After the first brand split in the early 2000s, WWE Smackdown was HOT. And I mean HOT. It delivered stunning matches on a weekly basis, riveting feuds, and was a compulsory watch (Raw, on the other hand, became the HHH Show). Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit and Edge were four wrestlers integral to the brand’s success. That’s why these four wrestlers made it to the inaugural Smackdown Tag Team Championship final. Other, more seasoned tag teams didn’t make the cut. And the two improvised teams put on a tag team clinic!
Part of the storyline was furthering the Angle/Benoit feud (after just stealing the show at Unforgiven 2002, and their Royal Rumble 2003 classic was not far away)…but part of the reason these two teams were put together was that an awesome match was almost guaranteed. And, honestly, this is one of the best tag team matches in WWE history.
I videotaped each WWE PPV at the time (and almost wept when I had to get rid of those VHS tapes when I moved out of my parents’ house), and the following day after the PPV aired I watched this match again. Then I watched it the day after as well. I could not get enough of it. Of course, this No Mercy PPV had the brutally brilliant Hell in a Cell match between Brock Lesner and The Undertaker, but this tag team bout was still the best of the night. It’s a match that should be viewed by prospective tag teams as a masterclass of tag team wrestling.
How to build to a hot tag, how to work together as a team, how to escalate a feud within a team, how to innovate tag team offence, how to pace a tag team match…this match has it all.
Hammy’s Rating: ***** (out of 5)
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