Smarks Court Awards: WWE Tag Team of the Year 2013 (CPR Productions)
By Maz & Joe
Dec 18, 2013 - 2:57:24 PM
‘Sup, Lords of Pain? Well we have finally made it to the final hurdle in the Smarks Court End of Year awards. It’s been a fun three columns so far and it looks like we will have clear cut winners in Superstar, Match and Breakout Superstar categories but it is not too late to change that. You can still check out those columns and vote >>>HERE<<< and >>>HERE<<< and >>>HERE<<<. Today however has the potential to be the closest of all the categories and one I am very much looking forward to.
WWE Tag Team of the Year
Maz: I think it has been a great year for tag team wrestling in the WWE. The first half of the 2013 saw the division as strong as it had been for years and the second half of the year has been even better. When talking about teams there are so many that deserve at least a mention but we have got five more people to go to bat for five teams.
Joe: Yes indeed Maz. Now to kick things off, a man so dickish he would do stunts as Ron Jeremy’s penis during the most intense scenes (he revels in it so this is a huge compliment folks), Tito.
Cody Rhodes & Goldust (Tito)
Tito: For the past 2 years in the WWE, we've seen a legitimate rebirth of Tag Team wrestling. Whether it was EVP of Talent Triple H pushing for it or the WWE Creative Team realizing they were thick in midcarders without anything to do, teams were put together and a "sense of urgency" was finally placed on winning the WWE Tag Team Titles. Vital to the division was the teaming of Daniel Bryan and Kane to get the division over while the addition of the Shield helped to deepen the tag team bench. Teams like the Usos and Prime Time Players improved with time and both could be seen as credible Tag Team Champions.
One team that wasn't working was the Rhodes Scholars. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow just didn't have chemistry as a tag team. It was a blessing to break them up because it allowed Cody Rhodes a chance to become a babyface. And then, the rise of the Authority with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon bullying the entire roster and using the Shield, then the tag team champions with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, as pawns. Cody decided to speak out on the Authority and that forced his career on the line against Randy Orton. That prompted a Goldust return to wrestle Randy Orton in order to get Cody's job back. Goldust lost, but both Cody and Goldust proved something in their matches against Randy Orton: they were not only great wrestlers, but both could work well in 2013 as babyface workers. Why not tag them up?
Things became hot when Cody and Goldust's dad, Dusty Rhodes, confronted the Authority, cutting an excellent promo against Stephanie/HHH, and was rewarded by an ordered Big Show knockout punch. This ticked Cody Rhodes and Goldust off and together, they stormed the WWE ring and attacked the Shield. This would set up their Battleground Pay Per View match against the Shield (non-title) in order to win their careers back. A real "sense of urgency" and fans bought heavily into Goldust/Cody as babyfaces. The match was great and is among the "Match of the Year" candidates and should win the Tag Team honor for 2013. The chemistry of Cody and Goldust, brothers, as a tag team was undeniable. They pushed the Shield to their limits and put a lot of heat on the Shield because of the Rhodes family selling their "sense of urgency". Goldust/Rhodes would win the Tag Team titles shortly thereafter on RAW and the win was celebrated bigtime as fans. What Kane/Bryan and the Shield helped build was finally fulfilled when a greater tag team was hatched in Cody/Goldust and then became champions.
Since they've become Tag Champions, nothing but entertaining matches, no matter who the opponent is. Goldust is wrestling like he's in his 20's and he has the KISS effect in that by wearing make-up, Goldust never ages. Better yet for Cody and Goldust, they sell offense like champions. Not only are they great champions, but they go out of their way to make their opponents look great. That's what the WWE Tag Team division needs and it's only going to keep growing with Cody/Goldust existing as a tag team. They'll last as a tag team until it's time for Cody Rhodes to become a singles babyface wrestler. Until then, it's an honor to enjoy them as a tag team.
