The Tag Team Turmoil concept is ingenious.
The debut of Tag Team Turmoil started at SummerSlam 1999. The unique match was simple: an updated, modern version of a gauntlet match with tag teams. Two teams start off, and once a team gets eliminated, another team enters. Once after all the teams have entered and one team remained, you have a winner. At the “Biggest Party in the Summer” in Minnesota, the Acolytes survived against Edge and Christian, the Hardyz, Mideon and Viscera, Droz and Prince Albert, and the Hollys to win. It was an awesome look at the top tag teams in the company and really helped rejuvenate tag team wrestling during the Attitude Era.
The match did not return until May 2001 at Judgment Day, when Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit outlasted Edge and Christian to win it all. 2 ½ years later, at Armageddon 2003, Ric Flair and Batista entered as a surprise final team and defeated the Dudley Boyz to become the new World Tag Team Champions. At Backlash 2005, the Superheroes of Hurricane and Rosey beat La Resistance to ultimately become World Tag Team Champions.
Throughout the 2010s, there have been 4 Tag Team Turmoil’s. Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre, the Prime Time Players, and American Alpha have won three of the four, but there was one in particular that enjoyed most of all. And sadly, it might have been forgotten about over time.
On February 12, 2015, the final hour-plus of SmackDown was dedicated towards a Tag Team Turmoil, highlighted by the #1 entrant team Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns.
Within mere weeks of this match, Bryan and Reigns would face off against one another at Fast Lane, where the winner would go to WrestleMania 31 to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. However, knowing both men were threats to the Authority’s stranglehold on the WWE and the fact that Brock Lesnar, as champion, was a massive money maker for events on the WWE Network as a brand, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon forced both men to team up with one another inside of the grueling gauntlet.
To me, out of all the Tag Team Turmoil’s that have taken place in WWE, this one takes the cake. I’ve always felt that the story within this match was incredible and resonated a feeling of wanting to see what was next within the twists and turns of the match. Would Bryan and Reigns survive the whole match? Could they coexist? Could another team come in and stun the men prepared to do battle at the pay-per-view mere days away?
Here were three things that I took away from the match as a whole:
Photo Credit: WWE.com
THE ONE UPPING OF ONE ANOTHER: Both Bryan and Reigns had dire need to show to each other and the WWE Universe that they were the better athlete. Starting from the very beginning, when they faced off against the Miz and Damien Mizdow, both men wanted to showcase dominance by killing a little momentum the other had built by making impromptu tags. Then, once it was established that Reigns was going to struggle a little bit having to go through the Usos, his cousins, Bryan decided that, vicariously through Jimmy and Jey, he was going to psychologically torture Reigns by being a little snug and stiff from his holds and strikes. Even when Reigns was in there against them, he was a little lethargic, until the twins forced aggression out of him, leading to a final few minutes of awesome brawling. Then with the next two teams, both men do all the work themselves (Bryan against Los Matadores and Reigns against Slater-Gator) and showcase their “Can you top this?” offense.
Things took a turn for the worse for both men, as the Ascension came out and thoroughly thrashed both men in an illegal state of mind and got disqualified. However, it did the trick. The Ascension’s disqualification helped out the final team in the equation: Kane and Big Show of the Authority. Despite the giants’ overall strength domination over both spent individuals, the dysfunction between the Authority was much to overcome, as Reigns and Bryan utilized team work to defeat the common enemy. The two future opponents at Fast Lane ran the table in Tag Team Turmoil by simply…one-upping each other every step of the way and working together for their own solitary purposes when it suited the other’s ego.
LAYERS OF STORY BEING TOLD: For starters, this match had a lot of layers added to a plethora of rivalries. When you have one hour of television dedicated to a match of this magnitude and type, you can play a little with a different formula. Immediately, the professional and now budding personal rivalry between both Bryan and Reigns came into play. With the objective of both men fighting over being the #1 contender to the WWE championship, it KILLED both men to team with one another. Combine the fact that if either of them took the pinfall in the match, the other man would make their life a living Hell. It was the epitome of mind games.
However, that wasn’t the only story told. I believe this was the first time where the family link, the “bloodline” if you will, of the Usos and Roman Reigns came into play. The Miz’s over-arrogance and disrespect towards his former stunt double Mizdow came into fruition, as Miz’s oversight cost him dearly against Reigns and Bryan. For a short time, this was the highlight of the early beginnings of the Ascension and their dominance. Lastly, the evil Authority tried using their powerful influence to be last and finish off the Fast Lane opponents, but instead played each other out and lost. Storytelling done within the 20x20 always makes for compelling television.
THE LAST GREAT EPIC OF DANIEL BRYAN’S CAREER: I hold this match, not the upsetting Fast Lane pay-per-view match or the WrestleMania 31 ladder match, as the final epic of the in-ring career of Daniel Bryan. For those that miss great psychology and storytelling, watch Daniel Bryan in the ring throughout this match. The ability to adapt to your opponent and mesh his style into yours is a true lost art. Bryan found a way to work simple with Miz, hybrid with the Usos, fast-paced with Los Matadores, bruiser with the Ascension, and big man style with Kane and Big Show. There is nothing more impressive to me that the final fantastic storytelling session with D-Bry. I implore you to witness it. To me as a fan, wrestling has not been the same since Bryan retired, and Tag Team Turmoil is the last chance to see Bryan at his peak.
This contest went one hour and five minutes on SmackDown. A gem of a wrestling match has been buried on an era of WWE’s B television shows which has probably not been thought of since it happened almost 2 years ago. If you want to see an absolute classic, this is the match for you. This is the best Tag Team Turmoil ever, in my opinion. February 12, 2015 is the date. Go to the WWE Network and see it for yourself. Storytelling, psychology, and Daniel Bryan’s last true great match make for a match you should watch RIGHT NOW.