If the old saying is to be believed, then it is best to keep one’s friends close, but one’s enemies closer. However, the following wrestlers might have taken that saying a bit too literally, as they ended up keeping their enemies so close, they won tag team titles with them. Whilst it might be one of wrestling’s most cliched storylines, the “odd couple” tag team champions or the duo who used to hate each other but earned each other’s respect is one that usually produces some good storylines. The dynamic of two wrestlers who hate each other being forced to team up can create both powerful drama and hilarious comedy and the finale of the two performers finally coming together to win gold can make for a heart-warming moment if done correctly. But what are some of the best examples of this storyline in WWE? Well, dear readers, you’re about to find out. To clarify, the wrestlers on this list either won tag team titles together whilst feuding with one another or as the end result of an angle that originally had them feuding. All clear? Great. Whether you’re reading this with your best friend or your worst enemy, it doesn’t matter, because here are 15 times enemies won tag team gold in the WWE.
15 Seth Rollins And Dean Ambrose (2017)
We’ll start with the most recent one.
At the time of writing, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are the current Raw Tag Team Champions. This may come as a shock to those who haven’t followed wrestling since mid-2014, as these two were bitter enemies not that long ago. Also, for anyone who hasn’t followed wrestling since mid-2014, there’s been another brand split, Jinder Mahal won the WWE Championship and Goldberg came back. Yeah, you’ve missed a lot.
Rollins and Ambrose were formerly members of The Shield (alongside Roman Reigns), but that union came to an end when Rollins betrayed his brothers-in-arms to join up with Triple H and The Authority. Following a brilliant feud between Rollins and Ambrose that culminated at Hell in a Cell 2014, the two continued on as enemies, even competing against one another for the WWE Championship a number of times. After Rollins’ face turn in 2016, Seth reached out to Dean in an attempt to mend fences. After initially refusing, Ambrose finally joined forces with Rollins to take on the evil duo of Sheamus and Cesaro at SummerSlam 2017, where the former Shield-mates were successful in winning the Raw Tag Team Championships. The redemption story between the two was brilliantly done and Rollins and Ambrose winning the titles was one of the best moments of the show, so, all in all, this was a pretty decent storyline. Just don’t expect it to last, WWE really don’t like keeping tag teams together at the moment.
14 Sheamus And Cesaro (2016)
Remember when I said this storyline was used a lot? Here’s your proof.
Shortly following Brand Extension II: Revenge of the Split (it was the best I could do), two Raw wrestlers, Cesaro (a babyface) and Sheamus (a heel), were desperate to prove to each other who the better man was. A Best of Seven series was made between the two, with the first match taking place at SummerSlam 2016 and the winner of the series getting a “championship opportunity” further down the line. At Clash of Champions, the final match of the series (which was tied at 3-3) ended in a double countout, so the series was declared a draw. Oh, well, that was worth it then.
This lead to Raw GM Mick Foley putting Cesaro and Sheamus together as a tag team and giving them a championship match against The New Day. The duo initially didn’t get along, but they eventually found a way to cooperate through a shared love of beating the living snot out of people. It’s nice to find people with shared interests, even if it does mean people get hurt. After failing to capture the titles a few times, Sheamaro (shoutout to Oli Davis from WrestleTalk, there) eventually defeated The New Day to become Raw Tag Team Champions, ending the trio’s record-breaking title reign in the process. The team are still an integral part of the Raw Tag Team division now and have since turned heel, so this is once again an example of how this sort of storyline can be beneficial in creating new stars. Also, it means I get to see Cesaro in a camouflage kilt every week, which is just the funniest thing.
13 Daniel Bryan And Kane (2012)
If Kane does get elected Mayor of Knox County, I really hope they use some of these sketches during his inauguration.
D-Bry and Kane first came to one another’s attentions during 2012, when they were both involved in feuds with then-WWE Champion, CM Punk. After both failed to capture the belt from Punk during a triple threat match at No Way Out, the two began feuding with each other, eventually colliding one-on-one at SummerSlam. The two became increasing violent towards one another and were eventually sent to “anger management classes” by then-Raw GM, AJ Lee. If you think sending wrestlers, people whose entire careers are based on being violent towards one another, to anger management is oxymoronic, then you’d be right. It’s just best not to think too logically when it comes to WWE.
