AEW: The Best Tag Team Division in the Biz
At the recent Crown Jewel pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia, WWE had a match to declare the Best Tag Team in the World. This was done via a tag team turmoil match that featured nine of WWE’s teams from Raw and SmackDown. None of the teams from NXT were invited and the Street Profits barely missed the cut, apparently. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, members of The O.C. with AJ Styles, won the match, the trophy, and the right to describe themselves with one impressively lofty title.
It’s a lofty title that’s really hard to take seriously when most of the tag teams who have a legit claim to said title are in AEW.
The Lucha Bros. Best Friends. The Dark Order. Private Party. The Young Bucks. SCU. Santana & Ortiz. This list of tag teams is impressive, to say the least. What’s more important is that AEW actually gives them time to shine. The October 30th edition of AEW Dynamite featured three tag team matches in a two-hour show, including an absolutely brilliant championship match between SCU and The Lucha Bros. Between Raw, SmackDown, and both iterations of NXT, there are five tag team championships and those belts don’t get that kind of TV time from week to week. There’s no guarantee that they’ll even be defended on a pay-per-view pre-show, let alone the actual pay-per-view.
NXT does a bit better with this than the rest of the WWE does. Their tag belts at least get some prominence on the show. Fans watching Raw and SmackDown have to check the internet each time they tune in to remind themselves who the current tag champs are.
Thankfully, the Women’s Tag Championships have been used in conjunction with a timely heel turn to bring Asuka and Kairi Sane, aka the Kabuki Warriors, to the position of prominence they deserve.
AEW, on the other hand, has carved out a place for itself by making its tag team division a highlight of the show. It’s something you tune in for, a division that’s 100 percent over with the fans. SCU won the inaugural AEW Tag Team Championship, narrowly edging out The Lucha Bros. Fans were on the edge of their seats for the entire match, if not on their feet. The following week, Private Party and The Dark Order faced off to decide who would take third place in the tournament. Again, fans were fully invested in the match.
The Viking Raiders and The Revival are the respective tag champs on Raw and SmackDown. It sounds like fans are sitting on their hands when they’re wrestling, which isn’t their fault. Bad booking has plagued the WWE for years and was an obvious point of vulnerability for AEW to target.
Target it, they have.
But it’s not just WWE. AEW has a superior tag division to almost any other company in the American wrestling market. ROH and IMPACT, which have their own stars, simply do not have the talent AEW has. Watching The Lucha Bros wrestle is a thing of beauty. The same can be said for Privat Party, a team that’s finally getting the recognition it deserves thanks to AEW. Most other companies do not have comparable tag team talent AEW does. In the rare case that they do have the talent, they don’t book the division in a way that shows their talent off properly.
In reality, AEW’s tag team division isn’t really booked that much different than any other company, when you get down to the nuts and bolts. What AEW does right is let the teams be dynamic and unique. For lack of a better phrase, they let the tag team division breath.
Where WWE keeps failing is slapping together random singles competitors into tag teams and throwing the belts on them to further other storylines. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode became a tag team out of nowhere, won the Raw Tag Team Championships, and then lost them to another makeshift team made up of Seth Rollins and Brawn Strowman. This was done solely to build up the feud between Rollins and Strowman over the Universal Championship, sacrificing the entire tag team division in the process.
Now, The Viking Raiders are the Raw Tag Champions, which they deserve. As War Machine, they were one of the most popular tag teams in the indies and took NXT by storm. The problem is that WWE has devalued their tag division so much that fans just don’t care anymore about who is the champion.
The future of the AEW could potentially be the same, piecing together a makeshift team out of two random wrestlers like PAC and Orange Cassidy to win the belts on their first match out. That could happen, though it probably won’t. AEW management seems too savvy for that.
Like most wrestling promotions, both AEW and WWE have a men’s division, a women’s division, and a tag team division. But what AEW has seemed to realize is that the tag team division presents an opportunity to stake their claim on something that will set them apart. The sad truth is that tag team wrestling has become a lost art form in the modern wrestling world, particularly in the WWE. The Revival should be respected as the best in the business. Instead, they’re champs that fight for TV time, a battle they lose way too much. One can’t help but wonder if Dash and Dawson have a calendar with the days until their WWE contract is up marked on it.
AEW has a beautifully booked tag team division stacked with amazing talent. It is the Best Tag Team Division in the World and they don’t need to have a match in the desert to prove it.