WWE fans have been clamoring for the revitalization of a tag team division for months, if not years, and their wish finally seems to be coming true.
Granted, these plans may have been in place long before the Team Hell No situation became an overnight success, but either way, that is the moment fans will look to as the turning point.
On tonight's Smackdown, an eight-team tournament to crown number-one contenders to Team Hell No's championship began. This just shows how much depth that can be to this division, as very few of these teams are random pairings rather than guys who have recently been presented as duos.
Kingston and R-Truth, The Usos, Primo and Epico, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara, the Prime Time Players, Santino Marella and Zack Ryder, Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel and the newly christened Rhodes Scholars all started the night with hopes of advancing for a shot at tag team gold.
It seems this tournament may play out over the next few weeks, as only one first round match - Rhodes Scholars vs. The Usos - happened tonight.
That match was a little too short to be overly effective. The Usos pretty much dominated the contest, but Rhodes and Sandow worked an Ivy League strategy and capitalized on an open opportunity to capture the victory.
A tag team tournament is a great way to re-emphasize the importance of tag team wrestling in WWE. While it's unfortunate to see a legitimate tag team like the Usos, who have been underutilized for the longest time, go out in the first round, Rhodes Scholars have to be the front-runners to win the whole thing.
Hopefully WWE views this new project as successful and continues to emphasize the tag team division. With the addition of "Main Event" to the lineup, there is plenty of television time each week and no excuse not to give multiple tag teams ongoing storylines simultaneously.
WWE seems to be finally giving into the fans' demands for a stronger tag team division, and that's a great thing.
Maybe they can do something with the divas next.
• Big Show is set to feud with World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus, while it appears Alberto Del Rio might be moving onto a program with Randy Orton. Del Rio attacked Orton before his number-one contender's match with Big Show, and ultimately, it cost Orton his opportunity at another world title reign in a pretty decent match. Big Show capitalized on Orton's weakened state and earned a championship match at Hell in a Cell. On the one hand, it's refreshing to see Sheamus get a new challenger, but on the other, Big Show doesn't seem like the ideal man for the job. The mindset is probably that after a grueling Hell in a Cell match with a giant, Sheamus will be prone for Dolph Ziggler to cash in Money in the Bank. As for a Del Rio vs. Sheamus rivalry, I'm not sure what to expect. Both men have their detractors, but they're also both proficient at telling a story in the ring. Only time will tell.
• Amidst rumors and speculation that Beth Phoenix is done with WWE, she had a strong divas match with real-life friend Natalya. This had to be the best divas match on WWE programming in a long time, and it makes you wonder why WWE waited so long to pull to the trigger on this. They could have done much better with more time, too. Post-match, Eve suspended Phoenix while the attack on Kaitlyn is investigated, but Booker T overturned the decision, mucking up the situation even further, as well as planting seeds of tension between the general manager and his advisor, Teddy Long. Hopefully if Phoenix is gone, it's a temporary leave of absence and not a permanent one. Her departure will certainly leave a void in the locker room.
• Miz TV once again got a little rough. This time, Sheamus came out and jawjacked with The Miz before Dolph Ziggler came out and brawled with Sheamus. That's another rivalry that seems to be never-ending. If Ziggler doesn't cash in the Money in the Bank contract while Sheamus is champ - win or lose - all of this will have been for naught. The Miz is gold on the mic, and it would be nice to see him re-ascending the card rather than being used for transitional segments like this that build other stories.
• Antonio Cesaro needs to put Marella in his rearview mirror. The United States Champion needs a new opponent, as it seems Marella is the only person he's faced since he won the title. Their match tonight wasn't bad, but it just feels we've seen it all before. Marella gets a few lucky spots of offense but gets put down in the end. Let's hope bigger things are now in Cesaro's future.
• Wade Barrett continued to roll over midcard competitors, as he took out Ryder with relative ease. It doesn't exactly make the team of Ryder and Marella look strong in the tag title tournament when they both got killed on Raw, but at least WWE is making Barrett look like a beast. He should be in a higher spot than he is on the card already, as he's looked great since returning.
• A victory over Tensai, especially one that ended with Ryback lifting Tensai and slamming him, makes Ryback look stronger than he has yet, but in the first match where he should have had the opportunity to sell, he just basically brushed everything off. The character is so one-dimensional and apparently impervious to pain it's not even funny.
Antonio Cesaro d. Santino Marella Beth Phoenix d. Natalya Wade Barrett d. Zack Ryder Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow d. The Usos Ryback d. Tensai Big Show d. Randy Orton
This was a solid episode of Smackdown, as it advanced several stories and set the stages for others. It would be nice to see the tag team tournament play out mostly on Smackdown to bring some attention to the blue brand. There really isn't much to say about this episode that hasn't already been covered. It was a strong effort from WWE.
Ring Posts' Adam Testa has teamed up with My 1-2-3 Cents (www.my123cents.com) and All American Pro Wrestling (www.aapwrestling.com) to bring you From the Rafters Radio,(www.facebook.com/RaftersRadio) a weekly pro wrestling talk radio show airing from 8-10 EST every Thursday on Monster Radio 1150 AM in Southern Illinois and streaming worldwide on wggh.net (www.wggh.net).