By Anish Vishwakoti, ProWrestling.net Staffer, (@AVX_9001)
It has been a really strange and tough couple of days in the wrestling world. While the tributes and messages about Shad Gaspard have been coming in from a plethora of his friends and colleagues, it is clear that he was loved and respected both in wrestling and out. I am sure that nothing I can say can add more than the many of his friends already have about him. But during Cryme Tyme’s run in WWE, I was between six and ten years old, and Cryme Tyme were always one of my favorite tag teams.
The past couple of days have had me thinking about a lot of their run and a number of their best matches and most entertaining moments, so I wanted to take a look at them and hopefully give them the tiniest bit of a spotlight, so Yo yo yo yo, pop a forty and check your rollies, it’s Cryme Tyme!
Cryme Tyme debuts
Even before their official WWE debut, Cryme Tyme could have stopped at their original vignettes and I think those appearances alone would still be remembered fondly due to how funny they were.
Even without the context of Shad and JTG being characters on a Wrestling show, these work as just comedic sketches. Shad and JTG ‘training’ for their debut by carjacking people or training to get faster in the ring by robbing a coffee shop in record time but getting slowed down because Shad had to stop JTG from giving a shout out to his boys right to the CCTV camera.
It says something to the creativity and vision of Cryme Tyme that they were able to build up their debut with solely vignettes that could have been Key and Peele sketches, because when they did make their debut as surprise opponents for The Spirit Squad, there was a really great pop from the crowd, one that lasts long throughout their entrance and the match itself.
I remember hating the Spirit Squad when I was a kid, so I’m sure that helped in getting the crowd to cheer for Cryme Tyme. But it is not often that you get an instant, loud, and noticeable reaction like that for babyfaces debuting without seeing them actually wrestle. It says even more that they were able to get across that much charisma while technically playing criminals.
I also want to mention that on their debut, they first utilized the ‘G-9’ tag team maneuver (Samoan Drop and Twisting Neckbreaker combo) and there is no doubt that this was an underrated tag team maneuver, that no one has really used after them.
Auctioning Lilian’s Chair
Of course, Cryme Tyme is most well known for being WWE’s tag team version of Robin Hood, stealing from the locker room and giving, or selling the goods to the audience. So, I have to include one of my favorite occurrences of this, when Shad and JTG approached Lilian Garcia sitting and made it seem like they were going to sell her. The way they got the crowd hyped up to pay money for the chair that Lilian Garcia was sitting on – sorry, the personalized autographed version of Lilian Garcia’s chair was hilarious. The roar of the crowd legitimately bidding their money for a steel chair used by Garcia is worth it, Shad and JTG had the crowd in the palm of their hands here, as they had many a time and it’s a laugh to watch.
Cryme Tyme vs Jeri-Show
Shad had a phenomenal Wookie impression. Cryme Tyme’s short lived feud with Chris Jericho and The Big Show never really had any steam to it, and as much as I would have loved to see them win the tag team titles from Jeri-Show, it was not meant to be. That being said, this short feud gave us a couple of great moments in Cryme Tyme’s run, most memorably probably being their coming to the assistance of Shaq against The Big Show. However, a hidden gem from their interactions with Jeri-Show was from the Smackdown that followed where Shad likened Jericho and Big Show to Han Solo and Chewbacca and let out a killer Wookie impression to sell the joke.
Jericho and Big Show did a phenomenal job of being tight ass, taking themselves too seriously heels as well, really allowing Shad and JTG to get the best of their interactions. As WWE ran deeper into the PG era, Cryme Tyme did seem slightly more restrained; they certainly were not going to be selling Lita’s clothes this late into their run. But even with these restrictions in place, Shad was certainly able to hold his own in a battle of words against the best.
Cryme Tyme also had the biggest match of their career against Jeri-Show at SummerSlam 2009 for the Unified Tag Team Championships. While they never won the titles, the match itself is a testament to the longevity of the team and the goodwill that the fans always had towards them. Not a long match, but a solid one in which Shad and JTG both got to show off their skills and have that crowd bite on a couple of near falls, with a reaction that tells me that the pop had Cryme Tyme won the tag titles would have been huge.
