By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit
Last time we left off, we had a pretty good looking contest on paper that saw the Smackdown Six era of wrestling provide us with a raft of good teams to supplement stalwarts like the Dudley Boyz and tag team champs like Chris Jericho and Christian. Let’s continue as we move to 2003 and see how these tag team contests might have ended up.
Los Guerreros, The Dudley Boyz, The Hurricane and Rosey, and Scotty 2 Hotty and Rikishi vs The Basham Brothers, The World’s Greatest Tag Team, Rob Conway and Rene Dupree, Chris Jericho and Christian
Once again, things become difficult as there are a lot of wrestlers who seem to transition between tag team partners with no real longevity. It is a notable step down in quality from the previous year with the heel team in particular looking fairly weak outside of Haas, Benjamin, Jericho and Christian. Faces this year, I’d be looking to give the rub once again to Los Guerreros, putting them over Jericho and Christian to finish off the contest.
La Resistance, Rene Dupree and Kenzo Suzuki and The Basham Brothers vs The Hurricane and Rosey, Eugene and William Regal, and Rhyno and Tajiri
Slim pickings from the main show with only the dark match teams (Resistance, Rosey/Hurricane) making their way into the match. It doesn’t get much better when you look elsewhere. A lack of heel teams means leaving the Dudley Boyz out of the match – they’ve had their opportunities – as well as Charlie Haas and Rico. That leaves me with little option but to put over La Resistance who were the reigning Raw tag team champions at the moment, since Kenzo Suzuki should never win anything.
Tyson Tomko and Gene Snitsky, Chad and James Dick, Cade and Murdoch, and MNM vs Road Warrior Animal and Heidenreich, The Big Show and Kane, Val Venis and Viscera, and Super Crazy and Psychosis
A Survivor Series event played out in the shadow of Eddie Guerrero’s death, this is a hodge podge of pretty awful tag teams that have been flung together with no real rhyme or reason. That teams like Regal/Burchill and the Hearththrobs were left off of the list says a lot about the ‘quality’ of the division at this time. The two tag team champion teams – Kane/Big Show, MNM – will battle it out in the end, with MNM stealing the victory over a team who don’t always need to win to keep their allure.
The Hardy Boyz, Brian Kendrick and Paul London, The Highlanders and Cryme Tyme vs Rated RKO, The Spirit Squad, Little Guido and Tony Mamaluke, Cade and Murdoch
A marked improvement over the previous year, with teams that either had history, felt useful and … well, the Highlanders. Though short lived, I enjoyed Rated RKO’s run as a heel team at the top of the card and whilst they were never going to be teaming forever, they would get the rub over the rest of an interesting collection of teams.
Morrison and Miz, Cade and Murdoch, The World’s Greatest Tag Team and The Highlanders vs Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly, MVP and Matt Hardy, Jim Duggan and Super Crazy, and Jesse and Festus
What surprises me most is how long the team of Cade and Murdoch lasted in the WWE, whilst also not remembering a time when Duggan and Crazy was a thing of note. MVP and Matt Hardy were also doing a ‘can they coexist?’ angle as champions on the Smackdown brand to top it off. The feuding teams of Morrison/Miz and Rhodes/Holly would end up there at the end, with the first victory for a few years to the face team as much as Morrison/Miz were an amazing heel team.
Cryme Time, CM Punk and Kofi Kingston, and Jesse and Festus vs Morrison and Miz, Carlito and Primo Colon, and Cody Rhodes and Manu
A limited selection. The inability to pick up any further face teams means this match becomes a three on three contest, with the obvious winners being Miz and Morrison, having come up short the previous year. Otherwise, a pretty shoddy looking match on paper.
JeriShow and Ted Dibiase Jr. and Cody Rhodes vs Cryme Tyme and MVP and Mark Henry
…I mean, there are more tag team matches around this time period, but none of them seem to involve actual proper tag teams. Even Jericho and Show are having some infighting in the lead up to a World title shot at the Undertaker. This is a heel clean sweep all day long and a sad indictment of the tag division at this time.
Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel vs Vladimir Kozlov and Santino Marella
With the focus on the Nexus angle, this is the best we can do – the actual match from the show. The teams of David Hart Smith/Tyson Kidd and The Usos are kicking around but the lack of a regular heel team to put up against means that nothing happens for them. The two Nexus boys, just like on the night, win.
John Cena and the Rock, Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston vs The Miz and R-Truth, and Epico and Primo Colon
A match that looks marginally better for being cheeky enough to include the teams from the main event. The Usos were also around at this point, but a dearth of heel tag teams make them expendable in this instance. Just as with the main event, Cena and Rock win with shenanigans after the match to build to Wrestlemania.
Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal, Epico and Primo Colon, The Primetime Players and Team Rhodes Scholars vs Santino Marella and Zack Ryder, Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel, Team Hell No and The Usos
Whilst still seemingly in a period where the WWE were happy to throw things at the wall and see what sticks, this is measurably better than the last few years as much due to the inclusion of Team Rhodes Scholars and Team Hell No. With Team Hell No still playing the tag partners who struggle to get on but continue to win, they’ll go over Rhodes and Sandow to win the match and further annoy Daniel Bryan.
The Real Americans, The Wyatt Family, The Shield, Hunico and Camacho, and Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal vs Cody Rhodes and Goldust, The Usos, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, The Primetime Players and Los Matadores
Once again, we go from a decent match the year before to one that is completely stacked. True, there are still some expendable teams here, but the inclusion of Punk and Bryan from the show itself bolsters a face team against a very strong heel team. A heel team so strong that the Shield and the Wyatt Family should win out, even with the star power of Bryan and Punk. The best tag teams should go over the best singles stars in tag team action.
Miz and Mizdow, Slater-Gator, Goldust and Stardust vs Adam Rose and The Bunny, The Usos and Los Matadores
Bring back 2013, all is forgiven. Suddenly, there is a lack of teams, especially on the face side which means that The New Day miss out as a fourth member of the heel team. Slater-Gator are expendable on the heel side, but a pretty convincing win for the Rhodes boys and Miz/Mizdow is the only way this one can pan out for me, though the Usos would put up a spirited effort.
The Dudley Boyz, The Usos and Lucha Dragons vs The Ascension, The New Day, and The Wyatt Family
A pretty evenly matched contest that embodies the pretty compact nature of the tag division at this time. Lack of heel teams means Kane and the Undertaker, a team on the show, miss out due to not being a regular tag team. There has been no face win since 2012, but The New Day were all encompassing at this time and are the only team that can come out on top realistically here.
In 2016, the WWE finally realised how much fun these multiple tag team contests could be, reinstating the 10-on-10 match, leading to this result:
Team Raw (Cesaro and Sheamus, Enzo and Cass, Gallows and Anderson, The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston), and The Shining Stars (Epico and Primo)) (with Xavier Woods) defeated Team SmackDown (American Alpha (Chad Gable and Jason Jordan), Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze), Heath Slater and Rhyno, The Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder) and The Usos (Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso))
However, had the teams been split along the face/heel divide instead of brand, the match could have looked more like this:
Face – The New Day, Enzo and Cass, The Usos, The Hype Bros, Heath Slater and Rhyno, American Alpha
Heel – Cesaro and Sheamus, Gallows and Anderson, The Shining Stars, Breezango
With some arbitrary trimming (based primarily on longevity on the brand), we end up with:
The New Day, Enzo and Cass, The Usos, and Heath Slater and Rhyno vs Cesaro and Sheamus, Gallows and Andersons, The Shining Stars and Breezango
Not necessarily an improvement, but it does highlight a stronger face tag team contingent at this time, which is a rarity. The New Day, Enzo and Cass and The Usos will survive, probably with Cesaro and Sheamus electing to walk out rather than take the pinfall loss at the end. A rare victory in recent years for the face teams.
There you have it. A completely arbitrary and hypothetical look at what could have happened. What I have learnt is that some years were horrifically bad for WWF/E tag team wrestling – worse than I actually imagined – and the promotion generally produces better heel teams than face teams. Or, I just prefer heels.
Either way, I hope you’ve enjoyed this project and have fun watching Survivor Series!