Truth or Consequences: Dodging the Draft

Holy crap – I’ve had a bumper crop of e-mails this week regarding my apparent attack on the current WWE tag team rosters last time. Let’s see what the loyal readership of Truth or Consequences had to say on the matter.

Matt Peters was the first one to respond, offering the following thoughts…

“I sincerely didn’t enjoy that article. You spent so much time declaring you weren’t a hater of tag action, your point went by the wayside. Also, I respect your opinion, but to say the tag titles are meaningless is disrespectful to those teams that put their careers on the line in the classic TLC matches. With the exception of Edge & Christian, no singles stars were born due to these events, just stories to tell the next day at work or school. Sure the Hardys never attracted as much attention as Stone Cold or the Rock, but it was their performances that made me watch all of Raw instead of just the last half-hour. In fact, when TNA is host to the all but set in stone Hardys reuinion, I’ll watch their show for the first time since its inception.

All I’m saying, Mr. Bufton, is give credit where credit is due. Tag matches may be stale right now, but there will be a resurgance when the right teams come along. Until then, I’ll enjoy some fine sports entertainment whilst I sip on a cold beverage.”

Thanks for the e-mail, Matt. Yeah, I suppose I did go on a bit about my affection for tag team wrestling – I just didn’t want to look like I was I was victimising tag teams…perhaps I went a bit overboard. As far as disrespecting the Dudleyz, the Hardyz or Edge and Christian, nothing could have been further from my mind. That I consider the tag belts to have no meaning does not detract in the any way from their collective efforts. That three-way tag feud was one of the highlights of 2000 and 2001, a period that was hardly lacking for intense moments anyway. I still maintain, however, that all of those ladder matches, cage matches, tables matches and, of course, the TLC extravaganzas, would have been just as much of a spectacle and just as enjoyable to watch even if there were no belts on the line.

However, to say that Edge and Christian were the only singles stars to be born out of that trifecta of tag teams is just not true. Matt and Jeff Hardy started gunning for singles titles, including Jeff’s shot at the Undertaker’s championship, and were eventually put on seperate brands, where each became a bona fide superstar in their own right. The same is true of D-Von and Bubba Ray Dudley, although their respective solo efforts weren’t quite up to expectations and they were soon reunited at Survivor Series 2002.

I do think you’re right when you say that tag team wrestling will see a resurgence. We’re already getting a hint of that with the introduction of MNM and the Heart Throbs and there may well be more on the way. That said, I still believe that these new tandems will be where the stars of tomorrow are born, rather than enduring entities in their own right. MNM, for instance, seem to have a ready-made feud almost built into their set up. Sexy female valet, who only has to start paying more attention to one member of the team and – BAM! – instant split.

My good friend, Andrew Lamb, took the time and effort to send me the following missive, decrying my choice of tag teams…

“Well Mr Bufton, tut tut…

You have managed to upset me – lol.

‘No Bulldogs…I’m afraid not. As fun as it is to watch those guys in action, I think it’s safe to say who’s carrying who in their matches.’

Yet Kane/RVD and the Steiners are in there??? Scott never carried Rick? RVD wasn’t lugging round 318lbs of monkey crap? Are you trying to tell me that the late great Davey couldn’t cut it when compared to Kane or the dog faced cretin? We know how frickin great El Kiddo Dynamitee…eee was but Davey was top drawer as well even after he bulked up, yeah his best matches were against Bret, Shawn etc but he was not the norm for a steroid monkey. He could actually go. Did Rick Steiner stand out from the crowd when he was forced to wrestle singles cos Scotty was injured in the early 90s? Hell no, WCW decided it was better to push Bill Kazmeir after a failed attempt to elevate gorilla boy. Rick Steiner sucked when he didn’t have the great Scotty with him. People wanted to see the Frankensteiner not that dickhead running round the ring in circles. And this is coming from a Steiner mark. You can’t compare them to the Bulldogs IMHO. And the RVD/Kane partnership god I laughed out loud at the thought of them being included ahead of The Bulldogs. It is not often I have to disagree with your good self over something but no bulldogs no way. PLUS 2 words…TOTAL ELIMINATION. RVD/Kane I am still laughing.

