FearlessRiOT’s Year-End Top 10: Favorite Wrestling Teams of 2016

#10. The Young Bucks10

Are you disappointed that Nick and Matt Jackson aren’t coming to WWE any time soon? It was recently reported that they are staying right where they are, bouncing back and forth between stints with New Japan and Ring of Honor, which must be a tough pill to swallow for the legions of fans who have prayed to see the Bucks of Youth in a WWE ring for years now. I think it was 2011 that I started seeing people beg WWE to sign them, and it still hasn’t happened. But really, maybe the Indys is where they NEED to be, if for any reason to avoid WWE even thinking about bringing DX back to feud with them for stealing so much of their iconic material. But also because it’s probably the place where we’ll be able to see them at their peak of fun, Superkick Parties and all. I know Steve Corino wants them to stay, just so he can keep doing the “SUPERKICK!” yell. And as far as success? At the moment, they’re the Tag Team Champions in New Japan, Ring of Honor, AND Pro Wrestling Guerilla. Maybe it’s worth skipping out on the major leagues if they smaller promotions value you that much.

#9. Billie Kay & Peyton Royce9

I wanted so badly to include more women’s teams on this list. The reason there isn’t more is because women’s wrestling seemed to be more about individual achievements this year. There were still women’s tag teams around; Evie and Heidi Lovelace were Tag Team Champions in SHIMMER for a bit as Slap Happy, Taeler Hendrix seems to have formed an alliance with Jessicka Havok in Ring of Honor, Maria seems to have formed her own cabinet of inconsistent membership in TNA, Tessa Blanchard and Vanessa Kraven have an interesting partnership going on, and Cherry Bomb and Kimber Lee are still an amusing pairing as The Kimber Bombs. But the team I went with can best be describes as the second coming of LayCool, who were the second coming of The Beautiful People. The thing that makes this mean girl duo interesting? They’re from Australia and have a history together. The former Jessie McKay and KC Cassidy may have spent months jobbing to the likes of Asuka and Bayley, but they’re currently on the rise to being the top heel women in NXT, bullying Liv Morgan and leaving Daria high and dry. Yeah, it’s a recycled gimmick, but if it gets them somewhere, let it play out and see what happen.s

 

 

#8. American Alpha 8

It really hurts not to put this team higher on the list. It’s not like they’ve had an overwhelmingly terrible year. Quite the contrary, actually. They won their first and only NXT Tag Team Championship before soon being brought up to the main roster as a part of Smackdown during the reintroduction of the brand split. From there, they were expected to make waves, but instead, it seemed like they hit the Smackdown pond with only a small, quickly evaporating ripple. The Usos, Heath Slater and Rhyno, and even Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt leapfrogged over them into Tag Team Title contention. On the bright side, this all seems to be part of a plan. Rather than make them a huge deal right off the bat to fans who may not have followed their NXT journey, they’re building them up and re-establishing them to a newer audience, so that when they win the Tag Titles, they can be more over than they are now, and that’s pretty over. It’s only a matter of time until Jordan and Gable have another set of championship belts on their shoulders.

#7. The Broken Universe7

If you didn’t think this was weird from the jump, your optimism is very, very twisted. Keep in mind that THIS is the laughably bad segment that kick-started the madness! This whole thing caught us all off-guard at first. Matt Hardy tries to decimate his own-flesh-and-blood after developing a broken condition, leading to the deletion of Jeff Hardy and the birth of Brother Nero. Nero eventually gives into the craziness and stands by his brother’s side as they pursue the Tag Team Championships from a stable who’s still to come on the list. It is weird how much all of this hokey storytelling actually works, and it’s even more bizarre that it led to the brothers joining forces to become a team once again. But hey, if the Bella Twins can forgive and forget. A dark team obsessed with deletion and making things obsolete. Helping out are the people they surround themselves with; I’ve never been a fan of Reby Sky even during her time as an in-ring competitor, but this is the most entertaining she’s ever been. She even dyed her hair grey for this. Senor Benjamin and Vanguard One are two of the best NPC’s in wrestling right now. I do kind of worry for King Maxel’s future, at least when it comes to Career Day.

