Imagine If…… Vol. 1 – Bringing Back The U.S. Tag Team Titles.
Welcome to my first (hell, maybe my only) edition of Imagine If. I’ve always been a fan of Fantasy Booking, and once upon a time I even had aspirations of being involved in wrestling in some sort of creative capacity. So, with the blessing of my good friend Bob Colling, I’m attempting to actually do it. Being the first time I’m doing this, I really don’t have any sort of ground rules in my head yet. I’ve never been of the mindset that the writers/bookers should lay out the whole match. So, I’m only planning on either coming up with the finish to the match, or maybe even just the result of the match.
The NWA (later WCW) United States Tag Team Titles were founded in1986 by Jim Crockett Promotions. They served as secondary tag team titles, to give undercard tag teams something to feud over. There were several occasions when matches over the U.S. Tag Titles stole the show, such as The Midnight Express vs. The Fantastics at the first ever Clash of Champions in 1988, The Midnight Express vs. The Wild Eyed Southern Boys at the Great American Bash PPV in 1990, and the Steiners vs. The Nasty Boys at Halloween Havoc 1990.
Bill Watts made the decision to retire the U.S. Tag Titles in June of 1992. Ostensibly, because with WCW already having the World Tag Team Titles, as well as an ongoing tournament to crown new NWA World Tag Team Champions, three tag team titles was too many. However, politics got in the way. Watts insisted on having Terry Gordy and Steve Williams win the NWA tournament. But, they were both mainstays with All Japan Pro Wrestling. WCW’s partner in promoting both the NWA singles and tag team titles was All Japan’s rival, New Japan Pro Wrestling. With NJPW not willing to promote the NWA Tag Titles, Watts merged them with the WCW World Tag Titles in July of 1992. So, instead of three tag team titles in WCW, now there was only one.
Imagine If WCW had decided to bring the titles back in 1993, after Bill Watts had left. The general feeling amongst fans and workers was that WCW had great undercard matches with poor main events. My goal is to fantasy book the newly reinstated U.S. Tag Titles from 1993-98, and doing so with the intention of keeping care of the current feuds and storylines.
The perfect time and place to bring the titles back is Slamboree, since we’re honoring wrestling tradition. The titles will be decided in a four team tournament. The bracket is Bobby Eaton/Chris Benoit vs. Johnny Gunn/The Z-Man and 2 Cold Scorpio/Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. Tex Slazenger/Shanghai Pierce. The final will be Eaton/Benoit vs. Scorpio/Bagwell, either on the PPV itself or the Saturday Night episode before it. Eaton/Benoit win when Eaton gets a blind tag as Scorpio does a flying body press. Benoit holds Scorpio in place on top of him and allows Eaton to hit the Alabama Jam to win the match and the titles.
Bagwell and Scorpio win the titles in July, with Scorpio pinning Benoit. Benoit attempts the Dragon suplex, and Bagwell will pull his leg from underneath him to lose the bridge, allowing Scorpio to cradle him (think Bret vs. Piper from WrestleMania VIII) for the pin.
Tex Slazenger and Shanghai Pierce win them in November of 1993, with some nefarious means, such as Pierce loading the mask and doing a headbutt, or something like one of the babyfaces trying an O’Connor Roll and the illegal man on the apron doing a lariat to stop it.
Starrcade ’93 features Tex/Pierce vs. Cactus Jack/Maxx Payne, now being for the titles. Same result as the actual show, with Jack and Payne winning. It gives another babyface a title win on the show, and rebuilds Cactus after he lost to Vader.
In March, the feud between Cactus/Payne and the Nasty Boys heats up with the Nasties costing them the titles to the team of Bad Attitude (Bobby Eaton and Steve Keirn). Saggs distracts Jack in the aisle way, allowing Eaton to knock him off the apron. While the ref is checking on Cactus on the floor, on the other side of the ring, Kobbs hits Payne with a crutch, and it allows Eaton and Keirn to use their flapjack finisher and win the titles.
On July 4th, Bad Attitude lose the titles to the team of Stars and Stripes, Bagwell and the Patriot. You can’t much more patriotic than that.
Despite them having that cup of coffee with the World Tag Titles in October, I’m keeping the U.S. Tag Titles on Bagwell and Patriot until November. I’m not a fan of frequent title changes, and I can’t think offhand of any other heel undercard teams to put them on in the meantime. In November they lose them to the Stud Stable, Bunkhouse Buck and the Blacktop Bully. There’s several ways to get there, Arn Anderson, Meng, or Col. Parker interferes, or Bully’s megaphone can come into play.
At the January Clash of Champions, the Stud Stable loses to the team of Dustin Rhodes and Johnny B. Badd. Both of them have issues with the Stable, Dustin’s is a personal one, and Johnny for having lost the TV Title to Arn Anderson. They come together by having a common enemy, and get to extract a little revenge.
The titles are vacated in March, after Dustin and the Bully are both fired after Uncensored. The champions, after winning another tournament, are the Blue Bloods, Lord Steven Regal and Earl Robert Eaton.
