WWE Tag Team Championship
Team Hell No (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston
During their tumultuous seven month reign atop WWE's tag team division, Daniel Bryan and Kane's biggest competition seemed to be each other. But a Diva from their past has some new allies that could pose quite a challenge to Dr Shelby's charges at Wrestlemania 29 tomorrow night (Sun., April 7, 2013).
The Road to WrestleMania 29
Hell No has feuded off and on with most of the established tag teams in WWE over the course of their partnership. In story, they've vanquished Team Rhodes Scholars and the Prime Time Players. In reality, the lack of commitment to the division and absence of other babyface pairings for heel champions to face off against were cited for keeping the duo together and on top.
But most of the drama around the team came from the tension between the two:
For the longest time, speculation had focused on the two men facing each other at WrestleMania after the partnership had dissolved. And while keeping them together could be a case of "creative has nothing for you (or the tag team division)", there was another alignment of Superstars with whom Bryan and Kane have a history:
Last year at WrestleMania 28, Daniel Bryan was World Heavyweight Champion and AJ Lee was his girlfriend/valet. Throughout the course of the last year, AJ has positioned herself atop the WWE main event scene, flirting through allegiances with Kane, CM Punk and John Cena before settling into her romance with Dolph Ziggler.
Ziggler himself is a character who seemed to be without a story to tell at "The Granddaddy of Them All". The holder of a briefcase which entitles him to a World Heavyweight Championship match at a time and place of his choosing for eight months, Dolph has achieved some big victories this year. But he has also experienced prolonged dry spells.
It looked like his many fans would be left hoping that April 7th was the night that Mr Money in the Bank handed in his blue briefcase. But someone remembered that AJ wasn't the only person who has had interactions with the tag champions of late:
Over the last few months, The Show-Off has seen one-on-one action against both members of Hell No and emerged victorious (with the help of Lee and her "BFF" Big E Langston). AJ used the momentum of those wins to get the championship match booked for WrestleMania.
Langston is an impressive physical specimen, but he remains untested in an official WWE contest. The reigning NXT champion has proven to be the king of the developmental program's mountain, and he has been able to inflict damage on some of the WWE's biggest names.
But is a championship match at the company's flagship pay-per-view too bright of a spotlight for an official debut? And do Big E's allegiances lie with AJ or with Dolph?
The participants in this match have continued to circle one another in various formations in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania:
But plenty of questions remain as to what will occur on Sunday and in the days and months that follow.
What's at Stake?
The copper belts, first and foremost.
While the tag team division remains a shadow of its former self, champions are still champions. Holding those straps and a guaranteed shot at the World Heavyweight Championship (all while AJ is rumored to have a shot at the Divas title) could be the start of an impressive collection of hardware for Ziggler, Langston and Lee.
Bryan and Kane's position with the company is thoroughly intertwined with the tag championship and each other at this point. A victory means another set of vanquished foes - but with no other immediate, fresh challenges on the horizon. A defeat would seem to obviously mean a chance to resume the issues with one another that were put on hold for their headlining partnership.
And who is to say whether or not Ms Lee has a twist in mind for any (or all) of the competitors? She's proven an ability to stay front and center on WWE stages, by any means necessary. It's hard to believe that she will stay on a losing team for too long.
Whether you're a fan of Team Hell No or not, there's little denying that both men are very good at what they do in the ring. The same is true for Dolph Ziggler. Throw in the opportunity for a HOSS FIGHT with the green but impressive looking Langston and AJ's sexy geeky cool, and this match has a chance to be a real highlight of the night. Whether or not it remains in our memory much beyond that is another question all together.