This Sunday at Clash of Champions, one of the past decade’s most decorated performers enters uncharted territory. Alongside his twin brother Jimmy, Jey Uso has already produced a hall of fame career, cementing their tag team’s place in history. In terms of longevity on the WWE stage, The Usos are hard to match. As far as versatility, they appear almost peerless. Since their first title triumph in 2014, The Usos have been a mainstay in WWE’s tag team division. The results have been historically great, creating matches and moments that’ll likely live forever.
That degree of success speaks to a range of factors. The team’s palpable chemistry is central to it all of course, their unified presentation a defining trait. Beyond that connection though, there’s the often-forgotten truth that at their core, Jimmy and Jey are extraordinary individual performers. Inside the ropes, The Usos bring a sharp snap to their every move, combining sublime execution with innovation and sheer enthusiasm. Speaking of such, The Usos aren’t without range either, with their 2016-character shift highlighting the team’s captivating personalities.
Unlocked by an aggressive mean-streak, Jimmy and Jey transformed their career trajectories, adding a spiteful edge to their presentation. With microphones in their hands, The Usos found a confidence that shined through the screen. That element only enhanced their physical performance, allowing the audience to connect enough that eventually, yet another transition was required. Organically returning to their role as protagonists, The Usos maintained their magnetism, bringing a charm to their latest cocky claims. Altogether, those components have made The Usos a quite magical piece of WWE’s recent years.
Whether they are having classic matches or cutting comedic promos, The Usos are a team built on authenticity. There’s an indescribable sense that they are genuine, regardless of their latest direction or disposition. That allows an emotional investment that’s truly special, a connection that brings emotion to The Usos’ finest work. If Jimmy and Jey never wrestled another match together, their legacy is secure as one of the greatest tag teams in WWE history. In fact, their greatness is best captured by the reality that they are inconceivable in any other scenario or setting.
In a promotion stacked with stars searching for an identity, The Usos established theirs long ago. It’s an act that doesn’t need tinkering with, a tandem that doesn’t need complicating. Thankfully, an ill-advised split has never even been hinted at it. They are a united front and that’s exactly how it should stay. With that being said, there is an intrigue to the odd moment that stands separate from that pattern. Considering their team success and the current roster’s depth, it’s no surprise that a singles stint from either Uso has barely even been pondered.
Historically, that hasn’t been isolated to the audience either, as for the most part, it’s been both Usos or neither on WWE TV. That was still the case only recently, as an injury to Jimmy removed The Usos from SmackDown’s tag team ranks this past May. Outside of fleeting appearances, that meant that Jey was mostly inactive too, wrestling just once in an almost five-month period. That choice wasn’t a big topic of debate either, as it had simply become the expected handling of an Uso’s absence.
Things have certainly changed as of late though, as Roman Reigns’ return has presented Jey Uso with an opportunity to add another string to his bow. The new Universal Champion, Roman Reigns is now the blue brand’s lead antagonist, even armed with a fearful Paul Heyman by his side. Suddenly standing in almost direct opposition to his own past, Reigns is a character in transition, a career experiencing defining evolution. Naturally, Jey Uso is the perfect challenger to accentuate that process, with a stoic Reigns appearing conflicted at the mere sight of his colorful cousin.
In terms of on-screen storytelling, the decision to utilize Jey has already been validated, with Uso’s uncertainty providing a viewpoint for Reigns’ fan-base. Through boos and cheers, The Usos proudly stood alongside Reigns and yet, their dynamic now feels stilted. There would always be interest in a Roman Reigns heel turn, but his interactions with Uso suggest something even beyond that. This is a shift much more interesting than good corrupted by evil, it’s an intriguing sense that Reigns’ whole essence has evolved. Heyman is simply a vehicle for his dominance.
Clearly, that tale is only just beginning but thus far at least, Uso’s presence has added undeniable gravity. In a broader sense though, there’s an appeal here that’s divorced from the programming itself. Though he may not he be the focus or endgame, Jey Uso is now days away from a match that just a month ago, seemed unfathomable. Reigns vs. Uso isn’t a dream match but it’s certainly a clash of note, even if as a case study and nothing more. It’s a glance at the unknown, an ongoing answer to the question that never needed asking.
It’s already clear that Jimmy and Jey are masters of their craft, but this is a different challenge altogether and one that uniquely, Uso is almost brand new to. Jey Uso has never needed to pass the test he’s currently working through, never required to thrive in this role. The match remains a mystery but in terms of painting the pre-match picture, he’s already performed admirably. Though it was hard to imagine one without the other, Jey’s presence has remained strong, his in-ring performance excelling under the increased spotlight.
In the grand scheme of things, Jey Uso appears to be just the first foe for Reigns to silence but even still, this match’s potential demands your attention. While it may not be a dream match in the audience’s mind, there’s a sense that it may fit that description for the performers themselves. The importance of that shouldn’t be dismissed. This match’s aim remains to be seen and at Clash of Champions, producing an in-ring thriller may not be the priority. If they are allowed to construct something of weight though, it seems increasingly likely that they’ll emphatically deliver.
Jey Uso belongs on this stage, his performance in every area continues to suggest exactly that. His tag team identity shouldn’t fool you in that regard, as it’s more indicative of he and his twins’ dynamic than it is their lack of singles star power. The Usos may be a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, but that doesn’t mean that both parts aren’t brilliant, it just highlights how great they’ve been together. That element feels relevant too, as the tag team division’s often slight stature inevitably takes a shine off this occasion.
For all my plaudits, there’s a very pronounced ceiling for tag team wrestling in WWE and The Usos certainly aren’t immune. Even at the height of their staggering rivalry with New Day, neither team was positioned as a genuine headline act even though their performance and popularity commanded as such. That likely limits this weekend’s clash, with fans framing Jey as a filler challenger, rather than one-half of an iconic tag team getting the world title match of his dreams. Perhaps the audience is right for that perception, the match itself will likely decide that in truth.
Clearly, Jey Uso’s place in history is alongside his brother and that isn’t changing on Sunday regardless. With that being said, I hope that he gets a chance to produce something befitting his recent work, a shot at having the match he seems very much capable of. Protecting Reigns’ aura is clearly important here, but I can’t help but want a conclusion of some kind, a confirmation of Jey’s singles ceiling. Not because it’s a potential I want to see fulfilled either, it’s just an interesting thought, a direct example of individual excellence.
This match with Reigns is unlikely to be anyone’s lasting memory of Jey Uso, but that doesn’t mean it can’t create a lasting memory of its own. This is almost a spinoff, a bonus match for the history books. Jey and Jimmy Uso are tag team wrestlers due to circumstance and choice. Ideally, that’ll never change. Their talent isn’t be capped by that reality though, quite the opposite. Against Reigns, Jey Uso gives us a peak at possibilities that’ll never be explored and frankly, don’t need to be either.
The Usos are a brilliant tag team because they are brilliant professional wrestlers and at Clash of Champions, Jey Uso will look to remind the world of exactly that.