Well, 2017 was a wild year in the world of professional wrestling, but it's finally drawing to a close.
Over the course of 12 months, the WWE on ESPN staff has watched hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of wrestling programming, and we've seen the best (and worst) of it all. In recognition of the greatest achievements inside the squared circle in 2017, we got together to make our picks in 10 categories, covering individual performances, teams, rivalries and shows.
We've hit the final stage of our year-end superlatives, and we kick off our three-part finale with a look at the best tag teams in wrestling in the year 2017.
Let's dig in.
It's not paranoia, but it's about damn time. From 2011, very early on in their WWE tenure, all the way through September 2016, The Usos played a charismatic but largely one-dimensional pair of smiling good guys. Their change in personality and sudden edge immediately played in their favor, but it took some time for them to fully settle into a groove. They won the SmackDown tag team titles in March, and did well for a stretch, but everything hit an entirely different level when The New Day moved over to SmackDown.
It all began inauspiciously enough, with The Usos retaining their titles via count out against New Day in a solid match at Money in the Bank, but both teams stepped it up each time out from there. It started to get really good in the opening match of a Battleground pay-per-view that was otherwise a complete disaster as New Day won the SmackDown tag titles for the first time.
Their third SmackDown tag team title match was moved to the kickoff show of SummerSlam, and each participant took that as a slight -- but the result was a match that blew the first half of the main card out of the water as The Usos regained their titles. New Day won them back again during a street fight as part of "Sin City SmackDown" in Las Vegas, setting up a final match that would stand as the centerpiece of one of the best rivalries of the year. In 22 minutes, New Day and The Usos used the Hell in a Cell structure in a terrifically violent and innovative fashion as The Uso finally put New Day behind them, or so it seemed.
The Survivor Series champions vs. champions match against Sheamus & Cesaro held its own on a very strong card and showed off the two best tag teams going in the WWE today. Between their swagger, their increased intensity and opponents that stepped up and brought the best out of them, The Usos finally found the right conditions for their talents to shine through. With apologies to The Young Bucks, who had great matches again this year all over the world and continue to make obscene amounts of money outside of the WWE machine, no team entertained me as consistently in 2017 as The Usos. (Tim Fiorvanti)
The first thought that went through my head after The Usos defeated Sheamus and Cesaro at Survivor Series: "Wow, these guys are the best tag team in the world." When is the last time The Usos failed to put on a first-class match? They've had multiple match of the year candidates with the New Day in 2017, and while they may be heels, fans can't seem to help but cheer and applaud their in-ring performance. They recently became the fifth tag team in WWE history to become five-time tag team champions. Additionally, their match at Clash of Champions was their 27th pay-per-view tag title match together, passing The Dudley Boyz for most all-time. The twin brothers consistently demonstrate flawless teamwork and they are the best tag team in the world. (Joey Koontz)
This year has been particularly great for tag team wrestling. However, regardless of who your favorite tag team is, there is no denying that The Usos are the best tag team in the world. Other tag teams have all done well, but besides New Day, there isn't any tag team who can try to claim they had a better year than Jimmy and Jey. What gives The Usos the edge is the fact that more than any other tag team, we watched them continuously take their game to another level. We watched them completely switch their style and then get better in the ring and on the mic. It doesn't hurt that they became three-time Smackdown tag team champions this year. The Usos have tag team wrestling on lock. I hope we all end up serving life sentences in the Uso Penitentiary. (Greg Hyde)
We have all been welcomed to the Uso Penitentiary this year, and if this is what the WWE Universe will get from the Usos, you can go ahead and book me a cell. Let's start there, with the Hell in a Cell match against The New Day. In one of the most physical battles in recent memory, The Usos helped take the tag team division to a new level in that match. In March, the brothers became the first tag team to win the tag titles on both Raw and Smackdown Live. Although they played hot potato with the belts for months, the matches between The Usos and The New Day were so compelling that it didn't matter who came out on top.
In the end, it was The Usos winning their fifth tag team titles and walking away with the upper hand in that feud. The icing on the cake came in the way of a Survivor Series win over fellow tag team champs Sheamus and Cesaro. All this while trying to get over a new gimmick that really allowed the brothers to let their true talent shine through after years of working under a different, more fan-friendly style. They've known it since Day 1, but we're all starting to find out now, uce. (Andrew Davis)
Tag team wrestling has been pretty good in 2017, and The Usos led the way. From their rivalry with American Alpha to Breezango and eventually to The New Day, The Usos never disappointed. Before the bell rings, they routinely cut the best promos of the week with a unique promo style in which they energetically bounce off each other. Everything about them is on point, from their attire, to their promos, to the high-energy violence of their matches. (Sachin Dave Chandan)
Late in 2016, The Usos made the heel turn that started them down a road of success that carried them to becoming the best tag team of 2017. In their acceptance speech, they should thank The New Day, who helped pushed them to new levels with show-stealing match after show-stealing match. What set The Usos apart is that they were able to have entertaining and, at the very least, solid matches with every team they were in the ring against. Remember the feud with Breezango? The Usos brought intimidating heel work, Breezango brought goofy comedy, and somewhere in the middle those styles intertwined to have a really fun, entertaining match at Backlash. And don't look now, but The Usos might be the best promo in WWE, well, except when Paul Heyman's around. (Matt Willis)
I was so close to putting Sheamus and Cesaro in this spot, but I will keep this pick quick. The New Day is so talented both in and out of the ring that they captivate the WWE Universe every time they are in front of the cameras. Each member of the group could be a superstar on his own, and together they are a money- and ratings-generating machine that can literally sell anything. When my daughter was a unicorn for Halloween, you know the first thing I thought of was getting the glowing New Day one for myself. And I did. (Andrew Feldman)
If this came down to actual in-ring performances and wins, The Usos would get the nod here. But looking at the full body of work, no one outdoes The New Day, who not only make their opponents look extraordinary in wins and losses, but whose personalities shine through in a way no other team, perhaps ever, has. Think about it: At WrestleMania, they were without a match, yet they hosted the event -- the biggest one of the year. How many individuals have the chops to be so well-versed in every facet of this business? What's even more impressive is that The New Day might be better now on SmackDown than they were on Raw, where they set the record as the longest-reigning tag team champions in WWE history. That's saying something. (Matt Wilansky)
Who would have thought that a pairing that had such a heated rivalry against each other last year would have turned into one of the best tag teams this year? While they sometimes fly under the radar, Sheamus and Cesaro have accomplished quite a bit as a team. When they defeated Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in November to become Raw tag team champions, is was the third time they captured the titles in an 11-month span. Stats aside, this is the most physical team in the WWE, and they consistently put forth quality efforts. While the "We are The Bar" line comes across as a bit cheesy at times, their in-ring performances are always a joy to watch. (Sean Coyle)