As noted in this space and elsewhere on Cageside Seats, the SmackDown tag scene has been on fire for quite some time now, but Monday finally brought some freshness to the Raw division … but also a potential setback.
We’ll start with the bad news first, in that Dean Ambrose potentially having an extended injury absence would derail not only the top face team but the headline mainstays of The Shield. The team feels rather star-crossed since their reformation, but here’s hoping Dean’s injury is less serious than expected and he has a speedy recovery.
On the flip side, The Revival are finally healthy again, which boosts the Raw tag division. And losing might have set Beauty and the Man Beast for a story, as they try to heed Kurt Angle’s suggestion to get tougher -- which also reminded us of Heath Slater’s comic potential. Throw in Titus Worldwide scouting The Revival as well as having a potential rivalry with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, and you can see the building blocks for a rejuvenated division.
SmackDown continued its current hot streak at Clash of Champions, with a frenzied and fun Fatal 4-Way retained by The Uso plus a showcase for The Bludgeon Brothers, albeit at the expense of Breezango. On the Tuesday show, they followed up with a good opening match of Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin upsetting The Usos, and an entertaining professional wrestling holiday match as New Day got their win back against Rusev Day. Related: If WWE ever releases an Aiden English Christmas album, I won’t even know what to do with myself.
But how does all this effect this week’s power rankings?
WWE Tag Team Power Rankings through Dec. 19:
1. The Usos (3)
Pro: Won the highest profile bout of the week, then had a quality outing against Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin.
Con: Lost that match.
2. Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable (9)
Pro: Between a SmackDown win over The Usos and a Gable looking like an absolute star at Clash of Champions, they make a big move up the charts.
Con: Their tweener position leaves the crowd wondering how to respond sometimes.
3. The New Day (2)
Pro: Still very over and won a ridiculous (and I mean that in a good way) holiday-themed match with Rusev Day.
Con: They might be prancing away from the title picture.
4. The Bar (4)
Pro: Back in the win column with another impressive performance.
Con: If we lose The Shield, what interesting programs would they have left?
5. The Shield (1)
Pro: Seth Rollins put in a great workhorse performance.
Con: Potential absence of Ambrose would be tough.
6. Rusev Day (5)
Pro: Currently very over with the crowds, deservedly so with their ability to present entertaining segments.
Con: Came up short at Clash of Champions then gifted a loss to New Day.
7. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn (6)
Pro: The Yep Movement won at Clash of Champions. They continue to excel at being irritants.
Con: Promptly lost on SmackDown.
8. Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura (7)
Pro: Got a win back on SmackDown.
Con: If they settle the program with the Yep Movement, unclear future direction.
9. The Revival (not rated)
Pro: They’re back, which always makes the tag division better.
Con: With heel champs, when would they got a shot at the title?
10. The Bludgeon Brothers (8)
Pro: Squashed Breezango at Clash of Champions.
Con: Must have got lost in the woods for Tuesday’s show.
Best tag segment of the week: While one could say that the Fatal 4-Way at Clash of Champions may have felt a bit overcrowded at times, the level of talent in that ring, the spotlight the teams traded and the quality performance all around showed how rich the SmackDown tag division is. I’d be tempted to put the New Day-Rusev Day program here, but while it was very entertaining, it was basically meaningless.
Grade: A. This was a week that better showcased roster depth and thoroughly sports entertained fans of tag-team wrestling.