Sunday, October 29, 2006

Rethinking the Tag Division

Much has been made about the state of tag team wrestling in e-feds over the years. It happens upon the same cycle. People get excited about the tag team division, and there's a spike in activity. After a little bit of action, the division dies back down again after everyone realizes that there's no "glory" involved and you actually have to *gasp* work with other people or handling an entire tag team by yourself can be taxing. Then it dies again, often with your fed's variant of the Tag Team Championship perishing with it. It happens in cycles all the time until people just stop caring and the cycles cease to begin again.

You'd think that it'd be best to leave well enough, right? If people don't want the tag division, why bother? Well, I don't think that people don't want the tag division. Deep down, I believe people like the idea of wrestlers teaming up. Why else would there be a push for it every once in awhile? The interest is there, but there's no incentive to keep going. Tag Team Championships are often treated like second class titles, used to build up-and-comers, to shunt acts into after their progress in the singles ranks has been retarded, to put characters when the booking committee or the fedhead has no other ideas for them. There's no "prestige." There's nothing to suggest that the Tag Team Titles are on the plateau right below the World Championship like they should be in theory. Forget about write-ups, too. Tag matches are much harder to write than singles matches are. You're talking about a no-win situation as is.

So how do you put that prestige back? How do you make the tag division a selling point? Well, you have to put some prestige back into it. You have to make the tag division, at least at the Championship level, main event caliber. How do you do that, you ask? Well, two things:

1. Stock your tag division with main eventers

A division is only as prestigious as the wrestlers in it. If you stock your tag division with nothing but newbies, then it'll be the rookie division. If you stock it with midcarders whose push to the main event didn't quite work out so well, then you'll effectively make it the retread division. But if you make a concerted effort to put people in the division who are talented and who are over, then you'll have a division people will want to compete in, thus making your Tag Titles coveted.

How would you go about selling that to people who think they might be above tag wrestling though? Well, not everyone can go for the World Championship at once. So, while you have, say, Troy Windham challenging for Lindsay Troy's EPW World Heavyweight Championship and you have guys like Beast, Joey Melton, Karl Brown and Steven Shane lurking around the main event scene, you can make a concerted effort to put two of them together and believably go for the Tag Titles. Then, when you have Shane and Melton challenging Farnswirth and Friendly for the EPW Tag Titles, you automatically put cache behind the division. Here you have four of the best talents in the game going for these titles. They have to be important.

But what happens if say, Shane and Melton win the Tag Titles at the next PPV, but you've lined up Melton as your next number one contender? Well, to circumvent that, you make it so that you can hold singles belts as well as the Tag Titles. That might hurt the tag division in theory, but if done correctly, it can certainly be turned into a positive. For example, you can have Lindsay Troy, not satisfied with just dominating the singles ranks, step into the tag ranks and become EPW's ultimate wrestler. It could also be used as an elevation tool. Let's say that Troy's the World Champion, and she co-holds the Tag Titles with Melton. Then Blitz comes along, and they beat the Tag Champions. They not only win the Tag Titles, but they also beat the World Champion's team to do it, thus adding more luster behind the titles and their win.

There are infinite possibilities with booking, and that leads me to the second point:

2. Build hot feuds around the Tag Titles

This should be a no-brainer, right? However, you'd be surprised at how many times feds just have number one contenders' matches with slapped together teams to build a PPV Tag Title match. The best replacement for star power in any feud or fed is always going to be the heat surrounding it. Once again, the tag titles can be incorporated into angles in ways you can't work singles belts. A great example of this from real life was when Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels won the WWF Tag Belts when they were feuding. Or perhaps you could have two high contenders to the World Championship become Tag Champions have those tensions split them apart.

If you put a little work into anything, you can make it happen. A good tag team division can be a great asset to any fed, and it can provide opportunities to work with other gifted handlers in a collaborative sense as well as a competitive sense without having to join an angle fed.

Just think about it. Before you scrap your Tag Division, just think of the possibilities of, say, Gabriel Afeaki and Pierce Lavelle running roughshod over the Tag Division.

Just some food for thought, to no one in particular ;)

8 comments:

Ryan Rogatschnigg said...

Come on, you can't talk tag e-wrestling without talking NAPW.

