In wrestling, you’d expect partners to get along well. You need to count on them for matches, to carry a bout along and work well. There have been plenty of real brothers in wrestling and that bond can’t be beaten but others are just friends yet can be close too. You need that bond to be successful as so many times, guys can be thrown together but attain huge success (look at The New Day). Other times, that bond can be tested a lot and too many promising teams have faltered badly. But other times, guys can be partners for a while but have almost no friendship whatsoever.
Sure, wrestling loves to play with “whacky tag partners who can’t get along” as an angle for years. But often, it’s all too real as partners can openly hate each other’s guts. Some are able to keep it hidden from fans for success and even championships. Others end up imploding because of that hate. For every team that are true friends, there are others who loathed each other from the get go. Here are 10 tag teams that were true partners and friends and 10 who despised one another to show there is kayfabe and reality.
20 HATED: Buff Bagwell and Anyone
Marcus Alexander Bagwell is a fair worker but better known for his horrible ego and attitude. It grew massively along with his body and while his neck injury gets him sympathy, he’s ruined it with his behavior. This was actually around for a while as stories abound of how Bagwell just didn’t get along well with partners. He and 2 Cold Scorpio were a team at first, winning the tag titles but not getting along well and breaking up. Bagwell then teamed with the Patriot as Stars and Stripes for a run as champions as well. But again, they didn’t get along nearly as well behind the scenes, Patriot having his own issues thinking he should have gotten a singles run and Bagwell considering himself the star of the team.
The American Males were doomed to fail with a terrible theme song and Bagwell's ego. This led to his run in the NWO with Scott Norton and later Shane Douglas where arguments abounded and Bagwell’s party antics landing him in trouble. It’s no wonder Bagwell’s star in wrestling faded as his attitude made any partnership a short-lived one filled with plenty of hate.
19 FRIENDS: The Nasty Boys
Say what you will about them but the Nasties were true friends. Brian Knobbs and Jerry Saggs had grown up together in Pennsylvania and caught onto wrestling early. Both were rough and tumble guys who figured they were better off working together than apart and maintained a union for several years. They got a start in the AWA and the indies but it was in 1990 WCW that they rose up. The duo had a fantastic feud with the Steiners that made them stars while getting into wild stuff like the famous brawl with Ric Flair.
This led to a run as WWE tag team champions and then moving back to WCW for another championship run. As well known for party ways as their success in the ring, the Boys continued their run for a long time, including a bit in TNA (where their age sadly showed). However, you can’t go wrong with two buddies living their childhood dream and showing how long they’ve kept this friendship up.
18 HATED: British Bulldogs
In terms of ring work, they were amazing. Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith were doing a style of wrestling never seen before in North America and wowing fans. They were a great unit with Davey Boy’s strength and Dynamite’s skill and high-flying forging a team that won as tag team champions. But behind the scenes, it was rough as both men had huge egos and it got worse thanks to steroid use. While they pulled pranks on other workers, the two snapped at each other a lot and it disintegrated more when Dynamite suffered his brutal back injury.
A run in Stampede in 1988 finally broke them, a brutal fight that turned all too real and it spilled into helping break the Hart family. Dynamite was soon pushed into a wheelchair by his long-term injuries while Davey Boy went into singles work. When he heard Smith was going as The British Bulldog, Dynamite filed a lawsuit against him and bad-mouthed Davey Boy in his autobiography. Even after Smith’s death, Dynamite still has a bad attitude about him and it’s a shame one of the best teams of all time had to endure such an ugly breakup.
17 FRIENDS: The Dudley Boyz
The entire concept of Tzhe Dudley Boyz was whacky. The idea was Mr. Dudley was a traveling salesman who slept with multiple women and now their sons were forming a large team. They included Dancing with Dudleyz, Sign Guy Dudley, Chubby Dudley and others. But it was soon clear D-Von and Bubba Ray were the real stars. A fantastic team, they gelled with fans thanks to their attitude, teamwork, smashing tables and promos that could cause mini-riots. Soon they were taking off with runs as tag team champions and the bond keeping up despite their very different backgrounds. That continued in WWE as they elevated the tag ranks in classic matches and reigns as champions.
This led to TNA as their bond continued as Team 3D. They looked out for each other to help each other out and while they were split apart, they did their best to make it look good. Bubba Ray soon became a singles star as Bully with D-Von helping as a heel too. They returned to WWE and now Bubba is in ROH but it’s clear that it’s only a matter of time before a reunion as the Dudleyz show they may not be real family but are the next best thing.