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Joe: Tito, this marks one of the few times that I not only agree with you but am glad you stated those points good sir. Cody is very good but Goldust is what makes this team great; like Teets has said, he never ages plus he’s wrestling with renewed vigor. And the guy always busts out a new move to his already ghastly deep repertoire; and lest not forget he is a fucking LUNATIC bumper, throws great fucking punches and might be the best I’ve ever seen in the FIP role since Ricky Morton. Rhodes has a sense of timing very few possess and it’s awesome to see he’s finally getting his just due of appreciation over the years. He’s only been back for a few months BUT if he keeps this up with 2 weeks left in the year to go, I can see him being considered the BEST WRESTLER ON THE PLANET in 2013, that’s how good he’s been.
And on the uptick he’s been able to show Cody the values of timing, how to make a great hot tag, all which will serve Cody greatly in the years to come. And as Maz has pointed out to me in many a conversation, Cody still presents a very sweet bulge. No homo, it’s just that we’re all about presentation b.
Maz: I told you that shit in confidence, Unc. But yeah I think that sums it up nicely. Goldust was always extremely competent but looks better than ever right now. An absolute joy to watch. Next up is a guy who believes he is right so often, he is making his second appearance in these Smarks Court awards. The guy that has almost done as many of these columns as us, Plandango.
Jack Swagger & Antonio Cesaro (Plan)
Plan: The division in WWE dedicated solely to tag team wrestling has been the benefactor of a rejuvenation this last year, particularly so in the last few months. From essentially a one team division, that team being Hell No, that paid a lot of lip-service but never truly substantiated, the division has transformed into a thriving epicentre of character growth.
Case in point: The Real Americans. Truthfully, this is a team that remains fairly young to this date. Nor have they won any great accolades to put to their name quite yet either. They remain reliant upon a mouthpiece to seek heat outside of their actual matches and their gimmick, on paper, seems strangely outdated.
Yet something about them simply works. Zeb doesn’t come off on television as a crutch; he’s simply one of many old school nuances. Whether it’s their traditional ring gear, their simplistic but smash-mouth offense between the ropes or the very essence of their character work, The Real Americans are one of those classic tag team set-ups we all nostalgically long for. What’s more is that they have developed an amazing chemistry in a very short span of time, where you could almost forgive yourself for believing they’ve been partners their entire careers. So well suited are the tones of Swagger and Cesaro inside the squared circle that they feel more like an extension of one another than they do different people.
It’s not just their sudden growth or explosion in popularity that makes me admire them so much though, particularly given how lopsided in favour of Cesaro the latter of those two factors has been. Before Hell No split up, the division consisted of three main tandems – the aforementioned champions, The Uso Brothers and The Prime Time Players, with Shield coming and going on the periphery. When The Real Americans came together it marked a shift that we are now seeing culminating in a division with a fascinating amount of depth, with teams forming every week it feels like. Given how easily Swagger, Cesaro and even Zeb have gelled, most of these new born duets should turn to The Real Americans for inspiration – this is a team that has gone to great lengths to ensure a uniquely recognisable act in the most traditional sense; their colour schemes match, they’ve already developed some wonderfully fresh double team moves – more than just a finishing one let it be noted – and have even grown to tweak their entrance in a way that emphasises difference but remains uniform. They really, truly are the perfectly created tag team working off the old school but perennially effective blueprint of the 1980s.
But perhaps the thing I love most about them is the fact it benefits everyone involved. These two should be anchoring the division moving forward, what with The Shield seeming due to split up and The Rhodes Brothers feeling more like a feel-good tribute than a true to life team with longevity. The Real Americans are a solid foundation, an admirable example and, most importantly, the most well oiled team of the lot. Yes, I do include the Uso twins in that. Not only does the division benefit though but so too do Swagger and Cesaro. Despite the overwhelming internet support for the latter, the truth is he was very much struggling to make a true mark in the company when on his own. Swagger’s failures, meanwhile, are well-documented and no matter how many chances he’s given to breakout as a singles star, chances unfairly withheld from others who may succeed where he failed, it is clear he doesn’t quite possess whatever intangible is required to make yourself into a top tier singles star. Alone, both men I’d venture feel awkward and a little loss. But together? They’ve discovered new purpose, rejuvenated a division fledgling despite the PR attempts of the WWE and shown the world that the true golden era of tag wrestling in this particular promotion, that being the 1980s, is actually alive and well.
