The 15 oddest couples to win the Tag Team Championships
So, Kane & Daniel Bryan are the Tag Team Champions. And, after a contentious title defense on Monday Night Raw, they are still the Tag Team Champions. And now it can be told: We did not see this coming. It takes a special kind of luck/providence/benevolence from the sports-entertainment Mount Olympus for such a mismatched duo to scale the heights of their division and clutch the twin championships for themselves. But, what’s even odder is this isn’t the first time it’s happened … and Kane & Bryan aren’t even the strangest team to hoist the championships. In celebration of Kane & Bryan’s unlikely and fortuitous union, here are our picks for the 15 oddest tag team champions of all time.
CM Punk & Kofi Kingston
Yep. Believe it or not, The Second City Saint held tag team gold in the past, and alongside Kofi Kingston, no less. The duo of CM Punk & Kofi ended up being convenient in a lot of ways; the two were also part of Team Batista at Survivor Series 2008.
The surprise, though, lies in the philosophical differences between the two: Kofi is a free-wheeling, whirling dervish of a Superstar who finds the fun in everything he does, while Punk abides by a lifestyle of the strictest discipline, keeping a straight edge code and grounding himself in an almost monk-like style of preparation and focus. And yet, the two made magic together, holding onto the titles for nearly two months before losing them to John Morrison & The Miz at a WWE Live Event. Hey, as long as Kofi’s willing to give Punk the proper respect, perhaps a reunion is in the future?
William Regal & Tajiri
When old school European grappling meets the dynamic “puroresu” style of Japan , you get … William Regal & Tajiri! We’re not sure we need to stress the cornerstone of why this was an unexpected tag team, but what we do know is the two went together like peanut butter and jelly despite seeming like water and vinegar, or blood pudding and sushi, on paper. They won the Tag Titles in Tajiri’s native Japan and held onto those bad boys for several months, reigniting the old flame left over from their comedic antics of the Attitude Era.
The team eventually lost the titles to Rosey & The Hurricane in a Tag Team Turmoil Match, but Tajiri’s emotional hometown celebration remains one of the most heartwarming moments in WWE history. Cheerio, old boys.
Hollywood Hogan & Edge
Like most WWE Superstars, Edge grew up as a lil’ Hulkamaniac. Imagine the elation of The Ultimate Opportunist, then, when he found himself toting tag team gold alongside Hollywood Hogan following a team-up against Billy & Chuck on SmackDown in July 2002. Though they regrettably only held the twin championships for a few weeks before The Un-Americans relieved them of the titles at Vengeance, few will ever forget the post-match celebration when Edge & Hogan celebrated their win by waving an American flag. You see? The odd couple was so great they made Edge forget he was a Canadian for a minute there.
Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov
In a perfect inverse of the Rocky Balboa–Ivan Drago situation, the peoples of Italy and Russia found themselves a team to believe in with Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov. The pair joined forces in late 2010 to shock the tag team division with some good old fashioned odd-couple dominance. Formed at the insistence of The Italian Stallion, Santino & Kozlov proved to be a surprisingly formidable presence in a division full of like-minded Superstars who seemed tailor-made for a twosome. However, the unlikely duo of Santino’s manic scrappiness and Kozlov’s stoicism made for an endlessly entertaining and oddly forceful duo.
They captured the WWE Tag Team Championships from The Nexus in late 2010 following an assist from John Cena, prompting one of the biggest explosions of unadulterated joy the WWE Universe has ever seen. And to think, Kozlov wasn’t nuts about this idea in the first place. But then again: If he can change, and Santino can change …
The Two-Man Power Trip
This wasn’t so much an odd pairing as far as physical stature or star power, but when it comes to ideological differences, you’d be hard pressed to come up with a stranger marriage than the talents of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Triple H in the early 2000s. After abandoning his crusade to torment Mr. McMahon and joining up with his corporate foil, The Texas Rattlesnake cemented his change in philosophy by joining forces with The Chairman’s chief enforcer, Triple H. Of course, once the shock of seeing the two together initially wore off, the WWE Universe was faced with a terrifying realization: These guys were good.
Known collectively as The Two-Man Power Trip, Austin and The Game proceeded to run rampant over the WWE roster, demonstrating their dominance by collectively amassing every major championship (they are only the second duo in WWE history to do so). Their championship monopoly came to an end after Austin inadvertently cost Triple H the Intercontinental Title to Kane at Judgment Day 2001, but the union remained unbroken. That is, until fate did what the locker room could not and struck The King of Kings down with the notorious quadriceps tear that cost him a year of his career, ending the Power Trip for good.
