As any long-time readers may know, I am a massive fan of tag-team wrestling. From the very first time I saw the British Bulldogs in action, I knew that this was the type of wrestling that I wanted to see more and more of.
Decades have passed since that time, but my love for this form of sports entertainment hasn’t. So from my own point of view (from the 1980’s on because, quite frankly, I’m not a fan of ANY of the teams from the 60’s or 70’s), here is a list of my Top 10 Tag Teams of all time…
No, I don’t really consider the version with “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton and “Loverboy” Dennis Condrey to be the team that I’m talking about most here. Yes, they were a fantastic team (and a team that won championships all around the country) and Jim Cornette did an amazing job as their manager, but I was always more impressed by the teamwork between Eaton and “Sweet” Stan Lane. Lane joined Eaton in 1987 and their chemistry was instant (due to both having previously worked together in the Memphis territory). They went on to win the NWA United States tag team titles and the NWA World tag team titles before eventually calling it quits in 1990. With incredible matches against teams like the Rock’n’Roll Express (naturally), the Road Warriors, the Four Horsemen, the Fabulous Freebirds, the Samoan Swat Team, the Dynamic Dudes, Brian Pillman & Tom Zenk, the Steiner Brothers, and even the ORIGINAL Midnight Express team of Condrey and “Ravishing” Randy Rose (who had teamed together in the early 80’s down in Alabama). You can’t deny their success as a team or their quality of opposition. Add those things to their fantastic in-ring work and you’ve got one of the greatest tag teams of all time.
There may be a lot of eye-rolling with this pick (especially from anyone who had to get into the ring with them), but you cannot deny the “new era” of tag team wrestling that evolved with Rick and Scott teaming together. Yes, Scott was stiff as hell but the moves he could perform as the size that he was (not to mention their double-team maneuvers), along with the natural charisma that both men brought to the ring, had the fans going crazy for them. They began teaming in early 1989 and were receiving title match opportunities by the time September rolled around. They battled against the top teams in WCW and WWE, including the Fabulous Freebirds, Doom, the Midnight Express, Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasake, the Headshrinkers, Money Inc., the Quebecers, 2 Cold Scorpio & Chris Benoit, the Road Warriors, Sting & Lex Luger, Harlem Heat and the Outsiders. They are former NWA United States tag team champions, 7-time NWA/WCW World tag team champions, 2-time IWGP tag team champions, 2-time WWE World tag team champions, the Wrestling Observer 1990 Tag Team of the Year, and 2-time Pro Wrestling Illustrated Tag Team of the Year (1990, 1993). Do you need a bigger resume than that?
When mentioning this team, I’m including both the time Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard spent with the Four Horsemen in the NWA/WCW as well as the time they spent under the tutelage of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan while in WWE. If anybody ever looks back into wrestling history and wants to give an example of a tag team that excemplified incredible in-ring ability, storytelling ability, and no-nonsense tough-guy personas, the Brainbusters are that team. Anderson and Blanchard have inspired countless wrestlers to be the guys that don’t rely on a gimmick in order to get over. During a time where both singles competitors and tag teams were relying on gimmicks and muscles to make their way to the top, the Brainbusters simply wrestled…and they have become one of the most respected tag teams of all time. During their run from 1986 to 1989, they battled the likes of the Rock’n’Roll Express, the Road Warriors, Lex Luger & Barry Windham, Nikita Koloff & Steve “Dr. Death” Williams, Nikita Koloff & Sting, the Midnight Express, the Rockers, Strike Force, & Demolition. They are 2-time NWA World tag team champions, WWE World tag team champions, WWE Hall of Fame inductees (Class of 2012), and the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Tag Team of the Year in 1989.