Next you will be telling me Ric Flair isn’t a bitch…

1. Bulldogs
2. Blonds
3. Steiners
4. Eliminators
5. Edge/Christian
6. Head Cheese (only joking…or am i?)

That is how I see it but as Dalton says to an afro’d Terry Funk in Roadhouse “opinions vary”.”

Ooh…touched a nerve there, have I? I suspected this e-mail might be on its way, since Andrew is a major Bulldogs mark. It’s worth pointing out that my top five list was only a sample of some of my favourite teams and wasn’t neccessarily an indication of in-ring prowess. I really enjoyed watching Kane and RVD in action and I felt that they complemented each other well during their matches – Kane helped to rein in RVD’s tendency for spottiness, whilst Rob helped to mask (small pun intended) Kane’s lack of variety in the ring. Looking back, there are several tag teams that I feel I should have included, among them the likes of the Fantastics, the Sheepherders, Tully Blanchard and Gino Hernandez and – yes – the British Bulldogs. That’s the problem with any kind of Top 5 list…you have a hard enough time pleasing yourself, never mind anyone else.

David Creighton kept his response short and sweet…

“I disagree with everything you said.

Keep up the good work.”

Thank you…and I will.

Jeff Oswald joined in the debate with the following…

“Nice e-mail address. Sorry, got off track immediately there…

Anyhow, to chime in on your theories on tag-teams, I believe that the reason some like to have teams that wear similar outfits or have a team name is to have some sort of a feeling that they might still be a tag team next week. What I mean is that in this day and age of wrestling there is little in the way of real continuity in storylines, or at least lasting storylines. My initial thought is that (creepy as they may be) MNM will be a team for at least the next couple of months, where as Bob Holly and Charlie Haas may well be in a bloodfeud by next week.

Also, the homosexual fans have to appreciate matching outfits.

OK, that was way out of line. I couldn’t help myself. Sorry if I offended you, again, I couldn’t resist. It is pro-wrestling.

Really enjoyed your column.”

Thanks Jeff – I see nothing in there for me to take offence at, by the way, so don’t worry. I can see what you mean about the matching outfits. I remember when Kidman and London started tagging prior to the whole ‘botched shooting star press’ incident and they came out in matching ring gear that honestly looked pretty damn sweet. It seemed to give the impression that, hey, these guys are more than just a tag team, they’re more than just good buds. Hell, they’re so close, they even go to the same tailor. Of course, Kidman f*cked up that sense of brotherhood once he nearly killed Chavo Guerrero Jr., but some things can’t be helped.

Justin Pelletier leaps to my defense…

“Hey Kevin I agree with a lot of your points the column. My favorite is that just because two men didn’t enter the fed together and don’t have identical persona’s doesn’t mean they aren’t a tag team. One of my favorite tag teams of all time are the New Age Outlaws and they were a thrown together team that stuck.

My biggest concern is that the WWE rushes through the tag teams too quickly. My perfect example is Kidman and London. What would have been wrong with letting the two of them tag for a long while (over a year, maybe as many as 3 or 4) and then do the break up. Tag break ups do make for good story lines but if the teams don’t have enough history then it isn’t as good.

The best tag break up in recent memory was the Rockers and they were together for YEARS before breaking up. That’s what made it so great.

I think if the WWE would commit to pushing teams, whether its an existing team that enters together or one that is thrown together, not only will it make the tag division better but it will lead to better singles match down the road.”

The New Age Outlaws – how could I forget? Now this I totally agree with…I’m all for tag teams being used as the first steps towards a successful singles career, but you’re there is no point in having one tag partner turn on the other without a decent amount of time beforehand to make the split mean something. You hit the nail on the head when you mentined the Rockers split and Shawn Michaels’ awesome heel turn on Marty Jannetty. When Greg Valentine and Luscious Johnny V walked out on Brutus Beefcake at WrestleMania III it meant something because the Dream Team had been tagging with one another for ages. Of course, in those days the WWF had the luxury of only having a handful of Pay-Per-Views to build towards every month, which meant that they could take their time developing such angles but, even now, it can still be done well – you only have to look at the Christian-Chris Jericho feud from last year to see that.

