The legitimacy of the tag team division in World Wrestling Entertainment is a moving target seemingly traveling in a never-ending circle. Those running the WWE decide, sometimes out of nowhere, that the company wants to treat the division seriously and bring it back to the glory days of previous decades. For whatever reasons, that idea is eventually abandoned before the division is relegated either to comedy segments or to a midcard status underneath the wrestlers presented as “real” superstars. The majority of tag team acts thus fail to get over among pockets of wrestling fans, while journalists and viewers are left joking about why the WWE tag team division never becomes anything special. That cycle repeats again and again, so much so that you can just about set your watch to when the entire thing begins all over again.
There are some talented tag team acts working underneath the WWE umbrella in the summer of 2016. These units are featured as solid teams rather than as just a collection of guys brought together because of random reasons. That, however, has not always been the case throughout the 2000s. Even before the WWE vanquished and then purchased former rivals World Championship Wrestling in March 2001, there were signs that what made the company’s tag team division so much better than what had been offered by WCW was disappearing into the distance. It was after WWE acquired WCW, however, when things really went off the rails as it pertains to the company’s tag team division.
15 Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel
Remember when The Nexus debuted in June 2010, destroyed everything in sight and appeared to be the next top heel group in the WWE? That storyline barely progressed before the unit was buried miles beneath the earth at that year’s SummerSlam event. The WWE kinda/sorta attempted to breathe new life into the group numerous times, such as when acts like Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel became tag team champions. That’s random for a variety of reasons after the fact. Gabriel is no longer working for the WWE, while Slater became a comedic figure in multiple storylines, the latest involving neither Raw nor SmackDown being all that interested in signing him. It’s almost hard to believe the WWE squandered what seemed, at the time, to be a solid invasion angle. Wait. This is the WWE. That’s not hard to imagine one bit if you really think about it for more than a few seconds.
14 William Regal and Tajiri
The tag team of William Regal and Tajiri that won gold in the WWE for a period of time was random for multiple. For starters, Regal and Tajiri played different types of characters and worked different styles during this portion of their careers. The two were originally paired together for what were supposed to be comedy segments, but those vignettes actually managed to get over with fans. Those who follow more than just WWE programs featured on cable television in 2016 may have noticed that the WWE brought Regal and Tajiri back together for some laughs, due to the fact that Tajiri worked in the highly-praised Cruiserweight Classic. It does not, however, appear as if the tag team of Tajiri and Regal will once again become champions for one of the company’s brands. That’s too bad, as the two would probably make for one of the better teams in all of the WWE today.
13 Charlie Haas and Rico
We actually had to read up a bit on this one to remember how Charlie Haas and Rico linked up and became tag team champions in the WWE. Then, we remembered that the idea came about after the WWE split Haas up from Shelton Benjamin. That did nobody any favors. The WWE, for reasons that boggle the mind, did little of note with the gifted Benjamin and Haas quickly became nothing more than a guy thrown together with another guy on the roster. Haas and Rico were both talented workers, and the duo was not terrible as a team. The problem was that it was clear to anybody watching that the two were a team and were tag team champions because the WWE had no real other ideas for what to do with them. We really miss "The World's Greatest Tag Team” and we can only wonder what might have been had the WWE kept Haas and Benjamin together longer.
12 John Cena and Shawn Michaels
Just imagine the fun matches that could be produced had the version of Shawn Michaels from 2007 worked with the John Cena who wrestles in 2016. That, unfortunately, is not what happened. 2007 HBK worked with 2007 Cena in a rip-off of the storyline from a decade ago that involved Michaels teaming up with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, even though the two were not the best of friends on-screen. Just as with Michaels and Austin, Michaels and Cena becoming tag team champions was part of a long-term plan that involved the two feuding over the WWE Championship. Cena eventually defeated Michaels in a WrestleMania encounter that was not all that great and, that is, roughly ten years after it occurred, not all that memorable. Far too often, the WWE has believed it could elevate the tag team division by making two solo stars as champions. It did not work here.
