. It did, but now, sadly, have ground to a halt.
Is it safe to say that The New Day are beginning to grow incredibly stale? Listen closely to the pops that they get week by week, and you’ll notice that they’re starting to get quieter. This isn’t so much to do with their abilities as it is to do that they are, believe it or not, still feuding with The Club.
Yes, Raw’s top contenders for the Tag Team Championship are Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, who kicked off the feud well by placing The New Day in some real danger, but have now been reduced to putting on insufferably unfunny skits and looking stupid. The “doctors” gimmick started out well, with the pair getting some real heat for mocking an injured Big E. But “The Old Day” sketch was woeful and veered too far away from the fine line between comedy and threat that The Club had hitherto trodden well.
Nothing is even made of the fact that The New Day have been champions for over a year now, and at a time where tag teams should look hungry and eager to put an end to their record, we are instead in a position where it is hard to even remember that the purveyors of positivity are actually Tag Team Champions.
Then there’s Enzo and Cass, who the WWE seem unable to know what to do with. After teasing a big singles push for Big Cass by putting him in a Fatal-4-Way match for No. 1 contendership for the Universal Championship, he’s been locked back into unity with Enzo Amore and bunged straight back down to the bottom of the card for a woeful feud with The Shining Stars.
More than anything else, this feud shows the current incompetence of Raw’s character building. Why in the hell are The Shining Stars heels? Because they’re from Puerto Rico, and they’re con men. What is Enzo and Cass’s beef with them? The Shining Stars sell timeshares, and Enzo and Cass don’t like con men. Or Puerto Rico. Or something.
As far as wrestling tag team feuds go, it’s up there with the Freebirds vs. the Von Erichs.
It’s not like every tag team feud has to culminate in 5-star matches, but a bit of storytelling that is intrinsically linked to wrestling wouldn’t go amiss. Whereas on SmackDown you’ve got two strong personalities in The Usos and American Alpha, who are amping up a very traditional heel versus face rivalry wonderfully well, Raw seems to be content to prop up its division with weak soap opera narratives and lame comedy skits. Neither gives us a reason to believe in a single tag team feud on Raw at the moment.