A Mark’s Eye View is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling.
Longtime professional wrestling fans bemoan the loss of so much. Long term booking, blood, and non scripted promos are just some of things fans of old school wrestling say are missing from the current product. Ultimately, it is all subjective, and much of it is based on nostalgia. Sure, blood can add to a heated feud, but do you really need the entire roster to run the blade for every match at Great Balls of Fire?
There is one thing that is hard to argue against, however: tag team wrestling is simply not as good as it once was. Many of wrestling’s changes are a matter of the sport evolving. A great example is chairshots — where fans once booed Lance Storm for not wanting to hit his opponent over the head, increased knowledge about the adverse health effects have seen them almost completely done away with. When they are done, it is rightfully met with outrage from wrestling fans.
This argument cannot be made about tag team wrestling. Participants are not any safer and the match has not become antiquated like bra and panties matches. There’s no way around it: the lack of a strong tag division hurts the sport. A healthy tag team division adds variety and allows people who are unable to succeed in singles competition have a place to shine. Tag teams are more important to the sport than dream matches based on nostalgia or NXT commentators returning to Raw.
Few fans will argue that when a tag team comes to together, it is nothing short of magical. Teams like the Road Warriors, various Expresses, and even more recent teams like the Hardyz mean something to the fans who were lucky enough to see them. Whether it is two brawlers like Ax and Smash or a pair of high flyers like the the Young Bucks, the right chemistry can make two good wrestlers a legendary tag team.
Teams like the Miracle Violence Connection proved there is no such thing as too much ability on one team, but how big of a talent gap can a team endure? After all, it seemed like all teams had members that were interchangeable. Sure, Dynamite Kid is much better than Davey Boy Smith, but only the most hardcore of fans noticed that, and even they did not care.
Then, there is the Hart Foundation.
Bret “Hitman” Hart and Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart are one of the most iconic teams in WWE history. The duo won the Tag Team Championship twice and engaged in some of the most memorable bouts in the history of the company. Starting as heels, the two became so popular they were turned face. From the Killer Bees to the Powers of Pain, there did not seem to be a team on the roster they were unable to have a great match with. They even battled the Rougeaus in matches that saw both teams cross the face/heel divide.
They also have the biggest talent gap between in any team in wrestling history. For years, fans have joked about Bret and his Five Moves of Doom. While it is true fans could count on the same five moves from every Bret match, it is also fact Bret could deliver the best match on any card. He was a master of psychology who could work with anyone on the roster. His in ring accomplishments still stand out today.
The Anvil would have to put on his working boots to get to five moves. He was great at clubberin’ and had a decent powerslam, but that was all fans were getting out of a Neidhart match. The best a person could hope for was a passable match. Neidhart may have been the one on the team with the personality (debatably), but there is a reason the Anvil never got a big singles push.
And yet, the Hart Foundation worked. They are in the WWE Hall of Fame for good reason. The team are a huge part of older fans’ memories. In the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling WWF where gimmicks ruled, the Harts still managed to stand out. They were not as big as Hulk Hogan or as flamboyant as Randy Savage, but fans still looked forward to seeing them. The duo is one of the greatest tag teams of all time, even though Bret Hart was in an entirely different class than his partner.
Next week: Wrestling month begins with a pair of controversial WrestleMania kickouts.
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