11 Ric Flair and Roddy Piper
The team of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper becoming WWE Tag Team Champions in 2006 drew a pop from the in-arena audience. It probably didn’t hurt that the two legends of the industry won the titles from The Spirit Squad, a group of heel cheerleaders who weren’t appreciated by fans at the time, but who played their roles to perfection in that they were hated. Flair and Piper becoming tag team champions would have been random at any point. The two were different personalities inside and outside of the ring throughout their careers. Alas, Flair and Piper becoming tag team champions was just so that the team of Randy Orton and Edge could beat the two icons and become champions. Orton and Edge made for a random team, no doubt, but they do not earn a spot on this list because Rated-RKO was well worth the payoff in the end.
10 Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes
There are several aspects about Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes becoming WWE Tag Team Champions that were random and even a little bit silly. For starters, Rhodes teaming up with Holly was supposed to be a way to get Rhodes over with fans, as if Rhodes was somehow fortunate to be teaming up with a former world champion such as Shawn Michaels or John Cena. The entire idea behind these two becoming a team was all so that Rhodes could turn on Holly, link up with Ted DiBiase Jr. and become champion alongside DiBiase. You may remember that duo eventually sided with Randy Orton to become Legacy, one of the worst overall factions of the 2000s. Poor Rhodes deserved so much better throughout his career in the WWE. We wish Rhodes the best in his future endeavors now that he has chosen to wrestle outside of the company. Be your dashing self, Mr. Rhodes.
9 Spike Dudley and Tazz
Tazz defeated Kurt Angle, the former Olympic champion who was undefeated in the WWE at the time, in his debut. That is cause for a chuckle when you think about how quickly Tazz fell down the figurative ladder in the WWE in such a short time after that win over Angle. Injuries had already slowed Tazz down by the time that he and Spike Dudley became WWE Tag Team Champions. The two were paired together because both once worked for Extreme Championship Wrestling back in the day and they worked as champions for roughly a month and a half before losing the titles to Billy and Chuck. That would be the last noteworthy run of Tazz’s active in-ring career with the WWE, as he retired from action and became a commentator. To his credit, Tazz was a tremendous announcer while working for the SmackDown brand following the first WWE Draft and brand split.
8 Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov
Remember how we mentioned in the introduction that the WWE tag team division often loses its luster and becomes nothing more than a comedy portion of the roster? That was the case in 2010 when Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov became WWE Tag Team Champions. They were not only champions. Their run as champions lasted over 70 days. All cynicism about Marella and Kozlov serving as champions aside, you do have to give the WWE credit for turning Marella into a character who helped sell merchandise during events. Who among us can forget seeing those “cobras” throughout crowds during editions of Raw and also at local house shows? It didn’t really matter who worked as WWE Tag Team Champions during this stretch of time, something made clear by the fact that Marella and Kozlov held the belts for as long as they did. In a bit of irony for this piece, they ultimate lost the belts to Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater.
7 Kenzo Suzuki and Rene Dupree
One may want to feel optimistic about what the WWE could do with talents such as Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura in 2016. We have to hope that the company will treat those two great wrestlers better than it treated Kenzo Suzuki over a decade ago. The Suzuki character seemed to be a serious heel at first, but that gimmick was quickly abandoned. Suzuki then began working with Rene Dupree, and they became tag team champions who did little to lift the division, those titles or the careers of either man. In time, Suzuki became a complete comedic figure before the WWE moved on from this team and eventually from Suzuki, in general. We did not believe that Suzuki and Dupree were champions for 91 days until we found confirmation on the official WWE website. We understand some out there may be displeased with the current state of tag team wrestling in the WWE. Things have been worse. Trust us.
6 Chris Jericho and The Rock
Chris Jericho and The Rock, two of the greatest overall performers in the history of North American pro wrestling, became tag team champions in 2001. Was this an attempt to push the division as important or to elevate the titles? Of course not. Jericho and Rock became champions because, in storyline, they were better than any group of talent brought together by "The Alliance” that featured talents from WCW and ECW. In addition to that, Jericho and Rock were rivals at the time. They were champions, in part, to advance the idea that Jericho would eventually turn his back on the Rock and maybe on the entire WWE. This wouldn’t be all that random of a team had it led to Jericho notching even a single clean victory over The Rock, but Jericho’s run as Undisputed Champion goes down as one of the worst in the history of the company. This was random and it was a flop in every way.