Cryme Tyme and V-Mac
Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son angle never really led to anything big. However, this one skit from SummerSlam 2007 in which Shad and JTG interrupt Mr. McMahon during a meeting with his cronies to hypothesize that either of them could be his illegitimate son, makes that angle worth it. From what the pair have said in interviews, Vince McMahon really seemed to enjoy the Cryme Tyme gimmick, and whatever can be said about the billionaire, skits like this really make it seem like he gets it.
Shad and JTG dancing around Vince, chanting their signature ‘Money Money….’ is a treat to watch, and the unison roar of ‘Yeah Yeah!’ from the crowd just makes this segment. For about a minute Shad and JTG, with the help of Jonathan Coachman, Teddy Long, William Regal, and Vince himself, create comedy gold. As much as many fans of Cryme Tyme lament the fact that they never got a championship run in WWE, this segment alone proves that no matter what, they were always over.
Cryme Tyme, Cena and JBL
Probably their most high-profile spot and certainly one of their most memorable moments was Cryme Tyme’s affiliation with John Cena. While this was in 2008, long past John Cena’s stint as a rapper, I always misremember this as happening during Cena’s Thuganomics run. If there is any one reason for that, I think it might be because pairing Cena with Shad and JTG made it seem like he wasn’t as polarizing as he was at his time, because of the crowd’s overly positive reaction to Cryme Tyme.
Another thing that’s surprising is that Cena and Cryme Tyme only had a couple of Raws worth of working together, but I always remembered this being longer, and I think that’s because I wish they would have had more time together as a faction of sorts.
Cryme Tyme and DX
Why a tag team employed by WWE would be outside of a show arena scalping tickets I will never know, but this worked great in a sketch with DX. Cryme Tyme were on hand when for some reason, the greatest WWE performer of all time and the CEO’s son in law needed to buy tickets to Raw.
Triple H and Shawn Michaels have their fair share of comedic bits, and that shines here where Hunter takes a page out of his own Connecticut Blue Blood days and acts out of touch and unable to understand Cryme Tyme. For some reason, Shawn Michaels steps in and is able to parlay with Shad and JTG and get some tickets, but not before Triple H does a great job of acting like he might get shot and embarrassing himself by trying to get down with Cryme Tyme with an obnoxious ‘for shizzle.’
No matter what anyone thinks of Cryme Tyme’s actual run in WWE, segments like this that ensure that they will definitely go down as one of the most entertaining pairings in WWE. The on and off reboot of DX in the 2000’s had its funny moments, but undoubtedly was held back by comparisons with the Attitude Era versions of the stable. And that’s why I believe it is a testament to the work of Shad and JTG that throughout this era. They managed to deliver that same sense of humor probably better than the rebooted DX ever did.
Shad’s passing this week is a horrible tragedy, and from what has been reported about the story, there is no doubt that Shad was a hero. It says a lot to me that while he and JTG as Cryme Tyme never won the tag team titles in WWE, they are remembered fondly and as a tag team mainstay of the era I grew up watching, just as much as any other tag team in WWE.
Half the fun of wrestling is in the fantasy booking, and imaging what might be. Even till as recently as this week, I always pondered how fun it could have been for Shad and JTG to return either to WWE or to continue to entertain as Cryme Tyme on some wrestling product, somewhere. I especially held out hope for those three years that SummerSlam was in Brooklyn, that maybe Cryme Tyme’s music would ring out on Raw or even on an NXT Takeover.
It was not to be, but I encourage any wrestling fan to check out Cryme Tyme’s matches and more importantly any of their backstage segments, robbing and hustling the WWE locker room. Shad alongside JTG over their all too short run in WWE created as many hilarious moments and segments as many wrestlers do over a much longer period of time, and any Cryme Tyme moment is a great watch.
On a final note, my most meaningful connection to Cryme Tyme is a memory I have with my best friend circa 2008/20009 aged 8-9. Whenever we would pretend to be a tag team, we would pretend to be Cryme Tyme. He was taller than me, so he would pretend to be Shad and I would be JTG. We didn’t want to be legends like DX, technically brilliant like Edge and Christian, nor did we want to be high flyers like the Hardys. We just wanted to be the coolest. And for a long time, that was Cryme Tyme.
Money Money. Yeah yeah.
Rest in Peace Shad Gaspard.
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