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Tag Team Turmoil

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by Jon Lane

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- What do you get when you take a World Wrestling Federation tag team and throw it into consecutive matches against six other teams, with each providing a different look -- similar to comparing a fastball to a junk ball?

Here's the kicker - the team has little or no time to prepare, and must adjust on the fly.

At Judgment Day, it was asking a lot for 14 men to get on the same page and compete in a Tag Team Turmoil match to determine the No. 1 contender to the Federation Tag Team Championship. "We didn't know what to expect, and we especially didn't know what X-Factor's role would be," said Justin Credible, one-half of the tag team. "None of us were mentally prepared going into this. "

Where else but the Federation can turmoil translate into a fine work of art? The match was a flawless effort, and the performance of the participants flaunted the overall depth of the Federation tag team division.

"The match came off tremendously," said Bubba Ray Dudley. "The tag team division in the WWF speaks for itself. Every team is so good. We proved as a unit we can go in there and have a great match and we did."

For more than a year, the Federation tag team division was dominated by Edge & Christian, the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz - with the teams holding a combined 13 championships over 13 1/2 months. But after Judgment Day, the top floor got a heck of a lot more crowded.

The APA - former Federation Tag Team title holders - set the pace by winning the first two falls. X-Factor took a big step in their evolution with wins over the APA and the Hardys. Even the Holly cousins - not scheduled to compete in the match - made an impact when they cost the Dudleys their battle with the APA.

When the dust cleared, the makeshift tag team of Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho defeated seven-time Tag Team Champions Edge & Christian to become No. 1 contenders. The following night on RAW IS WAR, Benoit and Jericho defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H to win the Tag Team Championship.

"I don't think anybody really thought the match could come off as smoothly as it did in the amount of time that we did it in," Bubba Ray said. "Everybody was on their game. Everybody did a great job. I was very proud of the match."

The turmoil match was the first of its kind since SummerSlam 1999, when the APA outlasted five other teams - including Edge & Christian, Hardcore and Crash Holly, and the Hardys. Bradshaw pointed out a clear difference between the matches at SummerSlam and Judgment Day "We won it!" he exclaimed, referring to the SummerSlam encounter. But similar to '99 was the unconventional formula used to execute the match and establish future stars. At SummerSlam, Edge & Christian and the Hardys were still scratching the surface. At Judgment Day, it was X-Factor.

"Back then it was different because the Hardys were still unknown," Bradshaw said.

"We were aware they needed to make an impact. They established themselves as great wrestlers there."

Like the SummerSlam match, the teams involved would face a quick-strike opponent one minute, and then have to switch gears and face another that relies on brute strength. It was a matter of simply winging it - and displaying the beauty of spontaneity.

"X-Factor had the hardest job going, from the APA to the Hardys to Benoit and Jericho," Edge said. "Those are three completely different kinds of matches, especially when fatigue sets in. We had it easy coming into the end."

What complicated the picture even more was the necessity to expand the stories of both Jericho and Benoit. Y2J was shaking off the effects of a concussion resulting from Edge & Christian's con-chair-to on RAW. Benoit was in the midst of iron man performance after competing in three straight falls - the third a Ladder match - against Kurt Angle, and having to come back after more than an hour of sitting.

The APA won the first two turmoil bouts, defeating the Radicalz and the Dudleys, before falling to X-Factor in bout No. 3. X-Pac and Credible stunned the Hardys in Match 4 and took Benoit and Jericho to the limit before Jericho forced X-Pac to tap out to the Walls of Jericho - while Credible submitted to Benoit's Crossface -- in Match 5. In the final encounter, near falls kept fans on pins and needles before Benoit forced Christian to tap out to win the match for he and Jericho.

Although there was one winner, each team took something from the match. "It exceeded everyone's expectations, including the fans," Credible said. "We did a good job. We competed in three matches in 15 minutes. It's a hard thing to do."

"I'm happy we gave it the time to develop a story," said Jim Ross. "I thought the stories evolved pretty good. It was a good night for the APA, a nice night for X-Factor, and Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit and Edge & Christian have great chemistry. Going forward, those can be some of the best matches here in a long, long time."

* credit WWF*