Are Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas truly wrestling’s greatest tag team? Are they even Ring of Honor’s greatest tag team?
Much was made of the duo’s ROH debut match against the Kings of Wrestling at Glory By Honor IX and their subsequent signing with the promotion. A lot has been made since of their failure to truly click with the ROH faithful. The general consensus is that no matter how solid their ring work is and no matter how many good or great matches they are involved in they will always be seen as former WWE employees.
While WWE fans unaware of CM Punk and Bryan Danielson’s time in Ring of Honor will view them as WWE stars either man could show up at any Ring of Honor show and be given a standing ovation. Why? Because they are viewed by fans of Ring of Honor as “ROH guys.”
Haas and Benjamin’s inability to convince fans that they belong in the company has undoubtedly played a part in the heel turn they have undergone throughout the course of the year. Fans were not able to truly embrace them because they can’t accept the two as “ROH guys.”
Despite this failure to connect with audiences WGTT remain one of the most technically sound units in the world. It may be their speed that lets them down. While neither man is slow they cannot keep up with some of the younger members of the ROH roster and they were not quick to react when fans began to tire of their years old repertoire of double team moves.
The aforementioned heel turn was a clever booking move. Any time an act is not embraced by fans it’s best to accept the situation and turn it into a positive by making the undesired reaction the desired one. Haas and Benjamin playing the unsportsmanlike braggarts who aren’t bothered by fines and suspensions makes sense because it makes use of the real life reason fans cannot warm to them: they do have enough cash saved form their time in WWE to not be bothered by fines.
Their recent caretaker reign as tag team champions may at first glance seem like it did nothing for the team but I think differently. It’s becoming increasingly rare for tag teams to get multiple title reigns in ROH so for Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team to rack up two runs with the gold within a year helps to set them apart from their peers and makes it clear that they are a formidable unit.
The way in which they won the belts from the Briscoes was considered disappointing by almost every fan you could speak to. Thankfully the same cannot be said for the way they lost them. WGTT lost clean in the centre of the ring to a team that has long deserved an ROH tag team title win. Putting over home-grown talent is the most helpful thing Haas and Benjamin can do for the company.
I think if they stay with the league long enough the two could win over fans and be accepted as true members of the ROH roster, rather than just guys who used to work for WWE and use the same double team moves that they have done for years. Until that time comes WGTT are best used as the cocky heels, riling up fans and putting over rising stars. ROH’s greatest tag team? No. But they may be its most valuable.