After several weeks of classes, – which were honestly some of the funniest WWE skits in recent memory – Kane and Bryan were put together as a team to help them to learn to cooperate further. Despite bickering and fighting with each other in almost every match they had together, the duo somehow became number one contender’s for the tag team championships at Night of Champions 2012. At the show, Bryan and Kane got into an argument during the match, which led to Bryan pushing Kane off the top rope and onto Kofi Kingston, which led to Kane pinning Kingston and winning the tag team titles for his team. Despite the duo being objective heels, they managed to get over huge with the audience, even letting the WWE Universe decide their tag team name – Team Hell No (do you get it?) – on Twitter. This was one of the best angles of 2012/13, helped rejuvenate Kane’s career and played a huge part in getting Bryan over with the fans, which would eventually lead to his rise to the main event scene and subsequent WrestleMania XXX main event win. They may have been called Team Hell No, but this team got a pretty resounding “hell yes” from WWE fans at the time.
12 Rico And Rikishi (2002)
Ah, the Billy and Chuck angle, so much to say, so little time.
Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo were a pretty successful tag team during the early 2000s, winning two World Tag Team Championships together. Their gimmick was that of two supposedly-straight men who displayed hugely-homosexual tendencies. Whilst this gimmick caused plenty of controversy (as WWE tends to do with any gimmick surrounding a minority group), it did get plenty of attention and introduced the WWE to Rico.
Debuting as Billy and Chuck’s “personal stylist”, Rico was just as flamboyant as his clients and garnered just as much heat for it from the fans. Rico made his in-ring debut on SmackDown in 2002, teaming with Billy and Chuck to defeat the team of Maven, Al Snow and Rikishi. However, just a few days later at Judgment Day, Rico was forced to team up with one of the men he helped defeat, Rikishi, to take on Billy and Chuck for the tag team titles. In a stunning upset, Rikishi pinned Chuck to win himself and Rico the titles, Rico’s first championship in WWE, mere days after his in-ring debut, However, this reign lasted just 16 days, before Rico turned on his partner to re-align with Billy and Chuck, helping them win the gold back. This was a short-lived, but complicated storyline that, admittedly, did help elevate Rico to a higher standing on SmackDown, so I suppose it paid off in the long run. Fun fact, Rico was also a tag team champion in developmental and also won the titles with an odd partner – none other than Mr. John Cena. Can you imagine if Cena had been given Rico’s gimmick and Rico had been pushed as the face of the WWE? That I’d like to see.
11 John Cena And Batista (2008)
If you forgot these two were tag team champions together, then don’t worry, you won’t be the only one.
In the summer of 2008, future Guardian of the Galaxy Batista was drafted from SmackDown to Raw. Batista was a huge star and a bona fide main eventer, so his move to the red brand was definitely going to shake things up. He immediately butted heads with another top Raw star, John Cena, and it was clear that a match between the two was going to happen at some point in the future. It turned out that about 63 matches between these two would take place in the future, but we’re going to focus on this one for now.
Cena and Batista joined forces on the August 4th 2008 episode of Raw to battle the World Tag Team Champions, Ted DiBiase Jr. and Cody Rhodes, for the tag team titles. Rhodes and DiBiase were, of course, defeated by the two former world champions, giving Batista his fourth tag team title and Cena his second. And you thought WWE were bad at creating new stars nowadays. In fairness, DiBiase and Rhodes were able to win the titles back just one week later, as the animosity between Cena and Batista proved too much for the champs to coexist. After losing their titles, a match was made between John and Dave (which makes them sound like two dads fighting in a school parking lot) for SummerSlam, which Dave won. This is one of many, many examples of WWE using the tag team championships as a means of further a storyline between two main eventers and, as you’re about to find out, they’re especially prone to doing this when John Cena is involved.
10 John Cena And Shawn Michaels (2007)
There’s a bit more to this than meets the eye.
In 2007, John Cena was WWE Champion. Actually, for most of the mid-2000s, John Cena was WWE Champion, but let’s not dwell on that. WrestleMania 23 was just around the corner, so Cena needed an opponent. A match was held to decide a new contender for Cena – a triple threat between Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton and Edge, the latter two being tag team partners at the time. Michaels won the match, which set up an interesting face vs face main event for Mania 23. Now, for those of you who were reading this list casually up until now, you might want to stop what you’re doing and pay serious attention. Things are about to get complicated.
