Re-ranking WWE's 50 greatest tag teams
Hold up. Don't post that comment just yet. Before you cover the WWE Universe's Facebook wall with missives like "What about Harlem Heat???," take a moment to read the guidelines the WWEClassics.com team followed when compiling this list.
1. Only WWE teams were eligible. Meaning no Gangstas, no Sting & Lex Luger and no Mulkey Brothers.
2. Teams were rated only on their accomplishments while in WWE, so the achievements of The Steiners in the NWA had no bearing on their placement (or lack thereof) here.
3. Eligibility began with the first recognized World Tag Team Champions, Luke Graham & Tarzan Tyler, who won the titles on June 3, 1971.
4. Rankings were based on everything from longevity to cultural impact. Personal biases may have also crept in, as witnessed by an extended argument over the significance of Tony Garea & Dean Ho.
Okay, now that that's out of the way, here are the 50 greatest tag teams in WWE history, presented by Totino's!
Marching into WWE at the tail end of the ’80s, Butch and his crazy cousin Luke literally grabbed the WWE Universe’s attention by putting WWE fans in playful headlocks and licking their skulls during their ring entrance. Opposing teams weren’t quite sure what to make of the Kiwi cousins, who weren’t afraid to bite and gnaw on the competition to get ahead.
Clowning around aside, The Bushwhackers could definitely mix it up in the ring, as the two brawlers knew how to throw punches and boots with the best of them. Luke and Butch found themselves opposite some of WWE’s toughest tag teams, like The Natural Disasters and The Nasty Boys, and always thrived, making them an enduring favorite of the WWE Universe. — BOBBY MELOK
The Soul Patrol
In 1983, barriers were broken when WWE Hall of Famers “Soulman” Rocky Johnson and “Mr. USA” Tony Atlas joined forces to create The Soul Patrol. Having teamed together for only two months, Johnson and Atlas unseated longtime World Tag Team Champions The Wild Samoans to win the titles. In the thrilling No Disqualification Match — an unprecedented stipulation at the time — Capt. Lou Albano, the Samoans’ manager, accidentally smashed Afa with a wooden chair while aiming for Atlas. Mr. USA made the pin to crown The Soul Patrol the first-ever African-American World Tag Team Champions. The Allentown, Pa. crowd became unglued realizing they had just witnessed history.
With Atlas’s power and Johnson’s agility, the fan favorites made for an unbelievably charismatic and dynamic duo. But more importantly, they paved the way for future holders of tag team championship gold including Booker T, Kofi Kingston and David Otunga. — ZACH LINDER
Paul London & Brian Kendrick
WWE’s tag team division has often been dominated by powerhouse teams like Legion of Doom, The Natural Disasters, Kane and Big Show and other monstrous Superstars who piled up championship reigns. Paul London and Brian Kendrick set out to change that when they joined forces in 2006.
Taking to the skies with a unique brand of high flying offense that few teams could answer, London and Kendrick defeated MNM for SmackDown’s WWE Tag Team Titles in May of that year and successfully defended them for the next 331 days — a feat which has yet to be matched. The aerial experts were drafted to Raw in 2007, where they added a World Tag Team Championship reign to their mantle before the WWE Draft split them up in 2008. — B.M.
The Twin Towers
The Doctor of Style, Slick, had two of the largest men in WWE, Akeem and Big Boss Man, under his charge in the late ’80s. You don’t need a doctorate to figure out that these two behemoths would make a formidable tag team.
Dubbed The Twin Towers, the pair used their massive size to overpower the opposition. Akeem’s propensity for post-match dancing gave Big Boss Man ample opportunity to handcuff their unlucky opponents to the ropes and introduce them to the business end of a nightstick. The Twin Towers battled with the WWE’s best, even contributing to the split of The Mega Powers when Akeem tossed Randy Savage into Miss Elizabeth, taking Hulk Hogan’s focus away from their match. Though championships eluded them, The Twin Towers left a mammoth mark on WWE. — B.M.
The legendary Anoa’i wrestling family has produced a staggering amount of tag team specialists. Through former champions like Afa and Sika of The Wild Samoans and Rocky Johnson, the family’s dominance began in the ’70s. But a new generation of Samoan grapplers emerged in the 1990s, beginning with The Headshrinkers.
Afa led his son, Samu, and nephew, Fatu, to WWE rings, where they combined the hard-hitting offense of their predecessors with deceiving speed and aerial ability for men of their size. The barefoot Superstars found themselves perennially in the thick of things for the World Tag Team Titles, but did not capture the championships. It was with the added tutelage of Capt. Lou Albano that The Headshrinkers finally found success, defeating The Quebecers to become the second generation of Samoan champions. — B.M.
With their unique, backwoods, bone chewing appearance and unorthodox style in the ring, The Moondogs had many an opposing tag team on the defensive in their matches. Adopting a strategy against the wild duo was futile as membership often changed (first there was Rex and King and then there was Rex and Spot) and their maneuvers were as far from the textbook as it could get.
