Tag teams have provided many wrestlers the big break they needed to launch a single's career. In the process, their tag team partner often becomes irrelevant, despite the accomplishments of the tag team. While a tag team's members are expected to complement one another in various ways, they can also overshadow their partner as an individual. As a result, one partner is tossed to the curb to collect dust while the other soaks in prominence. This isn't to say that a wrestler's career is doomed after joining a tag team. Many of the forgotten partners featured on this list ended up continuing their careers for years beyond their tag-team years. However, they lived in the shadow of their partner whose popularity eclipsed theirs.
What makes a tag team wrestler better than their partner? It may be their in-ring abilities. Most of the time, however, it's their ability to connect with the crowd. Tag teams eventually get stale, and their members turn on each other. The crowd (and wrestling bookers) will inevitably choose their favorite. If a wrestler cannot successfully make themselves stand out from their partner - and their tag-team gimmick - they likely won't make it far past their tag team days. Their legacy's resting place will forever be associated with a tag team or, arguably even worse, their overachieving tag team partner.
While many of these wrestlers had Hall Of Fame-worthy runs, these groups all had the same problem: one partner overshadowed the other. Without further ado, here are 15 tag teams where one partner just wasn't pulling their weight.
One of the better tag teams of the new millennium, MNM had everything necessary to be a star. It had two talented wrestlers in Johnny Nitro and Joey Mercury, a stunning manager who could also hold her own in the ring in Melina, and an incredible gimmick. However, only one of the male tag-team members truly held their own as an individual. That individual is Johnny Nitro.
Lasting for nearly a year on SmackDown's tag team division, the team ended when Nitro (alongside Melina) turned on Mercury after losing the Tag Team Championships. Nitro would go on to win the Intercontinental Championship and the ECW Championship within just over a year's time over MNM's breakup. On the other hand, Mercury is best remembered for getting his face demolished in a ladder match and for being one of The Authority's stooges.
14 World's Greatest Tag Team
In the early 2000s, there weren't many tag teams that had nearly as much potential as the World's Greatest Tag Team. Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin were extremely solid grapplers in the ring. The team was even mentored by WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle. However, it quickly became clear that Benjamin had a stronger connection to the crowd than Haas.
After Benjamin was drafted to Raw, he was immediately put into a program for the Intercontinental Championship. Haas, on the other hand, was paired up with Miss Jackie and Rico in one of the most awkward unions of all time. Charlie Haas didn't have much chemistry with Rico's flamboyance, and the fit didn't feel as right (or as authentic). While Benjamin ended up developing his character and becoming heavily successful on the independent circuit following his WWE days, Haas didn't have the same amount of luck.
13 The Beautiful People
Over the last ten years, women's wrestling has seen a wide array of performers come and go as its standards have increased vastly. Yet, it's arguable that no women's tag team was greater (or more successful) during that time: The Beautiful People.
The group had many lineups during its time, and its most notable lineup included Angelina Love and Velvet Sky. While Velvet Sky received a decent crowd reaction for herself, it was her partner, Angelina Love, who accomplished much more during her days as a Knockout. Love is a record-tying six-time TNA Knockouts Champion and has played a wide array of characters throughout her time in TNA. While Velvet held the title on more than one occasion, Angelina Love has had more opportunities granted to her and more longevity in the ring.
12 Smoking Gunns
The last name "Gunn" is likely familiar to most wrestling fans. However, if we told you that there were two Gunn brothers, you likely wouldn't be so sure right away.
While Bart and Billy Gunn were not brothers in real life, they were in-storyline as part of The Smoking Gunns. Eventually, they'd be managed by Sunny to tag team gold. Yet while Billy Gunn would become a tag team pioneer with Road Dogg and join the most well-known formation of D-Generation X, Bart Gunn would fade into relative obscurity. His most notable achievement during his time in the WWF was winning the company's ill-fated Brawl for All tournament, which was reserved for lower-card wrestlers.
