by Alex McCarthy (@AlexMC7489)
Holla holla holla y’all! It’s the Top Ten WWE/NXT Tag Teams of 2016. I tried to find a balance between teams that made an impact and had great matches. I’d like to think I put a bigger emphasis on great matches, but it’s hard to say. The middle of the pack is always hard for me to determine. I feel like I get my top two and bottom two are easy, and then, I struggle with the middle. Anyways, here we go!
10. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English and Simon Gotch)
In 2015, The Vaudevillains were one of my favorite tags teams in NXT. I thought they had a cool gimmick. It was a great gimmick, a throwback, and it was different. I thought for sure they would be a great addition to the main roster whenever they got the call up. As the men started to flounder in NXT, they got called up to the main roster. They turned back to heels, and they were a part of a packed tag team division. It’s sort of up in the air whether or not these guys will ever see the success they saw as the top babyfaces in NXT especially if Old Boy Gotch can’t keep his hands to himself.
9. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D’Von)
What’s weirder? The Dudley Boyz coming in at Number 9 on a tag team list or The Dudley Boyz being on a Top Tag Teams list in 2016. I think The Dudley Boyz had a nice run in 2016. I know people are still holding out for a Bubba singles heel run like he had in TNA, but I think it says a lot about the two most famous residents of Dudleyville to come back and make the new teams look good. With somewhat of a tag resurgence in 2016, having a solid team like The Dudleyz was great for young guys to get to work with a team that has faced some of the best ever.
8. Beauty and the Man-Beast
I’ve almost always been a Heath Slater fan. I feel like the guy has always made the most of the hand he has been dealt. Has he always been the best thing on the show? Of course not. Do I think he has a WWE World Championship run in his career? Probably not. But this is a utility player who has made plenty of fun memorable moments in wrestling. When Heath Slater didn’t get drafted, it led to a fun story. Heath was trying to get signed, and he got an opportunity. Slater and Rhyno threw their names in the hat to become the first Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions. Rhyno is another guy who is truly giving back to the business in the twilight of his career. Hopefully, these guys losing the titles leads to an interesting angle for both of them.
There is not a shadow of a doubt in mind these two guys had some of the best matches in 2016. Personally, I thought some of their singles runs were just as good as their tag team run. For that reason, they might be a bit lower than you think they should be. Johnny Gargano is one of the best babyfaces in the industry, and I think he’s going to be a huge star. Ciampa is another top talent, and I think he’s going to go far. Will their sustaining impact be as a tag team? In my opinion, probably not. I think they’re very talented, and I think they have bright futures. Any time they get in the ring as a tag team, I will be excited to watch. Their Two out of Three Falls Match against The Revival at NXT Takeover Toronto was probably my best tag team match of 2016.
6. Enzo Amore and Big Cass
The first time you hear “My name is Enzo Amore, and I am a certified g and a bonafide stud, and you can’t teach that. This right here. This is BIG CASS, and he’s seven feet tall, and you can’t teach that. Badaboom realest guys in the room. How you doin’?” you probably realized that these guys are the real deal. Enzo oozes charisma. Cass has the look that Vince McMahon loves. I think they both have deficits which the other helps fill. They can put together an exciting tag team match. They’re ok at best in singles action. I don’t actually think either guy has that much mileage on his own no matter how hard WWE tries to test that. Together? They have an incredible amount of mileage. They’ve been shoehorned into a weird spot as New Day makes waves with an historic Tag Title run. When New Day’s day is up, will he see how much mileage Enzo and Cass have? I hope so.
5. Gallows & Anderson
I remember the shock when Gallows and Anderson jumped the barrier and took out Jimmy and Jey. The Club had arrived, and they were in a hot angle with AJ, Roman, and The Usos. It was extremely enjoyable. I thought they were going to have a great year. Then, they did that stupid doctor gimmick. That was garbage. The thing is, these two are legitimately hilarious without a script. However, when you give them a bad script (And I’m not necessarily anti-script across the board as some are) and put them up against great comedy acts like New Day and Enzo and Cass, you’re essentially saying, “No sir. We don’t really want your money. You go ahead and keep it.” Come on. I think The Club still has a lot of mileage, and I also still desperately want Club versus Shield at Wrestlemania. These guys could’ve been number one, but I think weird booking kept them from their full potential. That’s actually the case with a lot of these tag teams.
