Impact wrestling is currently advertising the return of its most exciting tag team the Motorcity Machine Guns. But who are they actually going to wrestle when they return? Team 3D are long gone. Beer Money are feuding with each other. Morgan and Crimson have gone kaput. OK, there’s the obvious choice of tag team champions Samoa Joe and Magnus but should they really be entered into a top feud right off the bat? This only goes to highlight the distinct lack of depth in tag team wrestling as a whole. TNA once had an amazing tag division that helped set it apart from the new champs every week approach of the WWE, but these days they too have seemingly given up the ghost.
It hasn’t always been like this though. Tag teams were once held with great esteem in the business we love, and the tag titles were every bit as important as the main singles championships and the men that carried the straps were never EVER used so poorly as they are today – case in point Big Show squashing Primo and Epico in a matter of minutes. This got us thinking about whether today’s casual fans are even aware of how good tag team wrestling used to be? And for that reason we decided to put together a list of the best and worst tag teams in the last 30 years, as well as some of the most under (or over) rated. Let us begin with the good.
THE HART FOUNDATION (1985-1991) – The team that first brought us Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart and Jim ‘Father of Nattie’ Neidhart. The Pink and Black Attack, as they were known, were prominent figures in the early days of the first wrestling boom holding the tag team championships on two occasions. Scientifically gifted Hart and powerhouse Neidhart started their careers as devilish heels but quickly became fan favourites leading them into feuds with teams like Demolition and the Nasty Boys. It goes without saying that when they split in 1991 one of the two went on to much bigger things while the other spent the next 20 years hopping around various companies making a living from his name value alone.
THE ROCKERS (1985-1991) – Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty were ahead of their time. They were high flying fan favourites that would fit in perfectly in todays modern wrestling world – imagine the matches they could have with the Machine Guns? Despite being one of the most popular teams in the company they were never rewarded with a title run, something that may have had more to do with Michaels and Jannetty’s wild lifestyles outside of the ring. The team disbanded in late 1991 when Michaels turned on his partner. Jannetty then pretty much faded away, returning occasionally, while Michaels went on to become one fo the greatest wrestlers of all time.
THE ROAD WARRIORS (1983-2003) – Also known as the Legion of Doom. Hawk and Animal were like nothing you’d ever seen before. Massive, man mountains who beat you up and sold for nobody. They were often imitated (Demolition/Powers of Pain in the WWF) but never duplicated, not even to this day. Hawk and Animal were successful everywhere they wrestled, leaving a path of destruction in the NWA, WCW, WWF/E and even TNA. Hawk died in 2003 which should have been the end of the team, but a bastardised version featuring Heidenreich showed up on WWE TV for a while shortly after. Despite winning the tag titles from MNM the new LOD weren’t even a patch on the originals and quickly disappeared.
THE DUDLEY BOYZ (1997-2010) – ECW originals, WWE trend setters. New fans will remember Team 3D as they came to be known from their run in TNA/Impact Wrestling but before they got fat and had to change their names they were Buh-Buh Ray and D-Von two bad asses from Dudleyville who put opponents (and women) through burning tables at every opportunity. They were tag team champions everywhere they went which stretched to over 2o championship reigns. The Dudleyz will forever be remembered for their TLC matches with Edge and Christian and the Hardy Boyz in the WWE and a place in the wrestling Hall of Fame is a guarantee somewhere down the line. Buh-Buh is currently enjoying a successful singles career as Bully Ray and is arguably the best heel in the business today.
THE WILD SAMOANS (1970-1990) – Do you remember Samu and Fatu, the Headshrinkers? You do? Well do you remember their relatives? Afa and Sika – the Wild Samoans – were the original wild men of tag team wrestling. Three time tag champs and as tough as nails the Wild Samoans feuded with some of the biggest names in wrestling including Andre the Giant and Rocky Johnson. They would also go on to train some of the modern eras greats including the late greats Yokozuna and Bam Bam Bigelow as well as Batista and even Michael Hayes. The Wild Samoans were originators of the smash mouth wrestling style that is still prevalent today.
