Daily DDT’s Mid-Year Awards: FTR is the best tag team

AEW, FTR (photo courtesy of AEW)
AEW, FTR (photo courtesy of AEW) /

Prior to 2022, one could best describe FTR’s run with All Elite Wrestling the same way you would describe Albert Pujols’ time with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or Dwight Howard’s first stint with the Los Angeles Lakers: good, but far below expectations.

Indeed, the team of Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler joined AEW to much fanfare, as many fans hoped that the team’s push would match their elite talent as a pair. To some degree, it did, as evidenced by their reign as AEW World Tag Team Champions and the long-awaited dream match with The Young Bucks at Full Gear 2020, but something still felt off.

Whether it was their weird introduction as babyfaces or their underwhelming membership in The Pinnacle, FTR has gotten a bit lost in AEW’s opulent tag team division. They felt like another good-but-interchangeable duo that had gotten their turn at the top of the rankings.

Boy, how things have changed in 2022.

FTR has become arguably the hottest attraction in wrestling, and that’s why they’re the best tag team at the midway point of 2022.

In FTR’s own words, things started to shift during a tag team match against CM Punk and Jon Moxley on AEW: Dynamite (h/t to Bleacher Report’s Chris Meuller):

"“We could feel it coming. I knew it whenever we worked with Mox and Punk. And going into that, the week prior, I talked to Cash and I was like, ‘Hey, man, I think that it’s time for us to maybe turn babyface because these people are respecting us and they like us.’ During the match with Mox and Punk, I knew that we had to get these people to start sympathizing with us.“And so it started there. And then it went into the [singles] match with Punk. And I knew that if I tapped out, I could break their hearts. I knew I could build the match so beautifully, without cheating.”"

From there, FTR slowly distanced themselves from Maxwell Jacob Friedman and Shawn Spears, which AEW explained through FTR’s disapproval of MJF’s treatment of Wardlow (who was embarking on an impending babyface run of his own). Then came the dismissal of Tully Blanchard as their manager. After that, fans had carte blanche to cheer for Wheeler and Harwood, and cheer they did.

Of course, it’s easy to cheer when you’re producing classic matches with The Young Bucks (which surpassed their Full Gear match) and The Briscoe Brothers, including their tremendous Best-of-3 falls match at Death Before Dishonor 2022. Heck, Harwood alone has put together a low-key solid case for Wrestler of the Mid-Year with his matches against Punk, Adam Cole, and Wheeler.

With FTR co-authoring banger after banger and cutting passionate promos that commanded the attention of everyone within earshot, the chants for them grew louder by the week. Before long, they went from a great team that was stuck behind the Bucks and reDRagon in the rudo pecking order to one of the most over workers on a stacked AEW roster.

With that uptick in popularity came the ROH World Tag Team Championship and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the latter of which they won at Forbidden Door in a match that was booked to accentuate their status as shiny new babyfaces.

Even while acknowledging how amazing FTR is as a team, no one saw this coming, especially as protagonists. It even caught them by surprise, given how good they are as heels:

"“A lot of this was never been discussed or planned,” Wheeler continued. “There was never this beautiful roadmap that we could follow where maybe we could lean into this. There’s no way we could even think about ending this while it’s where it’s at. I always thought we would just be the guys that made babyfaces even more likable. And you have to appreciate it while it lasts because I know it won’t last forever. But while it’s going on, I don’t want to take that for granted.”"

Wheeler is correct in recognizing that these moments don’t last forever. That said, this wave of momentum FTR is currently riding will continue as long as Wheeler and Harwood tell great stories in the ring and on the microphone.

Next. AEW Dynamite: Fight For the Fallen Preview and Predictions. dark

Given how talented these two are at both, fans won’t have to worry about that for a while.