4. American Alpha
Here you have two phenomenal athletes. These guys have a ton of mileage as top stars whether it be as tag teams or singles. Chad Gable strikes me as a guy who got the wrestling business extremely quickly. I’m going to go ahead and make the Kurt Angle comparison. If Gable was six inches taller and twenty five pounds heavier, I have a hard time doubting he wouldn’t be in World Title contention by now. The guy has charisma, and he’s a great wrestler. Jason Jordan is a guy who I was marginally aware of. He was one of those guys who had been in many different tag teams including one with Tye Dillenger. I always thought he was a little bland, but the pairing with Gable proved that the right angle and situation can bring out the best in a guy. I feel like these two have delivered every time they’ve been given the opportunity. I actually feel like they’ve tread water a bit on Smackdown. I feel like the Smackdown writing team knows they want to make a big deal out of the chase for these two, but the have other stories they want to get out of the way first. I get it, but I think they’re being underutilized in the process in a way that almost sort of devalues them. I hope they don’t miss the boat on these two in the way they’ve missed the boat on a lot of top stars from NXT.
3. The Usos
The Usos have always been a good tag team. However, the face paint smiling Usos who just came out and had good little matches was getting really old. If you told me they would be number three on my list before the draft, I don’t think I would’ve believed you. The heel turn revitalized these guys. I love the new attitude. They dress like real people now. They’re fashionable, and they act like real heels. They’ve had many good matches since the turn. They act like they want to hurt people, and it is making the prospect of The Usos versus American Alpha even more salivating. They have a ton of heat. They’re having great matches. These veterans have reinvented themselves in the most interesting way possible. I think they’re going to have a marquee feud with Gable and Jordan in 2017 that will put them at the top of my list then, too.
2. The New Day
I recently saw someone say New Day was successful even though they never really had great creative. I want to come even further and say they made the best of bad creative. Now, I dig gospel music, so when those vignettes came out, I was like okay okay, but did I see them breaking Demolition’s record of longest reigning WWE World Tag Team Champions of all time? No. I did not. These boys got bright colors and a slide trombone over in professional wrestling. Hats off to them. They got the crowd excited and between their face and heel run, they showed their diversity as performers. Honestly, of the three, Woods was the only one I was really excited about in the business. I thought Kofi had run his course. Big E came off as just another big guy. The three of them together has been magic, and they have been near perfect WWE Tag Team Champions. Despite a lack of interesting challengers, I think they have done their best to keep the crowd engaged. I do think with time and skill, this stable could spin out a really big star if it’s done the right way (probably Big E).I’m not sure what the end of the day is for this trio, though. I actually wouldn’t mind if either Xavier or Big E started challenging for a singles title (Cruiserweight, US, etc.) leaving the other two to be more of the designated tag team and give it more of a stable field.
1. The Revival
My #GoodBrother Luke Raven put The Revival versus DIY as his Number 3 match of 2016. The Revival’s run as NXT Tag Team Champions has been incredible in 2016. There is one category where Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder have delivered. These guys have had excellent matches with American Alpha and DIY. They have captured the attention of Jim Cornette. The guy who hates everything and everyone involved with the WWE has a man-crush on these guys. Just listen to his podcast when he reviews one of their matches. These guys are gold on the microphone and gold in the ring. Every time they’ve been in the ring on NXT Takeover, they have done great work. The heat they generate in the ring is just so innovative. I think these guys could really revitalize tag team wrestling if and when they get the call up. Road Dog, Michael Hayes, Vince, hear me out. Don’t screw these two up. I’m begging you. They will make you a bank load of money if you let them. I actually want them to be the ones to unseat New Day as the Raw Tag Team Champions. I think Scott Dawson is an incredible talker with a huge upside, and Dash Wilder is a solid worker with a great deal of potential. I honestly think Scott Dawson has top guy potential on his own, so there’s a definitive Shawn and Marty to me. However, these guys don’t really remind me of The Rockers. I get a big Minnesota Wrecking Crew or Brainbusters vibe. However, there is no doubt in my mind, these two #TopGuys will leave a legacy that future tag teams will aspire to be compared to.
Tag Team wrestling is on a bit of a resurgence with things like the Dusty Classic, and the Brand Split has opened up doors for more tag teams to enter the spotlight. Let me know what you think. Follow me on Twitter and hit me up at local Iowa wrestling shows. I accept peppermint Altoids, yellow legal pads, and Bic Velocity pens. Have a good holiday season, and we’ll see you at the show!