I know, I know…
If you know me at all, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that I’m one of the biggest WWE brand extension proponents in the IWC.
If you and I have chatted recently, you probably know that I felt WWE squandered the opportunity to take the Kevin Federline angle to the next level, and keep K-Fed aboard as the manager for John Cena’s Wrestlemania opponent… Johnny Nitro.
And if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve seen me drop hints about the subject of this column…
WWE needs to not only consolidate the two Tag Team Championships, but also put the entire tag division on ONE brand; and that brand is ECW.
The Argument for the RAW Tag Division
Of course, my proposal would mean a major upheaval, particularly on RAW. The Highlanders, Cryme Tyme, The World’s Greatest Tag Team and Cade & Murdoch are natural tag teams, not to mention Rated-RKO and the current Champions, John Cena and Shawn Michaels. Oh and D-X. If WWE was ever serious about pushing a tag division on Monday nights, the pieces are already in place… but RAW’s booking seems more natural based on larger-than-life singles wrestlers in the upper- and mid-card, with some Divas thrown in for good measure. These teams have pretty much all been on RAW for months, yet the division is stagnant. Can tag wrestling on RAW work? Yes. Does it matter? Not in the least.
But What About Smackdown?
Part of my rationale for this column is the premise that RAW, Smackdown and ECW would work best if each brand was booked around a heavyweight division and a “specialty” division. RAW and Smackdown are each two hours long, and therefore each brand having both a “World” and secondary heavyweight champion — the Intercontinental and United States title holders, respectively — is justifiable. The women’s division has been on RAW exclusively for years, as has the cruiserweight division on Smackdown, which leaves ECW without anything unique to call its own.
But what about putting the cruiserweights on ECW — a brand historically known for high-flying, innovative action — while making the tag division exclusive to the Smackdown brand? It’s obvious that with Michael Hayes holding the book, Friday night’s show has been booked in an “old school” fashion that should theoretically be more conducive to tag wrestling. On the other hand, Smackdown has three full-time tag teams (The HooliganZ, The Untouchables and The Bluebloods), with none of those teams even USING a team name? If you assume London and Kendrick are better suited for Smackdown’s cruiserweight division, it can easily be argued that the only Smackdown team that HAS to stay together is Deuce & Domino. Yet if you move the cruiserweight division to ECW, you’re talking about displacing ten wrestlers via a messy brand shift.
Extreme Tag Team Wrestling?
Right now, ECW is an hour-long program with no signs of increasing to two, and rightfully so. There’s simply too much wrestling on TV right now, which is probably a big reason people are less willing to spend the money required to “keep up” with all of the pay-per-views airing each year. But aside from the ECW World Heavyweight Championship, and once the ECW Originals vs. New Breed feud is over and done with, what do these guys have to wrestle for?
One idea that the IWC likes to toss out there from time to time is the return of the TV Title; but let’s be honest, there are already way too many singles championships to keep up with for another midcard belt to have any meaning whatsoever in the fans’ eyes. Another idea is what I mentioned above — moving the cruiserweights to ECW. Again, though, now you’re talking about adding ten more wrestlers to a roster that barely has time to get all of its “extremists/superstars” on the air in a given week.
As TNA has shown, when booked right, tag team wrestling simply works in a one-hour program. Instead of having to rush two- to five-minute singles matches, you can feature four men at a time. Want to showcase more teams at once? Booking four-on-four tag matches isn’t difficult at all (in fact, the only purely ECW match rumored for Wrestlemania right now is an eight-man tag). And here’s the kicker: it’s become obvious that ECW commands more interest from WWE fans when there is an occasional cross-over from RAW or Smackdown… so to that end, I propose that the World Tag Team Championship become the exclusive property of ECW, but that any team from any WWE roster may challenge for it at any time. Well, as long as they don’t mind fighting under Extreme Rules.
Why Not? Some Fantasy Booking
So how do we do this within current storylines and kayfabe? Interestingly enough, last night’s RAW set this up beautifully by having MNM — a team made up of one RAW and one Smackdown wrestler — get involved in John Cena’s match, only to be chased off by Cena’s World Tag Team Champion partner, Shawn Michaels. Cena and Michaels do NOT need the hardware right now… but they both have the ego to put the belts on the line vs. MNM on next week’s show. MNM can win the belts — with help from Edge and Orton naturally — and then go on to challenge Smackdown’s Tag Team Champions, London and Kendrick, to a title unification match at Wrestlemania.
But why would MNM challenge the HooliganZ? Oh that’s right! Melina’s currently feuding with their manager Ashley. (Not to mention the fact that London & Kendrick won their belts from MNM last May.)
On an episode of ECW before Wrestlemania (we’ve still got a few weeks), we’ll find out that of course this situation doesn’t sit well with La Resistance. (Yes, I know Dupree and Grenier have been mysteriously taken off of ECW.com’s roster page, but who knows what that means?) Considering themselves the greatest tag team of all time, La Res weasels into the match.
So you’d have MNM vs. Kendrick & London vs. La Resistance for the unified Tag Team Championship at Wrestlemania. That would be good enough for me, but it’s WWE, so let’s be realistic: Haas & Benjamin will then take offense to La Res’ claim that they’re the best ever, and enter the match. The Bluebloods can’t be left out. What about Cryme Tyme? Deuce & Domino? A reunited FBI of Little Guido and Chuck Palumbo?
Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve now got yourself an eight-team (or more) tag team Gauntlet Match or Battle Royale for Wrestlemania… and once and for all, only one pair of tag titles for all of WWE. Whoever wins can then announce that they have signed exclusive contracts with ECW, with the stipulation that anyone can challenge them for the titles as long as they come to “their house.” This can lead to tag teams jumping to ECW each week and staying there, or simply to a new team showing up as a “surprise” challenger every week or so.
And since you asked, if I was booking, I’d have MNM win the belts and go on to continue their feud with the Hardyz on Tuesday nights, culminating at One Night Stand. MNM and Team Xtreme fighting for the ECW World Tag Team Champions? It’s a great idea, but it’ll never happen.
Tags: ECW, Raw, Smackdown, WWE