TIE: Jeri-Show and ShowMiz
There’s a very long list of big men who would be obvious partners for the towering Big Show: The Undertaker. Kane. The Great Khali. And while The World’s Largest Athlete has found success with several of those Superstars, his most prolific tag team run came, ironically, when he teamed with two men who were roughly half his size. First came Chris Jericho, who recruited Show as a replacement for Edge after the Canadian duo won the Unified Tag Team Championships at The Bash 2009. The ensuing duo, “Jeri-Show,” saw The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla remake The World’s Largest Athlete in his own image, decking him out in the finest threads and coaching him in the fine-spoken ways of being “The Best in the World at What He Does.” The two dominated the tag scene for the latter half of ’09, but eventually fell victim to the cunning of D-Generation X when they defeated Jeri-Show for the tag titles, then intentionally disqualified themselves in the rematch to retain. Jericho was eventually forced off of Raw, leaving The World’s Largest Athlete bereft of a tag partner.
Enter The Miz.
The Awesome One stepped up handily to fill the void left by Y2J, uniting with Big Show to win the Tag Titles from DX and kick off the era of “ShowMiz.” The powerhouse-scrapper combo that worked with Jericho proved just as effective with Miz. The two held the Unified Titles for several months, including a successful WrestleMania title defense against John Morrison & R-Truth. It was ultimately a little excellence of execution that stopped ShowMiz short, after Miz tapped to the Sharpshooter in a title match against The Hart Dynasty, costing ShowMiz the titles and ultimately leading to the same, sad ending that every Miz tag team has ever seen: His partner gets fed up, the partnership disintegrates and The Awesome One sustains bodily harm in the process. In this case, it was a WMD from The World’s Largest Athlete that sent The Miz into La-La Land (not Los Angeles … unconsciousness) and brought one of the stranger tag sagas of WWE history to a crashing end.
John Cena & various foes
We’ll say this for John Cena: He is nothing if not cooperative when he’s tossed into a tag team with his bitterest blood rivals and asked to challenge for the Tag Team Championships. The Cenation leader is four-for-four when thrust into these unceremonious situations, and to his credit, his tenuous grip on harmony with Shawn Michaels actually lasted long enough to amount for a pretty lengthy tag reign. By the way, this was while Michaels was challenging for Cena’s WWE Title.
The Champ’s other unions had less longevity to them, however. He was tag champions with Batista for only one week and later clashed with The Animal at SummerSlam. He also won the twin titles with David Otunga during his sordid saga with The Nexus only to have Wade Barrett force Cena & Otunga to lose their titles to Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel. As for The Miz? Well, Cena memorably united with The Awesome One to capture the championships from Slater & Gabriel while he prepared to challenge for Miz’s WWE Title at WrestleMania XXVII. But, the two lost the titles mere minutes later when Slater & Gabriel immediately evoked their rematch clause, and Miz turned on Cena to cost the team their titles. The moral of the story? It ain’t easy being John Cena and holding a Tag Team Championship, folks.
Kane & Daniel Bryan
A wise man once said that all you need is love. Kane & Daniel Bryan might need a little bit of luck to go with it, but against all odds, a tag team that was formed on a wing and a prayer has become one of the most fascinating duos in WWE today. The Devil’s Favorite Demon’s first interaction with Bryan came as part of the romantic Gordian Knot between them, AJ Lee and CM Punk. Eventually the love died down and Kane and Bryan found themselves targeting each other after Punk became thirsty for John Cena’s respect and AJ took office as the Raw General Manager. What ensued was something rarely seen in the squared circle: A rivalry that was deemed too intense for WWE. To help nip Kane and Bryan’s destructive tendencies in the bud, AJ sent them to anger management, where the soft-spoken Dr. Shelby managed to corral the furious foes and, as a last-ditch effort to achieve harmony, made them a tag team.
Radical therapy, but Shelby’s strategy was far from armchair quackery, because it worked! Well, kind of. Kane & Bryan did manage to hug it out (Yes, Kane hugged a man. It was on TV and everything.) and coexist well enough to win the WWE Tag Team Championships from Kofi Kingston & R-Truth. The win was far from harmonious (Bryan basically threw Kane on top of Kofi for the pin), and immediately opened up a can of worms as to which of them was the Tag Team Champions. Time will tell as to how dominant the two rivals will be with the twin titles, but they’ve already got our attention in the way few duos in WWE ever have.
The Rock & The Undertaker
The People’s Champion and The Lord of Darkness together? Believe it or not, it happened. In the halcyon days of the Attitude Era, when Superstars oscillated between allegiances and principles, perhaps the most mind-boggling instance of teamwork was when The Rock found himself teamed up with The Demon of Death Valley. The two didn’t remain champions for too long, and eventually lost the titles to Edge & Christian less than a week after winning them. The two never sniffed tag team gold again, but goodness gracious, what might have been.