And then there was the puzzle piece known as Capt. Lou Albano. Attempting to put a leash on the savages, the brilliant manager guided Rex and King to a WWE Tag Team Championship victory over Tony Garea and Rick Martel in 1981. It was the only title reign for The Moondogs, but make no mistake about it, these canines blazed their own trail, and that certainly contributed to their greatness in their heyday. — HOWARD FINKEL
Booker T & Goldust
The old adage that opposites attract certainly applied to the strange yet successful pairing of Booker T and Goldust. After being booted from The nWo, Booker joined forces with The Bizarre One to combat his former squad, and Goldust proved to be as reliable as he was unusual.
The two veterans had taken different paths in the world of sports-entertainment, but had instant chemistry. Their humorous vignettes, including “Booker T and Goldust at the Movies,” were enormously popular, but the duo wasn’t all laughs. In a Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match, Booker and Goldust won the World Tag Team Championship by defeating the formidable teams of Lance Storm and William Regal, Chris Jericho and Christian and The Dudley Boyz. Several years later during Booker’s rivalry with Cody Rhodes, Goldust came to the five-time WCW Champion’s defense, proving their unlikely bond as friends had never been in doubt. — Z.L.
As the yellow-and-black outfitted Killer Bees, B. Brian Blair and “Jumping” Jim Brunzell subscribed to the mirror-image philosophy of tag team wrestling. Whereas some duos opt for a strong contrast between members — either aesthetically or physically — the Bees went the other direction. So much so, in fact, that they at one point wore identical masks, enabling the occasional switcheroo.
Even when Blair and Brunzell dropped the hoods, their similarities in the ring remained. Both Superstars ranked among the world’s best dropkickers. Although their on-the-nose interpretation of The Killer Bees theme made them easy targets for jokes, Blair and Brunzell were serious competition that had other tag teams abuzz with trepidation.
The Bees never scored gold during their three years together, which came during a period of great depth for WWE’s tag team division. Standout wins include victories over The Dream Team, Don Muraco and Bob Orton Jr. and The Hart Foundation. — JOHN CLAPP
Powers of Pain
Few teams in WWE history were more intimidating than the fearsome Powers of Pain. Warlord and Barbarian, two mountains of men, muscled their way into WWE in 1988 and immediately set their sights on World Tag Team Champions Demolition. Ax and Smash, bruisers in their own right, had trouble overpowering the mighty beasts who busted scales at a combined 618 pounds. Mr. Fuji, impressed by Barbarian and Warlord, ditched Demolition in hopes that the Powers of Pain would dethrone the champions. They put a beating on their rivals, but did not claim victory when the titles were on the line.
Although they never held the championships, the massive duo racked up countless victories as they made life painful for many, many teams until the two monsters split up in 1990. — B.M.
In some cases, an injury is a blessing in disguise. For Chris Jericho, the sidelining of Edge after the two Superstars captured the Unified Tag Team Championships at The Bash in 2009 gave Y2J an opportunity to seek an even more dominant figure to fill The Ultimate Opportunist’s shoes — Big Show.
A contractual loophole allowed The World’s Largest Athlete to claim Edge’s vacated half of the titles at Night of Champions and kicked off a hot streak for the team that came to be known as “Jeri-Show.” Like a pair of playground terrors, Jericho antagonized their opponents while Big Show waited to deliver a right jab to whoever was dumb enough to step up to his smart mouthed friend. For the remainder of 2009, the powerful duo found themselves embroiled in fierce rivalries against the likes of DX and The Legacy as they brought the tag titles back into the main event scene. — ANTHONY BENIGNO
The World's Greatest Tag Team
In 2002, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin debuted as protégés of Kurt Angle. The two young Superstars were the perfect complement to the 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist, each bringing their impressive amateur backgrounds to WWE. Within three month, Haas and Benjamin became WWE Tag Team Champions by defeating Los Guerreros. However, after losing the titles, the duo went on a losing streak, resulting in being fired by Angle.
Out of Angle’s shadow, Haas and Benjamin reemerged as The World’s Greatest Tag Team. It was a boastful moniker, but the duo often lived up to it as they recaptured the WWE Tag Team Titles and battled serious competition like The APA, Too Cool and Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman. Although The World’s Greatest Tag Team exited WWE after a brief reconciliation in 2008, their in-ring abilities and teamwork made the duo one of WWE’s best of the past decade. — KEVIN POWERS
Beneath the bleached-blonde buzz cuts and blue spandex of Skip and Zip were two men who may have become sports-entertainment legends had they only found the proper channel for their talents. Instead, Chris Candido and Tom Prichard had to settle for the burden of being underrated. Saddled with the personas of exasperating fitness freaks, the seriously gifted Superstars busted out jumping jacks and Hindu squats in-between crisp armdrags and on-the-mark dropkicks. They were parodies, doomed to be ignored, but it didn’t stop them from topping The Godwinns for the titles in the spring of ’96.