The Blue Bloods lose in June at the Great American Bash, to Flyin’ Brian Pillman and Alex Wright. A seemingly ideal set up. A young gun like Alex Wright has tons of potential, and it can only help his career to team with a veteran of tag team wrestling.
Sadly, they don’t last long as champions, with Pillman turning on Wright in August, and forming the alliance with Arn Anderson, that would eventually lead to the reunion of the Four Horsemen. As a result of Pillman’s betrayal, the titles are lost to the team of Diamond Dallas Page and Maxx Muscle.
The titles take a short hiatus, with DDP unseating the Renegade at Fall Brawl in September to win the World TV Title, and his ensuing rivalry with Johnny B. Badd over both the title and Kimberly. But, DDP would undoubtedly make the most of that first month, touting himself as a double champion. Also, there isn’t really anyone on the roster I can think of offhand, most of the teams coming to mind were in the world tag titles picture.
DDP and MM’s title reign is ended in January, also at the Clash of Champions, by the newly formed Patriotic duo of Jim Duggan and Sgt. Craig Pittman.
Duggan and Pittman hold the titles until April, when they’re unseated by the foreign team of Lord Steven Regal and Squire David Taylor.
The Blue Bloods reign lasts until June, when they lose to the team of Fire and Ice, Scott Norton and Ice Train.
Fire and Ice would be history by August, hence their match at Hog Wild. One of the reasons for their breakup could easily be their having lost the U.S. Tag Titles in July to the pretty boy team of the American Males, Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs. Norton’s decision to turn on Train is brought on by a mistake in which Train hits his partner by accident, and causing the title changing pinfall.
The American Males aren’t lasting long either, sadly, with Marcus joining the New World Order and becoming Buff. His choice to dump his partner in late November is also predicated on a title loss, when Riggs gets pinned in early November. The new champions are Rage and Kaos, High Voltage.
High Voltage reigns until January of 1997, when they lose to another young team. Former World Television Champion The Renegade and “The Desperado” Joe Gomez.
Jeff Jarrett wins his way into the Four Horsemen at Superbrawl VII. And, he proves his worth to the group the next night, when he and Steve McMichael defeat Gomez and Renegade on Nitro. The unity of the group fully on display with Mongo giving Gomez his trademark Tombstone piledriver, and setting up Jarrett to use his figure four.
Jarrett and Mongo had begun feuding with Public Enemy soon after Jarrett joined the group. And, it blows off at Spring Stampede with the Horsemen lose the titles. Mongo loved to use the briefcase, so it’s easy enough to have it backfire on him, with him hitting Jarrett or the other way around, to cause the pin.
Kevin Sullivan’s loss at Bash at the Beach in July essentially dissolved the Dungeon of Doom. But, the team of Meng and the Barbarian are still a force, and they prove that by winning the titles the next night on Nitro. Showing how much they needed Sullivan in order to be successful.
Just like Cactus and Payne at Starrcade, I’m taking something that actually happened, and putting the titles into it. Wrath and Mortis defeat the Faces of Fear at Fall Brawl, and now win the titles.
Although I dislike frequent title changes, this is one time where it needs to be done. Wrath and Mortis lose to their hated rivals, Glacier and Ernest “The Cat Miller” in October. Glacier and Mortis have been feuding for months at this point, so it’s obvious to bring the titles into it.
Something else that was happening in WCW, was Glacier and Miller having issues, with Glacier feeling like his partner didn’t have his back. An example of this would be losing the titles back to Wrath and Mortis at World War III in November.
1998 and onward:
Things are relatively quiet until February 26th, when J.J. Dillon makes an announcement. Wrath is out of action with a knee injury, and nobody has seen or heard from Mortis since February 12th when he lost to DDP and was DDT’d by Raven. So, the titles are vacated and will be decided in a tournament to be held over the coming weeks. The tournament is won by two men who have had recent setbacks in their singles careers, but hope to find success on the tag team front: Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Juventud Guererra.
From here, essentially the tag titles become the defacto Cruiserweight Tag Team Titles three years before WCW made official ones. Team like Los Villanos, Super Calo and Lizmark Jr, Damien and Ciclope, The Armstrongs, Evan Karagis and Lenny Lane, Alex Wright and Disco Inferno, and various members of the Flock or the Latino World Order, all could have made viable champions. Late in WCW’s lifespan, there was the feud between 3 Count and the Jung Dragons that could have been over the titles, as well as other teams like Los Fabulosos, MIA, and the Natural Born Thrillers.
As I’ve hopefully demonstrated. It doesn’t seem like it would have been all that hard to keep the U.S. Tag Titles active within WCW. This pretty much all came straight from my memory, knowing who was on the roster and what some of the major feuds and angles were. The only things I really needed to look up were how long the Eaton/Keirn team lasted and how long Benoit’s first WCW was. Bill Watts may have had a good reason (in theory) for retiring the titles. But, when the NWA experiment imploded, there wasn’t any reason to not bring them back, aside from the possibility that the people in charge just forgot about them.