But basically yeah, you have to book tag wrestling as something worth going for, with top RPers and not just rookies and guys without anything else to do. Build feuds over the tag belts. And then? Build feuds between two teams NOT going after the belts. The biggest problem about WWE's tag division is that there is nothing for two teams to do besides feud over the belts... and that means there's nowhere to build up. Have a jobber tag team on the roster so a new team can get a win and some momentum. New tag teams should have other teams to wrestle, not just the two teams feuding over the belts.

And having some guys who plan to TEAM together helps. I don't get a lot of "tag team apps", but it's possible to put together the right guys into a tag team. You just have to push them as such, keep booking them as a tag team versus booking them as singles wrestlers who "occasionally team."

And basically all the stuff Holzerman said.

Jason Snow said...

I agree with everything here, and I was actually surprised to see the state of tag team eW after my three year hiatus.

One thing I think you might be forgetting though is just the simple quantity of wrestlers. The beauty of the WWE/F tag division in the late 80's and early 90's was that it was a full division. I think you need at least 5 or 6 tag teams in the division to make it worthwhile and get new feuding combinations. Maybe 3 or 4 mainstay tag-teams and 2 or 3 makeshift teams of singles wrestlers. But eW rosters tend to be smaller now, and very rarely do you see a roster of more than 30.

Anonymous said...

I dunno about the whole "put main-event guys in the tag division" bit - that has to be done so carefully that it's a HUGE risk. To take EPW as an example (and I'll drop Brown out because he's the IC champion) - you could have Shane and Melton team, and beat the HSPC whilst Lindsay's taking out Windham (and maybe Douglas in a battle of the Troy's). That's all well and good, even if you want Melton or Shane facing Lindsay next because it's strengthened them. But then it weakens the tag division by making the focus of one half of the tag champs be a singles title - the only way that might be countered is to do the whole championships vs. championship situaiton (right now, that'd be Lindsay and Brown agaisnt the HSPC, like the Diesel/HBK vs. Bulldog and Yokozuna match way back).

But what about if the next person to face the World Champion loses the fall? If you had Melton lose the fall, then win the World Championship, you've built the Tag Team titles as being better than the World Title - or if you do indeed have, say, Lindsay going after the tag titles whilst keeping her single belt, if she loses the fall, you've got a challenger - but if she won the belt with Melton, then faced, say, Blitz, and lost the fall - you've made the tag team titles as bigger than your main title. You also then have the problem (with Blitz I mean, I don't think EPW would have this problem with any other team I can think of on the roster) of who from the new tag team champs would you put up for the singles title? You've just had a ready made World Title feud which couldn't really go ahead. And if you were to have a tag title match with Troy/Brown against the HSPC right now, you could seriously do harm to all three divisions at once!

I think there are ways to build the prestige of the tag division, but it needs to take time. Putting together main-event or almost-main-event guys to go after the tag straps is very much, in my mind, a short term fix - you really need dedicated tag teams (HSPC, Blitz, Benjamin/Mike C, Priest and Eisenkreuz) who don't work the singles roster all that often (unless they're in a tag feud with each other, then it can be a HUGE help). A tag roster outside the singles roster would be a huge help.

-Karl

Joshua C. Ray said...

You don't know how badly I have been wanting to do a tag team. My major success in e-fedding back when I was in junior high (for all of 6 months) was a tag team. Now, I'm thinking of trying it again.

Any takers? :)

Josh

Anonymous said...

Josh - bring it to AWC and kick us back into gear ;)

Ryan Rogatschnigg said...

Hey Josh,

NAPW would love a new tag team. I love tag wrestling, check us out at http://www.connexionsmusic.com/napw/

Tom Holzerman said...

Heh, my blog has become shill central :p

That's okay, because I can vouch for both feds. I'd go with AWC if you want to try something different than what you're used to. Think what you saw when you read the ToC round 2 RPs.

If you want to do something in a style you're familiar with, go with NAPW. I don't think you can miss with either selection :)

BigDaddy said...

It would certainly be nice if Brunk and I actually got a challenge for our tag team titles in A1E at some point. Was hoping we'd get it from Douglas and Daymon, but it appears that Douglas has disappeared.

Here, we basically have what you suggested, Tom. Two potential main eventers holding the belts. Beating us should mean something, but we can't get any challengers. Need to find a story to tell with these belts.