FTR: Revived

The path each professional wrestler must walk is unique to their story. Placing one foot in front of the other, they move forward at a pace they choose and in a direction they seek. It’s never an easy journey, taking very literal blood, sweat, and tears to continue forward when all things seem stacked against you. I imagine it’s like many other dreams we all dream. Incessant in nature, it becomes all we think about. So, if we want it badly enough, we work for it. Tirelessly. We walk an untended path forward, leaving it paved behind us as an example for those who follow that we did the work and that anything is possible.

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When I think of tag team wrestling and what it once was and should be again, I start with FTR. Owners of not only two of the best smiles in the game but two of the best hearts as well, these two gentlemen have done the work. Built like the past come back to haunt the present, Dax and Cash saunter into every match in an All Elite Wrestling ring like it’s theirs. Largely, since they debuted, it has been.

They’ve always had that presence, but something reads differently in AEW, like they’re running free. My mind wanders when I think about their path through wrestling in the last few years and I replay a scene from the television show, Yellowstone, in my mind. The family of focus in the story possesses a horse that will just not allow itself to be broken. Frustrated with its stubbornness yet feeling a sense of loyalty to the past and a horse’s innate desire to run free, the horse is allowed to do just that. The scene I speak of, in which the horse is set loose to live a life he desires, is almost indescribably beautiful. The two cowboys watch on in appreciation of freedom realized and with perhaps a little jealousy in their own hearts as well. That’s how I am able to see Dax and Cash. Unbreakable and free.

In AEW, they are allowed to run free. Unless one has felt locked in a box, I’m not sure I can explain the feeling of freedom that is felt when a friendly door is finally opened, and the fresh spring air hits your face. That’s what I imagine it might have felt like for them. Not that they don’t have respect and gratitude for where their journey began, because they do – it was just time to walk on.

Left behind them remains a legacy that wont soon be matched if only because there doesn’t exist a team quite like them. With minds always churning and an appreciation for the past, FTR is a throwback as true as any who’ve come before. In an age where wrestling leans more awe-striking every single day, they continue to do what they do. Depending on psychology and stories that just make sense, they bring a certain credibility that is increasingly rare in a business that strives to shock an ever-impatient audience.

The stories they tell are beautifully crafted, like a mid-summer sunset over the Montana mountains. Painted carefully with colors blending and melting on a canvas as old as time, nothing is rushed. Like their idols who told their own stories of old, Dax and Cash understand that a moonsault or tope con hilo may be sexier, but what the fans remember most with time are the moments built with such precision that one may even forget they’re being told a story to begin with. They choose the latter, spending their time in the ring crafting magic and reminding the world that magic like that does indeed still exist.

They honor those who inspired their own dreams every time they enter a wrestling ring by staying true to themselves. In doing just that, they are able to work with any one wrestler as beautifully as anyone else. With young impatient lions, they can teach humility and the art of patience. With powerful monsters, they can run circles and showcase true tag team teamwork. With teams modeled as they are, anything is possible. The world is at their fingertips, and as young men still, the choice is theirs how much of it they’d like to conquer.

Making Dax and Cash even more fun to watch are their faces while in the ring or backstage on camera. The very real appreciation they have for this business we all love is contagious. Not everyone values history in the way they do. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but one must at least acknowledge those who came before and the pavement they left behind. Dax and Cash, by being who they are, not only do that very thing but make sure those special paths are held in the esteem they deserve to be. Their smiles as they pal around with Tully Blanchard and the emotion in their eyes as they appreciate the pride in his, is something that will always pierce my heart.

Very few people get the chance to meet their heroes, let alone work alongside them. What a wonder that must be for these two kids from down south who just wanted to wrestle once upon a time. Those stories never fail to impact me greatly. A childhood spent dreaming of what could be. A life spent working toward what might be possible. And a career spent teaching everyone else that we can. Not only that, getting to share that with a man who helped teach that to you from afar? Now that’s a dream, y’all.

They’re far from finished. I feel like, even with the legendary matches from days gone by, the brightest days are ahead for these two. It’s almost crazy to insinuate that though, isn’t it? DIY. American Alpha. Omega and Page. The Young Bucks. I could name names forever, but the fact remains that much of the careers of these two men took place where tag team wrestling was not given high priority. It wasn’t, yet they crafted matches made for memories anyway. Because they’re just that good. Because they’re just that respected. Because they’re just those guys. Top guys.

Now, with tag team wrestling very literally as good as it has been in decades and within a company that allows them freedom unheard of in the world of professional wrestling, the possibilities are endless. With the forbidden door smashed to pieces thanks to an understanding between promoters and companies worldwide, FTR can paint their masterpiece on a canvas never thought possible. Imagine the possibilities. I giggle when I picture the pride they must feel in what has been and the excitement they must feel in what is yet to come.

I wish WWE would have appreciated their talents more. I feel like magic was left on the table, and that’s a disservice not just to Dax and Cash but to fans as well. With the history as it stands, it’s staggering how one could just discount tag team wrestling into near nothingness. In a business built on storytelling, a tag team match provides MORE opportunity to bleed story out of thin air. Relationships. Reactions. Rules. Rivalries. It’s all there, ripe for the plucking. The most telling facet of all of this is that a story well told will compel the audience to support it. It’s as sure as anything in the world. Captivate us, and if you can’t, have someone do it who can. Do that, and you’ve got us. Dax and Cash just didn’t get that opportunity, and it’s a shame.

Ironically, the name the team used in WWE, The Revival, is perhaps even more fitting to their story now as it was then. Beautifully chosen in NXT for their classic style and attitude, the two grapplers find both their careers and their creativity revived in All Elite Wrestling. And interestingly enough, alongside Shawn Spears and Tully Blanchard, even JJ Dillon recently as well, ‘revived’ may well be a term we soon use for something else entirely. Something sacred in professional wrestling. The Four Horsemen.

Usually, with reformations of groups with such notable runs, I hesitate cautiously. This is as different as could be though, because in Dax Harwood, in Cash Wheeler, and in Shawn Spears, we have wrestlers who lead with two things. Heart and respect. The Four Horsemen changed wrestling and existed within it for many years but have been absent for over two decades. Now, led by two men who represent them more than any other in the years since, is the perfect time for their revival if so decided.

Thinking back to that horse running free and all it must have seen in front of it. Eyes big and full of wonder. Not much has changed since these two were just kids with a dream, huh? In some ways, they still are. Running free, their adventure is still only just beginning. Mountains to climb. Rivers to swim. Prairies to explore. It’s a wide-open world ready to be taken. Along the way, perhaps they’ll leave us a memory or two. Mostly, I’m just a cowgirl standing in appreciation, perhaps a little jealous of a freedom well deserved, but mostly I’m just smiling because I am lucky enough to witness them live it for all of us.

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