Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Odd Couples of Wrestling

I mentioned this on a forum recently, but one of the things that kept me on as a fan of wrestling in the early days were the tag teams. In the late 90s, there were plenty of talented teams to choose from, whether you liked the Brood, the Hardy Boyz, the Dudleys, or even the New Age Outlaws. Being the silly girl that I am, though, my favorites have always been the odd couples. Two singles competitors are thrown together, seemingly randomly, and awesomeness ensues. Here are my three favorites, and what makes them work as a team.

1. The Rock and Sock Connection

The Rock was already a pillar for the WWE at the time, and being harassed by the Tag Team Champions, the Undertaker and Big Show. Mick Foley was still going by the name Mankind, although he was now a face, and instead of just using his mandible claw on the opposition, instead preferred to first cover his claw hand with a sock, produced from his tights. When the Rock challenged the champs to a match, he did not at the time have a partner, and Foley stood up to the challenge, helping the People's Champion to become one-half of the Tag Team Champions.

Why it worked: The Rock and Mankind played off of each other's personalities well, and that made their time together out of the ring that much more entertaining. It would have been easy at the time to discount this version of Makind as a strange little man, but when it came to business, the Rock seemed to know that he could count on him to help throw down some of the biggest wrestlers ever employed by Vince McMahon. Over time, he seemed to even be less disgusted by "Socko" and more entertained that his foes were being defeated with a dirty sock straight out of his partner's crotch. It was even Foley who came up with the name "Rock and Sock Connection", and the People approved of it.

2. Booker T and Goldust (BookDust)

In 2002, Goldust began to pursue a partnership with Booker T, but fell flat until Booker found himself in need of a new partner after suffering the jealously of Shawn Michaels. Seeming to have not much of a choice, he and Goldust became a fixture for the second half of that year.

Why they worked: If there ever was a true Odd Couple of wrestling, this was it. Booker warmed up to his new tag team partner, but was clearly disturbed by the Flamboyant One's antics during their promos. Goldust was always looked at by the rest of the roster as a freak, but having Booker T right beside him to react to him every week put a new kind of punctuation on the story, and his own reactions to Booker's sudden outbursts when he'd crossed a line played off nicely too, making it that much more entertaining.

3. The Miz and R-Truth (The Awesome Truth)

R-Truth seemingly hit a lucky break when John Morrison pissed off some people in the back and was in need of being punished. Previously thought by a lot of people I know to be a probable shoo-in for upcoming cuts, his heel turn and brutal assault of Morrison put him back on the radar. Now, instead of attempting to be the crowd-pleasing rapper, he started making his entrance to silence, and spoke often of conspiracy. The Miz was on a completely different story, having recently lost his WWE championship to John Cena and twice being unable to regain it. He interrupted a backstage segment where R-Truth was building up his conspiracy angle, and agreed that they had both been screwed out of their rightful positions as main event superstars.

Why it works: While everyone else in the company sees R-Truth as unhinged and deranged, the Miz sees him as the only guy making any sense. After all, they were both in the main event of pay-per-views not that long ago, and quickly fell from grace for seemingly no reason. They connect on that level, and to put it over the top, they now call each other's catch phrases, and even have a team pose. Just the way they walk together puts out a message to the WWE: Just try and stop us. And as if they needed anything else to enforce their strength as a team, R-Truth's "What's Up" theme has been given a guitar-heavy remix, and the Miz does backup vocals as they tell the audience "You Suck!" It's not the comedy-entertainment value of a face odd couple. It's different. And we should expect great things from this duo.

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