Some people love tag team wrestling and some people hate it. Looking at how the WWE has handled its tag team division over the years, you’ve got to think that it’s never been high on Vince McMahon’s priority list. It’s the place where small guys or over-the-hill guys go to play out their careers while the large singles wrestlers draw the ratings in the main event. And when tag team matches do make the main event, it’s usually just four wrestlers thrown together to forward their individual storylines.
The recent brand split only highlighted just how weak the tag team division has been. When you’ve got to unearth The Headbangers to fill out an eight-man tournament, your division is already on life support and with a few exceptions, it’s been that way since Hulkamania began and McMahon recreated wrestling as he thought it should be experienced.
Nonetheless, there have been short bursts of time when the WWE could boast a healthy tag team division. Consider the days when fans could find The British Bulldogs, Hart Foundation, Demolition, Legion of Doom, The Nasty Boys or The Rockers all wrestling on the same card. Now look at the RAW roster. You’ve got The New Day, Gallows & Anderson, Enzo & Cass and….um….ah.
With so few quality teams over the years, you’d think it would be able to remember them all, but there are plenty of tag teams who experienced a brief burst of success only to disappear after real life or real apathy from the audience intercedes. For every Hart Foundation of Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart there’s a High Energy with Owen Hart and Koko B. Ware. For every Dudley Boyz there’s a RybAxel. Let’s take a moment and jog our memories with 15 tag teams you forgot competed in the WWE.
No, MNM is not a reference to the tasty chocolate treats that won’t melt in your hands. It was the less-than-creative name given to the less-than-memorable team of Joey Mercury, Johnny Nitro and manager Melina. It’s their initials...get it? Yeah, we weren’t impressed at the time either. The trio played Hollywood elites, coming to the ring on a red carpet long before The Miz ever adopted the gimmick. Mercury and Nitro managed to capture the Smackdown brand tag team title three times, but the team disbanded after Nitro and Melina attacked Mercury following a loss. Melina and Nitro continued together since they were a real-life couple, with Melina capturing the divas title at one point and Mercury being rebranded as John Morrison. Mercury went on to be a member of CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society, but is known by modern day fans as one half of J&J Security. Morrison grew bored and now only occasionally wrestles, most recently with Lucha Underground while Mercury remains as a backstage producer with WWE.
15 Strike Force
“The Z Man” Tom Zenk and Rick Martel were bumping around the mid-card as singles wrestlers when they were teamed as The Can-Am Connection, best known for winning the first match of WrestleMania III against Don Muraco and Bob Orton Jr. Clearly being groomed for a potential run as the tag team champions everything came to a grinding halt when Zenk left the promotion. Martel went back to the singles ranks for a few weeks, but found himself the target of The Islanders’ wrath. Tito Santana couldn’t stand to see this, so he ran to the ring and made the save. In an interview the next week, Martel said his partner had abandoned him and Santana made sure Martel knew he wouldn’t abandon him and they should be a team, saying they should “Strike the Islanders with force.” In his Canadian accent, Martel said, “Yes, we’re a Strike Force!” Not exactly organic, but fans responded positive and the team went on to a brief reign as tag team champions until Martel turned on Santana and began his successful run as “Model” Rick Martel.
14 The Bodydonnas
In the mid-90s, Chris Candido was getting a reputation as a solid worker making Smoky Mountain Wrestling his base of operation. His real-life girlfriend, Tammy Sytch (although she went by Fytch in character for some reason) served as his valet/manager and her looks and mic skills were garnering attention. The WWE signed them as fitness fanatics Skip and Sunny, the Bodydonnas. Despite Candido’s talent, he was a small guy, tiny by those day’s standards. McMahon just didn’t get behind guys that size as viable threats to singles titles. Sunny, however, was getting over big with the fan base of horny 15-year-old boys who didn’t care about Hulk Hogan anymore. Enter Dr. Tom Pritchard, off his run in the Heavenly Bodies. Pritchard chopped his long hair into a bleach blonde buzz cut to match Candido. The duo went on to win the WWE tag team championship, but it was likely to just get Sunny more air time. When they dropped the tag titles to the Godwinns, Sunny left the team, which quickly disbanded. Candido moved on from the WWE, but Fytch stayed behind, becoming a huge star and ushering in the era of the diva.
12 The Mean Street Posse
So the pitch is that we find a couple of guys who look preppy and like arrogant asses, basically a pair of wrestling Billy Zabkas who can play the role of Shane’s snotty Greenwich, Connecticut friends. Who should we find to do that? Shane McMahon’s suggestion was to simply hire a couple of his real-life friends and this is how the wrestling world came to know The Mean Street Posse of Pete Gas and Rodney. A few months after their debut, Joey Abs, a legitimate indy wrestler joined the group to cover for Shane’s friends’ greenness. Credit does have to be given to the untrained workers in how fast they picked up the sport, no longer looking confused after a couple of months. Once they turned against Shane in the storyline, they basically became a group of jobbers and never planning to be wrestlers in the first place left wrestling to pursue normal daytime work.