And then there was Sunny. Packing Jim Cornette’s infuriating personality into the body of a Victoria’s Secret model, the manager took a bikini and a bad attitude and turned it into a WWE Hall of Fame career. Irritating one moment, intoxicating the next, she demanded The Bodydonnas be seen. Candido and Prichard took care of the rest. — RYAN MURPHY
American as apple pie, the duo of Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo represented the pairing of the nation’s two brightest blue-chip prospects. Windham, with the second-generation genes of a BlackJack, and Rotundo, a wrestling and football standout at Syracuse University, joined the WWE tag ranks in 1984.
It was not long before the U.S. Express — who entered arenas to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” in between briefly co-opting Hulk Hogan’s “Real American” theme — developed one of WWE’s largest followings. The roughneck Windham could slug it out, toe-to-toe, even early on in his career, while Rotundo’s mat game always charted among the sport’s most elite grapplers.
Windham and Rotundo captured the tag titles in January of 1985 before being dethroned by the decidedly anti-American unit of Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff less than three months later at the inaugural WrestleMania. They parted ways not long afterward, ending a successful but very brief association. — J.C.
Real talk. Latent sexism will lead many to balk at the idea that two Divas earned their way onto a list dominated by Superstars, but the truth is no duo terrorized their division quite like Michelle McCool and Layla in 2009.
Gleefully evil, unflinchingly vicious and better looking than everyone on this list besides Rick Martel, Team Lay-Cool tormented their opponents to the point that Mickie James broke down in tears when they infamously dubbed her “Piggie James” in front of a disgusted crowd. They were a nightmare, a pair of Roddy Pipers in press-on nails who toted around a bifurcated Divas Championship as if it was their very own tag title. Lay-Cool weren't just attitude, though. When an unfortunate victim finally worked up the courage to fight back, Mich would kick them in the face while Lay cackled in the corner. They were wicked, but being bad never looked so good. — R.M.
After dominating NWA Mid-Atlantic and NWA/WCW with their impressive mix of amateur and professional wrestling, Rick and Scott Steiner made their WWE debut in 1992. The Steiners immediately became part of WWE history by appearing on the first episode of Monday Night Raw in 1993. After defeating The Headshrinkers on The Grandest Stage of Them All at WrestleMania IX, The Steiners captured the World Tag Team Titles from Money Inc. in June 1993. That same week, Money Inc. reclaimed the titles only to lose them to The Steiners for a second time.
Rick and Scott's intense style of competition brought them fast success in WWE, but after losing the titles in the fall of 1993, they quickly exited WWE for ECW before returning to WCW. It was a brief run for the tag team specialists, but their impact was undeniable. — K.P.
The sons of WWE Hall of Famers Dusty Rhodes and The Million Dollar Man, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, respectively, made their first real impact in WWE as tag team partners. Under the tutelage of fellow third-generation Superstar Randy Orton, Rhodes & DiBiase were truly a young and hungry force to be reckoned with. Winning the World Tag Team Titles in their first battle together set the tone for the two competitors over the next two years.
They would clash with some of WWE’s top teams and Superstars including John Cena & Batista, DX, Chris Jericho & Big Show and CM Punk & Kofi Kingston. Although they eventually dissolved into enemies, as two-time World Tag Team Champions, both Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes proved early in their careers that they were destined to live up to the legacies on their fathers. — K.P.
The Foreign Legion
During the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection of the 1980s, few villains were as despised as Nikolai Volkoff and former WWE Champion The Iron Sheik, known collectively as The Foreign Legion. Before their matches, the proud Russian and Iranian would march to the ring waving their nations’ flags, demanding WWE fans be silent and respect Volkoff’s rendition of the Soviet Union’s National Anthem. Their commands were mostly ignored, and the pair was always showered with disdain.
In a contest of international proportion at the first WrestleMania, World Tag Team Champions The U.S. Express defended their titles against Sheik and Volkoff. With help from their manager “Classy” Freddie Blassie, the shameless anti-American pairing captured the titles much to the dismay of the Madison Square Garden crowd. They might not have been fan-friendly, but that didn't stop Sheik and Volkoff from being great. — Z.L.
Kane & X-Pac
X-Pac was a crude Minnesota punk who couldn’t go five minutes without pointing at his crotch. Kane was a seven-foot tall sociopath so scarred by childhood trauma that he hid his face underneath a mask. A bromance between the two may have seemed unlikely, but one of sports-entertainment’s most unique friendships was forged in the summer of 1999 as the “Kid” and the “Monster” helped each other become men.
Through X-Pac’s urging, the once-mute Kane gained the confidence to speak with the use of a voice box. And with The Big Red Machine in his corner, Pac found the nerve to face down massive opponents like The Unholy Alliance and The APA. Together, the odd couple grabbed two World Tag Team Championships before a vixen named Tori tore them apart. It’s unfortunate that a woman came between these improbable bros, but nothing this awesome was meant to last. — R.M.
When Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro (later John Morrison) made their first appearance on SmackDown by strutting down a red carpet to the ring, they had the confidence and allure of stars. It didn’t take long for them to back up that perception of celebrity as they won the WWE Tag Team Championship only two weeks later. Flanked by the raven-haired Melina and swarmed by paparazzi flashbulbs, the team held the titles on two additional occasions.
Defeating pairings including The Legion of Doom and former World Heavyweight Champions Batista and Rey Mysterio, MNM proved themselves a cohesive unit capable of competing with any Superstars on the WWE roster. For a sustained period, the road to SmackDown tag team dominance went through Mercury and Nitro. If it was their extravagant outfits and Melina’s flexibility that drew your eyes to MNM, it was their undeniable skill that retained your focus. — Z.L.
All it took was a change in personality for Brian Christopher and Scott Taylor to become one of the most popular teams in WWE history. Going largely unnoticed as Too Much, the pair embraced their common love of hip hop music, street culture and dancing and reemerged in the tag team ranks as Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty.
With Scotty’s trademark Worm dance earning mad respect from the WWE Universe, Grandmaster Sexay’s top-rope Hip Hop Drop brought the team victory after victory. Too Cool introduced the massive Rikishi as their b-boy backup and the trio’s dancing antics made them must-see television every week. Scotty and the Grandmaster’s biggest moment as a team came in May 2000, when they upset Edge & Christian to capture the World Tag Team Titles. — B.M.
The Mega Powers
In the late 1980s, there were no two Superstars more popular than Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Solidifying their alliance at WrestleMania IV where The Hulkster helped Savage capture the WWE Championship, The Mega Powers made their tag team debut against Andre the Giant and The Million Dollar Man at SummerSlam ’88. The WWE Universe witnessed the popular Superstars overcome their opponents — and the biased officiating of special guest referee Jesse “The Body” Ventura — to win the match.
The Mega Powers could have become one of the most dominant tag teams in history had they not exploded due to Savage's manic jealousy over his valet, Miss Elizabeth. Still, the team became a legendary duo because of their popularity among the WWE Universe. Their egos may have come between them, but it was certainly an unforgettable pairing. — K.P.
The Brain Busters
WWE Hall of Famers Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard were founding members of the legendary Four Horsemen. After dominating the NWA tag team division, Anderson and Blanchard debuted in WWE as The Brain Busters. The duo immediately set their sights on WWE’s top pairings, including The Hart Foundation and The Rockers.
In their only Show of Shows appearance at WrestleMania V, The Brain Busters battled former WWE Tag Team Champions Strike Force, Rick Martel and Tito Santana. In their decisive victory, Anderson and Blanchard gained so much momentum that Martel walked out on Santana.
Finally, The Brain Busters faced off with Demolition to capture the World Tag Team Championship. Although their time in WWE was short, the tough technicians earned their rightful place as one of WWE’s greatest teams through their competiveness and ability. — K.P.
It was a rare occasion when the great Andre the Giant put his mind and effort into tag team wrestling. But in 1989, thanks to his manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, The Eighth Wonder of the World and fellow Heenan Family member Haku formed The Colossal Connection.
At the outset, this combination immediately clicked. It was like they were a veteran duo that had been together for their entire careers. Heenan had done it again, pairing the agility that Haku provided with the intimidating, immovable presence that opponents faced in Andre. And it paid off handsomely in late 1989, as they dethroned Demolition for the WWE Tag Team Championship. However, Demolition regained the titles in 1990 at WrestleMania VI, with the after effect being that Heenan and Haku blamed Andre for the loss, and turned on him. — H.F.
As their entrance music nauseatingly proclaimed, Jacques and Pierre weren’t The Mounties, but they were The Quebecers.
While Jacques may be remembered for teaming with his brother Raymond as The Fabulous Rougeaus, he reached the pinnacle of tag team wrestling with Pierre. Clad in uniforms eerily similar to Canada’s mounted police, the two Canucks burst onto the WWE tag scene in 1993. Rougeau, a seasoned veteran, took the young, burly Pierre under his wing, showing him the ins and outs of tag team competition, including how to bend the rules in their favor. They got a title opportunity against The Steiner Brothers on their own terms: Province of Quebec Rules, where the titles could change hands on count outs and disqualifications. The deck was stacked perfectly in favor of The Quebecers, whose plan paid off when Scott Steiner got caught using a hockey stick, giving Jacques and Pierre their first of three World Tag Team Championships. — B.M.
Sinister to their collective rotten core, Randy Orton and Edge didn’t just share the best tag team moniker in modern-day sports-entertainment, but also an unsavory thirst for malice. A pair of young, vile victimizers, Rated-RKO proved to have more venom per inch than a den of diamondbacks. Those most deeply bitten? D-Generation X, Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
Edge and Orton were two perfectly assimilated villains made even more dangerous once they recognized the damage they wrought could be multiplied if executed in tandem. Starting with their crusade to end DX, the twosome menaced the WWE roster, aiming to accrue a victims list double that of Orton’s infamous “Legends Killed” tee.
