Last week, I wrote about the problems with depth and execution within the WWE Tag Team Division on both shows, and while those words are still true, at least for one night, the three duos given screen time on SmackDown put forth the best segment on the show.
Some may not like the Usos heel turn, but for me, it was a long overdue creative decision, and I'm far more invested in Jimmy and Jey than at any point since their debut. We all know they can work, but the act was so stale, so child-oriented, and so damn...colorful, that it was basically John Cena on steroids. When either Uso spoke, the words didn't sound like something anyone this side of an action figure with a pull string would ever say. But, once it was time to turn them, I was immediately interested.
There's an edge there, and though the work is nowhere near as flashy as it was six months ago, it's far better. Those that now find the Usos boring in the ring need to realize that they've actually changed the way they work to fit the new heel characters. A true wrestling villain doesn't have 14,586 signature high spots. Instead, there are a few devastating moves, and in the case of a tag team, a couple of dastardly tandem maneuvers and some simple, basic, violent cut off spots. That's what the Usos are providing. It means more clubbing, less flipping. It means no more "Uso Crazy." It means a few more rest holds, generally focused on a body part.
It's called storytelling. The heel shouldn't try to get himself over with absurd lists of moves. The heel should try to get the babyface over by taking those moves, but should also understand the timing that comes with a well-structured clothesline to the throat to kill the hope of the hero.
When it was time to go to the heat on Tuesday, the Usos got Chad Gable caught between the ropes and the apron, jerked on one of his legs, and then delivered a vile leaping kick to the knee. That was a thing of beauty. Somewhere, even grizzled, cantakerous Ole Anderson probably stood up and applauded the effort. Gable can play one hell of a victim, which is the biggest reason for American Alpha's success. His dire condition makes the desire for Jason Jordan to make the exchange and wreck shop that much stronger. They're a great team, and they're still learning.
Unlike Enzo Amore, who doesn't have the in-ring skill to match his impressive charisma, Chad Gable knows what the hell he's doing when it comes to the details. He also knows what pain should feel like, after likely suffering his share of setbacks as he competed in amateur wrestling. He's a perfect slab of meat for a heel, and the Usos knew how to draw the emotion out of the crowd.
When Jordan noticed Gable was hurting, then refused to tag his partner in and risk him getting injured, that might be one of the smartest pieces of business WWE has done in ages. It made sense to anybody with a pulse. We could all see it, and the announcers did a decent enough job of driving the point home. The mark of a great in-ring moment is one that doesn't require a voiceover, and we could all tell that story and read those words without any kind of soundtrack. It was flawlessly executed, and when the Usos finally used their two-on-one advantage to finish off Jordan, the loss didn't hurt Alpha one bit. It built up the Usos and ramped up the reasoning to despise these two men.
And, we weren't even done. In the back, Heath Slater and Rhyno were watching the match, scouting their opponents for No Mercy, and eating a few crackers with spray cheese. In comes Jimmy and Jey to make one final statement to the crowd that they're complete asshats. They still talked like idiots, but this time, it actually plays to their benefit, because they're supposed to be jerks. When they taunted the champs, making fun of Heath's kids, raising the ire of Rhyno, all of a sudden there's a reason to want to see that match. Tuesday night was entertaining and refreshing, and it accomplished goals for three different teams simultaneously. The most important thing was to make the Usos into a team worthy of ultimate derision, and it was a wild success.
Sure, we want to see American Alpha get their revenge on Jimmy and Jey, but honestly, we don't want to see it yet. Whether we know it or not, we want the Usos to win those titles at some point in the next two months, and drop them to American Alpha at the Royal Rumble. That's how you build a heel, and in a division without many participants, it's also how you stretch time.
WWE could pull the trigger at Survivor Series, but if they don't, we could be just fine. These three teams, even though there's virtually nothing else of credible interest to be found in the SmackDown Tag Team Division, can get us through to 2017, and hopefully all might be in good shape when business begins to rise again in January.
And then comes The Revival.