Lucas Rodriguez on the other hand, denies me my right to pick my No. 5 favourite tag team…

“How in the blue hell can you pick Kane and RVD as one of your favorite tag teams? That’s so beyond me. They’re the definition of makeshift crap tag team, and they completely and totally sucked. And that’s no opinion.

Thank you for jinxing Reigns.”

The whole point of my article was that all tag teams are makeshift – even ‘classic’ tag teams like the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express or the Midnight Express didn’t start tagging from the time they entered teh business. Robert Gibson was wrestling for 6 years and Ricky Morton for 4, before Jerry Lawler decided to thow them together as a brand new tag team. In other circumstances, they might only have survived six months but, as it panned out, they’re still a team over twenty years later and more power to them.

The Midnight Express are even more makeshift, having originally formed as a six-man tag team along the same lines as the Fabulous Freebirds (another team I should have included, particularly the Hayes-Gordy incarnation). They consisted of Randy Rose, Dennis Condrey and Norvell Austin, a trio who had over 20 years wrestling experience between them. The classic version of the Midnights was Condrey and Bobby Eaton, who was a ten year veteran when he joined the team. Throw in former Fabulous One, Stan Lane, to the mix and the ‘Original’ Midnight Express of Condrey and Rose who tagged in the AWA and you can see that even legendary tag teams are makeshift at heart.

It’s all a matter of perspective. If Kane and RVD had been tagging for five years or more, nobody would think they were makeshift – they would be considered veterans of the tag circuit, much as the Dudleyz are thought to be today.

Just a thought.

Jim Lamb gives me a history lesson on tag teams…

“Ok, here are some “thrown together” tag teams from way back.
1981 Ole and Gene Anderson had to vacate the NWA tag titles when Gene had to retire do to injury. The NWA set up a tournament to declare new champions. Tag teams came from all over the globe to compete, but the finals came down to the un-likely teams of Ole Anderson & Stan Hanson and Wahoo McDaniel & Don Muroco. Now, we all know that The Magnificent One had been a heel up until this point and every one wondered just how far the team would go. Of course, when the time came for the final show down, Muroco left Wahoo with-out a partner and Ole and Stan were awarded the titles by default. Later in 1982, Ole would turn on Stan thus vacating the titles once again. The next tournament was won by Sgt. Slaughter and Pvt. Kernodle.

I’ll not go into the WWF/E tag teams such as Tony Garea and (fill in the blank) or all of the “Connection” teams.”

Thanks for that, Jim. You’re right – if you trace the history of the WWF tag titles back to their roots, you’ll notice that almost all the champions were a nameless tag-team until the early and mid-eighties, when gimmicks were the be all and end all of professional wrestling. From the very firsy WWF Tag Team Champions (Luke Graham and Tarzan Tyler, fact fans) in 1971 to the US Express in 1985 there were only a handful of ‘distinct’ tag teams, such as the Executioners or the Moondogs, who ever held the titles. From 1985 onwards, it was a veritable parade of Hogan Era tag teams that we all remember by their collective names – the Dream Team, the Hart Foundation, the British Bulldogs, Strike Force, Demolition, Colossal Connection, Money, Inc. In fact, it wasn’t until 1994 that we would see an unnamed tag team raise the straps, in the unlikely form of Marty Jannetty and the 1-2-3 Kid.

The US Express is an interesting case in itself as they were simply billed as Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham, until shortly after the inaugural WrestleMania, when somebody must have decided that a catch-all title was far better suited to them. Once Windham had left the Federation for pastures new, it was so much easier just to change the team members than the team name, so US Express now consisted of Mike Rotundo and Dany Spivey.

Thanks, once again, to everyone who sent in their comments.

And now, onto the meat of this edition of Truth or Consequences.

Everybody seems to have been talking about two things over the last couple of weeks and months – the ECW Pay-Per-View and the impending Draft Lottery. I’m not going to say anything about the PPV, other than to mention just how excited I am to see it (and also that we get it for free here in the UK – WHOOO!) and that I hope Vince doesn’t f*ck it up like he did the Invasion.