16 HATED: The Rockers
In the comedy “The Sunshine Boys,” an elderly comic tells his agent he hasn’t talked to his old partner in 30 years. When the agent points out the two only split 20 years ago, the comic says “yeah but we didn’t TALK for a decade before that.” The Rockers are in much the same way. At first, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty really were tight, good friends and worked together to form double team moves never seen before. Their party attitudes also became famous, leading to success as AWA tag team champions. In WWE, they became famous for being a cohesive unit, poetry in the ring and fans and fellow workers were blown away at what they could do in the ring.
But behind the scenes, things were rough as the two would often go weeks without speaking to each other outside the ring. They kept up the great work but the dissension became obvious in 1991. This was pushed by Vince McMahon as he had plans for them as singles workers. Throw in Shawn’s growing ego and Marty’s addictions and it was really no shock when they finally had their famous split. Shawn would become a major star while Marty not doing quite as well but it shows how even a great partnership can end poorly.
15 FRIENDS: Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard
It actually took a while for them to form a team of their own but Anderson and Blanchard clicked wonderfully. As members of the Four Horsemen, the duo were already used to wild parties with Ric Flair and working together in larger tag matches. They finally formed a team in 1987 and it was great with Blanchard’s skill mixed with Arn’s power and a terrific team. They won the tag team titles and boosted immediately for a good run as champions that pushed the NWA and Jim Crockett up. But the true showcase of their friendship came when Blanchard had a falling out with Crockett over lack of payment and decided to quit. He was as shocked as anyone when Anderson decided to join him and also head to WWE.
As the Brainbusters, they had a run as champions and kept up their friendship as they looked out for one another. However, things hit a bad patch when they were ready to return to WCW only for Blanchard to fail a drug test. Blanchard would retire soon afterward but he and Anderson remain on good terms to show this as a bond willing to sacrifice for each other well.
14 HATED: Rocky Johnson and Tony Atlas
WWE likes to talk about “The Soul Patrol” as a great and groundbreaking partnership. Tony Atlas was a strong guy who had fought Hulk Hogan while Rocky Johnson was a long-time popular guy with his cool stride and nice “shuffling” punching. Together, they defeated the Wild Samoans in 1983 to become the first African-American wrestlers to be world tag team champions. For eight months, they defended the titles and were winners with fans loving them as great faces and a seemingly tight unit.
But behind the scenes, things were different. Both men accused the other of being late constantly and there's talk of actual fistfights between them. Also, it turned out Johnson actually hated being put with a black partner as he felt it held his career back. Not helping was Atlas’ drug use which also hampered his overall career. They dropped the titles in 1984 to Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch and both men soon faded from the WWE scene. While they were great partners on TV, in real life, The Patrol just loathed each other.
13 FRIENDS: Triple H and Shawn Michaels
On a DVD, Shawn talks about meeting Triple H in 1995 and the two hitting it right off. For his part, Hunter laughs it was more him just hanging around before Shawn really noticed him. However it worked out as they had a good style and each brought something to the table. Backstage, they hung out majorly as part of the Kliq although a rough bit when Triple H had to take the fall for the “Curtain Call” and his push marred. In late 1997, they finally joined up as a team, calling themselves D-Generation X and soon putting on wild bits never seen on WWE TV before. It ended fast because of Shawn’s injury as Hunter led DX and became a major star.
Their friendship continued for an epic feud in 2002. That led to a DX reunion in 2006 that served them well as the two just had a blast in the ring with various antics and a run as tag team champions. The two keep up their friendship today and show how two men could dominate while also keeping their friendship going to form a true bond.
12 HATED: Raven and Stevie Richards
After years of bad gimmicks, Scott Levy finally hit the big time as Raven in ECW. He was amazing for the time with a broody character into poems and grunge outfits and a great style that won fans over. Stevie Richards was more a goofball who could turn into a fantastic worker in the ring. They soon forged a great unit winning the tag titles and helping to elevate ECW up even more. However, Richards was soon jealous of Raven becoming more popular thanks to his act and being seen as the bigger star. Raven has admitted much of this was his own fault, propelled by his drug use of the time to not appreciate what Richards was trying to do. They did their best to keep it up but would end up breaking apart and each has taken shots at each other in the years since. It's a shame as when they were together, they were amazing.
11 FRIENDS: Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood
For all his amazing success as a singles worker, Ricky Steamboat has long said that the best part of his career was his partnership with Jay Youngblood. Both men had been working in the Mid-Atlantic region for a while when they began tagging up and soon clicked wonderfully. Both fantastic athletes, they could win over fans (including female ones) and put on a sensational match with anyone. The two had different backgrounds with Youngblood pushing his Native American heritage but they worked wonderfully together and were friends off-camera as well. Their feud with Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle culminated in a cage match that snarled traffic for miles.