Within roughly six months of its formation, Rated-RKO captured and lost the World Tag Team Championship, then dissolved, leaving their boundless tag team potential unfulfilled in lieu of individual World Championship glory. — CRAIG TELLO
They lied, they cheated and they stole, but the sins of Los Guerreros only served to endear Eddie & Chavo to the WWE Universe. More than partners, these Superstars were familia. Eddie was Chavo’s uncle by blood, but they had a bond only brothers could share.
Their first WWE Tag Team Championship reign came at Survivor Series 2002 in a Triple Threat Match when Eddie Guerrero made Rey Mysterio tap out to the Lasso from El Paso. From there, they continued to dominate the tag team scene on SmackDown, defeating the likes of The World’s Greatest Tag Team, The FBI and John Cena & Bull Buchanan. On top of the Guerrero family trademark of lying, cheating and stealing their way to victory, Eddie & Chavo’s combination of high-flying and technical maneuvers couldn’t be matched. The chemistry Los Guerreros had in the squared circle proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that blood is always thicker than water. — MATT ZIMMER
The Smoking Gunns
Riding into WWE in 1993, Bart and Billy Gunn used their Wild West know-how to rack up victory after victory. The cowboy brothers found success early and often, putting them in the running for the World Tag Team Titles. However, untimely injuries kept the Gunns from their ultimate goal until January 1995, when they finally captured the championship by defeating Bob Holly and The 1-2-3 Kid on Raw.
Bart and Billy went on to be one of the most successful teams in WWE history, holding the championships on three occasions while fighting off the challenges of teams like The Bodydonnas, The Godwinns and Owen Hart & British Bulldog. Unfortunately, The Smoking Gunns’ partnership was extinguished in 1996 when Billy’s affection for WWE Hall of Fame Diva Sunny came between the brothers’ bond. — B.M.
The Natural Disasters
“Of all the tough guys you hear about in pro wrestling from Barbarian to Scott Steiner, there’s nobody that can compare to Earthquake. People don’t necessarily understand how legendary Earthquake was, but he was an undefeated sumo wrestler and an undefeated Canadian amateur wrestler. He was generally a pretty happy guy, but I’m telling you, he had a temper on him. He was one guy you really wished you never crossed.
“As far as [Typhoon] goes, he’s another guy that’s very powerful, very quick moving for his size. He could jump up and throw a dropkick and stuff like that. They were a really interesting team when they first started. I don’t know how they didn’t go further than they did, because I know back in those Hart Foundation, we’d be sizing up different teams and we were very much afraid of facing The Natural Disasters.” — BRET HART, as told to R.M.
John Morrison & The Miz
In 2007, two of WWE’s rising stars, John Morrison and The Miz, were paired together to battle MVP and Matt Hardy for the WWE Tag Team Championships on SmackDown. The duo won the titles and took them back to their brand, ECW. The duo successfully defended the titles on numerous occasions against challengers from both ECW and SmackDown. Morrison & Miz also used the Internet to trash talk their opponents with their WWE.com show, “The Dirt Sheet.”
Morrison & Miz revolutionized the way the Internet is used in sports-entertainment and backed up their brashness with success inside the squared circle. In 2008, the pair won the Slammy Awards for Tag Team of the Year and Best WWE.com exclusive before capturing the World Tag Team Titles. Although Morrison & Miz eventually split up, they still can be credited for bringing tag team competition into a new age. — K.P.
The Nasty Boys
Sure, they cribbed their name from a Janet Jackson dance single, but there was nothing bubblegum about the mohawk mullets and motorcycle boots of Jerry Sags and Brian Knobbs. As sloppy as a double cheeseburger and proud of it, the toothless palookas from Allentown, Pa. lived up to their reputation as wrestling’s bad boys as they cussed out the WWE Universe while smushing their armpits in opponents’ faces during an early '90s run with WWE.
“They were like bulls in a china shop,” WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart told WWE.com. “You didn’t know what they were going to come up with next.” The Hit Man should know. At WrestleMania VII, Sags went upside Jim Neidhart’s skull with manager Jimmy Hart’s superfluous motorcycle helmet to beat The Hart Foundation for the World Tag Team Titles. Plenty of teams fought dirty. Few did it better than The Nasties. — R.M.
Team Hell No
It’s hard to figure, but somehow Kane — a demented monster who has chokeslammed a priest, set multiple people on fire and once hooked a car battery up to a man’s groin — has proven himself to be the most adaptable tag team competitor of the past 15 years. This was never more apparent than in 2012 when The Big Red Monster found an unexpected ally in Daniel Bryan — the stubborn, bearded sparkplug who went from cult favorite to WWE ace through his partnership with Kane.
