Tag teams are tricky things. Just putting together two talented guys doesn’t always work as they can’t always gel in the ring despite good looks and talent. However, sometimes, throwing two guys together can pay off. Jesse James and Billy Gunn were floundering in singles work but when teamed up, The New Age Outlaws became a fantastic team. Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E were also struggling but as The New Day, they’ve became the hottest act around for a while. While brief, pairing The Rock and Mankind in 1999 led to RAW’s highest rated segment of all time, with “This is Your Life”. But sometimes, even teams that did well can be seen as truly random pairings of guys who didn’t click as much as hoped.
That was especially true in the 1990s. Both WWE and WCW were trying to adapt to changing times, moving from cartoonish antics to more serious stuff and trying a variety of acts to succeed. Some teams worked out but others didn’t as throwing two vastly different guys together led to some odd pairings. Even those were champions could still be seen as a very odd pairing due to different looks and styles. Here are 15 random tag teams of the 1990s that show how strange booking was back then.
15. Barry Horowitz and Hakushi
For years, Barry Horowitz had been notable as one of WWE’s go-to jobbers. Week after week, he’d come out to face heels and faces alike, doing an okay job but still got pinned every time. In 1995, he faced Skip (Chris Candido) in what seemed to be yet another loss. Instead, Horowitz managed to roll up a cocky Skip to get his first win, sending Skip and Sunny into a fit. The next week, Horowitz faced Hakushi, a Japanese star getting a push for his high flying style, but was not helped by WWE (in their usual racial sensitivity) having him come out with Japanese writing all over his body. Skip ended up interfering and causing Horowitz to win.
At SummerSlam, Horowitz and Skip faced off again and Hakushi got revenge by distracting Skip to let Horowitz win again. Soon after, the two formed a tag team which had a rough going. While okay, Horowitz was never that skilled and the heat of his winning faded while Hakushi’s lack of promo skills took away from his in-ring ability. They both faded away, an odd pairing that put a sad end to Horowitz’s shining moment in WWE.
14. Cactus Jack and Mikey Whipwreck
True, the randomness was the entire point but it’s still notable. In 1994, ECW was really taking off with Public Enemy the tag team champions. Cactus Jack and Terry Funk had been a good team taking them on and set for a big match. Funk, however, walked out on the company so Jack was on his own, promising a new partner. In a classic call, Joey Styles remarked “what great athlete, what great champion is Jack…oh, my God, it’s Mikey!” Out came Mikey Whipwreck, the young jobber who’d become something of a fan favorite for getting the living crap kicked out of him every week.
The match was a wild affair with Whipwreck amazing everyone by showing actual offense to take on the Enemy and finally get the pin to win the tag team titles. This led to a priceless promo where Jack gloated and boasting on the Enemy coming after them and Mikey crying “it means I’m gonna die!” The two held the titles for a time before losing them but regained them when Whipwreck beat 2 Cold Scorpio in a match in 1995. It elevated Whipwreck to an ECW favorite and fun to see them hooking up.
13. Brian Christopher and Scotty Flamingo
In the 1990s, the USWA was created to merge Memphis, Continental and the old World Class into one larger promotion. Running mostly out of Memphis, the promotion became rather infamous for quickie title reigns as championships literally changed hands every week. Brian Christopher was getting a push in the promotion as he was the son of Jerry Lawler and naturally the boss wanted to give his son a good run. He paired Christopher with various teammates to hold championship gold as Christopher would hold the tag titles six times with five partners.
Among them was Scotty Flamingo, at the time a “surfer” type with an arrogant edge, long hair and flashy style. Their reign as champions only lasted a week before they split up. Christopher would go on to hold the USWA title a whopping 26 times before the company finally went under. Meanwhile, Flamingo had a run in WWE as “Johnny Polo” before remaking himself as Raven in ECW. He would go on to be a star while Christopher mostly forgotten to show off a pairing even more random today than it was then.
12. Bunkhouse Buck and Dick Slater
Back in the 1980s, Robert Fuller ran the Stud Stable, a major pack of heels who ran roughshod over Continental and Memphis. In 1994, Fuller was known as “Colonel” Robert Parker in WCW and decided to create a new version of the Stable with Arn Anderson, Dick Slater, Bunkhouse Buck and Meng. Surprisingly, it was Buck and Slater who won the tag team titles, an offbeat pairing as Slater was a ring veteran but Buck was Jimmy Golden, not quite as well known. Their matches were rather messy, featuring a lot of brawling and hardly what one would call an expert team by any means. They held the tag titles and had feuds with the Nasty Boys but the stable wasn’t really that impressive. The War Games match against the Nasties and Dusty and Dustin Rhodes is often cited the worst War Games ever and Slater and Buck were basically a blip on the world of WCW.
