In more ways than one, last week’s RAW provided a familiar sight. In the midst of the show’s third hour, the live crowd suddenly found themselves hooked. Why? Well it was simple really, tag team wrestling had taken center stage. On one side were Bobby Roode and Chad Gable: the champions. This was a team born from creative uncertainty but a pairing that on talent alone, almost immediately emerged as an in-ring act worth admiring. Opposite them stood their challengers: The Revival. A tandem built on fundamentals, this team has seemingly become a constant when this throwback feeling arises.
Unsurprisingly, the match was a pleasure to watch and that wasn’t anything new for Dash and Dawson. In fact, it’s what their act is built on. Over three years ago, The Revival won NXT Tag Team gold and as a result, that brand’s whole division suddenly shifted. Somewhere, somehow, the wrestling world has always featured great tag team wrestling but this felt different. It was reminiscent of a prior era, with the excitement and drama being built on a traditional lay-out featuring contrasting, believable characters. Each special intricacy from the past had returned but fresh innovation had revitalized the whole presentation too.
That was once again the case this past Monday night. After the groundwork had been laid, it was time for the match’s final chapter to take shape. A sequence of wild saves allowed that transition, with all four suddenly floored as the crowd erupted with well-deserved ‘this is awesome’ acclaim. Though it had been a while, it was impossible not to briefly flashback in that moment. As the action took a moment to breathe, NXT TakeOver images filled my mind. This level of excitement was a common occurrence back then and frankly, this served as a great reminder of that spell.
Interestingly, one of The Revival’s greatest rivals was apparent here as well. Once a part of American Alpha, Chad Gable was a pivotal piece in establishing Dash and Dawson’s villainous approach. He remains a perfect fit too, while Roode’s silky smooth skill-set provides an extra layer also. This match’s success wasn’t the result of a complicated formula either. Instead, this was simply the obvious end product of four tremendous talents having a chance to shine. With logical, sound tag team wrestling, these teams steadily captured the fans’ imagination and in the end, they gave them a fitting climax too.
Becoming the new RAW Tag Team Champions, The Revival closed the show in an instant, landing their ever-so emphatic Shatter Machine to cap off what had been a thrilling title tilt. That finish gave the match even more gravity, this had now become a stand-out moment that ideally, will kick-start a brand new chapter for the RAW tag team division. Since the brand split’s re-implementation, the flagship’s tandem titles haven’t exactly been the show’s most featured element. It’s certainly not been without its heights but generally, that division’s handling has been disappointingly inconsistent.
Star power has elevated the titles’ importance at times although in truth, it’s rarely felt like a cohesive, competitive division. Fortunately, RAW now has the chance to change that. In The Revival, this division is suddenly led by the perfect foils, ideal platforms for the elevation of any babyface opposition. In Roode and Gable, they have their first key RAW rival too. While these teams have already wrestled multiple times, last week’s clash felt like a turning point. Provided they simply build on that effort, it certainly feels as though there’s room for many more great meetings between these two teams.
After that though, it then becomes a matter of surrounding The Revival with equally fitting foes. It’s easy to forget that just a few years ago, the NXT Tag Titles were quite clearly the brand’s least desirable height. The Revival were the centerpiece that changed that though, they were the constant that allowed perceptions to shift and more importantly, they were the building block on which a legacy emerged. It’s best for the RAW product that those same strides are made here as at its best, sublime tag team wrestling is a uniquely brilliant asset for any wrestling brand.
Monday proved that and moreover, it also highlighted that The Revival’s efforts aren’t alone. Roode and Gable have quietly become a very strong tag team and RAW features other tandems capable of shining as well. NXT spotlighted The Authors of Pain’s ceiling and 205 Live has done the same for The Lucha House Party. Factor in the recent reformation of Hawkins and Ryder and at its roots, you have a tag division that’s ceiling is steadily on the rise. This could of course be a false dawn but from a distance, it feels like an opportunity to really capture fans’ emotional investment.
That feels like the real key here too. Emotion can make good matches great and more than that, it can also allow great matches to live forever. If we truly care, each near-fall matters and every triumph hits home. Couple that core emotion with the elements of tag team wrestling and suddenly, you have a package of drama and excitement that in my mind, is simply unmatched in this form of entertainment. Tag team wrestling has the transparent simplicity of a singles match but along with it, the chaotic thrills of multi-man spectacle.
In my own personal experience, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team that maximizes that description better than The Revival. Fortunately, they were able to remind the world of that on RAW, combining with ideal opposition to create a standout tag team affair. This is just the starting block but hopefully, it’ll be one that an engrossing division is built on. After all, this process has been completed before and in fact, these men witnessed that build too.