2017 has been a brutal year for tag teams.
Along with the irregular use of tag teams on Smackdown Live, we seen the brutal break ups of Enzo and Cass and DIY as well as American Alpha’s sudden end due to Jason Jordan being Kurt Angle’s son. Even the Southern/Midwest indie scene has seen the end of The Insiders and The Devil’s Rejects this year.
Nothing has hurt as much though as the sudden end of Roppongi Vice during New Japan’s G1 Special in USA. It wasn’t even because of jealousy or betrayal or even retirement. It was just Rocky Romero telling Trent Baretta to spread his wings and graduate up to the heavyweight division.
After his performance at Evolve 89 versus Austin Theory in Marietta, Ga., I have no doubt in my mind that Baretta will make it in the heavyweight division of NJPW. Even in a losing effort, he still pulled off an emotional, heavy-hitting match with Theory that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Plus, Romero is right. RPG Vice as a team accomplished all you can in the junior tag division in NJPW. Four time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions and the winners of 2016’s Super Jr. Tag Tournament, the Vice had nothing left to prove.
Still, it’s tough to see them going away.
Despite always being a great tag team in the short time they were together, Roppongi Vice always felt like they were often slept on team in the junior tag division. Not the loud moneymakers like their rivals The Young Bucks or the high flyers of Ricochet and Matt Sydal, not a lot of people seemed to take them seriously. At least at first.
Sure, they played second banana to The Young Bucks more often than not, especially in Ring of Honor, when it seemed like they were just there for five seconds during the rivalry between The Bucks of Youth and the Hardys. But there was something about the team that made them so endearing. Maybe it was Rocky’s upbeat personality matched with Trent’s more sardonic attitude. Maybe it was the high fives or the theme song. Maybe it was just the fact they continuously delivered as a team, despite multiple declarations of Trent’s death on Twitter any time he participated in a particularly painful looking spot. Maybe it was all of the above.
They weren’t The Young Bucks, but they never had to be. They were Roppongi Vice, the hotel drinking, McGriddle eating weirdoes that won over hearts everywhere with their own brand of daredevil wrestling involving Trent’s dangerous flips and Rocky going a million miles an hour with eyepatches and sleeves made of thumbtacks. They even made my Bullet Club loving self start crying when they lost their titles one last time to The Young Bucks after a particularly brutal match at Dominion.
Roppongi Vice has one last match together on July 22nd at Wrestle Circus against The Lucha Brothers, but for now, raise your glass for the true Kings of the Vice, wish them well on the next step of their journeys in NJPW, and pray to the wrestling gods themselves that Trent and Chuck Taylor never break up.
Ashley Leckwold is a freelance writer based out of Atlanta who specializes in comic books, professional wrestling, and pop-punk music. Besides being regularly found at Graphic Policy and The Outhousers, you can find her at her blog and on Twitter @misskittyf.