Thrilling in-between the ropes— Team Hell No’s matches against rivals like The Shield and Team Rhodes Scholars were the best tag bouts of the new decade — the pair were even more entertaining out of the ring where their anger management sessions with the earnest Dr. Shelby endeared both Superstars as lovable curmudgeons. When Kane and Bryan weren’t hugging out their issues, they were pounding on their opponents with verve, electrifying WWE fans as the most entertaining odd couple since The Rock met the sock. — R.M.
For The Million Dollar Man and Irwin R. Schyster, money could buy happiness.
The millionaire and the tax accountant were a perfect match outside the ring, but few could have expected them to take over the WWE’s tag team ranks in the manner they did in the early 1990s. Guided by “The Mouth of The South” Jimmy Hart, Ted DiBiase and Schyster used their intelligence to defeat the seemingly unstoppable Legion of Doom soon after beginning their partnership to capture the World Tag Team Titles. The pair known as Money, Inc. dominated the WWE over the next two years, holding the championships for a combined 411 days over three reigns, using their smarts to fight off the challenges of teams like The Natural Disasters and The Nasty Boys. — B.M.
Spanning 13 years, D-Generation X was the brainchild of two best friends, Shawn Michaels and Triple H. In 1997, HBK and The Game brought their backstage friendship in front of the cameras, and the world of sports-entertainment changed forever. DX’s brand of sophomoric humor was a cornerstone of the Attitude Era, and their influence beyond the ring became clear when Mike Tyson was recruited for their group.
After eight years apart, the band got back together in 2006. As former multi-time WWE Champions, DX was more powerful than ever, and brandished their logo on the WWE headquarters in Connecticut and on Mr. McMahon’s corporate jet. They returned tag team wrestling to the main event spotlight, dominating pairs including the McMahons, Rated-RKO and Legacy. In 2009, Michaels and Triple H won their first WWE Tag Team Championships together. But D-Generation X wasn’t about the gold — it was about two pals having a blast, dominating competition and revolutionizing entertainment. — Z.L.
Mr. Fuji & Professor Toru Tanaka
From the Land of the Rising Sun came a tandem that was sinister in every sense of the word — Mr. Fuji & Toru Tanaka.
Their rise to the mantra of greatness was backed up by the fact that they were WWE Tag Team Champions on three different occasions throughout the 1970’s. They prided themselves on quick tags in and out, and were there for each other on a moment’s notice. Also, they were exact opposites in their styles. Tanaka was strong and deliberate, while Fuji was quick and agile, yet they knew each other very well. Add the “sneakiness” factor to this team (which at times was their ace in the hole), and more times than not it was “sayonara” for any duo that stepped into the ring to face them. — H.F.
The Brothers of Destruction
Question: who is scarier than The Undertaker? Answer: The Undertaker and Kane.
As vicious as these two brothers’ sibling rivalry can be, the aggression is doubled during those stints when they joined forces as the feared Brothers of Destruction. The duos in the locker room learned to fear the moments where the bros saw eye to eye, as the twosome stomped over squads like Edge & Christian and KroniK en route to total dominance. Their runs as a team were infrequent, but often paid dividends — The Deadman and The Devil’s Favorite Demon captured three separate tag team titles, and were also the team to unify the WWE and WCW Tag Team Championships, devouring DDP and Kanyon at SummerSlam 2001 inside of a steel cage. — A.B.
After Tito Santana saved Rick Martel from a beating at the hands of Bobby Heenan’s Islanders in 1987, Strike Force was born. A pairing of two very accomplished singles competitors, it was easy to see that Martel and Santana were destined for success in the tag team ranks.
Matching lightning speed with pure technical ability, Strike Force quickly became the team to beat in WWE. The upstart duo rose through the ranks and earned an opportunity at The Hart Foundation and the World Tag Team Titles. And while the Foundation’s familial bonds should have given them the advantage, the champs were blown away by the aptitude of Santana and Martel, leading to the crowning of new champions. Strike Force reigned over WWE’s tag team division for nearly half a year before Demolition dethroned them and put Martel on the shelf, bringing a premature ends to one of WWE’s most exciting teams. — B.M.
The Rock 'N' Sock Connection
One was a scruffy head case in a leather mask who spoke to a sock. The other was an immaculately groomed colossus who dressed in the finest materials and adorned his wrists with gold. Together, Mankind and The Rock should have mixed like water and vinegar, but when they teamed as The Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection, they made magic instead, winning the WWE Tag Team Championships in their very first match. In a matter of months, the odd couple had three runs with the titles and inspired record numbers of viewers to turn on Raw.
The Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection may have started off rocky, but the years have not dimmed the strange, mutual respect between The Great One and The Hardcore Legend. Rest assured, WWE Universe, even when Rock plants Foley with the occasional Rock Bottom here and there, it’s all out of love. — A.B.
