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North Carolinian natives Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler have a long and storied history both as opponents and partners. The team officially formed under the NXT banner and the suggestion of Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes. Christened The Revival, the duo would organically grow through the developmental division and promotion to the WWE main roster became an inevitability. Success on both Raw and Smackdown followed but a fan feeling that the team were under-utilized would persist. Pushed by perceived creative mis-steps, the future FTR would be granted their releases from WWE and seek pastures new.
Inspired by such luminaries as Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Bret Hart, and Bobby Eaton, the tandem wear their old school influences proudly. FTR’s in ring style recalls the 1980s heyday of tag team wrestling, a style in which the team would work tactically, isolating an opponent and grinding them down with technical prowess. The work ethic, nostalgic entrance music, and character presentation all combine to make the former Revival a throwback adored by the core AEW fan base.
The renamed FTR would debut for All Elite a couple of months after their WWE release. The signings would be seen as another coup for the company and yet another signal of All Elite’s intention to make their tag team division the most coveted in wrestling. Whilst initially introduced as faces, Harwood and Wheeler would soon turn heel by assaulting legendary tag team The Rock & Roll Express. A Tag Team Title win over Omega & Hangman Page would follow as would an alignment with manager Tully Blanchard. FTR would eventually drop the AEW titles to The Young Bucks but would find consolation in capturing multiple titles across the wrestling multiverse including those of AAA, IWGP and ROH. The tripe champions would also join red hot heel MJF, Wardlow and Shawn Spears to form The Pinnacle. A group of privileged heels who would feud with Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle.
After The Pinnacle quietly disbanded, FTR would form an on screen friendship with
CM Punk, one which mirrored their backstage connection. It is speculation that this connection and reported creative differences with prominent roster members would be politically negative for the team. A fire further stoked by various tweets and podcast appearances from Harwood in particular.
Harwood & Wheeler’s defining moments of 2022 would ironically occur outside the AEW banner. A feud of the year with ROH’s own Briscoe Brothers would produce a trilogy of 5 star matches and earn plaudits across the divided wrestling spectrum.
After a brief hiatus, FTR returned to AEW at the recent Revolution PPV and once again set their sights on AEW tag team gold.
AEW creative seemingly has two distinct directions to choose for FTR moving forward.
If the long rumored backstage machinations are well founded then All Elite would consider it prudent to feature FTR as star-makers for the company’s next generation of tag teams. This approach could be beneficial to duos like The Acclaimed, Gunn Club, and Top Flight, but may also turn the core AEW fans away from the division as the move would be transparent and degrade a fan favorite team.
The other option is to go all in on Harwood & Wheeler. FTR have the credentials and the following to be the centerpiece tag team act for a company that prides itself on in-ring action. Have FTR dethrone the brash Gunn Club and then rejuvenate the division with dream matches opposite The Young Bucks, Lucha Brothers, House of Black and, BCC. A long reign could follow and then when an up and coming team is ready, the baton could be passed in a meaningful way.
FTR have proven with their critically acclaimed feud with The Briscoes that few other teams can compare. AEW need to book the tandem as such. Build the division around FTR with a lengthy reign, which would provide must see matches across both Dynamite and AEW PPV’s.
Californian Brody King chose his ring name as tribute to fellow heavyweight brawlers Bruiser Brody and the late Brodie Lee. A near eight year competitor, King has journeyed many of the major names in American independent wrestling. Sojourns in MLW, PWG, ROH and New Japan Strong have led to a growing fan interest in the bearded brawler.
Physically distinctive both due to his size and tattooed torso, Brody King is also the lead singer in thrash band, God’s Hate, and employs a violent and propulsive style in the ring. Emulating the techniques of his aforementioned namesakes, King uses high-impact power moves and size-defying speed to obliterate his opponents.
Debuting for All Elite in January 2022, Brody King was immediately aligned with real-life friend and oft partner Malakai Black. The team were ominously named The House of Black and would go on to add both Buddy Matthews and a corrupted Julia Hart to round out the quartet.
Feuds against The Varsity Blondes and Death Triangle would follow including a stellar six-man tag battle against Death Triangle at Double or Nothing 2022. Individually King would strike up a seemingly natural antagonistic connection with Darby Allin. A short lived singles feud which culminated in a losing effort from King in a Coffin Match. The pair though would clash again at All Out 2022. House of Black were once again on the losing side — this time against Allin, Sting and the rarely-spotted Miro.
House of Black would then turn their attention to the trios champions, The Elite, and stalk the stable over several weeks. The mind games would pay dividends as the Malakai Black led faction would earn their first All Elite gold at the latest AEW PPV, Revolution, by capturing the World Trios Championships in a fast-paced and hard-hitting affair.
Brody King stands out amongst the stacked AEW roster due to his size and look. The House of Black is a good fit to introduce and familiarize King with a new audience, but the big man has so much more potential. King has proven he can mix styles with All Elite’s varied roster and would provide compelling matches with a number of the company’s stars. AEW needs to define King. He could be a dominant heel who railroads his way through the competition until a showdown with a face world champion or a fighting babyface who clashes with AEW’s cavalcade of big man heels. Featured matches opposite Powerhouse Hobbs, Lance Archer, Claudio Castagnoli, and Samoa Joe would provide AEW with a compelling PPV highlight.
Whilst not heavily featured, King is a compelling watch whenever on screen. The impact of his offense reverberates through the screen and his look is a marketable one. A singles run beckons, though the heavy for the House of Black is a suitable spot in the shot term. Long term, push King as a dominant brawler and a giant for a fighting babyface to fell.
CATCH-UP: Kenny Omega vs. Vikingo announced for AEW Dynamite next week
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