You see, prior to Michaels earning a WWE Championship match against Cena, HBK and Big Match John had actually teamed up to defeated Randy Orton and Edge for their World Tag Team Championships, making Cena and Michaels the new champs. Michaels winning the number one contender’s match made for some interesting tension between the two champs, as neither man technically turned heel on the other, but there was still some animosity between the two. Michaels even sabotaged a tag match between him and Cena and The Undertaker and Batista by superkicking Cena to give the other team the win. John should definitely have spoken to Marty Jannetty before agreeing to team up with Shawn. Cena would go onto defeat Michaels at WrestleMania to retain his WWE Championship (which was the first and so far, only WrestleMania main event to feature the tag team champions facing one another), before HBK turned heel on Cena the next night on Raw, eliminating him from a Tag Team Championship battle royal. This was an interesting storyline that saw two faces feuding with each other over a world title, whilst simultaneously holding the tag team championships too.
It was a good feud and produced an awesome match at Mania, but, looking back at it now, it’s easy to see where someone could get confused following this storyline. Or maybe I’m just dumb. Yeah, it’s probably that one.
9 John Cena And David Otunga (2010)
If you thought Cena and Batista’s tag team title reign was short, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
If you were a WWE fan in 2010, you knew who The Nexus were. A group of rookies from the first season of NXT (back when it was a reality TV show and the wrestlers sold ice cream to people) led by Wade Barrett, The Nexus debuted in dramatic fashion in June 2010, tearing up the ringside area and attacking John Cena. This was the beginning of a feud between Cena and The Nexus that would last for most of the rest of the year and, sadly for The Nexus, spell doom for the group, as Super Cena quickly defeated them all and made the rookies look about as threatening as a mouse with arthritis.
In the middle of this feud, at WWE’s Bragging Rights Pay-Per-View, John Cena actually teamed up with Nexus member David Otunga to challenge Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes for the WWE Tag Team Championships. The story going into this match was that Barrett had defeated Cena in a match at Hell in a Cell, where the stipulation was that, if Cena lost, he would be forced to join Nexus. As per this stipulation, Cena (begrudgingly) was forced to team with Otunga and they only went out and won the belts. Yep, John Cena, a future 16-time world champion, won tag team titles with a man who'd become one of the worst commentators in wrestling history. Cena made his dislike of Otunga and The Nexus as a whole pretty obvious, so much so that, the very next night on Raw, Barrett ordered Otunga to lay down for fellow Nexus members, Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel, keeping the titles within Nexus, but away from Cena. So, Cena had a one-day title reign with David Otunga. Wrestling really is a strange beast, isn’t it?
8 John Cena And The Miz (2011)
For God’s sake, John, don’t you get on with anyone?
The most recent of Cena’s four tag team championship reigns came on the February 27th 2011 episode of Raw. Cena, at the time, was embroiled in a feud with then-WWE Champion, The Miz. Cena and Miz were set to face one another in the main event of WrestleMania XXVII, but not before being teamed up to challenge Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel for their WWE Tag Team Championships on Raw. Despite hating each other at the time, Cena and Miz got on well enough to win the titles, making Miz a double champion. So, you might think, how did WWE tell this intricate story of friend and enemy being forced to co-exist, mere months before their huge showdown? Well, to be honest, they didn’t.
Mere moments after their championship victory, Slater and Gabriel immediately invoked their rematch clause and fought Cena and Miz in another match. Miz and Cena began disagreeing with each other, which ultimately lead to Miz laying out Cena, allowing Slater and Gabriel to reclaim the titles on the very same night they lost them. Despite being champions for less than one day, Cena and Miz were forced to co-exist as champions, but it failed to add much to their story. Whilst the Cena-Michaels victory added an interesting dimension to the storyline, Cena and Miz’s victory was far too short-lived to have any meaningful impact on their story. Also, WWE devalued their entire tag team division by using their top tag team belts as a mere plot device in a world title feud. All-in-all, I didn’t like this. But hey, it gives me an extra point for this list, so I can’t complain.