What made The Blackjacks so unique and successful? Firstly, Blackjack Lanza and Blackjack Mulligan were a legit team that refined the classic tag strategy of isolate and destroy. They were two men functioning as one, which resulted in amazing success.
Lanza was the team strategist and a college graduate in racehorse condition who taught school prior to entering pro wrestling. Mulligan was athletically freakish and a giant among men. The man who was once recruited to play college football by the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant was a frightening 6-foot-9, 340 pounds. Excluding Andre, no one in the business at the time could match up with the nasty Texan and former U.S. Marine.
However, the true magic of the team came when they joined forces with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, arguably the greatest manager to ever live. Their bouts with Heenan at ringside are the template that many great teams followed in succeeding generations further solidifying The Blackjacks as one of the greatest ever. — JIM ROSS
Left adrift after they’d been cast out of The Undertaker’s macabre Ministry, heavy hitters Faarooq and Bradshaw began offering their services as hired enforcers to Superstars in a jam. It became customary for prospective clients to seek out The APA’s disembodied office door with beer and Benjamins in hand. Once the proper transaction was completed, they could count themselves safe for the night.
The APA were pretty good at taking care of themselves, too, winning multiple tag team championships as they obliterated teams like The Dudley Boyz and Public Enemy — and more than a few bar rooms — into the 2000s. We’ve never bothered to check, but we’re told that door is still around the locker room somewhere … — A.B.
Marty Jannetty and WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels were pioneers in WWE, especially when it comes to tag team competition. Their style of fast-paced, high-flying in-ring abilities was revolutionary in a time when WWE was ruled by larger competitors like Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. The duo never backed down from a challenge, even if their opponents were the physically imposing and much larger Twin Towers of Akeem and Big Boss Man.
Although The Rockers never officially held the tag titles, their high-energy entrance, colorful ring attire and tag team synchronization made them favorites of the WWE Universe. Their aerial acrobatics took the WWE Universe by storm and would pave the way for future high-flyers like Rey Mysterio. — K.P.
The Dudley Boyz
“The whole thing started as a joke. I mean, obviously, with Bubba being Caucasian and D-Von being African-American, it was a joke. It got to be such a joke that during announcing I would say their father was a traveling salesman named Willy Loman Dudley. I don’t know that anyone could’ve expected they would go on to be the most decorated tag team of all time.
“Everyone knows The Dudleyz for the TLC Matches against The Hardyz and Edge & Christian, but I would say their early matches with The APA really defined them. I think there was a bias against ECW wrestlers that perhaps they weren’t really tough. Bradshaw and Ron Simmons, who are both pretty heavy hitters, were paired up against The Dudleyz to see what they had. I think both of those guys will tell you that Bubba and D-Von give as good as they get.” — JOEY STYLES, as told to R.M.
The Wild Samoans
One of the keys to success in attaining greatness as a tag team is having longevity as a unit. And longevity usually breeds trust and confidence between the two partners. Plus, having the same bloodline only fortifies the bond. Afa and Sika of The Wild Samoans had all of the aforementioned characteristics and then some.
Their primitive yet ruthless style inside the squared circle usually made it impossible for opponents to map a strategy, which in turn worked in Afa and Sika’s favor. Having worldwide success wherever their travels took them, The Wild Samoans hit their zenith under the managerial guidance of Capt. Lou Albano in the early 1980’s, when they were WWE Tag Team Champions on three occasions. And the ultimate honor — entry into the WWE Hall of Fame — was bestowed upon Afa and Sika in 2007. — H.F.
Legion of Doom
The most dominant tag team in sports-entertainment history, WWE Hall of Famers The Road Warriors made their WWE debut in 1990 as the Legion of Doom. After battling Demolition, Hawk and Animal faced The Nasty Boys and defeated the disgusting duo for the World Tag Team Championships at SummerSlam 1991. This victory made the L.O.D. the only pairing in history to win tag team titles in the three promotions that dominated sports-entertainment in the 1980s: AWA, NWA and WWE.
Although the Legion of Doom was wildly popular in their early days in WWE, they struggled to maintain their success as the years passed. The L.O.D. left WWE in 1992 but returned in 1997 and won the tag team titles. However, after seemingly splitting up and reforming as L.O.D. 2000, the duo was unable to regain their control over the tag division. Hawk and Anima’s time in WWE wasn’t always as fortuitous as their runs in smaller territories, but their popularity and intensity was rarely matched. — K.P.
The Valiant Brothers
“Luscious” Johnny and “Handsome” Jimmy burst onto the scene in 1974 and made the WWE Universe take notice. Both of the bleach-blond Superstars possessed their own unique brand of flamboyance that put them ahead of their time. Johnny’s loud, brash attitude and Jimmy’s overexcited, hypeman persona made them a force to be reckoned with in WWE.
The Valiants captured the World Tag Team Titles in May 1974 and held onto them for 370 days — a record that would not be eclipsed until Demolition’s turn as champions in 1988. The Valiant Brothers enjoy their place in history as one of WWE’s most revolutionary tag teams and as members of the WWE Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 1996. — B.M.
