michael dworkis looks at two tag teams…
Real-life twins Jonathan and Joshua Fatu were born into wrestling. They are sons of former WWE superstar Solofa Fatu, better known by his ring-name of Rikishi and thus part of Anoa’i family. This means they are related to the late Eddie Fatu (Umaga), the late Rodney Anoa’i (Yokozuna), Afa Jr. (Manu), Matt Anoa’i (Rosey), Joe Anoa’i (Roman Reigns of The Shield), and of course that means they are related to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
The Usos began their career in 2007 in the WXW (World Xtreme Wrestling) promotion, and in two years were brought into the Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) camp for a year of WWE-bred training before making their debut in 2010 as Jimmy and Jey Uso. Having Tamina Snuka in their corner enhanced the attention given to the young stars. They feuded with then-Tag Team Champions The Hart Dynasty (Tyson Kidd & David Hart Smith) in matches which were instant classics and gave hope to the WWE Universe for a new generation of tag team competition.
Current Status: NXT, Main Event, or Dark Matches
Having been born into the storied legacy of tag teams such as The Wild Samoans, The Headshrinkers, and even 3-Minute Warning, one would think that Jimmy and Jey Uso would be main eventers, but sadly their success has been hindered by becoming lost in an ever-expanding roster. Through 2011 they continued to fight their way to the top and contend for the tag titles, but often came up short. In 2012 they dropped to NXT and appearances on WWE Superstars, losing what attention they had left. They have gotten some opportunities on Raw and while they get a good following from live crowds, for some reason they are not given the chance to wear the Tag Team Championships.
It is a shame, really. These kids are very talented. Unfortunately, when WWE chose to expand the Tag Team Division, they, along with the established team of The Colons (Primo & Epico), wound up taking a backseat to the pairings of singles competitors like Daniel Bryan & Kane, Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow, Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel, and even Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara. Most of these random assortments were used as part of the WWE Interactive gimmick where fans could vote on team names, thus birthing Team Hell No and International Airstrike.
The Usos are a solid duo, but unless something changes in the minds of the WWE Creative staff, I fear Jimmy and Jey will be stuck going nowhere in WWE.
Future Outlook: Mid-Card Hell
JUSTIN GABRIEL & TYSON KIDD, THE “INTERNATIONAL AIRSTRIKE”
Background Check: Justin Gabriel
Debuting for a wrestling promotion run by his father, Paul Lloyd, Sr., at the age of 16, Paul Lloyd, Jr. competed in the United Kingdom and in South Africa from 2000 through 2008. His father passed away during this time, and Junior moved to the UK and earned degrees in Graphic Design and Sports Fitness, specializing in Nutrition and Body Massage. In 2008 he began his WWE training at FCW, under the ring name of Justin Angel, winning their Tag Team Titles as well as the FCW Heavyweight Championship. As Justin Gabriel, he was on the first season of NXT in early 2010 and ended in third place overall. He was signed to the main roster with other NXT stars and was part of the Nexus invasion of WWE. He remained in tag team action with Heath Slater into 2011, and by the end of the year, Gabriel had three reigns as tag titleholder under his belt.
By the end of 2011 into 2012, Gabriel jumped between singles and tag team matches until settling with Tyson Kidd as a partner. The WWE Universe got to vote for their team name, and International Airstrike won.
Background Check: Tyson Kidd
The last graduate from the famed Hart Dungeon, Tucker James Wilson (TJ Wilson) began wrestling professionally in 1995 in Stampede Wrestling, and competed for New Japan Pro Wrestling, European All Star Wrestling, and AWA Superstars of Wrestling. By 2006 he was ready for WWE and reported to Deep South Wrestling for training. He was then moved to FCW, where he captured a number of titles, and by 2010, with D.H. Smith, won the WWE Tag Team Championships.
Through 2010 the duo saw a lot of success, starting with the capturing of the tag belts from Big Show and The Miz, and then helping Bret Hart win the United States Championship from The Miz. After losing the titles in 2011, he and Smith split up, and Kidd continued on his individual path. Facing a staggering number of losses as he was bounced between Raw and SmackDown through the rest of the year, Kidd wound up on NXT in early 2012, feuding with Yoshi Tatsu. Well, they had to put him somewhere, right? In 2012, he would team up with Gabriel, forming the fan-made team of International Airstrike, and found mediocre success until an injury in January 2013 put Kidd on the shelf.
Current Status: Limbo
WWE Creative must have facepalmed each other after allowing the fans to vote on their name. Maybe this was revenge from the fans for pairing two high-flyers together as a team. Does anyone else wonder why this always happens? Two high-flying stars with nothing to do, so make them a team instead of, oh, I don’t know, wrestling each other in five-star matches?!
Tyson Kidd is out for six months, and Gabriel has been doing a whole lot of nothing. Again the story is the same. Two super-talented wrestlers, but no gimmicks, and among a huge deck of shuffled up-and-comers who WWE has to balance for attention.
Unless Kidd comes back with some sort of gimmick or persona to gain attention from the WWE Universe, he is going nowhere. Ditto for Gabriel. Their gimmicks is the gimmick of flight. They can do great things, but guess what, there is no Cruiserweight Division to be found. Tag Teaming will be the way to go, and I do not see a bright future for these two stars.
Future Outlook: NXT or Good Luck in Your Future Endeavors