Wrestling & MMA

Usos, Axel, Ryback help elevate tag team ranks in WWE

The competitiveness in the WWE tag team division is at an all time high.

At the top of the mountain these days are the Jey and Jimmy Uso, twin sons of former superstar Rikishi. The brothers worked their way up the ladder and gained a fan following in the process. After numerous title shots over the years, the talented team finally struck gold by defeating the New Age Outlaws earlier this year on Raw.

“It meant a whole lot,” Jey said. “They finally put us on a pedestal with my whole family. There is this Samoan lineage and being champion. It was March 3 we won. If you watch the footage back, it was a moment for us. We know how much it meant to the family. We knew they were watching.”

Since then they have fought off many challenges including a fatal four-way defense at WrestleMania against Los Matadores, the Real Americans and RybAxel.

“We are being looked at from all ways,” Jey said. “We’ve got attacks coming from all angles with the targets on our back.”

Looking back at the past year, the tag team specialist believes it was he and his brother’s stellar matches against the Shield that turned a lot of heads. There were many nights they stole the show.

“I think that Money in the Bank match we had kind of put the Usos on that pedestal,” Jey said. “We let the crowed know, the WWE Universe know that the Usos could go. Money in the Bank against the Shield’s Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, we lost that match. It was in front of a Philadelphia crowd, which is a hard crowd. We made a statement.”

Despite finally securing the championship for the first time, Uso remains humble and appreciative for their opportunity to prove themselves on a nightly basis.

“We got to give back to our fans,” Jey said. “It’s kind of cliché, but it’s true. Without the fans I wouldn’t have a job. We wouldn’t be able to feed our kids and pay our bills. We are grateful to be here as champions.”


Lately, the combination of Ryback and Curtis Axel has been on the Usos radar. The two started out under the managerial services of Paul Heyman, but were left in limbo when they were dropped by the outspoken figure.

Instead of disbanding, RybAxel decided to make the best of the situation and used the series of events as motivation to make an impact on the tag team division. For the powerhouse Ryback it was another challenge to overcome. He is no stranger rollercoaster ride of being a WWE superstar.

“I came in 2012 and burst on the scene,” Ryback said. “I believe I was the most popular thing. Before the ‘Yes Movement’, there was the ‘Feed Me More’ movement. I took the WWE by storm. I was undefeated for some time, sometimes taking on two guys at one time. I jumped in the main event scene very quickly and stayed very popular with the WWE Universe for a long time. We made the switch and went an opposite way and took it all away. Not that I necessarily agreed with it at the time, but I feel it was a good move.”

Ryback has kept things interesting with the audience by having some fun on social media. Closing in on a million followers on Twitter, he is often seen sending out tweets that are at times controversial, but entertaining and gets the internet talking. Though you have to check them out them right away when he posts them, as Ryback is known for deleting his tweets almost immediately afterward.

“Through Twitter and everything else like that I’m just myself,” Ryback said. “A lot of people like to see that. When I’m in the ring I’m very intense. I consider myself a modern-day gladiator when I go out there. Social media and things like WrestleMania Axxess, this is my whole personality. On TV you can only catch so much.

“When I’m in the ring performing I’m a gladiator. Outside of it is different. If look at guys like Kurt Angle, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and The Rock, they were very diverse characters. Ryback is a very diverse character as well.”

During the superstar’s evolution, he became aligned with Heyman. He was one of his cherished clients with Brock Lesnar. After losing his share of matches, Heyman moved on. He doesn’t have many kind words for his former manager.

“I got absolutely nothing [from that],” Ryback said. “It’s a time period I will not even think to look back on.”

He does speak highly of his third generation tag team partner. They have been able gain momentum in recent weeks. Although RybAxel came up short against the Usos in a title match on Raw, they put up a good fight and came off strong. The two have a similar back story in getting their respective starts on the main roster via the NXT reality show competition and as part of Nexus.

“Curtis Axel is a great, amazing human being,” Ryback said. “Working with him is the most fun I’ve had in wrestling in some time. The only positive thing from Paul Heyman was getting to be around Curtis Axel and getting that out of it. Me and Curtis go back to developmental together. I’m very happy we are getting a chance to mesh and gel on TV and come together as RybAxel.”

Follow the Usos on Twitter @WWEUsos

Follow Ryback on Twitter @Ryback22.

WWE Extreme Rules occurs 8 p.m. EST. Sunday, May 4 from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J. The event will air on pay-per-view and on the WWE Network.

Visit www.WWE.com for details.

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Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.