Greatest Feuds of the Attitude Era - The Dudleys Vs The Hardys Vs Edge and Christian
by, 10-31-2011 at 04:07 PM (5180 Views)
As great as the Attitude Era was the tag team division wasn’t essential viewing prior until late 1999. The New Age Outlaws were a brilliantly charismatic pairing but inside the squared circle they were obviously lacking in wrestling ability. Other teams like the APA and the Hollys weren’t particularly thrilling to watch either. The Undertaker and Big Show as well as The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection were good to watch but they were focused more on singles gold rather than tag team. What the WWF needed were teams who were charismatic, popular and exciting to watch.
From the summer of ’98 to that of ’99 debuted three teams who would revolutionise the tag team division and lift it to great new heights that have never been bettered. One team weren’t particularly charismatic but they did what others wouldn’t do. They were hugely popular mostly for putting competitors through tables and the uttering the immortal catchphrase that every person at the time were desperate to hear, “D-Von, get the tables!” The second team weren’t exceptional in the promo department either but their captivating style and high flying antics made them the most popular of the three. The final team were brilliant when doing promos and, to steal from their phrasebook, “Reeked of awesomeness.”
This is the story of the Dudleys, the Hardys and Edge and Christian.
Edge was the first of the six competitors to debut in the WWF when he broke onto the screen in 1998. During his first feud with Gangrel, Christian made his debut, trying to persuade his ‘brother’ to join him and Gangrel in The Brood. He accepted and the group were briefly aligned with The Undertaker’s Ministry.
The Hardy Boyz had been wrestling for the WWF for years but always as un-glorified jobbers. They were singed officially to the company in 1998 and debuted shortly after Edge and Christian. They were managed by Michael PS Hayes for a while, briefly holding the WWF Tag Team Titles before being beaten by APA.
The Hardys and E&C began the rivalry which would last their tag team careers in August 1999. After The Brood had been kicked out of The Ministry they began battling with The Hardys and Hayes. In a shock move, Gangrel abruptly turned on his faction members and took the Hardy brothers under his wing instead.
The first of their classic encounters was at No Mercy in the final of the Terri Invitational Tournament, where the winner would get Terri’s services. It was the first ever tag team ladder match and it lived up to its billing:
(On a side note, does anyone know who the guy in the crowd with the pink shirt is in the video? He appears in the crowd with the same shirt all the time. I’ve seen him at WrestleMania 15, 23 and 27 and many more PPVs)
The next night the Hardy Boyz turned on Gangrel making themselves faces again. Both teams beat down their former manager and received a standing ovation for their match the previous night. The teams even joined forces in a traditional Survivor Series match but lost to The Hollys and Too Cool.
The Dudley Boys had made their first PPV appearance at Unforgiven, in a losing effort against APA. They also lost in a traditional Survivor Series match when they teamed with the Acolytes. It should be noted that in their first few months they stuttered which led to this hilarious promo:
All three teams were unsuccessful at Armageddon in an 8-team battle royal to decide who would be the number one contenders for the WWF Tag Team titles.
At Royal Rumble ’00 the Hardys and Dudleys finally battled in a classic table match:
Although the two WrestleMania matches are the most popular there were also many brilliant matches at smaller PPVs. The match wasn’t for a title but it was very high risk and both teams put on a great performance. It was clear from this match that tag team wrestling was changing for the better. When was the last time tag team matches had any stipulations at PPVs?
At No Way Out, the Dudleys won the Tag Team Titles and E&C defeated the Hardys to become the number one contenders. A rematch was held on Raw for the number one contender spot and when the Dudleys interfered in the match, McMahon decided to make the first ever triangle ladder match. Words cannot even describe how much this match stole the show:
Edge and Christian had become heels by the time of this match and following their victory they aligned themselves with Kurt Angle. The two ‘brothers’ had never seemed particularly charismatic but it was around this time that they became stereotypical ‘dudes’. It led to many hilarious moments to say the least, including a kazoo performance of the Triple H theme:
In the lead up to the summer the team beat Too Cool, T&A and the Hardys to regain the titles after being beaten by Too Cool a few weeks before.
At Summerslam came the first of the classic TLC matches. This match was perhaps the best that the teams faced each other in. Absolutely excellent from start to finish (I wholeheartedly recommend watching Summerslam ’00, it is most definitely the second best PPV of the Attitude Era):
Edge and Christian retained their titles for the second of the three way matches the teams would have. But at Unforgiven they couldn’t do anything when they lost the titles to the Hardys in another great match, this time in a cage.
As the top tag team at the time they had a good feud with Mick Foley, who was Commissioner. This would usually involve Foley telling a bad joke and the duo commenting on how bad it was:
They failed in their attempt to regain their titles in the ladder match and as a stipulation they could never challenge for the titles against the Hardys again.
Though they were disappointed this led to one of the more interesting angles of the time. Edge and Christian pretended to be ‘80s duo, the Conquistadors. Under the masks they beat the Hardys for the titles at No Mercy. Under the impression that they had hired a couple of fakes to pretend to be the Conquistadors for an episode of Raw, they invited them out for a match so they could beat them for the titles. Instead they were unsuccessful and at the end the Hardys ripped off their masks.
At Survivor Series the Hardys and Dudleys bested the combination of E&C, the Goodfather and Val Venis. The Hardys eventually lost the titles to Right to Censor and at Armageddon E&C won their fourth tag team title by defeating the group in a four corners tag match.
The duo lost the titles to the team of The Undertaker and The Rock but they regained them a few weeks later. At Royal Rumble ’01 they went up against the Dudleys for the titles. Before the match Edge and Christian mocked the Dudleys:
They lost to the Dudleyville duo at Royal Rumble but helped the Hardys beat them in March. They then defeated the Hardys before losing the titles later that night to the Dudleys again.
At WrestleMania 17 the three teams competed in their last three way TLC match. It was another glorious match with so many high points that are still remembered today:
Edge and Christian, like they had at Summerslam and WrestleMania the year before, were successful.
This was the last time the tag team division was exciting. Quite simply, it has never been bettered. The three teams managed had covered over the gaps of the division for some time and it was obvious, for at least two of the three teams that success would be waiting in the singles division. Edge went on to become Intercontinental Champion and after many years in the wilderness as a face he found his true calling as a brilliantly talented heel and multi-time world champion. Christian has recently become World Heavyweight Champion multiple times. Matt Hardy in my opinion was never good enough to be world champion and it’s never surprised me that he hasn’t. He was always in his brother’s shadow even as a tag team member.
Jeff Hardy had the chance to be one of the most popular champions in the last ten years. He’s massively talented, hugely popular with fans of all ages and although he isn’t great on the mic his ability in the ring has always covered this up. It’s just a huge shame that he’s wasted his ability on drugs. It was obvious during his feud with CM Punk that the pairing could be the next great feud to be remembered for years to come but it wasn’t to be.
Despite their varying success following their tag team feud this is easily the greatest ever tag team rivalry there’s ever been. By quality of match alone it’s hard to think of any tag feuds that come close.
Usually I’d be reflecting on what a wonderful feud this was and how it changed the tag team division but it’s hard to when you look at the state of it now. One thing that stands out when watching what little WWE I do watch today, is that the tag team division has greatly suffered. They need to start mixing things up again like they used to. Just because it’s not the Attitude Era doesn’t mean quality control needs to slip.