The Growth of Partnerships in WWE and How They Can Improve the Product – by Mike Sanchez

We may be a good six months away from Wrestlemania, and WWE traditionally doesn’t get story-lines and feuds in place until around the Royal Rumble, but after this week’s Raw and Smackdown Live, one could be forgiven for thinking the writers have begun early and are starting to put pieces in place. Some of what we saw didn’t come as a surprise (the Shield reuniting), whereas others did (the turn of Sami Zayn). WWE seem to be leaning towards groups or factions. I believe this can be a great move for a few reasons:

The Tag Division on Raw – With Jeff Hardy out for a while, the Raw tag division took a hit, especially considering the great matches the Hardys had been having with Sheamus and Cesaro. With Seth and Dean paired together and able to capture the belts, their reformation into the Hounds of Justice with Roman Reigns has switched them from a tag team with an uneasy alliance to a solid faction. Their title reign could be longer now they’re part of a unit. Stables traditionally would accumulate titles due to their numerical advantage, much like….

The New Day – I think these guys have been some of the most consistent performers of 2017. Yes, Kofi picked up an injury, but they continue to be a highlight of Smackdown Live every week. The Usos’ heel turn has been vital to the continued success of New Day. With American Alpha suffering a breakup due to a paternity test, ‘Kurt, you are the father’, the tag division has needed these great teams to keep the belts active and the show popular to fans. However the faction idea hasn’t been so good for….

Jinder Mahal and his title reign. The Singh brothers have been a colorful addition to a guy who doesn’t give the most electrifying promos, nor does he seem to have a connection with fans. Perhaps that has more to do with him having no real rivals or challengers of late (save for a criminally underused Nakamura). The Singh brothers have tried to elevate Jinder, but only succeeded in being victims of their own success. The point of a faction is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Sadly that doesn’t seem to have happened with Jinder, nor the belt. That’s not to say that three man factions can’t elevate belts, for one that works, look no further than….

The Miz. Another who can claim to have had a great 2017, the father-to-be has it all to look forward to. He’s been a credible, consistent and cocky champion and staunchly defends the Intercontinental Title that he’s proud to hold. The inclusion of the Mizterage has brought Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel onto TV every week. They really add to the Miz’s character and presence. With Maryse now off-screen indefinitely, the faction has really boosted the Miz, the title and Raw. So much so that Miz TV is a weekly segment that never fails to get people talking. Would it work with just the Miz at the helm, or have Axel and Dallas given him more room to be brash and cocky, knowing they have his back? Then again, if you’re big and strong enough not to need an entourage, your size alone should stand you in good stead, much like……

The Bludgeon Brothers, or Luke Harper and Eric Rowan. Even though they’ve been around one another for a good while now, it’s good to see them as an official pairing for a few reasons. Firstly, it gets them back on TV, back in the ring and back in front of fans. As good as New Day and the Usos are, they can’t realistically be expected to carry the tag division for months at a time. The other Smackdown Live teams (Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin, Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley – will they be a team for much longer?) aren’t credible title challengers right now, so some new, tough and hard-hitting teams may be needed to give the Usos and New Day some company vying for the belts. So if two friends can finally reunite to forge ahead for a common goal, can the same be said about…..

Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn. The surprise of the night for me at Hell in a Cell, I hadn’t been on the internet in the lead up to the PPV, so hadn’t seen or read any rumors of Zayn’s turn. I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw and his passionate speech on Smackdown Live made perfect sense. Why continue to struggle and toil away for little or no reward, when his old friend is proof that he needed to take matters into his own hands. This is the partnership I’m more excited about – even more than the Shield. Owens has proved that as capable and credible he is as a singles competitor, a partner in crime works even better. Granted, Zayn has big shoes to fill in that department – especially as how great Chris Jericho’s run was – but Zayn isn’t Jericho and I don’t think the WWE fans have seen enough of Sami Zayn and what he can bring both as a performer and a character on our screens. I’m hopeful for this pairing and how far they can go. Is there a WWE Heavyweight challenge on the horizon, or will the McMahons have more to worry about in the future?

What do you think? Are the new factions or teams going to make a difference going forward? Will we see another side to Sami Zayn? What about the Shield? Are they reunited just to push Roman Reigns, or do Ambrose and Rollins have a future as Tag Champs? Should there be a Women’s Division faction or group? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.