Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rambling on the Marty Jannetty Analogy

Tag team wrestling is something that most of us enjoy watching, whether it's the dynamic of having extra people in the ring or some of the awesome double team moves that can be performed. At some point most wrestlers have been part of a tag team, sometimes for only a short time, and others have made their entire career through their tag team roots and legacy.

I'm going to assume that most fans remember the old tag team, The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty). Together they were great high flyers, if not to the same standards as modern high flyers. However, like all good things, their partnership came to an end. Shawn Michaels was destined for greatness while Marty Jannetty never experienced the same career trajectory.

What got me thinking about this idea of the analogy was when I was discussing The Wolves with my brother, who is less aware of their early work pre-TNA. When I said that I saw Davey Richards as a future TNA World Heavyweight Champion, he responded with – "So you see Davey as the Shawn Michaels of the team?" – and I suppose I was. It was not meant as a slight on Eddie Edwards, but as an appreciation of Davey Richards. I would not be upset if Eddie won the World Title; I just think Davey is the more likely option.

Now, I have had similar conversations regarding different tag teams throughout my 20+ years of watching wrestling and it does seem that there is always one member of a tag team that achieves higher acclaim than the other. At least in the promotion they came up in, such as Edge and Christian – which saw Edge winning the top honors in WWE while Christian never reached the same level and had to settle for being the top champion in TNA when he held the NWA Title.

If you consider those tag teams that worked together before one of them rose to the main event, there is a huge number of teams that have a clear Michaels/Jannetty archetype. To list a few:

Team 3D – Bully Ray over Devon
Hardy Boys – Jeff over Matt (irregardless of promotion)
America's Most Wanted – James Storm over Chris Harris
Motor City Machine Guns – Chris Sabin over Alex Shelley
Acolytes Protection Agency – Bradshaw over Farooq

Hell, we can even go back to the Hart Foundation of Bret Hart and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. Maybe it has something to do with the nature of tag team wrestling where a lot of times you have a veteran paired with a relative rookie, as in the case of the APA, where it's the veteran's job to help secure the future success of their teammate. In such cases it is understandable why one person has a better career after the team ends, because they have more potential to become a bigger star.

But in the cases of teams such as Edge and Christian and The Motor City Machine Guns, there is no real reason why one person got further than the other. You could pass it off as things like mic work or creative missteps, but surely a promotion with the resources of WWE or TNA can make anyone into a main event star – something they have proven multiple times throughout the years.

It's become a staple of many tag teams that one has a bright future while the other is doomed to fall short. But do we hold any of the blame for its continuation? Are all tag teams destined to fall prey to the established status quo so long as we, the fans, continue to make the analogy?

After all, once we have made our decision on who we think is the Shawn Michaels of the team, aren't we naturally inclined to support them over their teammate and turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy? I, for one, hope that I can look at new tag teams and try not to make the same analogy and look forward to a bright future for both.

Do you believe in the Michaels/Jannetty analogy? Do you think that it has become something we will continue to see? And do we have any influence in the matter? Food for thought.