Why Rybaxel should contend for the WWE Tag Titles

Photo courtesy WWE.com
A little more than a year ago I never would have believed it if I was told I would soon become a fan of either Ryback or Curtis Axel, but the men have become some of my favorite elements of the WWE and, in my opinion, absolutely need to be in the Tag Team Championship picture.

The stop-and-start tag team division in the WWE has been in all but shambles of late, with The Usos (Jimmy and Jey) and The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) being the only real focus. Not to complain - All four men are extremely talented, and they have put on consistently entertaining matches that have shocked just about everyone with their spots and outcomes. There are more teams to consider, however, if only a few at this point.

The wildly talented duo Cody Rhodes and Goldust - The Brotherhood, The Dust Brothers, or whatever they may be going by now - were riding a nicely unique wave of momentum when the younger brother broke up the team only to reassemble it under his newly embraced and very entertaining reinvention, Stardust. I'm not sure if the suitably bizarre backstage segments they've been doing instead of wrestling can be considered a continuation of that momentum, though. Whether this "cosmic key" quest they are on (reminiscent of much younger brothers playing pretend in a basement or backyard) amounts to anything more than simply a return to the ring is yet to be seen.

Xavier Woods also recently became one of the more exciting personalities in the company as he adopted an apparently Malcolm X-inspired gimmick to unite with Big E and Kofi Kingston in what is one of the most exciting angles we're currently seeing. Nothing has come of the new union of yet, however, and I would be surprised if the faction's first goal is obtaining championship gold (or bronze, or whatever the less-than-attractive new belts are supposed to be made out of).

Unless you count Slater-Gator (which has major potential and is already getting over), this brief rundown has already about exhausted the current main roster teams... which brings me to Rybaxel.

Neither the monster Ryan Reeves (Ryback) nor the third-generation legacy Joe Hennig (Curtis Axel) began with flattering runs. Ryback was over possibly just due to a catchphrase and CM Punk's renowned heel work, but his one-dimensionality made him ill-suited as a face. As for Axel, despite a marquee against Triple H and an Intercontinental Championship run, the man once unfortunately known as McGillicutty simply did not seem to have "it". Even the poet laureate of promos Paul Heyman couldn't help matters, and a feud with, yes, CM Punk made Axel out to be a glorified jobber.

Ryback turned heel against John Cena the night after WrestleMania XXIX, and after two hit-and-miss months of a World Title feud began his bully-hating bully gimmick. This tweak to The Big Guy's character, which wound up becoming an extension of the man's reputation with the Internet Wrestling Community, was a brilliant move that instantly made him more entertaining before he joined forces with, yes, Paul Heyman. Once both performers' time with Heyman was mercifully up a tag team was dubiously formed, as if there was nothing better to do.

Turns out, the pairing of Ryback and Curtis Axel has been a great success. I mean, I have no idea if either man is selling boatloads of merchandise or anything, but between the ropes and even in backstage segments the team chemistry has been improving week by week. The two bring out the best in one another, and a sense of friendly competition drives them to make that best better.

Whether highlighted on Raw or relegated to D-show Superstars, Rybaxel brings an infectious jock camaraderie to the programming. Modern kayfabe be damned - these real-life friends are going to show off their brute abilities, gloat about it to camera and hi-five on a job well done. At times the duo is reminiscent of Power & Glory (though for my money they are more talented than Hercules and Paul Roma).

If Harper and Rowan couldn't capture the titles from The Usos, and if they are indeed moving back in to a program under patriarch Bray Wyatt as they seem to have been since Battleground, another team needs to step up. No team other than Rybaxel is looking qualified enough at the moment. Ryback even enjoyed a singles victory over an Uso recently, and the teams have squared off at least twice on television since, so perhaps the idea of Rybaxel contending isn't so far-fetched anymore (though this article has been a long time coming).

Reports from last week's SmackDown taping did indicate Ryback walking out on Axel after suffering a loss, but this did not seem to wind up on Friday's broadcast. Perhaps folks backstage decided there's more longevity to Rybaxel and cut the bit. If this is indeed the case, I say it's a wise move, even if possibly inspired by a lack of depth elsewhere in the tag roster.

Rybaxel as tag team champions - which would be Ryback's first WWE championship - would be the spotlight the hard-working team deserves, and a possible stepping stone to a next chapter wherein the two competitors will move on to more successful singles careers than they had previously.