I may have burst out laughing when I heard that WWE were genuinely putting on a show titled “Great Balls of Fire” (luckily I was in the midst of other wrestling fans who were doing exactly the same), but what we have ahead of us tonight is the potential for a really good wrestling show. It just goes to prove that if the content put in front of us is good enough, it doesn’t matter what it’s called.
Which is an idea that I could quite readily apply to “The Bar”. And that brings me to the Spotlight match for tonight, which in itself is extremely rare. As far as I can find, there have only been two of these kinds of matches in WWE since 1989, and neither of those had anywhere near the potential quality of tonight’s edition. I am of course, talking about the 30-minute Iron Team match between the Hardy Boyz and Cesaro & Sheamus for the Raw Tag Team Championships.
The defending champs have been surprisingly successful as a duo, as everything from the reluctant face/heel partners, through the essentially face tandem they were in the early part of this year, to the out and out heels they are right now. Maybe I’m surprised more at the longevity of the team than their ability to pull it off granted, but I’m surprised regardless.
And though I implied I don’t like the whole bar thing they’ve got going on, I would buy that they readily believe it. It would work as a t-shirt ironically, since they’re heels, I just find it a bit jarring when they find a way to end every promo with it – to me it can feel a bit contrived. But as a cocky heel mentality, it works perfectly. For Cesaro, he has put on several quality matches in his time in WWE, and may be one of the best workers in the company today, but has for whatever reason never quite reached the top. Sheamus on the other hand has, but the fans just buy into him like they could have. Both can lay some claim to being one of WWE’s prized assets, and so both can logically claim to be setting the standard the rest of the roster needs to be aspiring to.
And their opponents can lay claim to being one of the greatest tag teams in WWE history. That made this an exciting face off when it first happened, but they have upped the ante time and time again with stipulations. I haven’t actually written about the return of Matt and Jeff Hardy since Wrestlemania three months ago, but it was one of my favourite Wrestlemania moments ever. No exaggeration, the crowd reaction to them and them being my favourites of the Attitude Era made it an all-time great moment for me.
Since they came back, they have shown that they haven’t lost a step inside those ropes, but we haven’t had much in the way of characterisation from them other than being legends who the fans love and respect. We know they value respect from The Bar’s heel turn, and that’s about it. But so far, it hasn’t been needed. That time will come, but it seems the nostalgia factor is still running strong enough for now.
I mentioned earlier that these two teams have been upping the stakes time and time again. They first came up against each other at Wrestlemania in the four-way ladder match, but squared off two-on-two first in your regular tag match, then in a cage match, then in a two out of three falls match – something that became the penchant rivalry ender for The Revival in their time in NXT. That ended in a draw, but now we have a 30-minute Iron Team match to find out once and for all who the best team really is.
The other two Iron Team matches I referred to in the opening paragraphs of this article were both 15-minute affairs – MNM vs Charlie Haas & Hardcore Holly in 2005, and Miz & Morrison vs Jimmy Wang Yang & Shannon Moore in 2008. Yup. Seriously. That actually makes this match all the more unique as a 30-minute edition, and there is all the talent involved tonight to make me believe they can deliver.
But as always, I have an eye to the future. And looking ahead really makes me realise how thin the Raw tag division has become with the dissolution of Enzo & Cass. On the face side, you have the Hardys, and Heath Slater & Rhyno. On the heel side, you have the current champs, The Club, The Revival and possibly now The Miztourage. That alone would suggest to me that The Hardys should win tonight, and go on to defend the titles against The Revival as the most credible contenders at SummerSlam. But that could massively hurt The Bar.
They haven’t been heels all that long, and they have been champions for even less time. Their first run with the titles wasn’t exactly a lasting success due to Wrestlemania plans getting in the way, and though I wouldn’t go as far as to write them off should they lose tonight such is their ability and already proven lasting ability, I do think they need to be champions far more than Matt and Jeff right now.
And let’s face it, it is SummerSlam next. With the crowd sure to be a smart one at that show, does it matter if a title match is heel vs heel? Is that kind of crowd really going to boo a match featuring Sheamus, Cesaro, Dash and Dawson? I highly doubt it. The issue would then be what Matt and Jeff do instead, but that may just be where things get Broken.
The other options would be to turn The Revival or The Club face. For one, The Revival are far too good as heels for that in my opinion, and because of injury we’ve barely had the chance to see that on the main roster. Give them time to show what they can do when they are in their element. The Club? Maybe. They haven’t exactly set the world alight, being hurt initially by The New Day’s record run. A face turn could open the door to a Balor Club reunion, if not immediately then at least somewhere down the line. That is possible, but for some reason my gut instinct is that it isn’t likely.
Could you just go with Slater & Rhyno as challengers? Yes, but it would be underwhelming. Could you go with Titus Worldwide as a comedy face team? Yes, but they’d have even less credibility to be title challengers than the others. Though as a brief tangent – if they did turn face properly (I’m not sure what they’re supposed to be right now), and kept expanding, how good could an Apollo Crews and Rich Swann team be? Anyways, back to the point. If things had gone differently, I would have suggested Cesaro & Sheamus run through all the other teams on the show – The Revival by DQ or count-out to protect them of course – and then issue an open challenge at SummerSlam that DIY would answer. Obviously that can’t happen, but how awesome would it have been.
It’s now at that point in my preview where I try to take my focus back from the future, and what could be, to the here and now and what’s facing us tonight. I think we are in for a blockbuster match, possibly the best two-on-two match we’ve seen on the main roster since The Shield vs The Rhodes Brothers. As long as WWE don’t try to be too smart and overbook it for no reason, it can be great. As always with WWE though, that’s a big if. But I have some faith. I think the result is wide opens, which for me only adds to the excitement around it. This may just be the perfect opportunity for all four men involved to show that as far as tag team wrestling goes they don’t just set the bar, they are the bar.