The duo followed that up with another great feud with the Brisco Brothers and keeping up their work. However, they hit a patch near the end as Youngblood was into drugs and refused Steamboat’s efforts to get him help. They split up in 1984 and Youngblood passed away just a year later. While he’s become massively famous as a star since, Steamboat still speaks warmly of this time and shows how close he and Youngblood were.
10 HATED: Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow
Vader’s former manager, Harley Race, once said that Leon White was always his own worst enemy. He was amazingly talented, a big man who could fly off the ropes, had a devastating power bomb finisher and was terrific in action. But Vader’s ego and bullying rubbed a lot of guys the wrong way and he burned a lot of bridges. A case in point would be when he and Bigelow teamed in Japan. On paper, the two should have been terrific as a pair of big guys who were also lithe and could dish out tons of punishment. They held the IWGP tag team titles and were a hit with crowds.
But behind the scenes, Bigelow had issues with Vader’s ego and how he felt he was the star of the team while not doing his best in the ring. Bigelow responded by ramping himself up so he was clearly carrying the matches. Noticing, Vader notched up his own efforts which led to their great ring work. Ironically, the hate of the duo is what made them a success, wanting to show each other up and the fans were the winners by one of the best “big guy” teams in Japan.
9 FRIENDS: The Hollywood Blonds
In 1993, Steve Austin was a rising star but WCW didn’t seem to know what to do with him. Brian Pillman had undergone a heel turn but also seemed lost. They were tossed together as a team with WCW not really caring what they did. The two men became fast friends to form The Hollywood Blonds, a fantastic heel team that were stealing the show. Pillman helped come up with ideas like matching shorts and sewing lights into their boots to flash when they stomped. He also got them a pair of gold chains and Austin still wears his today.
They were soon winning over fans and getting the tag titles and looked ready to continue for a while. However, WCW stupidly split them up at their height for a rough feud. They would reunite in WWE in 1996 for a famous angle that worked thanks to the friendship they enjoyed and it was too bad Pillman’s car accident and addictions marred their work. Austin was deeply affected by Pillman’s sudden death in 1997 and has talked warmly of their friendship that forged one of the best teams around.
8 HATED: Animal and Heidenreich
In 2005, WWE put out an acclaimed DVD history of the Road Warriors. To help promote it, Animal came onto shows to talk about the tag team and his late partner Hawk. In a move he now regrets, Animal agreed to WWE’s idea to revive the LOD with a new partner. Enter Heidenreich, the muscleman best known at this point for his goofy poems who saved Animal from an attack by MNM. The two paired up with Heidenreich getting face paint and spikes to beat MNM for the tag titles.
The fans hated it, feeling it was spitting on the legacy of the LOD. As it happens, Animal agreed, hating the whole idea from the start. Not helping was how Heidenreich was disrespectful to Hawk’s memory and getting into fights, constantly late and (while he denied it) accusations of drug use. The two just couldn’t get on the same page and within a couple of months lost the belts and split up. This is one chapter of the LOD fans prefer to imagine never happened.
7 FRIENDS: The Outsiders
After years of failed pushes and gimmicks, Scott Hall was starting to get a push in WCW in 1991 as the Diamond Studd. He met with Kevin Nash, putting up with his own crappy angles as Oz and Vinnie Vegas and the two hit it off. Two years later, Hall was a hit in WWE as Razor Ramon when Nash came on board as Diesel. Joined with Shawn Michaels to become the Kliq, Hall and Nash were soon bonding majorly and enjoying some wild party nights. They looked out for each other, especially when it came to pushes as the locker room was soon grousing over the power The Kliq enjoyed and pushing guys down.
When Hall jumped ship to WCW, Nash followed and as the Outsiders, they formed the New World Order and were tag team champions. They wielded even more power while getting into wild party stuff, especially Hall. That would hurt him in the end with his star fading while Nash tried to stay on top but they kept that friendship up with runs in WWE and TNA. They still are on good terms and that friendship led to a major power period for wrestling to change so much.
