Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows came to WWE this past April with an impressive tag team resume. They were three-time New Japan Pro Wrestling IWGP Tag Team Champions, winners of the 2013 World Tag League, and members of the internationally renowned faction The Bullet Club. They were also top contenders in Global Force Wrestling (GFW), Westside Xtreme Wrestling (WXW) in Germany, and Ring of Honor. It’s no exaggeration to say that Anderson & Gallows were an international powerhouse tag team. However, they have come up short every single time they have tried to win the WWE Tag Team Championship from The New Day. In fact, The New Day has made this great team, at times, look like they don’t belong in the same ring with them. There’s still a chance that Anderson & Gallows will add the WWE Tag Team Championship to their trophy case. However, if they ultimately do not then they will be yet another great team to come to and leave WWE without collecting the gold. Anderson & Gallows wouldn’t be the first or won’t be the last great tag team to get shut out by WWE.
Let’s take a look at 15 great tag teams that failed to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.
15. Powers of Pain
The Powers of Pain had a short run that lasted about a year and half in which they stood toe to toe in very physical feuds with both The Road Warriors in the NWA and Demolition in WWE. An argument could have been made that the team of the Warlord and Barbarian was one of the best tag teams in professional wrestling during that time. Following their feud with The Road Warriors, they left the NWA for WWE and a showdown with the reigning tag team champions, Demolition. The Powers of Pain entered the feud as baby faces managed by The Baron aka Baron Von Raschke. They actually dominated the feud initially but Demolition always escaped with the belts due to count outs or disqualifications. It seemed like a matter of time before The Powers of Pain would wear the WWE tag team belts. However, after a double turn saw Mr. Fuji become their manager, they just weren’t quite the same. Demolition became increasingly more popular and dominant as the feud waged on. The Powers of Pain fell off the map following their rivalry with Demolition and they started losing midcard feuds to The Bushwackers and The Rockers. Fuji eventually split them up by selling The Barbarian’s contract to Bobby the Brain Heenan and The Warlord’s contract to the Doctor of Style Slick.
14. Harris Brothers
Twin brothers, Ron and Don Harris were a successful tag team in a number of different pro wrestling promotions in the late 1980s,1990s, and early 2000s. The Harris Brothers wrestled in Japan, Puerto Rico, ECW, and TNA Wrestling and won the tag team titles in the Continental Wrestling Association (CWA), USWA, SMW, and WCW. The Harris Brothers also had a forgettable WWE run, beginning in 1995, and under several different names. They started out as The Blu Twins, Eli & Jacob, managed by Uncle Zeb (Colter) aka Dutch Mantel. After some initial success against The Headshrinkers and The Allied Powers (Lex Luger & Davey Boy Smith), they were dominated by WWE Tag Team Champions, The Smoking Gunns. After a short run in ECW, they returned repackaged as The Grimm Twins, Jared & Jason. Again after a bit of success, they were again dominated by WWE Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns before being repackaged again. This time they became Skull & 8-Ball as members of the biker faction called The Disciples of Apocalypse (DOA) along with Crush and Chainz. The Harris Brothers didn’t strike gold under this persona either and they were gone from WWE in 1999.
13. Beverly Brothers
The Destruction Crew dominated the AWA tag team division for nearly a year. They defeated teams such as Sgt. Slaughter & Baron Von Raschke, Paul Diamond & Tommy Jammer and forced tag team champions Ken Patera & Brad Rheingans to vacate the titles after a vicious beat down. The Destruction Crew intimidated their opponents with sledgehammers they brought to the ring with them and their devastating finisher called The Wrecking Ball (their version of the Doomsday Device). The team of Wayne Bloom and Mike Enos won a tournament to capture the AWA Tag Team Championship in 1989. After losing the belts to DJ Peterson & The Trooper (Del Wilkes aka The Patriot), they moved onto New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) where they tangled with teams such as Hiro Saito & Super Strong Machine, Kengo Kimura & Osamu Kido, and unsuccessfully challenged The Great Muta & Masa Chono for the IWGP Tag Team titles. In 1991, they debuted in WWE where they were repackaged as The Beverly Brothers, which probably sealed their fate. They unsuccessfully challenged both the Legion of Doom and Natural Disasters for the WWE Tag Team Championship before becoming tag team jobbers.