11. The Blue Bloods
This one is rather odd. William Regal was known in WCW as Lord Steven Regal with a long run as TV champion and acting the arrogant British nobleman. Originally, Regal wanted Jean-Paul Levesque on the idea of him being a “Frenchman” to form a team but Levesque left for WWE to become Triple H. For some bizarre reason, the pick for the replacement was Bobby Eaton, the Southerner known for his past great tag teams with the Midnight Express. Named “Earl Robert Eaton,” the blonde-haired man was encouraged to speak with a British accent and was featured in vignettes with Regal teaching him proper etiquette.
It was a role Eaton was totally unsuited for as he just looked ridiculous in the frilly outfits and trying to act snobbish. They had feuds with Harlem Heat and others but while okay in the ring, it was just too odd a pairing to work. They added “Squire” David Taylor before eventually splitting up with Eaton going back to his older act. A fair concept but it was totally wasted on Eaton and Regal too much different to make it work.
10. Pretty Wonderful
After his failed run as one of the Four Horsemen, Paul Roma still had the attention of WCW and wanted to be pushed. At the same time, Paul Orndorff had been bouncing around doing little of note. WCW decided to throw them together just on the idea of two good looking guys both named Paul. Surprisingly, they actually had some success together, holding the tag team titles twice and feuding with numerous teams like Stars and Stripes, the Nasty Boys and more. Orndorff had the experience, Roma had the speed and together they actually gelled.
They broke up in late 1994 with Roma leaving the company and Orndorff didn’t long until he retired. So while a random pairing, the duo did end up actually wonderful in the ring and showed how sometimes offbeat partners can work out.
9. Rick Steiner and Kenny Kaos
The Steiner Brothers had been one of the greatest tag teams of all time, holding multiple gold in WCW and WWE. Their split in 1998 was shocking with Scott going heel and taking on his more muscled wild man persona. Rick was soon challenging the NWO for the tag titles which led to the absolutely ridiculous moment where Buff Bagwell’s mother, Judy, was named co-champion with Rick. Thankfully, WCW dropped that fast with Rick told he had to choose a new partner.
His pick was Kenny Kaos, a man who had done next to nothing in the company. Having him just picked at random to be a co-champion was hard for fans to accept. It didn’t last long as Rick suffered a real injury and had to give up the titles. A truly low point for a championship that had already undergone some rough times.
8. Allied Powers
On the one hand, it did make some sense. In 1995, Lex Luger was still doing well even after his failed runs for the WWE title, popular with his “USA” mantra and looking great. Davey Boy Smith was getting a push too and someone decided to pair them up as a team. On paper, it looked good but in the ring, it was rough. Bulldog was known for blowing up too early and couldn’t go as well as he had in his younger days and his stiff manner was rough. Luger had skills but lost a lot of his drive thanks to WWE’s bungling of his main event push in 1993.
They had feuds with Owen Hart and Yokozuna for the tag titles and a feud with the Blu Brothers but nothing really notable. It ended with Davey Boy turning heel and Luger then made his shocking exit to WCW. While putting two popular guys usually works out, it didn’t here.
7. Arn Anderson and Paul Roma
It’s one of the absolute worst moves WCW has made, which is saying a lot. In 1993, Ric Flair returned after his WWE run and the company immediately began plans to have him reform the Four Horsemen. Ole and Arn Anderson were on board but Tully Blanchard turned down their offers. So, in a major promo, Flair announced that the newest member of the most elite heel stable in wrestling was…Paul Roma. A lifelong midcarder, Roma had a good look but nowhere near the skill or star power to be a Horsemen and fans hated it from the start.
Despite that, WCW pushed Anderson and Roma as a team where Arn was clearly the star. This included a complicated bit where they were to win the tag titles from the Hollywood Blondes as shown by a TV taping made months in advance. But when Brian Pillman was injured, Steve Regal had to team with Steve Austin to lose the belts instead. Anderson and Roma then lost the titles to the Nasty Boys and this Horsemen unit soon fell apart. It’s the weakest version of the Horsemen ever and a sign that Roma was not right for the group.
6. Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas
Ricky Steamboat is hailed for his work as a singles star but he also had great runs as a tag team champion. He and Jay Youngblood had been a terrific pairing in the 1980s with multiple tag title runs. When Steamboat returned to WCW in 1991, he and Dustin Rhodes won the tag belts and did a good job as champions. In 1992, WCW decided to pair Steamboat up with Shane Douglas, a rising young talent best known as part of the Dynamic Dudes. This was a younger Douglas, not the brash arrogant man fans know and having him with veteran Steamboat was a unique pairing. They would hold the tag titles and do well in the ring but it still seemed a team that didn’t gel as well as one would think.