The British Bulldogs
The biggest moment of The British Bulldogs’ WWE career came at WrestleMania 2 where they defeated Brutus Beefcake and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine for the World Tag Team Championships, but The Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith were good every night. Two hardnosed cousins from an industrial section of England, The Bulldogs brought a blue-collar mentality to the ring, attacking every match as if their paychecks depended on it.
Fine-tuned in Stu Hart’s infamous Dungeon, The Dynamite Kid was considered the best wrestler in the world at the peak of his talents. Gruff and fearless, the 220-pounder used his hardened frame like a weapon as he created beautiful carnage with his body. And Davey Boy was stupid strong. If Dynamite couldn’t win through grit, Smith would do it with brute force. The later addition of an actual English bulldog to the mix may have cartooned a lesser duo, but The Bulldogs were a team that refused to be taken lightly. — R.M.
The Hardy Boyz
Beware of falling Hardys, the high-flying daredevils who risked life and limb in pursuit of tag team glory at the apex of the “Attitude Era.” An integral part of the tag team renaissance of the early 2000s, Matt and Jeff Hardy were part of the six-headed rivalry (along with Edge & Christian and The Dudley Boyz) that gave birth to the Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match, where they pioneered the modern use of the ladder. The reckless abandon with which they practiced their craft won the brothers numerous tag titles as well as several singles championships between them, to say nothing of the special spot in WWE history reserved for only the most extreme competitors. — A.B.
The New Age Outlaws
What do you get when you combine an ex-roadie and a former cowboy? One of the most successful tag teams of all time. When “Road Dogg” Jesse James and Billy Gunn formed The New Age Outlaws in 1997, few could have predicted the astonishing success they would go on to achieve. All but one of The Outlaws’ five World Tag Team Championship reigns lasted more than 100 days, and they were the centerpieces of the red-hot tag team division of the “Attitude Era.”
The night after WrestleMania XIV, The Outlaws joined Triple H, Chyna and the returning X-Pac in a rebooted version of D-Generation X. The new incarnation would become one of the most iconic factions in WWE, performing memorable antics including an invasion of WCW Monday Nitro and a parody of The Nation of Domination. With that, The New Age Outlaws thrived as the most popular tag team of WWE’s most popular era. Oh, you didn’t know? — Z.L.
“Here comes the Ax / Here comes the Smasher / The Demolition / Walking disaster.”
This daunting opening line from the hard-hitting entrance music of one of the most dominant teams in WWE history couldn’t have been more fitting. Dressed for pure brutality with spiked ring gear and outrageous face paint, the intimidating duo captured the World Tag Team Championships a total of three times — including the single longest tag title reign in WWE history of more than 470 days. Although they were dismissed early as clones of The Road Warriors, the brutes from Parts Unknown made their reputation of pure destruction against elite combination that included The Hart Foundation, The Rockers, The British Bulldogs and The Brain Busters. — MIKE BURDICK
The Hart Foundation
Before WWE fans famously identified Bret Hart as “The Best There Is, Best There Was and Best There Ever Will Be,” The Hart Foundation was held to the same standard in tag teamdom.
Proving why family mattered in WWE, The “Hit Man” and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart were teammates but also brothers-in-law bound both by familial kinship and a Dungeon-derived mat schooling in Stu Hart’s basement training ground. Determined and devastatingly adept in the squared circle, Bret’s technical expertise complemented The Anvil’s powerhouse panache and unnerving, madman-like laughter. Together, the pair of Harts raised the pulse of the WWE Universe when they crossed the ropes and made their neon shade something respected by rivals and WWE fans alike.
The only thing that looked better with pink and black was gold, which was saddled around The Hart Foundation’s waists for two lengthy reigns in 1987 and 1990 amid triumphant tussles with iconic teams like The British Bulldogs, Demolition and The Rockers. — C.T.
Edge & Christian
Lifelong best friends, Edge and Christian went from school hallways in Toronto to quite literally climbing the ladder of success in WWE. The pairing undeniably “reeked of awesomeness” – their tongue-in-cheek “five-second poses” and proclamations that “sodas rule” were just earnest enough to earn simultaneous adoration and eye-rolls from the WWE Universe.
With their patented Con-Chair-To, Edge and Christian won seven World Tag Team Championships, the first in a Ladder Match against The Hardys at WrestleMania 2000. They defeated both The Hardys and Dudley Boyz in the first-ever TLC Match at SummerSlam, and were victorious in a rematch at WrestleMania X-Seven – hailed by many as the greatest tag team match in WWE history. The longstanding animosity between the three duos consistently resulted in Edge and Christian supremacy, and solidified the team as not just fun and games, but a bona fide force to be reckoned with.
Edge and Christian were the arrogant jerks you loved to hate, especially as they revolutionized tag team wrestling for generations to come. — Z.L.