Sportsmen of the year?
The fact that Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch are World Tag Team Champions is not a fluke. That thought was put to rest at Vengeance: Night of Champions when they defeated the Hardys for the second straight time to retain their gold.
The previous time the two teams met with the tag team championship on the line, the Hardys had competed in an exhausting Ladder Match less than 24 hours earlier. Many of our fans were crying foul and labeled the new champions illegitimate title holders.
Now that argument is no longer relevant. But has it been Cade & Murdoch's new sportsmanship kick that's given them the edge? Has competing within the legal parameters of WWE's officiating made them focus more on their acquired in-ring skills and less on finding ways to cheat to win?
"No… the difference is that everybody's paying attention to Cade & Murdoch now -- bottom line," said Murdoch, his net hat skewed to the side and his wiry sideburns sprouting off his cheeks like Amazon brush. "We've always been good. As a matter of fact, we've always been the best -- it's just taken a while longer for us to get noticed."
But getting noticed hasn't been an easy task for these two Superstars. On WWE.com in mid-April, the duo harangued their critics in an anger-filled diatribe. Cade said it then -- "We're the best tag team in the business." Now that he's proven that statement true and been doing it without diverting from the rules -- for the most part -- it's time to keep beating people up, which in turn, shuts their critics' mouths.
"We've been playing by the rules, which makes people skeptical of us, and that's fine," said an unusually composed Cade. "We're still going to do whatever it takes to win and keep the tag team championship, whether or not people refer to us as ‘fake sportsmen.' We're going to do whatever we have to do to ensure that these titles stay in our possession."
Discrediting Cade & Murdoch's newfound sportsmanship, some may say it's easy to pass judgment on them. It's usually thrown out in conversation involving the two without taking into account the amount of time they spend together to discuss strategy, train and ultimately, dissect what works and what needs tweaking in their dynamic.
"We are best friends; we ride together; we drive together; we stay together on the road; we work out together; we eat together," said Cade. "That's why our chemistry, our psychology is better than anyone else's and that's why we're champions."
Not many tag teams out there can honestly claim to possess the same type of relationship. The obsession with becoming -- and staying -- champions puts these two with each other more than they are with their families. Whether you like them or hate them (the latter obviously being the easiest), it's hard to deny Cade & Murdoch have earned their keep in WWE.
Now the question shifts -- when other teams begin to zero in on their titles, will their willingness to abide by the rules be the first thing Cade & Murdoch abandon?
"Who cares what anyone has to say?" uttered Murdoch. "We're champions and we're going to stay champions. You don't like it? Too bad, get used to it."