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Pro wrestling news, opinions, interviews, lists and more from former WWE creative team member Kevin Eck

New Day: Longest-Reigning WWE Tag Team Champions*

WWE is officially recognizing New Day as the longest-reigning WWE Tag Team Champions, but I think there needs to be an asterisk next to the trio's name.

Here's a quick history lesson:

The WWE (then known as WWWF) Tag Team Title was created in 1971. When WWE split the roster in 2002, Raw became the exclusive home of the tag team champions, so a separate tag team title was created for SmackDown.

The titles were unified in April 2009, and the undisputed champs carried both sets of belts until August 2010. At that point, WWE retired the original tag team title, and the lineage of the championship that was created in 2002 continued.

I never understood why WWE made the decision to basically erase nearly 40 years of its history.

New Day, who have held the title for 336 days and counting, would actually be the fourth-longest reigning champions if you include the lineage of the original title. 

Here are the top three:

1. Demolition (478 days, 1988-89)

2. The Valiant Brothers (370 days, 1974-75)

3. Mr. Fuji and Professor Tanaka (337 days, 1972-73)

This unnecessary confusion is one of the reasons why I hate having two sets of world champions, tag team champions, etc.


 

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WWE Battleground Preview and Predictions

A match-by-match look at tonight's show:

The Usos vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango on the Kickoff Show: This is a match-up of two teams who are now exclusive to SmackDown, so this may be the start of a program between them. Or it could just be a random match. The Usos, while talented, have become stale, so it wouldn't surprise me if Breeze and Fandango pulled the upset. That said, I'm still picking The Usos.

Becky Lynch vs. Natalya: When I was on the WWE creative team, I once pitched the idea that Natalya and Eva Marie join forces as heels. Natalya would call herself The Queen of Hearts and basically do a female version of a king gimmick, and Eva Marie would be her loyal subject. The fans already hated Eva Marie, so I figured why not use her heat to help Natalya get over as a heel? Plus, it would get Eva Marie -- a favorite of WWE management -- on the main roster, and she would benefit from working with a solid pro such as Natalya. Natalya was all for the idea, but Vince McMahon decided to pass on it. What am I telling you all of this? Because Eva Marie is now on the SmackDown roster, and I'm delusional enough to think that my pitch could still happen. So I'm predicting that Natalya heels a victory tonight thanks to Eva Marie.

Sasha Banks and a Mystery Partner vs. Charlotte and Dana Brooke: The two most obvious choices to be Banks' partner are Bayley and Nikki Bella. If it's not either of them, could it be a Hall of Famer such as Lita or Trish Stratus? What about Nia Jax or Naomi? No matter who it is, look for Banks to pin Charlotte to win the match.

United States Champion Rusev vs. Zack Ryder: This match will likely follow the usual formula for Ryder matches: He'll have a few hopes spots but ultimately do the honors. Rusev wins with The Accolade.

Intercontinental Champion The Miz vs. Darren Young: Before Young was drafted to Raw on Tuesday, I thought there was a good chance of Young pulling the upset and winning the title. However, with the United States Title already on Raw, that would leave SmackDown with neither of the secondary titles (assuming Rusev retains against Zack Ryder). I suppose WWE could still switch the titles tonight and then have Miz say that he is contractually owed a rematch and he wins it back on Raw tomorrow night. My guess is that Miz heels the victory tonight, but Young looks strong in defeat and puts Miz in the Crossface Chicken Wing after the match.

Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel w/Randy Orton: I see Jericho's night ending with an RKO. The crowd will undoubtedly be happy to see Orton back on the scene, but I'm very interested to see how the fans react when Brock Lesnar -- Orton's opponent next month at SummerSlam -- is mentioned.

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens: This is the match most likely to steal the show. Even though both Zayn and Owens are on the Raw roster, it seems like this is the blow-off match to their feud. Owens has more upside, so I expect him to win.       

New Day vs. The Wyatt Family: This looks like a one-and-done affair since New Day will be on Raw and two-thirds of The Wyatt Family will be on SmackDown. I could see this one going either way, but since New Day's WWE Tag Team Title is not at stake, I expect the Wyatts to win, with Braun Strowman -- who will be on his own on Raw -- scoring the pinfall, most likely on Xavier Woods.

John Cena, Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. The Club: This is the swan song for The Club since AJ Styles was drafted to SmackDown and Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson went to Raw. The babyfaces will win tonight, and we'll get Cena vs. Styles II at SummerSlam next month.

WWE Champion Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins: It wouldn't surprise anyone if this match ended in controversial fashion, leading to the creation of a second world title. There are a number of scenarios that could achieve that result. One is that Rollins has either Ambrose or Reigns pinned for a three count, but the referee has been knocked out and is unable to make the count. Ambrose then goes on to pin Reigns to retain the title. That leads to Stephanie McMahon bringing back the World Heavyweight Title on Raw and presenting it to the "rightful" champion, Rollins. Another idea would be for Ambrose and Rollins to simultaneously pin Reigns. That results in Ambrose retaining the WWE Title and Stephanie making Rollins World Heavyweight Champion. Going in another direction, Rollins could win the title by pinning Reigns. SmackDown would then be without a world title even though Ambrose didn't actually lose. Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan could announce that there will be a tournament to crown the World Heavyweight Champion. The one scenario I don't see is Reigns winning the title tonight. It would probably send the wrong message for a guy coming off a 30-day suspension for a Wellness Policy violation to immediately win the championship. My hunch is that Ambrose retains and Rollins ends up as Raw's world champion.

