Tag-team wrestling captures spotlight for a night

WWE PHOTO Cody Rhodes (Cody Runnels) and brother Goldust (Dustin Runnels) display their WWE tag-team belts after winning the title last Monday night on Raw.

Tag-team wrestling is an art.

Or at least it used to be.

But for the past couple decades, tag-team wrestling has been relegated to an afterthought, a mid-card act at best.

Most of the rare main-event tag-team bouts in recent years have been booked to build toward single matches between unlikely partners — not to promote programs or issues involving the teams involved.

Last Monday night on Raw was a notable exception.

Cody Rhodes and Goldust, sons of wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes, captured the WWE tag-team title from The Shield (Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns) in a match that made longtime fans remember what it was like when tag-team wrestling was king.

Many of those fans no doubt harken back to the days of The Midnight Express, The Rock ‘N Roll Express and The Road Warriors, when the wrestling landscape featured an array of colorful teams and gimmicks.

Going back even further, the Mid-Atlantic territory during the ‘60s was known as a hotbed of tag-team wrestling. Rare was the occasion when a singles bout headlined a show during that period. With the exception of a world or regional singles title defense, the majority of mat cards were headlined by tag teams.

Tag matches, for the most part, were more action-packed. Many main-event tag bouts were two out of three falls, and some featured gimmicks such as Texas Tornado matches (all four participants in the ring at the same time) and Texas Death matches (falls don’t count and winner determined when one team can’t answer the bell for the following stanza).

Monday night’s tag-team battle could have fit nicely among those long-remembered bouts of yesteryear.

Unlike most abbreviated televised matches, last week’s bout on Raw lasted nearly 20 minutes. The match had the feel of a big fight. And when Reigns speared Goldust through the barricade,

fans knew it was on.

It was evident that the participants were well-versed in what has sadly become a dying art form.

Goldust (Dustin Runnels), at age 44, appears to be in the best shape he’s been in a number of years, while younger brother Cody (Cody Runnels) has emerged as one of the most improved stars on the roster.

The Shield (Rollins, Reigns and Dean Ambrose) have been one of WWE’s more pleasant surprises this past year.

Both teams put on a compelling, hard-fought match Monday night in what proved to be the end of The Shield’s 148-day reign as tag-team titlists. The added involvement of Ambrose and Big Show at the end only added to the drama and exciting finish.

Last week’s match rivaled another great contest between the same two teams eight nights earlier at WWE’s Night of Champions pay-per-view. The title change served to cap a memorable match.

Hopefully this will mark the beginning of a trend in WWE that will feature legitimate tag teams vying for a WWE tag-team title that actually means something.

Maybe tag-team wrestling can work its way off the endangered list and not be remembered as a relic from a bygone era.

Kudos to WWE and two superb teams for pulling it off.

And they even used a tag rope for old times’ sake.

For those local fans clamoring for a sports bar where they can watch WWE pay-per-views, their prayers have been answered.

Southside 17 Bar and Grill will air the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view on Oct. 27.

A $20 cover charge will include the PPV as well as an all-you-can-eat wing buffet with tea or soda all night long. An added feature will be a meet-and-greet with former WCW and WWE star The Barbarian from 5-7 p.m. The pay-per-view begins at 8 p.m.

Southside Bar and Grill is located at 3642 Savannah Highway, just off of Main Road, in the Publix shopping center.

For more information, call (843) 641-7043.

Top matches for the PPV include: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan in a Hell in a Cell match for the vacant WWE title with Shawn Michaels as special referee; John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio for the world heavyweight title; and C.M. Punk vs. Ryback and Paul Heyman in a Hell in a Cell handicap match.

WWE executive Michael Hayes (Michael Seitz) was suspended indefinitely after reportedly being spotted imbibing in adult beverages with Rosa Mendes (Milena Roucka) shortly after the WWE diva returned from a company-sponsored rehab for substance abuse.

Mendes, 33, had spent some time this summer in a rehabilitation facility after she was sent home from WWE’s European spring tour.

The company reported that Hayes, 54, “was taking a leave of absence due to personal reasons.”

Michael “P.S.” (Purely Sexy) Hayes formed one of pro wrestling’s most successful and innovative teams a quarter of a century ago with the late Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy. The Freebirds, who later added the late Buddy “Jack” Roberts (Dale Hey) to the mix, were known as hard-driving, hard-living and hard-partying rebels who waved Confederate flags and took their name from a classic Lynard Skynard song.

Hayes has been a powerful member of the WWE inner circle for the past 15 years. Regarded as one of the best promo men in the business, Hayes is well respected as a writer and has a close relationship with the McMahon family.

But Hayes has been in hot water with the company before. He’s had his own fair share of problems with alcohol in the past, most notably his involvement in the infamous “Plane Ride from Hell” following a London pay-per-view in 2002, and a year later when Linda McMahon had to take the mic away from an inebriated Hayes, who was singing solo on stage a la Freebird style, during the wedding of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Hayes reportedly exited with a “Once a Freebird, always a Freebird” refrain.

Hayes, whose old-school, “good old boy” mentality has sometimes clashed with the company’s focus on political correctness, also has a history of using racially charged language around colleagues.

Hayes was suspended for 60 days from his position as head Smackdown writer for using a racial slur with a co-worker at a Wrestlemania after-party in April 2008. He was disciplined for allegedly using the N-word during a conversation with African-American wrestler Mark Henry.

The incident occurred during what was described as “casual talk” while several wrestlers were drinking at the party. Henry, a former Olympic weightlifter who is billed as “the world’s strongest man,” took exception to the remark and later complained to WWE management, and Hayes was slapped with the suspension.

Kurt Angle, who recently returned to TNA following a rehab stint, revealed last week that he has battled depression and turmoil during his wrestling career.

The former Olympic gold medalist and multi-time pro wrestling world champion was ordered to attend rehab after his latest DUI arrest — his fourth alcohol-related arrest in the past six years.

He told the “Busted Open” satellite radio show last week that he learned much about himself during the recovery process.

“Basically putting God first. Realizing my whole life has been revolved around me and high expectations of myself and never really enjoying what I have done and what I have accomplished, whether it be in the Olympics or in pro wrestling. I have never really been satisfied. It led to a lot of depression and turmoil.

“It’s about going easy on yourself and patting yourself on the back every once in a while, which I’ve never done. With anything it’s putting things in perspective a little bit. What I do is a job. My marriage and my kids are more important than that. I don’t think I ever looked at it that way until now.”

Angle says he is still engaged in the rehab program (the company has a well-known and long-standing policy of paying for the treatment of any current or former employees) that he checked into after his DUI arrest two months ago.

“I work with them still. They’re amazing at what they do. They have had so many guys go through recovery and still are in recovery. We have a weekly chat every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. It’s really beneficial for everybody,” Angle said.

Angle also said that TNA should re-sign free agent Hulk Hogan.

“A lot of people would say, ‘No,’ but look at what this guy has done for business. Any time he goes out, he gets the loudest cheer, doesn’t matter if he’s wrestling or not. Getting to know him and seeing what he’s done for business, I’d say heck yeah, you wanna sign that guy.”

Reach Mike Mooneyham at 843-937-5517 or mooneyham@postandcourier.com, or follow him on Twitter at @ByMike Mooneyham and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MikeMooneyham.