This is a pick that I initially struggled with, because their resume wasn’t really built on years and years of wrestling top teams or winning championships. However, as a trio, I don’t know if I’ve seen a more well-rounded trio of wrestlers who were booked as dominantly as Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins were during their initial WWE run from 2012 to 2014. They were booked to beat some of the biggest and best names in the entire company during this time including Team Hell No (Kane & Daniel Bryan), the Usos, the Brothers of Destruction (Kane & Undertaker), Cody Rhodes & Goldust, the Wyatt Family, the New Age Outlaws, Evolution (Triple H, Randy Orton, & Batista), and numerous variations of teams consisting of Randy Orton, Ryback, John Cena, Mark Henry, Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho, Big Show, Daniel Bryan, & Sheamus. Add to that their WWE World tag team title reign and their being voted both the Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer Tag Team of the Year in 2013, and you’ve got one of the greatest factions of all time. The majority of wrestling fans believe the group was broken up prematurely, which has led to the recent re-teaming of Reigns and Ambrose over the past few months.
Jay & Mark Briscoe have been a staple in Ring of Honor since the company’s debut show back in 2002. In that time, not only are they 8-time ROH World tag team champions, but they have competed all around the world successfully in promotions such as Pro Wrestling NOAH, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Full Impact Pro, Combat Zone Wrestling, and Jersey All-Pro Wrestling. They have made their mark on the industry without having to “sell-out” to either TNA or WWE, doing whatever they wanted to do and being great at it. Over the years, Jay has even been 2-time ROH World Heavyweight Champion, only going to prove just how great both wrestlers are. If there was an independent tag team for them to wrestle against, they did: the S.A.T., Samoa Joe & Homicide, the Prophecy, AJ Styles & Amazing Red, CM Punk & Colt Cabana, Kevin Steen & El Generico, Arrogance (Chris Lost & Scott Bosh), the Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin), the Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli), the Young Bucks, Generation Next (Austin Aries & Roderick Strong), KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji, the Age of the Fall (Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black), the American Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards), Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas), reDRagon, the Bullet Club (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson), and most recently CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada and Shinsuke Nakamura). They have grown and developed their gimmick over time to the point that they know who they are, they can promo, and they can either wrestle, brawl, or high-fly with the best of them. It’s too bad WWE found them to “not be cosmetically pleasing”, because they are probably (still) one of the best tag teams in the world today.
There is not a single person on the planet who can convince me that the Bulldogs did not change the face of tag team wrestling in the 1980’s. Do you really think the multitude of close-knit teams with fast-paced moves and high-flying offense would have become the norm if the Bulldogs didn’t get their shot in WWE? Sure, teams like the Rock’n’Roll Express may have been around earlier…but the Bulldogs were the ones to receive national attention for their look, their style, and their in-ring abilities. Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid may not have been the most popular boys behind the scenes, but they were incredible to watch inside of the ring as they infused the Japanese style that they learned with the old-school American product. I remember my jaw falling open every time they were in the ring and popped like the kid I was when they won the WWE World Tag Team titles from The Dream Team (Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake) at WrestleMania II. Their other notable feuds included Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff, the Hart Foundation, the Islanders (Haku & Tama), the Rougeau Brothers, and Demolition.
Oh you didn’t know??? Your ass better CAAALLLL SOMEBODAAAYYYY!!! I think I’m not the only one who would wait until the Outlaws showed-up on RAW just to do their own version of “The Road Dogg” Jesse James’ famous introduction. And “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn…the poor guy without a ton of mic skills…at least had two words for ya. Debuting in 1997 as a way to give themselves something to do, James & Gunn ended up going out to the ring and, basically, doing whatever they wanted to do in order to get over with the crowd. About a month after their debut, they defeated the Legion of Doom to become WWE World tag team champions…at which point Jim Ross noted that they “stole” the win like outlaws leaving a robbery; hence the New Age Outlaws were born. They got so over that Triple H decided that they could be a perfect fit for Degeneration X and incorporated them (along with X-Pac) into the second version of the successful faction. They defeated the likes of the Road Warriors, Mick Foley (as Mankind) & Terry Funk (as Chainsaw Charlie), Mankind & Kane, Mankind & the Rock, Edge & Christian, the Hardy Boyz, Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart, the Dudley Boyz, LAX (Homicide & Hernandez), the Basham Brothers, America’s Most Wanted, the Steiner Brothers, A.J. Styles & Chris Daniels, Cody Rhodes & Goldust, and the Usos during their six times as being WWE tag team champions.