#6. Enzo & Cass6

You want an example of WWE ruining a good thing for most people? Well, you have plenty of examples to choose from, and one of the latest seems to be in their booking and especially writing of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy. This is a team that everyone agreed would be awesome to see on the main roster, with their catchphrases, reminiscent of The New Age Outlaws, giving them potential to be a mega over babyface team. And they are; crowds eat up their shtick like spaghetti and breadsticks. However, I have seen a few fans on the Internet not take too kindly to some of the material Enzo & Cass have been given. Enzo’s energy and outlandishness is enduring and has given us some entertaining moments both on-air and online, but not everyone wants to hear jabs questioning men’s sexuality and awkward sex dialogue, especially if it’s not as clever as the writers and performers think it is. Plus, he should leave “Mr. Steal-Yo-Girl” to Trey Songz because it certainly hasn’t worked for him lately. Personally, I still love this duo. Sure, their shtick may wear thin soon, but it hasn’t with me yet. I still get excited every time I hear their theme song. They’ve got the it-factor, and you can’t teach that!

#5. The Revival35

I have spent the longest time not giving this team any credit. When they really started to take off in NXT, I was not particularly interested in them. They seemed like more generic Create-A-Wrestlers who couldn’t keep my attention if they waved a poster of Taylor Swift in front of my face. And you all know that I am one of those not-really-deceased members of the Taylor Swift stanbase. Could they wrestle? Yes, but so can Roman Reigns and some people still claim to think he’s boring. But then they started referring to themselves as “top guys”. It didn’t turn me into a fan, but it was a hook. It got me to pay more attention to them, attempting to see if there’s credibility in their claim. They had the Tag Team Titles, so technically, they were the “top guys” of the division, but would I come to believe they deserve the spotlight? My final verdict: yeah. While I haven’t printed out a stand card yet, the title-clinking two-time Tag Team Champions grew on me HUGE this year, even taking part in a match I personally consider a Match of the Year contender.

#4. Team Kevin/Chris & Chris/Kevin4

I remember people bitching up a storm when Chris Jericho and AJ Styles were paired together. Not because they paired them together, mind you. But because they named the team “Y2AJ”. As if they couldn’t see that one coming. I heard nonstop complaints about how this is a terrible team name; in all honesty, I didn’t think it was that bad. But when Jericho teamed up with Kevin Owens, people had no problem dubbing them “Jeri-KO”, as if that’s not as corny as “Y2AJ”. But what isn’t corny was the team itself. Two selfish, egotistical Canadians who are just the funniest of goofballs around each other. Their humor is very deadpan; they just say these funny things while sounding deadly serious, which makes it entertaining to most fans, myself included. These two are such believable BFF’s that the usually tough-edged Owens would wear a scarf for Jericho. Not since Brian and Stewie has there been a funnier bromance in all of television.

#3. Do It Yourself3

Remember in the entry for The Revival when I said that they delivered what I consider to be a Match of the Year candidate? It’s time to discuss their opponents in that match. I’d heard of Tommaso Ciampa for the first time a couple of years ago in an issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, finally watching one of his matches down the road in ROH. I first heard of Johnny Wrestling himself by way of people were telling me how good Johnny Gargano is. I finally got to see for myself when the duo debuted in NXT, then without a legit contract to their name. Somewhere down the line, probably during the Cruiserweight Classic where they put on an incredible display of storytelling against each other, they signed official contracts and challenged for the NXT Tag Team Titles on two straight TakeOver PPVs. Their second one at TakeOver: Toronto – where Gargano and Ciampa won – is the one I loved. Excellent tag team wrestling from two fine teams; Gargano and Ciampa are higher on this list because I like their story arc and what they stand for just a little bit more. Let’s see how long they hold onto the straps.