11 Money Inc.
Money Inc. was a union between Ted DiBiase and IRS, but it was really about the Million Dollar Man all along. DiBiase was and always be the true star of this tag team, which stayed together for a year and a half. They even won the WWF's tag team titles on three separate occasions, defeating the likes of The Legion of Doom, The Steiner Brothers and The Natural Disasters. Yet the pairing had a major problem: Ted DiViase had too much power.
Dibiase was already an established star, and while IRS wasn't necessarily a nobody, he didn't rival the notoriety of the Million Dollar Man. With DiBiase using his money to bribe opponents, he only took up more of the spotlight and absorbed more heat from fans. IRS felt like he was just an accountant who served the almighty DiBiase.
10 The British Bulldogs
Out of all the entries on this list, this one may be the most sad of them all. Dynamite Kid was once known as one of the best wrestlers in the world, and he even had the first five-star match, as acknowledged by Dave Meltzer. Yet a career filled with injuries would cut his impact short, and The British Bulldog would become the name that is familiar with most wrestling fans today.
Dynamite Kid's injuries would have a significant impact on moves that he performed in the ring. His younger first cousin (The British Bulldog) didn't have these limitations and was able to surpass him in the ring. This team felt like it was set up to help get The British Bulldog over, and that's pretty much what it did.
9 Harlem Heat
"Can you dig it, sucka?" was one of WCW's most memorable catchphrases. Booker T was full of charisma, and the crowd knew it. Yet you couldn't really say the same for Stevie Ray.
The real-life brothers started in WCW in the mid-1990s and won ten tag team titles during their time in WCW together. No tag team in WCW shares that with them. Yet WCW also split the team up on multiple occasions. One of the most notable times was when Stevie joined the nWo, while Booker T became a singles star. Stevie Ray wasn't a terrible wrestler, but he did struggle to live outside of Booker T's shadow. He was a member of Harlem Heat and then was placed into another group. He truly lacked his own identity. If you've watched Booker T cut a promo, perform a Spinnaroonie or land that perfect Scissors Kick, you'll see why Booker T captures so much attention.
8 Los Guerreros
The Guerreros are easily considered to be one of wrestling's greatest families. Two of its more well-known members are Eddie and Chavo Guerrero. Yet Eddie would capture hearts of more fans than Chavo would. Maybe they liked Eddie's wit and his ability to lie, cheat and steal. That charisma did not wash up on Chavo Guerrero as a singles star. The WWE tried to (white) wash up Chavo and rebrand him as Kerwin White, but the gimmick went down as one of the most poorly-received of the new millennium.
This problem didn't just persist during their time in the WWE. Even when both Eddie and Chavo were working in WCW, Eddie was often regarded as the "it" Guerrero family member. When Eddie left the company to join the WWF, Chavo would soon be rebranded as Lt. Loco as a part of WCW's Misfits in Action. It was as if the company didn't feel he was warranted enough to wear the Guerrero name, which is a shame. Chavo deserved so much better.
7 The Steiner Brothers
The Steiner Brothers were one of the most exciting tag teams to watch during the late 1980s and early 1990s. After leaving the WWE, the two of them would reunite in WCW. With Scott Steiner's evolving look and persona, it was clear that a new singles star was in the making. With his signature hairstyle gone, increased muscle mass and bleaching the absolute hell out of her, Scott began to come into his own. He was able to establish an identity as himself. Rick Steiner failed to make such changes.
While both wrestlers were talented in the ring, Scott was very innovative in his younger days. He's credited with inventing the Frankensteiner, for pete's sake. But what Scott definitely had more of was character. No one came close to being what Big Poppa Pump was.
6 The Dudley Boyz
One of the most decorated tag teams of all-time, The Dudley Boyz are also one of the most entertaining. The tag-team became extremely popular in ECW and helped make hardcore wrestling popular in large part to their gimmick of putting people through tables. Yet when they would prepare the tables, it felt like Bubba Ray was making D-Von his puppet. Bubba's catchphrase speaks for itself: "D-Von, get the tables!"
