As seen at Sunday night’s TLC pay-per-view, the show kicked off with Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton dethroning Health Slater and Rhyno for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships. This is the 15th championship that Orton has held in the WWE. Luke Harper is a former Intercontinental Champion, but shockingly enough, this is Bray Wyatt’s first ever championship on the main roster despite debuting in 2010.
In fact, this is the first time Wyatt has held gold since he was a two-time tag team champion with Bo Dallas (his real-life brother) in FCW. Bray never even won a title while in NXT. It’s ironic that he’s now a tag champion with Randy Orton, the very man responsible for writing Wyatt off television during his first WWE run as Husky Harris in Nexus.
Wyatt and Orton made quick work of Slater and Rhyno in the TLC opener, dominating the match in less than six minutes. That’s surprising considering the main card only featured six matches and the 10-man tag team kickoff show match went twice as long. Sometimes that’s an indication that there was an injury, but there’s nothing to report on that front, either from the Wyatt Family or Slater and Rhyno.
There is speculation, however, that this could be the end of the line for the former champs, led by the WWE website itself. As noted, the bout was a glorified squash match with WWE officials clearly indicating that Wyatt and Orton were the better team. Slater and Rhyno’s gimmick caught on quickly in the beginning but has fizzled out in recent weeks.
As for the new champions, Cageside Seats is reporting that much like The New Day on RAW, the Wyatt Family will defend their new titles under the Freebird Rule. This means that any combination of Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt, and Luke Harper can defend them at any time. This was presented symbolically following the match when both Wyatt and Orton placed their belts over the shoulders of Harper.
There have been several reports posted in recent weeks suggesting that Orton will soon turn back on his new Wyatt Family cohorts, and the mild friction between he and Harper have only fueled them further. However, WWE officials have been impressed with the latest version of the Wyatts and have either canceled that angle or extended it to set up what would then be a marquee showdown between Randy and Bray.
As noted, The New Day defend their RAW Tag Team Championships under the Freebird Rule. Immediately after Orton and Wyatt won the titles, speculation began swirling that this was a way to set up a gigantic six-man, inter-promotional tag team match at WrestleMania, pitting both brands’ champions against one another. Ironically, The New Day and the Wyatt Family’s final feud before the brand split was with one another and even included a brawl at the Wyatt Family compound.
However, we recently reported that The New Day’s reign as champions would be soon coming to an end. It’s expected that Big E, Kofi, and Xavier will break Demolition’s record for longest-reigning tag champs in WWE history, but then drop them shortly after to Cesaro and Sheamus. They could still certainly square off with the Wyatt Family at a dual-branded pay-per-view, but the likelihood that they stay together much longer after they drop the belts diminishes.
Slater and Rhyno may get a television rematch soon, but then quickly disappear from the feud. It’s expected that American Alpha would then become the number one contenders to the Wyatts, thanks in part to their win on the TLC kickoff show. Jordan and Gable fell to Orton and Wyatt last week in an underwhelming contest, but it’s likely WWE officials scripted the bout in a way that wouldn’t give the match away in the event they were planning on a lengthier program between the two sides.
[Featured Image by WWE]