On Monday’s edition of RAW, the Street Profits beat Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy to win the RAW Tag Team Championship. On SmackDown last night, a tag-team gauntlet match was the main event for the show, and the winner will enter Sunday’s Elimination Chamber match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship last – a clear advantage.
That’s twice this week the WWE tag-team division was featured prominently on television. The championship on RAW was already in a prime position with Seth Rollins holding half of the championship. WWE likely took the belts off Rollins and Murphy so that Rollins can enter a singles match at WrestleMania 36 against Kevin Owens, and the move allows the belts to still be defended on the show (a smart move). But the more noticeable action was taken on Friday, when the tag-team gauntlet match closed out SmackDown, eating up the last 35 minutes of the show on FOX.
WWE has never pushed tag teams to the top of the card. They’ve had good teams, don’t get me wrong, but when is the last time a WWE Tag Team Championship match closed out a pay-per-view? Using that division to main-event SmackDown should be seen as a big deal, especially in 2020 when the show airs on network television and the company is just a few months into a mega-deal with the FOX network.
This also happened on a night where the nWo was returning to WWE to be interviewed by Alexa Bliss, and then ultimately gave a little rub to Braun Strowman in his feud against Sami Zayn, Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura. Instead of building up to the return of the nWo, the most prominent faction in the history of pro wrestling (who is also getting inducted into the Hall of Fame at WrestleMania next month), the company kicked off the show with the nWo and closed the show with Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode standing tall at the end of a gauntlet match, which has effects on the Elimination Chamber match tomorrow night.
It was the right move, just a surprising move for WWE and Vince McMahon, considering how tag teams have always been considered important in the company, but they’ve never been the most important thing in the company.
Perhaps this is the AEW effect? Hear me out. AEW is seen as a tag-team friendly promotion. The Young Bucks are executive VP’s and the AEW tag-team division has main-evented shows. The Adam Page & Kenny Omega vs. Young Bucks match that happened on the Revolution pay-per-view last Saturday is being heralded as perhaps the best tag-team match in the United States in years, if not ever. Santana and Ortiz, who had options to sign with WWE, chose AEW when they were free agents. Same goes for Pentagon and Fenix. Maybe, just maybe, the WWE is realizing that they need to build up and feature their tag division more if they don’t want to lose that talent to the upstart AEW.