The Colossal Connection
Perhaps it’s not quite strange for two members of the Heenan Family to team up, but the notion of seeing two human wrecking machines like Haku & Andre the Giant together was an odd notion in the nascent days of WWE. And as the WWE Universe might expect, they were a holy terror to compete against. Haku & Andre reached the pinnacle of the tag division in December ’89 when they defeated Demolition for the Tag Team Titles, keeping the title gold around their massive waists until April, when Demolition regained them at WrestleMania VI. The loss led to the severing of “The Colossal Connection,” but perhaps it was for the best: No one team should have all that power, and we mean that in the brute strength sense of the word.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin & Dude Love
Sometimes the biggest saving graces are the ones that you never, ever (ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, etc.) see coming. So when “Stone Cold” Steve Austin captured the Tag Team Championships alongside Shawn Michaels, he never expected to be forced to vacate them when The Showstopper suffered an injury. And we’re sure he never expected that he’d get an offer from Mankind to challenge The Hart Foundation together. And we’re sure he NEVER expected that, despite The Rattlesnake’s rejection of Mankind, Mick Foley would create a whole new personality to team with “Stone Cold”: a peace-and-love daddy-o named Dude Love who Foley conjured up in his childhood fantasies of becoming a WWE Superstar.
Quite frankly, we’re sure nobody ever expected they’d win the titles and retain them for months, to say nothing of the fact that nobody expected Austin & El Duderino (if you’re not into the whole brevity thing) would have to vacate the titles after Austin suffered a neck injury against Owen Hart. In any case, we’re beyond sure that we’ll never, ever (ever, ever, ever, ever … you get the idea) see a tag team this gloriously weird ever again.
Owen Hart & Yokozuna
Brains met brawn in this eye-popping tag team when Owen Hart, he of the Hart Family Dungeon, brother of Bret and all-around technical maven, teamed with the mighty Yokozuna, he of the Banzai Drop and earth-shattering power, to achieve tag team glory in 1995. It began at WrestleMania IX when Yokozuna was revealed as Hart’s mystery partner in a title opportunity against The Smoking Gunns. The pair won the match and proceeded to dominate the tag division for months and months, until a controversial defense against Diesel & Shawn Michaels cost them the championships, despite the fact that Hart was replaced by The British Bulldog. The title change was revoked the next day, but the end result was basically the same: The Smoking Gunns reclaimed the titles that very evening.
Kane & X-Pac
OK, admit it: Nobody saw this one coming. The Big Red Machine had already been a crony of The Corporation’s when the magnanimous faction attempted to have him institutionalized. To counter the suits’ nefarious plot to have Kane committed, D-Generation X came to the rescue of The Devil’s Favorite Demon and assimilated him into their ranks. It was X-Pac, though, who took the biggest liking to the demon in red, joining forces to win the World Tag Team Championships twice. The shaggy-haired degenerate even helped The Big Red Monster speak his first two unaided words, the signature DX catchphrase “suck it.” Like all things that were too good to last, the team eventually went down in flames after Kane’s girlfriend Tori left him for X-Pac. But we’ll always have the memories.
Booker T & Goldust
Was there ever such a mismatched pair of bros in the history of WWE? When you match the streetwise toughness of the five-time, five-time, five-time, five-time, FIVE-TIME WCW Champion Booker T with the “it” factor that made Goldust so great ( … well, we’re not even sure what to call), this odd couple turned out to be not only beloved by the WWE Universe, but also a force to be reckoned with in the ring. It was an admittedly rocky start for the bromance, with The Bizarre One inadvertently costing Booker several matches while trying to convince The Master of the Spinaroonie to form a tag team. Booker eventually came around, though, and the two proved to be among the most dynamic personalities in WWE.
Their backstage antics are still the stuff of WWE legend (see: Booker with the lightsaber), and they ultimately reached the peak of the tag division as well. Booker & Goldust captured tag team gold at Armageddon 2002, defeating Edge & Christian, Lance Storm & William Regal and The Dudley Boyz to adorn their mismatched waists with the twin titles. Their reign was sadly short-lived, but as a brief reunion last year on SmackDown showed, the friendship lived on.
The Rock 'n' Sock Connection
Combine the opulent braggadocio of The People’s Champion with the shambling scruffiness of Mankind and you get our No. 1 pick, and one of the most memorable and beloved tag teams in WWE history to boot. Born out of Mankind’s innate desire to cozy up to people who can’t stand him (remember: Mr. Socko started out kissing Mr. McMahon’s boo-boo), the “Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection” was basically a result of Mankind badgering The Rock into becoming a tag team following The Great One’s attack at the hands of The Unholy Alliance (The Undertaker & Big Show). The Brahma Bull accepted and, against all odds, the team won the Tag Titles from their monstrous opponents later that very same evening.
The two’s unlikely union was far from perfect, but the combination of Mankind’s mad desire to emulate The People’s Champion with The Rock’s odd affection for his offbeat buddy produced some of the most memorable moments in Attitude Era history. The two were an unforgettable mix of dominance and comedy. Mankind’s wacky innovation and propensity to humiliate combined with The Rock’s poised execution led to multiple Tag Title reigns and a reunion against Evolution at WrestleMania XX. Let’s just say, when you can successfully conspire to Rock Bottom a man onto a platter of doggy doo-doo, you’ve truly encapsulated the best of two ideologies.