5 Two-Man Power Trip
We find it hard to believe that anybody out there could justify the WWE turning “Stone Cold” Steve Austin heel back in 2001, right as the company acquired control of WCW. It is, to date, one of the worst business decisions ever made by a major promotion and the WWE has never been hotter than it was before Austin turned heel. One portion of Austin’s heel turn was to align him with his former rival Triple H. Austin and Triple H combined to form the “Two-Man Power Trip” that terrorized, among others, The Hardy Boyz and even Lita. What is more remembered about the Two-Man Power Trip is that it ended after Triple H suffered a legitimate injury during a match. That injury resulted in “The Game” being sidelined for all of the “Invasion” storyline. Truth be told, Triple H was probably better off being on the shelf during that time.
4 MVP and Matt Hardy
It should be pointed out that MVP and Matt Hardy working as a tag team provided us with multiple funny skits that made the entire experiment worth it. We are assuming the hope at the time was that MVP and Hardy working together was supposed to lead to the two having a noteworthy feud that included the two producing great matches. That did not happen for a variety of reasons, though, and neither man enjoyed runs in main events while working in the WWE. The biggest shame about this, knowing all we know in 2016, is that Matt Hardy can be something special as a heel when he is allowed to work with the handcuffs removed. Hardy’s heel work in Ring of Honor was excellent and “Broken” Matt Hardy has given some fans a reason to give Total Nonstop Action Wrestling another shot. Come to think of it, “Broken” Matt teaming with MVP could have been a lot of fun.
3 Animal and Heidenreich
We in the wrestling community have nothing personal against Jon Heidenreich for his run in the WWE. We just wish the company wouldn’t have pushed Heidenreich as somebody worthy of replacing Road Warrior Hawk, who sadly passed away in 2003. The harsh reality of the matter is that neither Animal or Heidenreich deserved to be WWE Tag Team Champions in the summer of 2005, especially when you remember that the company had a plethora of talented workers signed at the time. MNM, who were great in the ring and also at drawing negative reactions as heels, comes to mind. The WWE went back to The Legion of Doom gimmick multiple times when Hawk was alive and none of those attempts captured the magic of the team’s runs in previous decades. Animal and Heidenreich was a random pairing put together to draw compassionate reactions from audiences and customers. Looking back, it was rather classless.
2 Eddie Guerrero and Tajiri
To appreciate this random tag team, you must first remember how it came to be. Eddie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero were scheduled to face Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas in a rematch for the titles in the spring of 2003. Los Guerreros could not compete as a unit then, however, because Chavo was sidelined due to an injury. Enter Tajiri to save the day. Tajiri and Eddie defeated The World’s Greatest Tag Team, but the duo was not meant to last. Eddie and Chavo eventually revived Los Guerreros, and Tajiri and Eddie never again won a tag team championship while working in the WWE. Tajiri was a random tag team partner in the WWE on multiple occasions and he was entertaining each time. You have to wonder, looking back at Tajiri’s work from over a decade ago and also watching him wrestle during the Cruiserweight Classic, if the WWE should have done more with The Japanese Buzzsaw.
1 Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon
We are fairly certain the WWE made Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon tag team champions for a brief amount of time just so that the company could humiliate the pair of former WCW workers. After all, DDP and Kanyon held the belts for less than two weeks before they were demolished by The Brothers of Destruction, Kane and The Undertaker. Those looking to summarize the “Invasion” storyline and also the state of pro wrestling in 2001 with a single feud could use the one involving DDP and Kanyon versus Kane and Undertaker as the idea example. The former WCW guys were jokes made to job to real talents, the WWE performers. So much money was burned throughout 2001, as the WWE wasted what should have been a story for the ages. It doesn’t matter all that much that both DDP and Kanyon were proven talents. The WWE would have buried any WCW wrestlers who became tag team champions at that time.