6 HATED: Billy Kidman and Paul London
For two small guys, Kidman and London had a pair of pretty large egos. Paired together in 2004, they seemed ready for a run as a good team of speed and skill, even using similar finishers. But Kidman (who’d had success in WCW), felt he was the bigger star and London was not equal to him. London for his part felt Kidman was making himself far more a big deal than he really was. So from the start, there was conflict as well as arguments over who could use that finisher. Each guy just couldn’t get on the same page so while they beat the Dudley Boyz for the tag titles, their run as champs was marred from the beginning. The two were soon arguing a lot backstage and the decision was made to split them up with Kidman not long for the company after that. London would have a long run with the titles with Brian Kendrick but this showed how two similar guys may clash more than join together.
5 FRIENDS: Edge and Christian
While WWE presented them for a while as brothers, Adam Copeland and William Reso had grown up together in Orangeville, Ontario and were best friends. They can be seen among the crowd at WrestleMania VI, both catching the wrestling bug early and going into training together. Each had a variety of bad gimmicks (see Copeland as Damon Striker in WCW) before coming to WWE. Edge was booked as a man of mystery for a while before joining Christian and Gangrel in the Brood.
Eventually, the two broke out on their own to become multiple tag team champions and their epic feuds with the Hardyz and the Dudley Boys were amazing. That led to singles work with Edge becoming a huge star as multiple WWE and World champion and Christian good as well. They’ve kept that friendship up with online shows and still showcasing how a childhood bond can keep up for years to gain mutual success.
4 HATED: Arn Anderson and Paul Roma
Among the many stupid ideas of WCW in 1993 (and that’s a big list), Paul Roma as a member of the Four Horsemen was one of the worst. Ric Flair, Arn and Ole Anderson had reunited but Tully Blanchard refused WCW’s offer and Barry Windham was busy in another feud. So Roma, a lifelong mid-carder with little to his name besides a decent look, was pushed into the slot. The fans never accepted it as Roma totally lacked the star power and charisma to fit into the group.
It was already a rough go but it got worse thanks to Roma’s ego and attitude. On the WWE “Four Horsemen” DVD, Roma still talks as if he was an elite star and Flair and Anderson actually jealous of his looks and youth. For his part, Arn tries to be diplomatic but makes it clear he and Roma never gelled together. They did win the tag titles but it was a short reign as their teamwork wasn’t on the same page and Roma refused to hang with the others backstage. This was the worst Horsemen unit ever and the hate of Roma toward the group continues today.
3 FRIENDS: Road Warriors
They had a rough falling out but for most of their career, Hawk and Animal were true friends and showed it. Both tough and beefy guys, they were pushed as fantastic monsters who redefined tag team wrestling by destroying every opponent in their path. Hard partiers as well, the Legion of Doom were reined in by manager Paul Ellering to keep their focus in the ring. But they could back each other up well in promos as well as matches and showcase an incredible team that was often imitated but never truly duplicated.
They had issues with a falling out in 1992 over Hawk’s drug use and Animal’s injuries. But they reunited a few years later for another run for gold in WCW and WWE. That was marred a bit by bad angles but they kept their friendship up and were making a final run when Hawk passed away in 2003. Animal still clearly misses him and while they had rough times, that friendship forged the bond that made them such major stars and helped change wrestling.
2 HATED: Can-Am Connection
When they debuted in 1987, Rick Martel and Tom Zenk were fresh and truly over with fans, especially female ones. They were smiling babyfaces who did their best with big matches and had a cool finisher of Martel flipping Zenk over the top rope for a splash. They seemed ready to challenge for the tag team titles and had a big push. But when Zenk made noises over not making as much money as Martel, it came out the two basically hated each other’s guts. The key issue was Martel had come off a run as AWA champion and thus felt he was the bigger star and should be taking more of the lead. Zenk argued that despite his own lack of fame, he deserved far more of a shot.
It got to be too much and Zenk walked out on the company. Martel was paired with Tito Santana as Strike Force to win the tag titles and Zenk never became a big star, showing how this break-up was a bad move for him.
1 FRIENDS: The Fabulous Freebirds
They weren’t just good friends but counted each other as brothers in their own way. Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy met up in Georgia and quickly bonded, forming a good team. They were well known in the ring as great workers with Hayes a sensational mic guy. They also gained their massive reputation for partying hard. Bill Watts decided to pair them up with Buddy Roberts, figuring veteran Roberts could rein them in. Instead, Roberts proved as wild a guy as the other two and the Freebirds took off. In Texas, their wild feud with the Von Erichs sparked World Class to massive success and the Freebirds flying high. They kept it up, constantly partying and refusing a WWE run as they didn’t want to be split up. While they would drift apart eventually, they kept close with Hayes deeply affected when Gordy passed away in 2001. The Freebirds talked of always being together and that friendship made them major winners.