The duo had a classic feud with the Hollywood Blondes for the tag team titles that involved Steamboat and Douglas donning masks as Los Luchadores to take on the Blondes. Douglas left WCW so Tom Zenk was put under the mask for a cage match which the Blondes won. Douglas would go on to achieve fame in ECW while Steamboat continued his singles work, showing probably the most random partner of Steamboat’s long career.
5. 1-2-3 Kid and Marty Jannetty
On one hand, there’s a bit of a link due to how they were both high-flying guys. But otherwise, there really wasn’t much reason to put these two together. The 1-2-3 Kid had been rising after his upset of Razor Ramon and while small, had a good skill to take off. Jannetty had been left behind when Shawn Michaels split up the Rockers to go solo. He’d had a brief run as IC champion but his personal issues haunted him and got him in trouble.
In January of 1994, the two challenged The Quebecers for the tag team titles on the one-year anniversary of RAW hitting the air. It was a fast-paced match with Kid and Jannetty winning the belts. Their reign was quite short, only lasting a week before they lost the titles back and soon split up with Jannetty leaving again under a cloud. It was baffling to see them together at all, one of the more random picks of a team for the time.
4. Tekno Team 2000
Among the many, many bad mistakes WWE made in 1995 was hiring Bill Watts to do some booking. Despite how his tenure at WCW had been bad, Vince somehow thought Watts could bring something to the table. Instead, he and Watts were at each other’s throats in no time and Watts left after only a few months of bad business. To no one’s shock, Watts replicated one of his worst moves in WCW, which was attempting to turn his son Erik into a star. In this case, Erik was paired with Chad Fortune as “Troy and Travis.” They were billed as the team to “bring the New Generation into the 21st Century.”
Reportedly, Watts wanted them to win the tag titles after just two months despite the fact the two showed little promise in the ring and the fans hated the entire look. It never happened since as soon as Watts left, Erik’s push also faded. The team soon drifted away and split up, bringing this “team of the future” down to Earth in just a matter of months. No wonder 1995 WWE was so terrible.
3. Bad Attitude
The connection was rather tenuous to say the least. In the 1980s, Stan Lane and Steve Keirn formed the Fabulous Ones, a groundbreaking tag team who used their good looks and music videos to get ahead. They split up with Lane then joining Bobby Eaton in the Midnight Express for a fantastic team. In 1994, someone in WCW thought that Eaton and Keirn could be a team as well and put them together as Bad Attitude. It did not work out nearly as well as expected. While each man had done sensational work with Lane, they didn’t click together. Eaton had the high flying and Keirn the technical skill but it just didn’t work out. It was short-lived as they lost dark matches and Keirn left WCW after a couple of months. It was quite clear that without Lane, Eaton and Keirn were simply “bad” as a team.
2. Marcus Bagwell and 2 Cold Scorpio
Before he became “Buff,” Marcus Bagwell was a thinner and promising young worker for WCW. His handsome looks had fans and so WCW wanted to push him by trying him out with a variety of tag team partners. He and 2 Cold Scorpio were an odd one, however. Scorpio was winning raves for his amazing high-flying work and speed to get him attention. Bagwell was still raw when they were paired up in 1993 and so the team had a few bright spots but nothing too sensational. They did manage to upset the Nasty Boys for the tag team titles but their reign was short before losing them back a few weeks later.
Scorpio left WCW in 1994 with Bagwell then teaming up with the Patriot as Stars and Stripes for another tag title run. It took a while before he broke out as the arrogant heel to be a star and showcased how offbeat some of Bagwell’s pairings on his way to the top were.
1. Yokozuna and Owen Hart
True, they had a good run as WWE tag team champions but that doesn’t take away from how strange a pairing this was. Owen Hart was a fantastic worker, a technical master and terrific on the mic, a lithe figure. Yokozuna was a massive beast, faster than he seemed, almost never talking and relied on his size and strength. Long absent, Yoko returned at WrestleMania XI to help Hart beat the Smoking Gunns for the tag team titles. Somehow, they did well in the ring, Owen doing a lot of the work and Yoko’s size imposing and almost impossible for guys to beat down. They had some good programs with various teams, showing off their teamwork before finally losing the belts back to the Gunns after seven months.
While the two formed a really good team that sparked up the tag division, it was still one of the “odder couple” champions in WWE history and how random choices can actually work out at times.