November 03, 2009

Fixing the Tag Teams

Creating Knockout tag team titles was a mistake. Plain and simple.

Let me clarify. I don’t mean that the championships themselves were a bad idea. I mean it was a mistake for TNA to create them when they were obviously not ready to do it right.

In a previous column (KNOCKED OUT: Knockout Tag Team Titles) I explained in detail why TNA creating a Knockout tag team division was not a wise decision right now as well as the potential problems that would hinder the concept if they went ahead with it. Among others, those problems consisted of TNA not having a deep enough roster of women and not having enough established tag teams to pull it off successfully.

Man, am I tired of being right all the time…

This tag team division has existed for a little over two months now. Its inception was announced during a completely random backstage interview, it began with a hastily thrown together tournament which received very little promotion and consisted mainly of randomly thrown together teams that had absolutely no chemistry whatsoever and broke up immediately after they were eliminated.

To TNA’s credit, the right team won the tournament. Unlike the other pairings, putting Sarita & Taylor Wilde together made all the sense in the world; in terms of chemistry and in-ring style they were a perfect match. TNA also made an effort to package them like a tag team, giving them new music, a new entrance and matching ring gear. That, coupled with their title win put them on the map as an established tag team.

That was the one and only thing TNA got right in this whole situation.

Now let’s look at what they got wrong…

The final match of the tournament, Sarita/Taylor vs. the Beautiful People, was held at No Surrender -- a show that is usually ignored for the most part because it’s only a month before Bound for Glory. The match was booked as the curtain jerker match. It was the only match on the card that did NOT have a video package promoting it. It didn’t get anything close to the amount of time it should’ve had.

Considering how TNA presented this, would you think that the Knockout tag team titles are important? Would you think they are a priority to the company? I would have to say no. If they were, this match would’ve taken place at BFG so that it would mean more, it wouldn’t have been the opening match on the card, it would’ve had more build up and promotion and it would’ve been given a lot more time than it got.

A rematch from the finals was booked for BFG despite the fact that #1) Velvet Sky & Madison Rayne were beaten quickly and easily at No Surrender and really didn’t have much of an argument for a rematch, and #2) without Angelina Love it was painfully obvious that TBP were just not championship material.

Their title match at BFG was a rematch from a ‘B’ PPV bout which wasn’t even that memorable in the first place. Granted, it did receive more hype this time, but it ended up being even shorter and not as good as the first match, and it was placed right after the Ultimate-X match on the card, which pretty much killed any chance it might have had of getting over.

I’m writing this on a Thursday night. iMPACT just ended a few minutes ago. On this show TBP appeared in a new reality show type segment called ‘the Meanest Girls’ in which they started a food fight with Sarita & Taylor at the craft service table and then laid them out. This was apparently the start of the group’s reported new direction in which they focus more on backstage vignettes and less on wrestling.

As you can imagine, the whole thing was an unbelievable waste of 71 seconds.

No one buys TBP as title contenders as it is abundantly clear that they just can’t keep up with Sarita & Taylor. Why do you think their matches have been so short? They were booked that way because the writers don’t want to expose them as inferior workers compared to the champs, which is exactly what would happen in a longer match. If Angelina were still there it might be a different story, but the departure of Angelina from TNA has left Velvet & Madison as two betas without an alpha and adding Lacey Von Erich to the group has really not helped the situation.

So then, if TBP have now had two shots at the tag team titles on two successive PPVs and have pretty much been embarrassed by the champs both times in lackluster matches that went under four minutes, if the writers have to make such an effort to hide their obvious weaknesses as a tag team that they plan on deemphasizing the time these women spend wrestling, then why, I ask you, does it appear that they are now getting a THIRD title shot despite having absolutely no grounds for one?

ANSWER: because TBP are the only other Knockout tag team in the company.

With Sarita & Taylor Wilde the TNA writers created a great babyface team to build the division around, but that’s all they did. Babyfaces are only as effective as the heels that oppose them. Clearly, the writers expected the feud with TBP to have legs because they made the same mistake they made with the Gail Kim/Awesome Kong rivalry -- they put all their eggs in one basket with this feud and didn’t put any thought into what they would do when it came to an end. It just so happens that Angelina getting released meant it came to an end much sooner than expected because without her you’re left with two women that have been booked like complete jobbers from day one except when they were standing next to their leader, who is now gone. And those women are apparently STILL the #1 contenders after two losses and counting.

But even if Angelina were still there, Taylor Wilde vs. TBP is nothing new. We’ve seen that feud many times and adding some new faces to the mix in Sarita and Lacey doesn’t do much to make it seem fresh.

Suppose for a minute that Angelina hadn’t been released and TBP won the tag team titles at BFG.

Okay… then what?

You’re still left with the same problem. TNA created tag team championships without bothering to build a tag team division for them and the only feud they had to work with ran out of gas after two months.

The TNA writers need to focus their attention on fixing this problem and they need to do it very quickly.

As always -- helpful guy that I am -- I’m going to explain how they can do this with a minimum of fuss.

The first thing they need is damage control. They have to figure out what solid tag team combinations can be put together from the current roster within the next few weeks. For the moment, let’s just assume that TBP are getting their last shot at the titles at Turning Point. That means they’ve got one month to come up with some new challengers for Sarita & Taylor. And these have to be good challengers – they can’t just be some totally random team like Traci Brooks & Sojourner Bolt, otherwise it’s going to fall flat on its face and you’re going to end up right back at square one as soon as the match is over.

