Do or die for MNM?

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May 20, 2006

MNM captured the WWE Tag Team Championship an amazing three times in 2005, and have held onto the prestigious title for almost five months in a row. But that could all come to a screeching halt this Sunday at Judgment Day when they defend the gold against Paul London & Brian Kendrick.

London & Kendrick are a young, hungry tag team. Oh yeah, and they've beaten MNM a jaw-dropping five straight times. Luckily for the champs, the WWE Tag Team Championship hasn't been on the line in any of those matches, but that will be a different story at Judgment Day. If London & Kendrick can astoundingly defeat MNM for a sixth straight time, it will be one of the greatest achievements we have seen in the tag team division in decades. But on the flip side, could it also mark the end of MNM's tag team dominance?

Yes, MNM has been extremely successful ever since they debuted in April last year. They have either been at the top of the tag team mountain or a top contender for as long as they've been SmackDown Superstars. So, how could one loss drop them off the map entirely? After suffering five defeats in a row against the high-flying tandem of London & Kendrick, a sixth could prove to be a death blow. It's one thing to lose non-title matches, but if they lose their Championship Match as well, it could kill their psyche.

It has happened in the world of sports plenty of times. When Nick Anderson of the Orlando Magic missed four crucial free throws (only needing to hit one) against the Houston Rockets in the 1995 NBA Finals, he was never the same again. He became a shell of his former self. Byung Hyun Kim was one of the most dominant relievers in Major League Baseball…until the New York Yankees got to him. After his Diamondbacks were up two games to one, he blew two straight games in the 2001 World Series and never returned to his dominant form.

This phenomenon has also happened in the world of sports-entertainment as well. The Hollywood Blondes burst onto the WCW scene in the early 90s. They were a breath of fresh air. They were brash and cocky, but most importantly, they could back up their attitudes with results inside the ring. They took WCW by storm and won the Tag Team Championship in March, 1993. But after they dropped the gold about five months later, the dominant partnership was over.

The British Bulldogs were a popular tag team in WWE for much of the 1980s. They finally got over the hump at WrestleMania 2 when they defeated Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake for the World Tag Team Championship. Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid went on to dominate for nine months. But when they lost the gold to the Hart Foundation, they could never climb back to the top of the mountain.

Strike Force was a revolutionary tag team in their own right because they were a much higher-octane team. In fact, their high-flying style was hard to contend with and reminds some of London & Kendrick. They caught the Hart Foundation off guard in October, 1987 and were riding high until March, 1988. That's when they ran into the buzzsaw that was Demolition. Ax and Smash demolished Strike Force, landing Rick Martel in the hospital. Tito Santana tried to reunite with his partner months later, but to no avail.

And most recently, there were The Bashams. Danny and Doug were two-time WWE Tag Team Champions and were also integral parts of JBL's Cabinet. After losing the championship to Rob Van Dam & Rey Mysterio in January, 2005, things were never the same for The Bashams. The two-time champions tried to climb the ladder once again, but could never get any momentum.

Former World Tag Team Champion Arn Anderson, who is also a WWE agent, has gone through the struggle of trying to reclaim tag team glory on several occasions. He says that there are several qualities any team needs in order to get back to the top.

"I think the key to being a great team over an extended period of time involves a few abstract qualities that each member has to possess. They need the ability to think individually and work collectively towards the same goal, which obviously is to be the best damn team in the world," said Anderson. "At all times, they have to have the biggest ego in the ring, but hang their hat on the fact that they will sacrifice everything, including the health and well-being of each other, to win that match. When you are the champions, the burden is on the challengers to beat you. All you have to do is survive. But day one, upon losing the titles, should that horror face MNM, they have to have a different mind set. They have to become those rabid dogs that brought them to the titles in the first place. It is always much easier to become champion than to remain champion. As a challenger you only have to prepare for one time. As the champion you have to prepare for everyone, and that's a bitch.

"I think they've got as much talent as any young team I've seen come down the pike. Are they willing to do whatever they have to do, and be as cut throat as they have to be? London & Kendrick have nothing to lose. The Champions have everything to lose. If they do lose, will MNM be willing to suck it up and go back and get it? It's a character situation. If they want to be known as the greatest team of all time, then they have to circle the wagons and go back after it," said Anderson.

After enjoying immense success for practically their entire tenure in WWE, would MNM be able to handle such a crushing defeat? If London & Kendrick can overcome the WWE Tag Team Champions a sixth straight time, will it mark the end of MNM's tag team dominance?

There's only one thing MNM can do Sunday at Judgment Day to avoid these questions -- WIN.

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