Anybody who had the pleasure of watching Hawk and Animal during the 1980’s saw a team who completely re-invented tag team wrestling and inspired/influenced countless tag teams in the years that have followed. The team quickly rose to the top despite being very young and didn’t really have the traditional “paying dues” period primarily because they were so believable in their role as power monsters. They gained a reputation for being very stiff and not selling simply because they could and as a result most of their matches ended quickly. Their resume of championships is second to none in the industry, having won the AWA World tag team titles (1x), the NWA National tag team titles (4x), the NWA World tag team titles (1x), the WWF World tag team titles (2x), the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Tag Team of the Year (7x), the Wrestling Observer Rookies of the Year (1983), the Wrestling Observer Tag Team of the Year (1984), and are members of the WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2011). They have battled every top tag team of the 1980’s and 1990’s including the Fabulous Freebirds, the Four Horsemen, the Midnight Express, Doom, the Nasty Boys, the Natural Disasters, Money Inc., the New Age Outlaws, Ivan & Nikita Koloff, Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu, Public Enemy, Barry Windham & Mike Rotunda, Rick Rude & Manny Fernandez, the Powers of Pain, the Varsity Club (Mike Rotunda & Steve Williams), Sting & Lex Luger, the Steiner Brothers, the Headbangers, & Demolition. A pretty impressive resume, no?
Without a shadow of a doubt, this tag team is ranked much higher than it probably deserves to because I was such a massive fan of them. In fact, this is a pic from my 16th birthday…
Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart was the mouthpiece for his duo, and they caused mass mayhem during their initial run. Bret “Hitman” Hart and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart were two guys that were only put together because Hart didn’t want to become “Cowboy” Bret Hart. Once combined with the Mouth of the South, the entire unit worked to perfection. They battled all of the great tag teams of the day: the Killer Bees (B.Brian Blair & “Jumping” Jim Brunzell), the British Bulldogs, Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana), the Rougeau Brothers, Demolition, Rhythm & Blues (Greg Valentine & Honky Tonk Man), the Brainbusters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard), the Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty), the Road Warriors, and the Nasty Boys.
In the late 90s, the group reformed and consisted of Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and Brian Pillman (basically, all of the friends/family who wrestled at the same time and bonded while in Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling). Since this took place during the time where Bret was the heel champion in the U.S. but was a massive fan favourite everywhere else in the world, I was a huge fan of this version of the Foundation. To me, this incarnation only added to the overall Hart Foundation legacy.
What else can you say about the most decorated tag team in professional wrestling history that hasn’t already been said? They are 8x ECW tag team champions, 2x IWGP tag team champions, 1x NWA tag team champions, 2x TNA tag team champions, 1x WCW tag team champions, 9x WWE tag team champions, 2x Pro Wrestling Illustrated Tag Team of the Year, and Pro Wrestling Illustrated Tag Team of the Decade (2000-2009). The “illegitimate children of Big Daddy Dudley” (a gimmick thought up by Scott Levy, aka Raven), Bubba Ray and Devon debuted in ECW back in 1996 and turned themselves from a comedy act to one of the most respected teams in the history of the business.
Who have they defeated? Jeezuz…who HAVEN’T they beaten? They’ve gone up against the Eliminators (John Kronus & Perry Saturn), the Gangstas (New Jack & Mustafa), Tommy Dreamer & Sandman, Sabu & Rob Van Dam, the Impact Players (Lance Storm & Justin Credible), the Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian, the New Age Outlaws, the Brothers of Destruction (Undertaker & Kane), Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho, the APA (Bradshaw & Faarooq), America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm), LAX (Homicide & Hernandez), the Steiner Brothers, the Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin), Beer Money (James Storm & Bobby Roode), La Resistance (Rob Conway & Sylvain Grenier), the Nasty Boys, Bad Influence/The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian), the Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr & Lance Archer), the Ascension, the Prime Time Players, the Young Bucks, and the New Day.
Simply put, I can’t see how any other team in the history of the business has been as influential, successful, and “over” as the Dudleyz have been during the course of their career. Without a doubt (in my opinion, anyway), they are the greatest team in professional wrestling history.
But what are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or via social media and let me know!
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