It was at least a bit of a surprise to see Alpha Academy take the Raw tag titles from one of the red brand's top acts in RK-Bro. Maybe not too surprising because Otis has been built up well, although Chad Gable's main role has been to lose really good matches, while Randy Orton and Matt Riddle see a lot of TV time and are super over with fans.
But this does provide a reset and some fresh stories for the division. One can't help but feel happy for Gable, who has been underutilized for so long yet still won tag gold with his third partner (after he and Jason Jordan were so great in American Alpha, and then his brief partnership with Robert Roode). Otis continues to be a force, and that this time he pinned Orton makes that part of the story more intriguing.
That's because the losses the team sustains have been on Riddle, either from being goofy or trying to emulate Randy, but now the guy he looks up to took the pin to lose gold. Will the relationship dynamics change? Because of how well the characters and story have been built, whether they make a change and take back the gold or go in a different direction is really interesting.
Beyond the recent champs, Street Profits seem most likely to enter the title picture. They took a loss last week in a six-man that seems more about setting up Damian Priest and Apollo Crews, but otherwise have been booked well. They are a very charismatic act with a former long tag title run, and need very little work to be credible contenders. Plus Alpha Academy feels a little more transitional than RK-Bro's lengthy run.
Besides them, it would take a lot more to make anybody look like top contenders. It looked like we might have a neat power couple of Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins before the latter had to fill a top-of-the-card need for SmackDown. WWE does love its thrown together tag teams, but not many other contenders fit the bill.
The Mysterios could conceivably be heated up again, but it's just as likely they go back to the storyline of Rey trying to help Dominik overcome his inexperience. Rey can still put on great matches at his age and remains one of WWE's top names, so it wouldn't be surprising to see father and son get more ring time in whatever avenue WWE chooses.
Some of the other contenders seem more longshots due to heel-heel matchups and middling booking. Before Dirty Dawgs' win on Monday, Dolph Ziggler was picking up cheap victories to set up a losing effort (albeit a good one) to Priest. This duo mainly exists to put others over and make them look good. Despite also being on the winning side this week, Crews with Commander Azeez are in a similar situation. Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander are much more likely to lose a handicap match to Bobby Lashley than win anything.
So short of doing something unusual (yet compelling) like pairing former Bullet Club leaders AJ Styles and Finn Balor, the Raw roster consists of only two viable challengers for the gold. It's certainly better than the women's division, and having new tag champs always opens new possibilities.
The following Tag Team Power Rankings take into account wins, power and placement of segments, recentness of appearances, creative direction and momentum for teams and factions.
WWE Tag Team Power Rankings through Jan. 14:
1. The Bloodline (last week: 1)
Pro: Still all holding gold. The Usos got to open SmackDown and Reigns closed it, showing they still run the show.
Con: They weren't able to close the trap on Seth Rollins.
2. Alpha Academy (not ranked)
Pro: The new champs might get a chance to run with the gold for a while.
Con: Some kind of clerical kept them off the list last week. We promise not to overlook them again.
3. Beauty Queens (Carmella and Queen Zelina) (2)
Pro: Still women's main-roster tag champions with no real challengers.
Con: That no real challengers thing isn't good, plus apparently Carmella is working through an injury.
4. Imperium (5)
Pro: Still the NXT men's champions, and the video package hyping Walter pairing with them again raises their place in the pecking order.
Con: Still will have to hold off a challenge from a refueled MSK.
5. RK-Bro (3)
Pro: Even without gold, these are clearly two wrestlers WWE - and especially fans - can feel invested in.
Con: Lost their match and titles on Raw.
6. Viking Raiders (not ranked)
Pro: Won a fun fatal four-way to become #1 contenders to the SmackDown gold.
Con: Considering they recently lost to Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss, will need some build to feel like legit contenders.
7. Dirty Dawgs (not ranked)
Pro: Picked up a win in a six-man tag, and continue to carve out time on Raw.
Con: When they win while RK-Bro lose, but the Dawgs still feel a ways below the recent champs, that says a lot about the heels' overall booking.
8. Toxic Attraction (7)
Pro: Still all champs, with Mandy still getting plenty of TV time.
Con: Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne only recorded audio for promos, which means they're probably not able to come into the studio or arena to participate.
9. Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta (not ranked)
Pro: Scored a win in a six-person tag, with Persia especially still being booked strong.
Con: They'll probably have to win the women's Dusty to get a title shot.
10. Street Profits (8)
Pro: Raw picking up heel champs who are not exactly unbeatable is good news for one of Raw's few other top teams.
Con: Taking a loss in a six-man tag this week doesn't move them closer to contending.
Best tag segment of the week: A title change, as always, is good for this category, and somewhat of a surprise rates as a bonus.
The women's title scenes on both levels aren't doing much, but the other divisions look pretty good.