12. Heavenly Bodies
The Heavenly Bodies managed by Jim Cornett were like bright stars that burned out fast. However, in the short time they were together, “Doctor” Tom Pritchard and “Gigolo” Jimmy Del Ray made an impressive mark on pro wrestling tag team history. From 1993 to 1995, they wrestled some of the best tag team competition in promotions that were hot beds for tag team wrestling. The Heavenly Bodies wrestled in Smokey Mountain Wrestling (SMW), the United States Wrestling Association (USWA), Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and also toured Japan. They won gold in SMW and the USWA in addition to feuding with top teams such as the Rock n Roll Express, PG-13, Scott & Steve Armstrong, The Fantastics and Public Enemy. They eventually ventured into WWE through a working relationship between WWE and SMW. However, success wasn’t easily had in WWE. The Heavenly Bodies found themselves jobbing to teams such as The Bushwackers, Tekkno Team 2000, and the 1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly. They also failed to win the WWE Tag Team Championship against three different championship teams-The Steiner Brothers, The Headshrinkers, and The Smoking Gunns.
11. Public Enemy
Public Enemy had its greatest success in ECW. Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge were four time ECW Tag Team Champions. They had a classic feud with the Gangstas ( New Jack & Mustafa Saed) and great rivalries with Bad Breed (Axl & Ian Rotten), The Pitbulls, and The Dudley Boyz. They also won the NWA and WCW tag team championships. However, Public Enemy did not fair very well when they joined WWE in 1999. Reportedly, there was some backstage heat on Public Enemy for a variety of reasons when they joined WWE. They had one feud with The Acolytes (Ron Simmons & John Bradshaw Layfield) which featured an infamous match that aired on Sunday Night Heat. Reportedly, Public Enemy attempted to change the finish of the match at the last minute, which The Acolytes didn’t respond very kindly to. The match was a total annihilation of Public Enemy; physically by The Acolytes and verbally by the commentary team, which emphasized, “I don’t know if we’ll ever see Public Enemy again. They’re getting destroyed.” After only a few months, Public Enemy was gone from WWE.
10. Fabulous Rougeau Brothers
Brothers, Jacques and Raymond Rougeau first formed a tag team in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in the late 1970s and then later joined International Wrestling in the early 1980s. They soon became a force to be reckoned with and won the promotion’s Canadian International Tag Team Championship. They feuded with top teams such as Frenchy Martin & Pierre Lefebvre, Rick Valentine & Sailor White, and Jimmy & Ronnie Garvin. The brothers then debuted for WWE in 1986. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers were a technically sound tag team that had great matches with most teams they stepped into the ring with. They had a nice baby face run before turning heel and taking The Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart as their manager. Although they did defeat The Hart Foundation for the titles in Montreal on August 10, 1987, the belts were returned following a controversial finish and the title change was never recognized by WWE. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers never came that close again to winning the WWE Tag Team Championship. Jacques would later win tag team gold as a member of the Quebecers with Pierre-Carl Ouellet.