#2. Decay2

How do I describe Decay? It’s a weird team; not just in aesthetic, but also when it comes to their individual characters, because they all have weird histories in the business. Abyss is a TNA veteran; he was in the company when I started watching it back in 2004, portraying some hybrid of Kane and Mankind. Crazzy Steve entered TNA a couple of years ago in the short-lived Menagerie, which was a godawful stable of carnies whose entire purpose (or lack thereof) made absolutely NO sense. And before joining TNA as Rosemary, Courtney Rush already had this weird thing happening on the Indys where she went from this happy chick who wanted to get Sara Del Rey to dance to being a messed-up demonic character herself with help from Cherry Bomb. (Yes, ALLIE contributed to driving Rush insane.) It makes perfect sense to put them together and let them work some magic. And magic is what we got, and as Abyss would say, it was beautiful, from their inception to Delete or Decay to the Great War. Easily one of the most entertaining things TNA had going this year. I have to imagine they burned a hole in TNA’s already scorched pockets with the royalties they had to pay to enter the Impact Zone to Marilyn Manson.

#1. The New Day1

I know that against Big E’s wishes, most of you have grown sour, specifically of himself, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods holding the Tag Team Championships for so long. As of this writing, The New Day have been Tag Team Champions for almost a year-and-a-half and are getting ready to break Demolition’s record of the longest reign in history. A trio who were booed their first number of months together are on the verge of history. And say what you want about how they get things done, the popularity they’ve earned after being allowed more freedom to just let loose hasn’t really wavered, at least not with live crowds. Their merchandise, which includes a booty-themed cereal and a t-shirt with the cover art of the box to that booty-themed cereal, has flown off the shelves. I didn’t buy a box, but I was honored to hold a box of Booty-O’s at Chicago Comic-Con this year. The secret to New Day’s success may just be their commitment to having fun; this is a team whose WrestleMania entrance saw them come out of a giant box of Booty-O’s dressed as Dragon Ball Z characters. Not to say they didn’t have their duds (that Final Deletion-wannabe Wyatt Compound segment, for one), but they’re not enough to keep me from naming these guys my favorite tag team of the year a second year in a row.

Honorable Mentions:

+ SAnitY – Funky spelling aside, this team is a pretty fascinating idea. A stable of cuckoo people who look like they live in the alley behind a McDonalds, lead by a veteran nutjob and containing Nikki Cross acting as rabid as possible. This would be a great investment if they all end up holding ALL the gold in NXT.

+ Sheamus & Cesaro  – This tag team is a huge waste of Cesaro’s talents. But it’s also somehow benefiting his talents as well. He and Sheamus play off each other surprisingly well. But I would still love to see Cesaro shining on his own instead.

+ The Club – It is unbelievable how much WWE have killed my interest in this team. Gallows and Anderson are talented and #BeatUpJohnCena was fun while it lasted, which is why I’m giving them a mention. But WWE book them as baffling losers and kill the care I have for them. Maybe I’ll believe again next year.

+ Breezango – No one is gonna take this team seriously. Two talented and charismatic guys who you don’t necessarily see as being “top guys”. But them as a comedy duo? Now we’re talking. Maybe they can sneak a tag team title reign soon, but for now, keep it up as the fashion police.

+ Slap Happy Evie and Heidi Lovelace love kicking, so I have no idea why their team name references slapping. I guess it has a better ring to it than “Kick-Happy”. But they mesh well together as a team. Rumour has it they’re gonna be in WWE’s women’s tournament, so this team might be done however.

+ Women Without Honor – Hendrix & Havok only teamed up once. But their mutual villainy and vendetta against Mandy Leon and Deonna Purrazzo is surprisingly really entertaining, even if part of this video may inspire at least one person to make a “NOW KISS!” meme out of it.

+ Mount Tessa – Vanessa Kraven and Tessa Blanchard are the type of pairing that’s nothing new in wrestling: the punk, loudmouth heel and her tall, intimidating enforcer who she often takes advantage of. Perfect heel fodder; fun to watch, and successful to boot, having recentlt won the SHIMMER Tag Team Titles.

Heath Slater and Rhyno – There is no way this team is gonna last much longer. Rhyno, an aspiring politician, might leave TV eventually, leaving Heath Slater as a one-man band once again. But for the time they’ve spent together, we got some laughs, and Heath Slater earning his above-ground pool and living for his seven fictional kids warmed our hearts.

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