The Ascension were the most dominant team in NXT history. Konnor and Viktor held the brand’s tag team titles for a record 364 days before dropping the belts in 2014.
During their run, the duo was booked as an unstoppable force, which included squash matches against local wrestlers. The duo’s first major title defense came against Too Cool during TakeOver: Arrival, which saw the veteran team give the NXT champions the proverbial rub.
After their lengthy run as NXT’s best team, Konnor and Viktor debuted on Raw in December 2014. But instead of being booked as a new, credible heel team, The Ascension cut promos favorably comparing themselves to The Powers of Pain, The Road Warriors and Demolition.
It wasn’t enough that their facepaint and ring attire already drew comparisons to the legendary teams. WWE decided to make them the new guys who had “no respect for the past.” Almost immediately, they were labeled as rip offs or a poor man’s version of the aforementioned duos.
But the biggest burial of all came in a segment involving many of the stars of Attitude Era. New World Order members Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and X-Pac (who was Syxx in nWo, for the record) cut a promo plugging the WWE Network. The Ascension interrupted as part of their “disrespecting legends” gimmick.
This didn’t sit well with fellow ’90s star JBL, who despite being a heel commentator, joined teammate Ron Simmons, the nWo and the New Age Outlaws in the 7-on-1 burial seen below.
Brutal. That was less than a month after The Ascension’s debut on the main roster. So after a few meaningless wins and promos, the duo was already booked as a joke. I’m not saying that any of the legends were obligated to put Konnor and Viktor over like Too Cool did, but that the segment shouldn’t have happened at all.
The Ascension never truly recovered from its early burial. When they were on Raw or SmackDown, they usually lost. If they did win, it was in meaningless matches on Main Event or Superstars, which never really led to anything of significance.
Their most notable storyline involved being Stardust’s henchmen as part of the short-lived faction “Cosmic Wasteland.” You know, the same gimmick that drove Cody Rhodes to leave WWE and pursue ventures in the indies and TNA.
But Tuesday’s episode of SmackDown provided a glimmer of hope. The Ascension, which has since undergone tweaks to its appearance, watched on during the match between The Hype Bros and The Vaudevillains.
It doesn’t necessarily mean anything, all they did was stand there and watch the match menacingly. But at least they’re doing something instead of losing squash matches or appearing in preshow tapings.
Perhaps WWE has plans to actually use The Ascension as a credible tag team. We’ve seen recently that any team is capable of getting rebooked favorably on SmackDown. It just seems like anyone is capable of looking more credible with more on-screen time.
Who could have imagined Heath Slater would be a Tag Team Champion or that Jack Swagger would be in a notable feud prior to the WWE Draft? Anything is possible at this point, especially in the tag team division.
Slater and Rhyno have emerged as champions after having been aligned for less than three months. The Usos suddenly have a fresh gimmick after undergoing a heel turn. The division is pretty much wide open for anyone to have a big push.
However, after nearly two years of being treated like jobbers, Konnor and Viktor will need more than a few wins to look credible in fans’ eyes, which doesn’t seem likely. If anything, WWE may just be building them as a heel opponent to feed to The Hype Bros, rather than giving them a legitimate push.
Either way, there is a small chance that The Ascension overcomes poor booking and becomes a relevant heel team on SmackDown. But WWE will have to back the duo, rather than give it the same treatment it has for the past two years. It’s not too late for The Ascension to ascend, but it won’t be an immediate process.