So please join me in putting your hand over your heart and saying in a loud clear voice…
WE! THE PEOPLE!
Maz: I’m sorry Plan, I can’t do that. Have to remain impartial you see. I like this team. I do. I just see them as one of a few making the division rather than standing out amongst it. In a weaker era they would probably stand head and shoulders above most teams but I believe we may well be in an era that can go toe-to-toe with the late 80s and late Attitude glory days of the division.
Joe: As I’ve said before, I love this team; in theory. In execution there’s something missing… well a few things. Swagger needs a mental reboot of sorts; he gives me the vibe that he’s scared. Cesaro needs to do something to connect with the crowd, but mostly, Zeb needs to be allowed to be racist to you know, DO A RACIST GIMMICK. I know it’s a PG ERA now and shit but you can’t have it both ways now, unless you’re HHH.
Get it? Cause he’s bisexu...nevermind, moving on. Here’s our old pal Maverick in to chime in with his two cents (no Super Chrisss).
Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins (Maverick)
Maverick: This wrestling year has belonged to The Shield in every sense that matters, from their stunning six man efforts at Elimination Chamber and Wrestlemania all the way to TLC’s urgent curtain jerker. We’ll always remember them, I think, as the ultimate three man unit…and yet two out of the three Hounds of Justice spent the majority of the year in a traditional tag team, the best tag team in a year of revival for the division.
When the decision was made to transition the men in black from special attraction to title chasers at Extreme Rules, it seemed obvious that Rollins and Reigns would have the most to gain from a tag title run; Ambrose was, overall, the most polished sports entertainer, while enforcer Reigns and high flier Rollins could hone their chops further in putting on stellar tag bouts. And that they did; they won the titles from the superb Team Hell No in a criminally forgotten scrap at Extreme Rules and then defended them convincingly against Bryan and Orton at Payback. A memorable series against The Usos followed in which the sons of Rikishi were elevated miles above where they had been by Reigns and Rollins’ credibility, generosity and aura.
By the time The Shield were recruited as Hunter’s designated corporate bodyguards, Reigns and Rollins were ready to drop the belts and return to the top of the card; that they participated what was perhaps the most thrilling and emotional tag match in North America since the TLC era was a huge feather in their cap. Without the pitch-perfect heel performance of The Shield, Cody and Goldust’s feelgood return would not have had the same impact at all. The fact they repeated the trick the next night on Raw while dropping the belts and the fact that a three way match at Hell in a Cell with the Rhodes boys and the Usos was one of the most underrated bouts of the year just goes to show how impressive their year’s CV really was.
I think what I loved the most about Rollins and Reigns as a tag team was the way in which they used the classic tropes of 1980s tag wrestling updated with 21st century aggression, speed and power. Rollins is a magician inside the ring, a hard bumping maniac with a striking half-blonde mane and a snarky way with trash talk. His enziguri, his knee from the top rope, his kerb stomp, his insanely aggressive drop kick, his suicide dives…the man has it all and can take insane risks like a Jeff Hardy while displaying the psychology of a CM Punk. Reigns looked like an absolute beast from day one and has used his spear and powerbomb to get over huge with the WWE universe. Most impressively, the two have always had an absurdly fluid team chemistry and a great aura about them; no matter the trouble they were in, you always believed they could find their way out of it.
BELIEVE IN THE SHIELD!
Joe: Believe in these nuts. Actually, if The Rhodes Boys are my #1, then the Shield are my #1B. All 3 of them serve a purpose and are great in their own right. The fact that all 3 are contenders for Breakout star of the year means GREAT things for them and the company and us, the fans. What say you, Mazeth?
Maz: They have been the backbone of the division through much of the year and have clicked with everybody they have faced. Rollins and Reigns have become stars and their chemistry with themselves and their opponents has been off the chain. I definitely would not argue with anybody who chose The Shield as their choice for best tag team of 2013.
Daniel Bryan & Kane (Glow)
Glow: This is going to be a tricky case to make. Team Hell No was clearly the team of the year in 2012. With a year as great as they had back in 2012, hopes of them topping that wasn’t going to happen. Instead let’s see if we can find enough facts to create an argument that they at least came close to matching that 2012 year.