Alissa Flash & Daffney would be my first choice, as they were the only makeshift team in the initial tournament that had any potential outside of Sarita & Taylor. Unfortunately, after her sick bump at BFG, Daffney is reportedly dealing with a severe concussion and numbness in her left hand, so it’s anyone’s guess when she’ll be healthy enough to wrestle. But even once she’s cleared to compete I doubt it will change anything since it’s become pretty obvious by now that the writers have no intention of using Daffney as anything other than the girl who takes sick bumps and stands next to Stevie Richards, so that team is off the table.

One good potential team that could be put together quickly is Awesome Kong & Hamada. TNA has already made it known on their website that these women have a long history from working against each other in Japan. Having seen one of their matches on youtube, I can attest that they would make just as amazing tag team partners as they make opponents.

Another potential team is Hamada & Alissa Flash. Yes, they’re feuding right now, but a tag team could be created out of that. Hamada won the first match, so have Alissa go over in their second match, have them go to a draw or a no contest in their third match and then do the babyface-and-heel-gain-a-mutual-respect-for-each-other-and-team-up angle. Alissa & Hamada’s styles work very well together. They would make a fine team that would not be constantly outshined by the champs because they are perfectly capable of matching Sarita & Taylor skill-wise, unlike Velvet & Madison.

A third possible team is Alissa Flash & Awesome Kong. This would also be quite easy to set up because the wheels are already in motion. Bring back the Raisha Saeed character for one more show, have her attack Kong and lay her out, and then have her unmask, revealing herself to be Alissa. They have a match that goes to a no contest because they both take each other out and are unable to continue and afterward they reconcile. The story could be that Kong turned on her because she felt Saeed was incompetent, but now realizes that losing the burqa was exactly what needed to happen because she’s a completely different wrestler as Alissa. The writers would, of course, have to explain why Alissa had pretended to be a Muslim for two years, but figuring out an explanation for that is easily done.

So right there they have three possible teams for Sarita & Taylor to face that would be credible and believable title contenders, that would make sense, and could be put together quickly, with very little hassle. That gives them more time to work with, but it’s still not enough. TNA had no less than four different tag teams feuding over the men’s tag titles for most of this year, but even that eventually got old, which is why new challengers (i.e. the MCMG) are now being cycled in.

Those are the best teams that can be put together from the current roster. To further bolster the tag team ranks management is going to have to look outside the women currently in the locker room. And you know what that means…

Sign. New. Talent.

I know I keep talking about this and I’m going to continue talking about it until it happens. Yes, the Knockout roster is more stacked than it’s ever been right now, and if they didn’t have tag team titles they wouldn’t need any more talent. But they do, which means the current roster just isn’t enough.

They need to sign more women. And I’m not talking about Lacey Von Erich and Crystal Lashley; I’m talking about signing women that are actually worth something. No offense to Lacey and Crystal, but neither of them are winning any tag team titles and we all know it.

I’m not suggesting that TNA refit the entire roster. As I just pointed out, this can be done quickly and easily as long as management is smart about it.

To fix this problem there are three women that I would sign.

The first two are Portia Perez & Nicole Matthews, the Canadian Ninjas. This is not out of the question as Portia had a tryout match around this time last year. They’re the current Shimmer tag team champions, so they’re proven as a team. Plus, with the right gimmick they would have a ready-made feud with Sarita & Taylor.

Here’s what I would do: sign Perez & Matthews and debut them as the new Team Canada. Give them Team Canada’s old music, keep them in their black & pink wrestling gear as an homage to Bret Hart, and to put them over the top, give them Scott D’Amore as a manager. Have them confront Sarita & Taylor in the ring with Portia taking a page from her feud with Allison Danger, berating the babyfaces for being “diet Canadians”. They point out that Sarita lives in Mexico and Taylor debuted in TNA wearing red, white & blue wrestling gear, and yet they both claim to be proud Canadians and it makes Perez & Matthews sick to their stomachs. The feud practically writes itself.

The third woman I would sign is Sara Del Rey. Again, this is not out of the realm of possibility. Del Rey is working a match at a TNA house show at the Wayne PAL in New Jersey on November 13th, so clearly she’s on TNA’s radar. When (not if, but when) she impresses people in management with her performance it’s certainly possible that she could get a contract offer out of it.

Here’s the best part. Del Rey and Awesome Kong have already worked together as a tag team in Shimmer and stylistically she would also make an ideal partner for Alissa Flash OR Hamada. So if TNA signed Del Rey they could pretty much throw her name into a hat along with Kong, Alissa and Hamada, pull out any two combinations of names and create two great tag teams instantly.

That would give TNA four rock solid female tag teams, any of which would be credible champions. And as the men just demonstrated, if booked correctly, four good teams can be good for close to a year’s worth of feuds before the need arises to cycle in new challengers.

This Knockout tag team division stumbled out of the gate due to a lack of any real title contenders outside of the champions, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Yes, there’s a big problem with it right now, but this problem is easy to fix as long as TNA management understand what needs to be done.

So get off your butts and fix it already.

1 comment:

tino said...

Brilliant assessment man.