I just caught up with Chris Jericho’s podcast with the current Raw Tag Team Champions, Sheamus & Cesaro, and found it confirmed a thought I’d had about the two men; they’re deserving champions and have a deep knowledge of wrestling. I wanted to write something praising both men this week, but postponed it for a while so I could catch up on the podcast, and I’m glad I did.
It was in 2016 that Sheamus and Cesaro were floating aimlessly and directionless in WWE (something both men agree on) and it looked as if WWE had nothing for them. Sheamus, the multi-time Heavyweight Champion seemed to have lost his spot in the upper echelons of the card while Cesaro had suffered niggling injuries and forged on alone while his old tag partner, Tyson Kidd, slowly recuperated form a really bad injury he suffered at the hands of Samoa Joe on NXT. Even a brief stint as a ‘Paul Heyman Guy’ didn’t blossom into something that could’ve propelled his career. It was at this time that WWE decided, as WWE tends to do, to throw both men in a singles match to give them something to do, some TV time and to keep them occupied. To fully realise how far down the pecking order both had fallen, they were some of the last superstars to be drafted on the brand split; Cesaro was #28, while Sheamus was #30.
Both men decided that even if they were given four minutes to have a ‘filler’ match, then they’d put on the best four minutes they could. It didn’t take long before the office saw something there. Both have rough, smash-mouth styles that resonate both with fans and in the air itself. Heavy blows, brash physicality and a mutual respect for one another’s combative styles quickly saw them go into a best of seven match up that ultimately ended in a draw. It was after this that they were paired as probably the best tag team of 2017 in my opinion.
When the New Day set a record for consecutive days as Raw Tag Team Champions, few would’ve guessed it would broken by the unorthodox pairing of Sheamus & Cesaro. What made it realistic and ultimately the right choice, was how they evolved over the weeks and months leading up to the title change. From resenting their partnership, to the constant one-upmanship they’d play on, to eventually giving one another an acknowledging nod of approval, you knew they were slowly but surely gelling into a solid unit.
2017 is turning out to be a strange year for WWE tag teams, but the current Raw Champions are the one constant there’s been so far and a shining light in an otherwise flickering division. The Hardy Boys may be the most talked about tag team on either brand and their win at Wrestlemania was well written, but wrestling can sometimes be more about the chase then the goal. The New Day, now on Smackdown Live are getting back to their best, but the untimely injury to Kofi Kingston hindered their progress. Likewise with The Revival who had their powerful debuts on Raw cruelly cut short – hopefully that can be readdressed in the coming months. Big Cass has dumped Enzo to make a surprise challenge for the Universal Title, but through all this, Sheamus and Cesaro kept plodding along, kept picking up victories and kept slowly evolving.
Gone are the days of pushing and shoving for the spotlight on the entrance ramp. Now they’re a cohesive, well-oiled unit that feed off one another and deliver very time they’re in the ring. Their feud with the Hardys should continue after their epic Iron Man match at the Great Balls of Fire PPV. It was one of the best matches I’ve seen form the champions. The first few seconds, when they quickly took a 1-0 lead due to a devastating Brogue Kick set the tone for what was to come. Matt & Jeff were always chasing from that point.
Perhaps that’s what makes Sheamus and Cesaro so good as the champions, that they make the good guys chase them for the belts? Like I said, the chase in WWE is sometimes more enjoyable than the victory. The champions hark back to heels of a bygone era. Ones who marched to the ring and whooped any and all before them. They rarely run away or take the easy count out to retain the belts – remember, Cesaro wasn’t running away at the PPV, he was being smart, there’s a big difference. It shows they’re not just two tough guys, but calculating, skilled opponents who shouldn’t be taken lightly. You want a shot at the belts? You’re in for a fight, fella.
Their chemistry was also evident during Jericho’s podcast. They teased one another and spoke as if they were old friends, when in fact it was only during their best of seven series that they began to see one another as more than acquaintances. Their time together seems to have brought two men closer together than I think either one could’ve imagined. They share similar stories; both hail from Europe, worked independents before finding their way to WWE developmental territories and both were lost in the shuffle before they were paired together.
Their story and title reign should continue on for a good while yet as both men work so hard to be where they are. They’ve re-ignited the Raw Tag Division and carried the torch the New Day lit so long ago. The addition of the Hardys and the Revival has swelled the tag team division, but at the moment, the bar it set high. The bar is set by Sheamus and Cesaro. They are the bar.
What do you think? Have Sheamus and Cesaro worked well as a unit? Have the improved the Tag Division? Should their feud with the Hardys continue? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.