Team Hell No was able to set the standard for being over as a tag team from 2012-2013. Before they started what was supposed to be a light hearted comedy pairing the tag team division almost didn’t exist. The mixture of Prime Time Players, Truth/Kofi, and any other random tag pairing they slapped together wasn’t setting the tag team world on fire. Team Hell No made tag matches matter again. From early this year, people were tuning into Raw to catch the latest segment between Team Hell No and their doctor. Many a times in the first part of the year Team Hell No was placed in the top of the 2nd hour or as the 2nd hour main event because they were able to keep fans from flipping the channels.
Why is any of what I said in the last paragraph important? Well it’s because of those reasons why members of Team Rhodes Scholars and The Shield is over the way they are now. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow were nothing but midcard names with no direction until they entered into their feud with Team Hell No. They got the opportunity to receive consistent TV time and to explore comedy aspects of their characters. Their eventual split and push wouldn’t have been as impactful if they didn’t receive these extra segments afforded to them by feuding with Team Hell No. I could even dare say the whole MITB scenario might not have happened for either one of them if they didn’t raise their profile with battling Team Hell No.
Now The Shield is a different case from Team Rhodes Scholars. I have no doubt that The Shield would have been over without Team Hell No but they did receive a healthy kick start from feuding with a strong tag team. They also had the benefit of being in the ring with two great workers night in night out in Kane and Daniel Bryan which helped, Reigns especially, hone their in ring work. The Shield also got a nice UK Raw 3 on 3 match with Undertaker teaming with Team Hell No. Albeit started from the CM Punk angle but Team Hell No was a relevant vehicle to make it happen.
Team Hell No was team of the year because of what they did for other this year. They put on quality match after quality and brought people to the forefront of TV. Even when they split they continued to use their heat to help the WWE in areas that the company was coming up weak in. Kane was able to help the Wyatts get some PPV attention and Bryan lit the main event of fire for a few months. Currently they both are involved with “The Authority” angle that is weighing down the WWE storylines. I doubt they will end up teaming again before Wrestlemania but they will be involved with each other in various ways over the next few months. I think Tell Hell No should be commended for accomplishing what they did over half of a year’s time as a team. They sure meant more to the WWE in that half of a year than other teams meant to the WWE in a full year.
Maz: If there hadn’t been such an explosion in the division this second half of the year, I think Hell No would have romped home with this. The excellent tag action we've seen in recent months however in addition to Daniel Bryan’s singles rise has had them somewhat forgotten. Even if they don’t end up winning, it would be grossly unfair to cast them aside because, as Glow said, they really did lay the groundwork for plenty of other teams.
Joe: Man I’ve used up all my patois for the year; sorry Glow. Hey Maz ever wondered what happened to Peter Parker when he was caught jerking off in his room by aunt May? Well read our next guest and you’ll figure it out.
The Usos (thespyderboy)
thespyderboy: What does it take to define a tag team as the best of the year? Typically, holding the championship belts is the telltale sign of the best of the division, but it’s fairly common knowledge that the WWE likes to push wrestlers for their own “creative” reasons rather than give gold to the most over wrestler of the division (hi, ADR). While Team Hell No, The Shield, and the Rhodes Bros have all held gold this year and put on some solid matches, and even the Real Americans have had their time in the limelight, it’s actually the dark horse team of the Usos that deserve the most credit.
Despite not having any gold, despite not having any promos (let’s be honest, the closest thing they have to a promo is their entrance chant… riveting stuff), despite being overshadowed in looks and prominence, they defied the odds and got themselves over. Just listen to how easily they get the crowds to scream out “O.” A lot of you men take note.
Initially given a random push post-Wrestlemania to challenge for the belts, they ended up instead being pushed aside in favor of The Shield. However, that worked in their favor, as the Usos were still too fresh to be a real player in the division. Given the additional time during the summer, the Usos consistently put on PPV-stealing matches (even as pre-show matches), slowly getting themselves over with the fans. From a virtually non-existent 2012 to today, the Usos are recognized as a team that delivers in the ring: Money in the Bank, Night of Champions, and Hell in the Cell were all highly entertaining matches that helped make their opponents, and more importantly themselves, look damn good. Even in their Survivor Series match they served their purpose as team enhancement.
