The Hardy Boyz were one of the most successful tag teams in WWE history. Photo by Christian Korsager.
As Triple H started taking over more and more duties backstage at WWE in regards to Talent Relations, we were alerted to multiple reports from those "in the know" that one of his main goals was to slowly but surely rebuild the tag team division.
It's been slow, for sure, but the company has managed to establish a few teams that generally get TV time on both Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown, not to mention Superstars, WWE's online only show. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth are the champions with the Primetime Players rising to prominence as foils and Epico and Primo trailing right behind them.
Throw in Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks, The Usos, and any number of other random combinations of two guys they can put together at a moment's notice and you could almost pass this rag tag group of guys off as a legitimate division.
But that doesn't mean it's anywhere near as interesting or successful as it's been in times past in the 80s and 90s. But why is that?
Is it because WWE simply doesn't devote the necessary resources to cultivating the proper talent to make it work? Is it because the superstars they have in that role just aren't getting over?
Former WWE tag team champion Matt Hardy offered an interesting theory to Wrestling Inc and he's blaming it on John Cena ... kind of.
"I think you had an era in the late '80's when you had the Hart Foundation, The Bulldogs and all those other great teams then. I think the biggest thing that affects tag team wrestling in this scenario -- because I get asked this question a lot and this is usually the answer that I go with -- in the late 80's, they had the Hulkamania era and the Rock & Wrestling connection. Hulk Hogan was white hot and they had their top guy. Hogan was selling out arenas everywhere and they could focus on other aspects and other areas of the company.
"Same thing in that period when they had The Rock and 'Stone Cold' and they were white hot, selling out buildings everywhere. They could focus on other things besides their main acts. Right now, they're in a period where they're still looking for something. John Cena is the face of the company, but John Cena isn't setting record numbers on TV. Time and television has changed a lot as well.
"John Cena's not setting record numbers on TV, he's not selling out every house show, this, that and the other thing. They're going to be worried about finding the best guy that's going to be selling out every event, that's going to make pay-per-views sell more than ever before, that is appropriate for whatever the time is before they're really able to focus on tag team wrestling.
"Over the last few weeks, they've tried to have a little bit more focus on tag team wrestling but they will never get the full devotion and focus of creative, Vince and likely Hunter until their completely comfortable with the top guy situation."
Essentially, because John Cena isn't as big a star as Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin were during their time at the top of the company, the tag team division is suffering because the Creative team is forced to spend more time coming up with new and interesting ways to make sure Cena maintains his status as the top star.
Or something like that.
Hardy may be on to something, to an extent. Booking Hogan in the 80s was the easiest thing on Earth. He was such a clean, vanilla babyface hero, they simply found a physically imposing heel to beat on him until the Hulkster made his comeback and triumphed in the end.
Not a lot of thought goes into that.
I'm not sure I agree in regards to Austin or The Rock when they were on top. One of the most underrated aspects of the Attitude Era was the fact that the writing team had something for everyone on the card. They didn't just focus on the acts at the top, though they were given legitimate storylines, but they had guys like Al Snow working programs that actually meant something.
Even if it was just him fighting with a mannequin's head.
Now, however, it definitely seems as though Hardy has it right. The tag team division is booked using the basics while those higher on the card get legitimate storylines. That raises the question of whether a hot story could catapult the current crop of tag wrestlers over the top right now and I'm not sure I know the answer.
Cagesiders, what do you think?