Other teams worth mentioning are Beer Money who reminded me so much of a classic territory style tag team, Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boyz and the Kings of Wrestling who are only ommitted from the main list due to their lack of exposure.
THE BUSHWHACKERS (1964-2008) – It pains me to put Luke and Butch in the bad category knowing how good they were as the evil Kiwis/Sheepherders but as the embarrassing Bushwhackers the team just sucked. Can anybody actually remember ever seeing them win a match unless they were a) teaming with someone more credible or b) won by disqualification or count-out. There’s no disputing they were massive fan favourites back in their day but they were nothing more than a comedy act with a horrendous finishing move – not unlike Santino.
THE GYMINI/THE SHANE TWINS (1998-present) – Who? Exactly!
THE GANGSTAS (1994-2008) – I didn’t really see much of New Jack and Mustafa Saed’s work in Smoky Mountain but when I did get chance to watch them in ECW I found them really boring. They were just a gimmick team that beat people half to death with weapons. They couldn’t really wrestle (and still can’t) and are only as famous as they are because of the cult following New Jack has today.
Who else sucked? Well, there was Well Done, the Beverly Brothers, the Edge-heads, Haxsaw Jim Duggan and Eugene. There’s just so many terrible tag teams. Most of them exist today which is a poor reflection on the industry, at least in the WWE and TNA.
MONEY INC. (1992-1993) – I don’t think there’s too many people that would put Ted Dibiase and Irwin R Schyster on their list of underrated tag teams but I truly believe that Money Inc were a very important face in the WWF’s tag division in the early 1990′s. They were cowardly heels that lost most matches by count out generating immense heat for often inferior contenders like the Natural Disasters. Money Inc disbanded after little over a year but were tag team champions for most of their run.
THE HEADBANGERS (1996-present) – For some reason the WWE wants the world to think that the Headbangers were a terrible tag team. Well, I’m here to tell you they weren’t. Sure, they were far from being great but they served their purpose and came along at a time when their far out makeup and dress wearing personas were exactly what the Attitude Era needed. The Headbangers need to be seen to be believed – though they worked much better as heels.
HAAS & BENJAMIN (2002-present) – Honestly Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin should be in the THE GOOD section but they’ve been slapped with the boring monicker so I feel they fit better into the UNDERRATED section. Originally part of Kurt Angle’s entourage the two disbanded for a number of years only to reform officially in Ring of Honour where their style really found its niche. If the WWE were serious about wrestlers rather than entertainment then these two would have been pushed to the moon. Unfortunately for them they just didn’t fit in.
THE LAX (2005-2009) – Homicide and Hernandez were the most exciting thing to hit tag team wrestling when they broke onto the scene in TNA in 2005. They were political. They were powerful. They had Konan as their mouthpiece. The Latin American Exchange were a must see segment whenever they were on television, something the watered down Mexican Americans are not.
For every underrated team their also has to be a few overrated ones. These include the New Age Outlaws (did anyone care when they became VKM in TNA? The answer should tell you a lot about their value), the Fabulous Freebirds (mainly because I hate seeing Michael Hayes prancing around with his gut hanging out whenever he shows up on WWE TV these days) and the Outsiders (very very cool back at the start of the NWO but limited ring ability).
Tag team wrestling has launched some of the greatest careers in the history of the sport (Michaels and Hart being the two names that immediately spring to mind) but today’s promoters seem more intent on finding a new singles star before a wrestler is actually ready for a push. Despite the plethora of terrible teams and under utilised talents back in the golden days of tag team wrestling it was all worth it just to sit down and witness the classic battles that often stole the show, even on the grandest stage of them all. With the division in the state that it is it might be worth continuing with the ‘throw it and see what sticks’ approach to tag teams WWE has made famous but actually investing in the ones that pay off (Air Boom).
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This article was first posted on April 17, 2012