Speaking of which, they are easily the strongest “team” in the division. Ask yourself this – does anyone really care about either Uso if they were split up? All of the other teams already established themselves individually, save for the Shield (though each has a unique personality and role), but the Usos are the only team that need to stay together, and are infinitely more engaging as a duo. Though the addition of face paint hasn’t helped differentiate the two brothers, it does help them stand out visually.
You know what else helps them stand out visually? A pretty entertaining moveset – tandem superkicks, tandem over-the-top-rope splashes, and the Superkick-Superfly Splash finishing combo, among others. Also? Pyro. In a period when wrestler’s entrances have been getting the shaft in favor of commercial breaks (a trend from earlier in the year that has decreased significantly), the Usos have a full entrance with dancing and pyro that really helps give them that extra spark. Not to mention, the synching of their jump with the pyro and the music comes across fantastically on camera. Sure, Team Hell No had pyro thanks to Kane, but neither he nor Daniel Bryan jumped when it went off.
All of the above being said, what really makes the Usos the best tag team in the division is their ability to perform outside of the ring. The Usos have the incredibly distinct honor of being in relationships with one-of-a-kind women: one is engaged to an alien dancing dinosaur, and the other is (or at least was) dating one of Krypton’s last survivors, and probably the only one with an English accent.
If those aren’t the kinds of prizes you want to wear around your waist, then you don’t have your priorities straight. Pun intended.
Joe: I...I don’t get it.
OHHHH I get it. You mean like sex. Clever girl you are.
Maz: You know what, The Usos actually get my vote. They have gone about their business all year brilliantly without getting much shine. They are a filler team that have essentially made all their opponents look great. I think they have done wonders for Reigns and Rollins and that it is no coins as foils for the Shield.
Joe: Hey Maz, you know what really pisses me off?
Maz: Common decency laws?
Joe: Well, yeah. But I mean no one (not Tito, Not YourAyatollah, not Chris Benoit) even considered to even write about US as tag team of the year. I mean, Wu Tang Clan aint nothin’ to fuck wit’, are they not? Or is it “is it not”?: I dunno, I’ve never been very clear on that.
Maz: We just had a teacher in here, should have asked earlier. But you’re right. We need some love too…
Mazza & Uncle Joe (Mazza & Uncle Joe)
Maz: First of all we deserve it more than the other teams because we at least showed up to argue for ourselves.
Joe: YEAH! FUCK YEAH! And I don’t give a shit what most of you MP commenters say; I am not that big of an asshat. Asshole? Sure but asshat? nawl man fuck ya’ll. Not only are we consistent but our devastating and innovative finisher (the Bell End Reach Around) has every collective team shaking if their tighty whiteys. So if you know in your heart of hearts, that you like something light, bright and tight; vote for justice, vote for freedom, vote for more shenanigans: make the right call and vote for Maz and Joe.
Maz: Couldn’t have put it better myself. Maybe a little less crudely, but not better. I think we have this one in the bag. But we still have to go through the process I guess.
So you know the deal by now. Vote below. Check out our social media below (or above for Sir Teets). Polls will be open over Christmas and Unc and I shall be back before the New Year to bring you the results of all 4 awards as well as making some bold predictions for 2014. But until then, we sure do wish you a Merry Christmas and hope Damien Sandow doesn’t come down your chimney and give you an elbow of disdain. Peace!
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Joe: Maz, weren’t we supposed to do a rendition of Rudolph the red nose reindeer, with Bear only it was called “the cock…
Maz: Joe, you can’t say that...
Joe: ...fucking reindeer...
Maz: JOE, YOU CAN’T SAY THAT!
Joe: ....anal fingerer” and scrap it?
Maz: YOU DEFINITELY CAN’T SAY THAT!!!!!!!!
Joe: Ok fine, fuck it, sorry Bear maybe next year you ethnic banging dog whispering albino. Cheers everyone, Merry Christmas.