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WWE Power Rankings: July 23, 2016

The Eck Factor's ranking of the Top 20 WWE Superstars based on their overall impact, momentum and positioning on the card for the week ending July 23 (last week's ranking in parentheses):

1. DEAN AMBROSE (1)

The WWE Champion's title defense against Seth Rollins on Raw ended in controversy, as they simultaneously pinned each other and the match was declared a draw after the referee watched a replay. In the rematch on SmackDown, however, Ambrose scored a clean victory over Rollins to enter the Triple Threat Match with Rollins and Roman Reigns at Battleground Sunday as the champion.

2. SETH ROLLINS (2)

See Dean Ambrose above.

3. AJ STYLES (3)

The Club and The Wyatt Family defeated John Cena, Enzo Amore, Big Cass and New Day in a 12-man tag match on Raw in which Styles scored the winning pinfall on Amore.

4. JOHN CENA (4)

Cena, Enzo Amore, Big Cass and New Day lost a 12-man tag match on Raw to The Club and The Wyatt Family. On SmackDown, Cena defeated The Club's Luke Gallows in a singles match.

5. CHARLOTTE (6)

The WWE Women's Champion and Dana Brooke lost to Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch by disqualification due to interference from Natalya on Raw, but Charlotte and Brooke brutalized Banks afterward. They also got the better of Banks on SmackDown, as they defeated The Boss in a handicap match.

6. NEW DAY (5)

The WWE Tag Team Champions teamed with John Cena, Enzo Amore and Big Cass in a losing effort against The Club and The Wyatt Family on Raw. During the match, New Day and the Wyatts fought to the back. On SmackDown, New Day's Xavier Woods lost a singles match to Wyatt.

7. SAMI ZAYN (7)

Zayn and Cesaro defeated Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens on Raw when Zayn pinned Jericho. On SmackDown, a brief brawl between Zayn and Owens ended with both of them being choke-slammed by Demon Kane.

8. THE WYATT FAMILY (13)

See New Day above.

9. KEVIN OWENS 8)

See Sami Zayn above.

10. SASHA BANKS (9)

See Charlotte above.

11. CHRIS JERICHO (11)

Y2J and Kevin Owens lost a tag match to Sami Zayn and Cesaro when Zayn pinned Jericho. Jericho got back on the winning track on SmackDown by scoring a clean victory over Cesaro.

12. CESARO (10)

See Chris Jericho above.

13. LUKE GALLOWS AND KARL ANDERSON (12)

Gallows, Anderson and AJ Styles joined forces with The Wyatt Family to defeat John Cena, Enzo Amore, Big Cass and New Day in a 12-man tag match on Raw. On SmackDown, Gallows lost a singles match to Cena.

14. RUSEV (14)

The United States Champion and Sheamus defeated Dolph Ziggler and Zack Ryder in a tag match on Raw when Rusev forced Ziggler to tap out. Rusev wasn't as successful with The Miz as his partner on SmackDown, as they lost to Ryder and Darren Young.

15. ENZO AMORE AND BIG CASS (15)

Amore, Cass, John Cena and New Day lost a 12-man tag match on Raw to The Club and The Wyatt Family.

16. DARREN YOUNG (19)

So far, life coach Bob Backlund is doing an outstanding job of making Young great. Young defeated Alberto Del Rio on Raw, and then he and Zack Ryder beat Intercontinental Champion The Miz and United States Champion Rusev in a tag match on SmackDown when Young forced Miz to tap out to the Crossface Chicken Wing.

17. THE MIZ (15)

The Intercontinental Champion inadvertently cost Alberto Del Rio his match against Darren Young on Raw. On SmackDown, Miz and Rusev lost a tag match to Young and Zack Ryder when Miz tapped out to Young's Crossface Chocken Wing.

18. BARON CORBIN (17)

The Lone Wolf scored a convincing victory over Sin Cara on Raw. On Main Event, Corbin and The Dudley Boyz lost a six-man tag match to Apollo Crews and Golden Truth. During the match, Corbin made it clear that he had no interest in being part of the team.

19. SHEAMUS (20)

The Celtic Warrior was part of two winning teams. He and Rusev defeated Dolph Ziggler and Zack Ryder in a tag match on Raw, and then Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio and The Shining Stars beat Ziggler, Titus O'Neil and The Usos in an eight-man tag on Main Event.

20. BECKY LYNCH (unranked)

The Lass Kicker and Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte and Dana Brooke by disqualification on Raw due to Natalya ambushing Lynch during the match. Lynch got her revenge on SmackDown, as she attacked Natalya and had to be pulled off of her by a group of referees.

Dropped out of the rankings: Dolph Ziggler (18)

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