The SmackDown Live tag team division has been one of the strongest factors since the brand split occurred in the summer of 2016. Desperately needing to properly showcase divisions and not have competitors shrouded and unnoticed, the blue brand decided to use a portion of its draft picks to showcase young talent and revive veterans. While names such as Heath Slater, Rhyno, and the Usos have experienced character changes and revivals, teams such as American Alpha, the Hype Bros, and Breezango have the chance of gaining credibility that most likely would not be available with just one oversized roster.
This was particularly true on the previous episode of SmackDown Live, in which a four corners match was scheduled for the Tag Team Championship on the last episode of the year called “Wild Card Finals.” As a result of the Hype Bros no longer being in contention, three other teams had a chance to become tag team champion.
Previously, Zack Ryder was able to outlast other tag teams in a battle royal to determine the No. 1 contender after former champions Heath Slater and Rhyno were unable to recapture the titles from the new Wyatt Family version of Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, and Luke Harper. Unfortunately, Ryder was not able to celebrate his victory, due to suffering a knee injury during the match. As a result, he is expected to be out between four and nine months.
This gave a chance for another team to capitalize on the unfortunate opportunity, and that they did. Recent NXT call-ups American Alpha were able to defeat the duo of Randy Orton and Luke Harper in the four-team elimination match, winning their first championship on the main roster.
The team showed a great deal of excitement during the interview following their win. “[This journey] is all about us together,” said former Olympian Chad Gable. “We had something to prove on the main roster once we got called up to SmackDown. We’re starting over, in my opinion.” Teammate and former collegiate wrestling all-star Jason Jordan added, “I needed [Gable] to get me to that next level, and that’s exactly what he did. He helped me get to that next level, and now, we’re there together. This was the next level. Now, we’re solidifying our legacy.”
The team’s journey from NXT to SmackDown Live is not simply a call-up. They also stand alone in an interesting statistic, being the only team to win both the NXT and WWE (SmackDown Live) Tag Team Championships.
The other team who could partially include themselves in this statistic is the Wyatt Family, as they became the second NXT Tag Team Champions after the titles were unveiled. However, the NXT tag team version of the Wyatt Family consisted of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. So, although Luke Harper is the first person to achieve both feats, American Alpha is the first official tag team to do so.
While one can argue that the title win could have been a bit premature, and should have been done on a bigger stage such as Royal Rumble or WrestleMania, American Alpha showed that they are such an amazing tag team for a pure wrestling standpoint, showing so much similarity to former champions the “World’s Greatest Tag Team,” Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas.
While Haas is pretty much done with full-time professional wrestling, Benjamin was scheduled to return on SmackDown Live, but was derailed with an injury. Perhaps, the WGTT could make a one-time appearance on SmackDown to give the fans a wrestling clinic of a tag team match that it would be against American Alpha.
[Featured Image by WWE]