Tuesday 12 May 2015

The Four Man Tag Division

I'm usually as happy as the next guy to rave about how good NXT is. Because by any reasonable standard it is good. How could it not be with a main event scene built around the artists formerly known as Kevin Steen, El Generico, Prince Devitt, and KENTA and a surprisingly good WWE find in Tyler Breeze?

This doesn't mean NXT is flawless though. Far from it. Recent months have seen a very clear deemphasising of the tag team division. Over the first half of this year a lot of teams that were regulars in 2014 have disappeared. The Ascension and the Lucha Dragons have been promoted to the main roster. Sylvester LeFort and Marcus Louis had a falling out, split, and then both vanished. The Vaudevillains simply stopped appearing with no explanation after their loss to Enzo and Big Cass in February.

The Ascension aren't a loss in terms of quality matches but within NXT they worked well in their established role. The same can be said for Sin Cara and Kalisto, although they did actually turn out quality work. The promotion of both of these teams was inevitable, with the Dragons being obviously ready and Konnor and Viktor having nothing else to do in developmental besides tread water.

The departures wouldn't have been a big problem had they not inexplicably coincided with other teams splitting or vanishing too. But for whatever reason The Vaudevillains are being held off televised shows and more was seen in LeFort and Louis as singles acts. In fact a story possibly inspired by the Phantom of the Opera (or maybe The Hunchback of Notre Dame) was started with Louis being glimpsed watching Tyler Breeze entrances and matches shortly after he split from LeFort. That was dropped quickly, even though it could have been enjoyably silly. Personally I feel LeFort shone brightest as a sleazy Eurotrash manager and think that's the role he's best suited to. Meanwhile Jason Jordan and Tye Dillinger, who were a decent team who could have achieved more, were split to make way for repackaging work on both guys.

I like Enzo and Cass, but some variety wouldn't go amiss.
Right now the NXT tag division features little but matches and skits pitting Enzo Amore and Big Cass against Blake and Murphy. As a tag title programme it's fine, and Carmella's involvement as a heel manager of two very popular babyfaces gives the whole thing a unique slant, but it's noticeably weaker than the men's and women's singles ranks. With most episodes of NXT being around forty-five minutes (discounting ads) there should be plenty of time to feature more teams. And despite the lack of them on screen there are enough to have a much healthier division.

Last week we saw the first appearance of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder's Mechanics tag team in months. It's an enjoyably daft, mid-card gimmick and I think the pair would work well opposite Enzo and Cass. Being redneck stereotypes they could have a lovely clash of characters with the refined Edwardian carnival troupe dandies English and Gotch too. The Vaudevillains are, as has already been pointed out, overdue a TV return (unless there's an injury involved that nobody knows about).

Angelo Dawkins and Sawyer Fulton have been good in the few matches they've had, but they've been positioned as enhancement talent, there to make the more important teams look good. It's particularly frustrating as teams with the amateur wrestler gimmick are always enjoyable. There's something about the way the style's applied to pro wrestling that makes it a good fit for doubles matches. That they're part of a larger group being tinkered with on house shows makes it more frustrating still: there could be an entire new act on TV. That said a strength of NXT is developing things gradually, so it's best to remain patient for the gang currently known as Shoot Nation to show up.

There are also plenty of guys we haven't seen yet who could be paired up and used as double acts. But even discounting that there are three teams that could be used to make the tag scene more competitive. Given how much the other championships in NXT mean it's a pity thatthe NXT tag belts are going through a dry patch right now.

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