9. Furnas & Lafon
Philip Lafon & Doug Furnas were an extremely successful and decorated international tag team during the early 1990s. They captured the All-Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) All-Asian Tag Team Championship, Universal Wrestling
Association (UWA) Tag Team Championship in Mexico, and ECW Tag Team Championship. The wrestled a number of top teams from around the world such as Akira Taue & Toshiaki Kawada, Stan Hansen & Dan Spivey, Rob Van Dam & Sabu, and Los Villanos. The team made their WWE debut in 1996 and Kroffat was given the name of Philip LaFon. The team initially had great success against midcard teams such as The New Rockers and “The Fake Outsiders”. After an unsuccessful series of WWE Tag Team Championship matches against Davey Boy Smith & Owen Hart, Furnas & Lafon became tag team jobbers to cartoon tag teams such as The New Black Jacks and The Godwinns. Perhaps this great technical wrestling tag team didn’t have the “character” to be WWE Tag Team Champions.
8. The Rockers
Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty formed The Midnight Rockers in the old American Wrestling Association in the mid 1980s. They were two time AWA Tag Team Champions. As most wrestling fans know, the duo eventually made their way to WWE where they dropped the “Midnight” and were simply known as The Rockers. After The Rockers broke up in 1992, Michaels would have a legendary career which, included holding the WWE Championship three times. He was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011. While The Rockers were together, they were a top team and had some great feuds with teams such as The Hart Foundation, The Brain Busters, and Demolition. However, The Rockers never officially captured the WWE Tag Team Championship. They did defeat The Hart Foundation for the titles in a match that was never televised. The win was nullified, the titles were returned to the former champs, and the title change has never been officially recognized by WWE. Ironically, both Michaels and Jannetty, later won the WWE Tag Team Championship with other tag team partners.
The Invaders from Puerto Rico were a very successful tag team in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. They won the NWA Tag Team Championship and WWC Tag Team Championship among others titles. However, the masked duo of Invader #1 and Invader #2 couldn’t break out of WWE’s midcard when they wrestled there in 1983 and 1984. They often wrestled make shift teams and jobber teams with great success. When faced with stiffer competition such as The Wild Samoans, Roddy Piper & Paul Orndoff, and Mr. Fuji & Tiger Chung Lee, the results weren’t as successful. The Invaders were never serious contenders for tag team gold in WWE. Maybe it was just as well because Invader #1 aka Jose Gonzalez, just four years later in 1988, would stab Bruiser Brody to death in the locker room at a wrestling event held in Puerto Rico.
6. East-West Connection
Adrian Adonis and Jesse “the Body” Ventura formed a very formidable tag team in the early 1980s called The East-West Connection. They won the AWA Tag Team Championship and dominated the tag team division for nearly a year before losing the belts to The High Flyers (Greg Gagne & Jim Brunzell). The team then made its way to WWE in early 1982 where they took on Classy Freddie Blassie as their manager and looked to be an immediate threat to take the tag team titles. Unfortunately, another heel team, Mr. Fugi & Mr. Saito, was in possession of the belts. In those days heels rarely wrestled other heels in WWE. As a result, the East-West Connection settled for feuds with former champions Tony Garea & Rick Martel in addition to mid card feuds with the North-South Carolina Connection (Rick McGraw & Steve Travis) and Tony Atlas & SD Jones. Ironically, their last match as a tag team was against The Strongbow Brothers who would unseat Fugi & Saito for the titles just a few weeks later. Adonis ended up winning the WWE Tag Team Championship in 1984 with Dick Murdock and Ventura would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
5. The Bushwackers
Before they were fun loving Bushwackers, Luke Williams and Butch Miller were The Sheepherders. The Sheepherders were hated rule breakers and also won tag team gold everywhere they went. Williams and Miller won tag team championships in the World Wrestling Council (WWC), Bill Watts’ Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF) and Stampede Wrestling among other promotions. Williams and Miller debuted in WWE as The Bushwackers in 1988. It was a shock to wrestling fans who knew them as the villainous, blood thirsty Sheepherders. However, the new baby face, comedic Luke and Butch were a big hit with the fans. They were wildly popular and especially among younger fans. Their WWE careers lasted until 1996 and included some great feuds with teams such as The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, The Brain Busters, The Nasty Boys, The Headshrinkers and The Heavenly Bodies. The Bushwackers were inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015. The one thing that eluded this great team was the WWE Tag Team Championship. They had numerous shots at the belts over the years but always came up on the short end of the stick.