The Draft Lottery, on the other hand, is a different prospect altogether. There’s nothing we wrestling columnists like better than to play booker and try to prove that we’re better than the whole of WWE Creative when it comes to deciding what’s good for the company. Admittedly, I fluffed it last time with my prediction of Luther Reigns as a main-eventer but hopefully I’ll be a bit closer to the mark with this one.

From Raw

Chris Jericho
Jericho is a phenomenal talent and, unlike many, I don’t think he’s being held down to any great degree. Think about it – he gets more screen time than over half the roster, is consistently involved in fresh and interesting feuds and can truly claim to be a Human Highlight Reel, whenever he steps into the ring. Jericho truly is one of those guys who doesn’t need a belt to either get over (which is fairly easy) or stay over (which is incalculaby more difficult). Having said that, if he wants to continue to have varied and interesting feuds, then he needs to square off against some new opponents. With some of his old heelish ways coming back to the fore, I think a feud with John Cena has rarely looked so inviting. If anyone can make the rookie champion look like a million bucks, then it’s Y2J and their verbal sparring should be second to none. Additionally, it will give Cena the opportunity to proe himself in something other than the brawls in which he seems to have been involved since his face turn.

Triple H
A wise man once said that the only things that are guaranteed in this life are death, taxes and Triple H in the main event and, my God, don’t we know it? The thing is, if Triple H has to be on every PPV between now and the end of civilisation as we know it, then I’d rather see him on the SmackDown! roster for a year or two. Assuming Triple H is prepared to do the decent thing and put the champion over (which, looking at his recent track record, I think he will), I think a Cena vs. HHH feud could be a major money-spinner. We haven’t seen Triple H vs. Undertaker in a good while or, for that matter, Triple H vs. Big Show. If Brock Lesnar ever comes back to SmackDown!, then we can also have the long-awaited Brock vs. Trips showdown. As a side-note, this would also stop Ric Flair from being Triple H’s personal bellhop and ass-kisser, perhaps giving him a chance for one last run as a serious, in-ring competitor.

Christian
I know this seems like an obvious choice, given all of the build up and, knowing the WWE, it’s probably just going to end up as another swerve but Christian on SmackDown! seems…right, somehow. I can easily see the former Intercontinental champion feuding with the likes of Carlito and seeing what it feels like to go against someone who has their own problem solver. He could also feud with Cena, giving the champion another challenge and a fresh opportunity for some decent mic work. There again, he could try and cut weight in order to capture the Cruiserweight Title, just like in those halcyon days of Edge, Christian, Commissioner Foley and Kurt Angle’s chicken suit.

Sylvain Grenier
Though it might fly in the face of my previous column, I think we should reunite the original La Resistance on SmackDown! Let’s face facts people – Grenier is not ready for a singles spot just yet and Renee Dupree seems to be floundering on SmackDown! (just where the hell is he anyway? Or Kenzo Suzuki for that matter?) so putting them together could at least guarantee both men some on-screen action. This ould also free up Rob Conway, who is currently being dragged down to Grnier’s level, when he should be lighting up the midcard on his way to becoming part of the next generation of main event talent. That’s my real reason for this one – screw Grenier – I want to see Rob Conway wrestling on a regular basis on Raw, perhaps against his former OVW teammate, Eugene.

Eric Bischoff
Why the Bisch? Quite frankly, SmackDown! needs a heel GM and Easy-E is just the man for the job. As much as I like Teddy Long, he doesn’t bring the right ingredients to the table – when he prevented Cena from hitting JBL prior to WrestleMania he just looked like an overworked executive, doing his best for the company, whereas Eric would have done it because he’s one of the best heels in the business. It’d be worth the swap just to see the look on his face as he realises that he has to abandon his beloved Raw and start from scrach on the other show. He could act bitter, resentful, paranoid, unhinged – all of which seem to ome naturaly anyway and all of which makes for compelling TV. If we keep Teddy as a co-GM, then the two of them can play off each other in a way that Bischoff and Stone Cold never could. This, of course, begs the question of who to bring in as GM for Raw and my own personal choice would be Shawn Michaels, reprising his commissionary role. It keeps him as an onscreen presence whilst he rehabs from injuries, but it keeps him out of the ring and away from the main event and, more importantly, Kurt Angle (see my SmackDown! picks below) until the emotions and frustrations simply boil over and a rematch has to be signed…perhaps Team Angle vs. Team HBK at Survivor Series?