11 The Heavenly Bodies
If you don’t consider ECW a territory or an indy organization, the last tag team of any note to come out of the end of the territory years were The Heavenly Bodies, or at least the version that consisted of Dr. Tom Prichard and Jimmy Del Ray. Managed by Jim Cornette, Del Ray was a replacement for Stan Lane when the duo became the Smoky Mountain Wrestling tag team champions. A working agreement between SMW and WWE allowed the Bodies to wrestle on many WWE cards although they were never exclusive to the company. Their biggest match in WWE was at Survivor Series 1993 where they captured the SMW tag team champions against The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express. When SMW closed in 1995, the team disbanded. Del Ray competed on the indy circuit while Pritchard stayed with WWE and you can learn his fate in the Bodydonnas entry.
10 Men on a Mission
What happens when you put two guys in purple parachute pants who can barely wrestle together and give them a manager whose gimmick is rapping, yet sucks at it? It’s Men on a Mission, one of the top tag teams during the lean “New Generation” years in WWE prior to The Attitude Era taking hold. M.O.M were also the initials of the team with Mabel and Moe wrestling and Oscar as manager. The only tag team run the team had was two days on a European tour when their opponent, Quebecer Pierre forgot to kick out. They dropped the titles they were never supposed to have two days later. Once the team got stale, Men on a Mission dropped Oscar and were turned into heels. Mo slowly morphed into Mabel’s manager and the duo became known as King Mabel and Sir Mo when the 500-pound Mabel won the 1995 King of the Ring. Fans simply wouldn’t buy him as a viable heel or threat to Diesel’s championship and the feud was dropped after Summerslam that year. That spelled the end for Men on a Mission and thankfully we almost forgot they were ever there.
9 The Machines
Nothing is more frustrating when you know the truth and can’t convince anybody around you. Such was the premise for the invasion of The Machines, a purported Japanese tag team under black and gold masks. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan had worked hard to get Andre The Giant suspended by the WWE (to give Andre time to film “The Princess Bride” and heal from nagging injuries) and was smug about things going his way for several months, until The Machines arrived. Giant Machine was clearly Andre the Giant and while the audience knew this to be true and knew Heenan was correct, it still led to fantastic comedy with Heenan screaming that there was no such thing as a 7’4” Japanese man with a French accent. Under the Super Machine mask was Bill Eadie, best known as The Masked Superstar and Ax from Demolition while Big Machine was none other than Blackjack Mulligan. The trio feuded with The Heenan Family in 1986, but when the storyline for Andre’s return as a heel for WrestleMania III began, the team quietly disappeared.
8 The Brain Busters
This is not to suggest that anybody would ever forget the duo of Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. They are forever part of the Four Horsemen and that stable is the one by which all others have been measured for 30 years. What a lot of people don’t remember is that the duo actually held the WWE tag team championship and they were the ones who ended Demolition’s record-setting 478-day reign. They won it in a two-out-of-three falls match, with one of their falls coming by way of disqualification which seemed to fly in the face of acceptable title switches. When they dropped the titles back to Demolition, Blanchard took the fall, but he was the illegal man at the time. They only last a year in WWE, but despite their superstar statuses and success as a team, their time in the WWE is largely just an asterisk in two otherwise stellar careers.
7 Power and Glory
The late 80s and early 90s was a decent time for tag team wrestling in WWE, with many successful duos coming together after less than spectacular solo runs. Such was the case for Power and Glory, made up of lifetime midcarder Hercules Hernandez and perennial jobber Paul Roma. The team only last from 1990 to 1991, but did provide Roma’s highest profile run in the WWE and gave Hercules a couple of more years of relevancy. Roma took to calling himself “Romeo” as he fulfilled the “Glory” part of the team while Hercules was a legitimate strongman in fulfilling the “Power” role. Their longest-running feud was with The Rockers at a time they were managed by “The Doctor of Style” Slick and the duo’s biggest match was at WrestleMania VII where they lost to The Legion of Doom in only 59 seconds.
6 The Funkadactyls
The only female entry on this list began their main roster debut as a pair of back-up cheerleader dancers for Brodus Clay when the big man would dance after making his way to the ring. Prior to their debut, they had both wrestled for Florida Championship wrestling, the WWE’s development group at the time. It only took a couple of months for the women to start outshining Brodus Clay, especially when they were both cast for the E! reality series “Total Divas”. It was revealed on the show Naomi was married to Jimmy Uso in real life and the marriage was acknowledged from that point forward on television. Naomi was head and shoulders the better wrestler and more charismatic performer whereas Cameron once tried to pin a diva who was laying on her stomach. After splitting mid-2014, Cameron was given the win over her partner in a Battleground pay-per-view pre show match, but Naomi won every match the duo had following. While Naomi has carved herself a decent spot in the WWE women’s division, Cameron was sent back to NXT for seasoning, but was released after only a few months.