4. The Fabulous Freebirds
The original Fabulous Freebirds were Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts. They were one of the most successful tag teams of the early 1980s. They wrestled in every major wrestling promotion of that era including the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), American Wrestling Association (AWA), Bill Watt’s Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF) and World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW). They won tag team gold in most territories they wrestled in and were involved in an epic feud against the Von Erich Brothers in WCCW. The Freebirds were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016. If you blinked then you would have missed them also wrestle for WWE in 1984. They were aligned with Cyndi Lauper and David Wolff during WWE’s “Rock n Wrestling Connection” era. Most fans thought it would be just a matter of time before they became WWE Tag Team Champions. However, the hard partying Freebirds drew the ire of Andre the Giant who disapproved of their unprofessional behavior. After only a handful of house show squash match wins and some television promos, The Fabulous Freebirds were fired by WWE.
3. Brisco Brothers
Before Gerald Brisco aka Jerry Brisco was one of “The Stooges” during WWE’s Attitude Era, he was a world-class caliber wrestler and part of one of the most successful tag teams in pro wrestling history. Along with his brother Jack, they formed The Brisco Brothers and the team had great success in the 1970s and early 1980s. The most prestigious titles they won together were the NWA Tag Team Championship and WWC North American Tag Team Championship along with a number of regional tag team titles. They also had an epic ten plus year rivalry with The Funk Brothers. The Brisco Brothers were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008 and they were the 54th ranked team in PWI’s top 100 tag teams of the PWI years. With little left in the gas tank, the team had a brief and unsuccessful run with WWE in 1985. They put over teams such as Roddy Piper & Bob Orton and failed to wrestle away the tag straps from The North-South Connection,Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdock.
2. Funk Brothers
The Funk Brothers are one of the all time great pro wrestling tag teams. The team of Terry Funk and Dory Funk Jr. won numerous tag team championships for numerous promotions around the world in the mid 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s. Among the most prestigious tag team titles they collected were the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) Tag Team Championship, NWA International Tag Team Championship, and WWC Tag Team Championship. The Funks were also very successful when they toured Japan. The Funk Brothers were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009 and in 2003 they were the ninth rank tag team on Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s(PWI) top 100 tag teams of the PWI Years. However, the Funks were unable to get their hands on the WWE Tag Team Championship. They briefly wrestled as a team in WWE during the mid 1980s. Ironically, the Funks defeated future tag team champions, The British Bulldogs, numerous times before they captured the straps at WrestleMania II. The Funks preoccupied themselves in feuds with Hulk Hogan and Junkyard Dog and were never focused on winning the gold.
1. Rock ‘n’ Roll Express
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express is one of the greatest tag teams of all time. Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson won major tag team titles in numerous promotions throughout the 1980s and 1990s. They won titles in the NWA, CWA, SMW, and USWA in addition to many other regional titles. They are ranked fourth on PWI’s top 100 tag teams of the PWI years. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express had some legendary rivalries with Jim Cornett’s Midnight Express and Heavenly Bodies, The Four Horsemen, and Ivan & Nikita Koloff. They didn’t have as much success after landing in WWE in 1998 as part of the odd NWA angle. They were awarded the NWA Tag Team Championship and promptly lost them to The Headbangers. Instead of turning their attention to the WWE Tag Team Championship, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express attempted to regain the NWA Tag Team Championship unsuccessfully. They then participated in a WWE Tag team Championship #1 contender’s battle royal at WrestleMania XIV which, they lost. Morton and Gibson then once again tried regaining the NWA Tag Team Championship and again unsuccessfully against Cornett’s New Midnight Express, Bob Holly & Bart Gunn. They soon left WWE without the NWA Tag Team belts and without winning the WWE Tag Team Championship.
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