SmackDown! Trades

Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle is much like Chris Jericho and, in a way, like Triple H – he’s fought everyone that there is to fight in his roster and he needs to swap brands to prevent himself from becoming stale. A move to Raw means we get to see Angle vs. Benoit again – something we haven’t witnessed for over two years now. We could also Angle work his magic with the likes of Batista and Randy Orton. After all, what better target for a legend-killer than a former Olympic Gold Medallist? There is the inevitable rematch with Shawn Michaels, of course, as outlined above, though the most tantalising option at the moment is the chance to see Kurt Angle square off against his former protogee, Shelton Benjamin.

Charlie Haas
Please, Vince, send Charlie over to Raw, where he belongs…he’s dying a slow and embarrassing death on SmackDown! at the moment. Switching brands could lead to a reunion of the World’s Greatest Tag Team (which would be a backward step in my view, but you already knew that one, right?) or a heel turn for Shelton Benjamin as he tells Charlie that he’s just too good for him now that he’s the Intercontinental Champion. It could even become a three-way feud with both men and Kurt Angle, with Charlie Haas being the de facto babyface compared to Angle’s general insanity and Benjamin’s new-found cockiness. A Triple Threat match between Angle, Haas and Benjamin for the IC Belt? I’d pay to see that one.

John “Bradshaw” Layfield
Who’d have thought, this time last year, that JBL would be a legitimate main-eventer? Certainly not me, but I’m prepared to admit I was completely wrong about the former Acolyte. In spite of this, I think that his role as a dominant heel champion of SmackDown! is more or less played out now that Cena has the belt, he’s lost the rematch and Triple H is going over to Thursday nights (at least, according to this), so why not send him over to Raw? After all, it is where all the big men play – Batista, Kane, Edge, Snitsky, Masters, Rosey – all of them could put on an entertaining brawl with the former WWE Heavyweight Champion. After the match between Orton and Undertaker at WM21, I can see a JBL vs. Orton feud going down well – JBL is, after all, the longest reigning champion since Diesel, so that kinda makes him a legend. To tell the truth, there is only one reason I’ve picked JBL though, and that’s to see him and William Regal stiff the living crap out of each other on National TV.

Rey Mysterio
This pick is for slightly different reasons. It has long been acknowledged that WWE no longer wishes to push Rey as a Cruiserweight, believing that he has a genuine chance of a spot in the main event, regardless of his size. However, knowing the capriciousness of the WWE booking team, as long as Rey stays on SmackDown! the opportunity exists for him to be put in with the other runts, simply because that’s all that Creative know how to do. On Raw, he has the chance to feud with former partner and freind, Edge, not to mention guys like Tajiri, Hurricane, Maven, Simon Dean or even Ric Flair. Personally, having seen him in action in last year’s Super 8 Tournament, I’d like to see Rey go one-on-one with Daivari.

Danny Basham
Yeah – split up the Bashams…who needs ’em? Danny Basham is a fine wrestler, who could really do with a shot in the arm as far as his career goes. A switch to Monday nights could be just what the doctor ordered for the former OVW champion. As with Rob Conway, he could have a feud with Eugene and relive his Damaja days, or he could just as easily feud with Conway himself. This may not sound like the greatest plan in the world, but all three guys have worked with each other in the past and have a good chemistry in the ring – this is how you need to build new stars, from the ground up. You can’t just shove them in with guys like Flair, Angle and Benoit and expect them to become wrestling gods through sheer osmosis. Furthermore, any feud with Eugene should certainly involve Regal in some manner, who would have a lot to teach a young up-and-comer like Danny Basham.

So they’re my picks – and damn fine ones too, I think you’ll agree. No doubt Creative will f*ck my plans up again, perhaps even going so far as to sack some of those that I have mentioned (if so…make it Grenier, please) but we shall have to wait and see.

E-mail me with any of your thoughts, comments or general bitching and I’ll see you in two weeks time.

Until the next time…farewell.

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