After The Dudley Boyz split up, it would be Bubba that kept the Dudley name, while D-Von transformed into a reverend. That gimmick needs to never be spoken up again. However, it did grant the WWE Universe Batista, one of the best (although controversial) wrestlers the WWE produced from scratch. Regardless, outside of The Dudley Boyz, D-Von just didn't work with the fans nearly as well as Bubba.
5 The Brothers of Destruction
This may be an unexpected pick for this list, and at first, it's easy to understand that perspective. Both Undertaker and Kane are future WWE Hall of Famers. They both have significantly contributed to the business. However, while Undertaker has been branded as a special attraction, Kane has yet to receive that recognition.
The Undertaker is a unique character in the WWE, and so is Kane. So, what makes The Undertaker "better?" It's very likely that the Deadman has switched up his character multiple times. Kane has been the Big Red Machine for 20 years. Whenever Kane's identity is switched, it doesn't last long. In addition, the Undertaker has had numerous Matches of the Year and is just as good as Shawn Michaels when it comes to in-ring psychology. Kane's not bad by any means, and Undertaker is simply that damn good.
4 The Hardy Boyz
During the Attitude Era, teenage fans screamed whenever the Hardy Boyz entered the arena. However, it felt that Jeff Hardy got a louder reaction than his brother, Matt. While both brothers were high-flyers, Jeff especially was not afraid to put his body on the line. His numerous Swanton Bombs onto tables from ladders illustrate just that.
These days, however, it feels that Matt Hardy may have a slightly stronger reaction to the crowd, in large part due to the following surrounding his 'Broken' gimmick. It's slightly interesting to think about how these roles have changed so late in their careers. While Jeff essentially kept the same character for years and years, Matt evolved his and we'll see what happens when more of their gimmick gets introduced to the WWE.
3 The Hart Foundation
The in-ring styles of Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart complemented each other in such unique ways. Bret may refer to himself as the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be, and that same standard definitely held true in tag team competition.
However, Bret Hart's greatest days would come to him after he parted ways with Neidhart for the first time. Hart would become a multiple-time World Heavyweight Champion and become one of the WWE's staples. He was able to get the crowd to love and adore him, regardless of his gimmick. Neidhart would hover around the middle of the card for many years and never achieved single's success of his family member. There's no doubt the WWE made the right call in splitting up the team and putting Bret on his own.
2 Edge & Christian
E&C was one of those tag teams that fans loved to hate during the Attitude Era. When Christian turned on Edge with a vicious ConChairTo, the plants began to be seeded to make Edge a future star. Yet the problem Christian initially had was that he was brought in as Edge's brother. Many looked at him as a smaller version of Edge, and while Edge would go on to work his way up the card, Christian struggled with a temper tantrum gimmick that Alicia Fox would not be happy with.
It took years for Christian to finally find his stride, yet he didn't secure the WWE's top title until Edge retired. Like Kane, Christian is one of the WWE's most under-appreciated talents of all-time. He definitely deserves to be placed into the WWE HOF at some point for his contributions, and he should have had the ability to deliver one last promo to the WWE Universe like his partner.
1 The Rockers
This pick is likely the most expected for a list of this and rightfully so. Shawn Michaels is often cited by many inside and outside professional wrestling as the best wrestler of all time. Marty Jannetty just couldn't compare. Shawn pushing Marty Janetty's head through a barbershop window was just what his character needed.
While the team didn't win any tag team gold, their unique offense made them fan favorites. Yet unless tag teams significantly evolve with the times, they don't last forever. Michaels would continue to build momentum as a singles star, thanks in part to Sensational Sherri. Janetty, on the other hand, would come in and out of the WWE and struggle to truly establish his own identity outside of being the former partner of the Heartbreak Kid.