5 The Moondogs
There were only three kinds of characters prior to Hulkamania changing wrestling forever: First, the guy who was just genuinely a bad person; next, the foreign menace and finally was the out-of-their mind insane guy. Think The Wild Samoans. George “The Animal” Steele was the perfect example of this. There was a fine line between unkempt brute and mental illness, but both meant you were supposed to boo the wrestler. The Moondogs were such a tag team. With dirty afro-like hair teased in all directions, torn-apart jeans and giant soup bones worn around their neck, there was no other team in their loony league. The first incarnation, Moondog Rex and Moondog King, captured the WWE tag team championship in the early ’80s, but King was dropped from the team after real-life visa problems prohibited him from entering the United States. Enter Moondog Spot. The duo disbanded when Rex was supposed to become Smash of Demolition. Conflicting stories exist exactly why he was ousted from Demolition so early. Spot went on to become enhancement talent before leaving wrestling. Many other indy teams have claimed the Moondog name, but King, Rex and Spot were the originals.
4 The Bolsheviks
Back in the day when simply not being from America was reason enough to hate a wrestler, there was no better “evil foreign” tag team than The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. When Sheik left WWE, Volkoff was left partnerless and simply didn’t have the star power or ability to carry on as a solo act. Boris Zhukov, straight off a run as the Russian baddie for the American Wrestling Association, was signed by WWE and quickly teamed with Volkoff as The Bolsheviks, a Russian word for friends. Americans attitudes toward Russian were softening and since neither had the charisma of The Iron Sheik, so The Bolsheviks basically served as a team designed to lose and make others look good. The team never came close to being a credible threat for the tag team championships and the only time they were singled out was when they were named Worst Tag Team by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in 1988.
3 The Colossal Connection
Many people forget that Andre The Giant continued to wrestle for years after his famous loss to Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III. Despite his increasingly limited mobility and obvious physical pain, he was inserted into feuds against Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Big John Studd and The Ultimate Warrior. Those Warrior matches were especially rough to watch as Andre was squashed in less than a minute. Nonetheless, he was world famous and still sold tickets. Haku had been a solid WWE worker, mostly known for his stint as King Haku, but ne never could progress beyond the mid-card. The wrestlers, both members of The Heenan Family, were put together as The Colossal Connection. Haku, a great worker, could take care of 90 percent of the match while fans could still say they saw the guy from The Princess Bride. The duo won the tag team championship from Demolition, but dropped it back at Wrestlemania VI in a match Andre so no action other than a misplaced kick by Haku that spurred a babyface turn. After the breakup the clock was ticking on the final couple of years on Andre’s career (and sadly, life) and Haku returned to his jobber-to-the-stars role.
2 Rhythm and Blues
In the ’80s and ’90s, the Intercontinental Title was a big deal. The holder was considered the second best wrestler for the company and headlined most of the B house shows. It was also a prop used to serve as a barometer for the holder’s future. Some, like Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior and The Rock went on massive careers. Others, like Tito Santana, Rick Rude and Jeff Jarrett banged their head against the proverbial glass ceiling once they won the belt. If you were one of those wrestlers who couldn’t succeed beyond the Intercontinental Title, the future of your career was often in doubt. The best-case scenario was to be teamed with someone and hope for a tag team title push. Such was the case for Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and The Honky Tonk Man. Both former IC champions, they were packaged as Rhythm and Blues under the management of Jimmy Hart. Their biggest moment as a team was “performing” their new song “Hunka, Hunka Honky Love” but were interrupted by The Bushwhackers who destroyed their guitars. They never gained much traction and disbanded when The Honky Tonk Man left the WWE.
1 T & A
Since MNM was such a great tag-team name with a veiled reference to the candy, the WWE went back to the uncreative name generation machine around the same time Melina, Nitro and Mercury teamed up with the creation of T&A, made up of Test and Prince Albert. T and A are their initials, but T&A also means... you know what it means. The team was nothing special, but they were notable not for their subpar run, but for the debut of their manager, a fitness model named Trish Stratus. Test and Albert were only a team for nine months in 2000 before breaking up and Stratus starting her Hall of Fame run as arguably the most popular diva on the Attitude Era. Test had a mostly undistinguished WWE career with his only major storyline as the guy who Stephanie McMahon left at the altar for Triple H and Prince Albert morphed into Albert, then Tensai and now is the lead trainer in NXT.