7 The Rock And Chris Jericho (2001)
IF YA SMELLLLLLLLLL... a short tag team title reign.
At SummerSlam 2001, The Rock defeated Booker T to become WCW Champion. No, that wasn’t a typo (keep out of those comments, you vultures!), WCW had been bought out by WWE this point and its top championship was being defended on WWE TV. Rock held onto the gold for 63 days, before losing the gold to Chris Jericho at No Mercy, following a hot feud between the two. Yep, WWE put the WCW Championship on Chris Jericho, a man who, in many people’s opinions, should have in the main event in WCW years before this, after the company closed its doors. Talk about insult to injury.
One night later, on Raw, both The Rock and Jericho teamed up to face The Dudley Boyz for the World Tag Team Championship, having supposedly put their differences aside. Both men were part of the WWE against the invading forces of WCW and ECW and so decided to put their personal problems to one side to come together for the sake of their company. Rock and Jericho were successful in their quest, defeating The Dudleys to win the gold. However, this would be rather short-lived as, just eight days later, Rock and Jericho lost the belts to Booker T and Test on an episode of SmackDown, reigniting their hatred for one another. Whilst you could argue that Jericho and Rock weren’t technically feuding during their reign, the two were definitely still at odds with one another and the quick transition from partners to rivals after they lost the belts shows that the plan was always to use this title reign as a continuation of the two men’s feud. This is a short, oft-forgotten reign, but part of much bigger storyline that eventually saw Chris Jericho become the first ever Undisputed Champion at the end of 2001. I wish WWE commentary would bring that accolade up more often...
6 Chris Jericho And Chris Benoit (2001)
Wow, 2001 was not a good year for Chris Jericho and tag team partners.
Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit had easily one of the best storylines of 2000/2001. The two did battle in some amazing matches, either together or as opponents, including an insane ladder match at the 2001 Royal Rumble for the Intercontinental Championship. Both men also took part in a triple threat for Kurt Angle’s Intercontinental and European title at WrestleMania 2000. Over the course of about 15 months from 2000-2001, Benoit and Jericho would have an interesting on-again, off-again chemistry as a tag team, finally coming together to win the World Tag Team Championships from Steve Austin and Triple H in May 2001, in what many people call the greatest match in Raw history. And, going by the current state of WWE TV, it’s not likely that accolade will disappear any time soon.
After Benoit and Jericho lost the tag team titles (as a result of Benoit suffering a major injury during a TLC match), they once again found themselves at odds, fighting each other and Steve Austin in a triple threat match for Austin’s WWE Championship at King of the Ring 2001. Whilst Jericho and Benoit were never truly enemies during their tag team title reign, they were never truly friends, as their past rivalries were still a driving factor in the storyline. The fact that the two Chrises (I have no idea what the plural of “Chris” is) went straight back to fighting after they lost the titles shows that they never truly made up, which put a unique dynamic on two of the best pure workers in WWE at the time. Now, go and watch that tag match from Raw, seriously, it’s so good.
5 The Undertaker And Steve Austin (1998)
The Undertaker and Steve Austin’s feud of 1998 is one of the things that restores my faith in humanity. It was that good.
The Texas Rattlesnake and The Deadman were involved in a fairly complicated rivalry over the summer of 1998 that also featured Taker’s demonic half-brother, Kane, and everyone’s favourite lunatic, Mankind. At King of the Ring, Austin lost his WWE Championship to Kane, following accidental interference from The Undertaker (who was attempting to take out Kane). Whilst Austin won the title back just one night later, there was still animosity between him and Taker, something Austin’s archrival, Vince McMahon, was quick to exploit. McMahon put Taker and Austin together to battle Kane and Mankind for the latter’s World Tag Team Championships at Fully Loaded, in an attempt to drive a wedge even further between Austin and The Deadman. However, like the XFL, IcoPro and Tout, Vince’s grand plan was a spectacular failure.
Taker and Austin won the match and the titles, making Austin both world and tag team champion and Undertaker, well, just tag champion, but hey, that’s still an achievement. However, over the course of their reign, it became clear that Austin and The Undertaker were not exactly best of friends, perhaps due to The Undertaker’s status as number one contender to Austin’s WWE Championship at the upcoming SummerSlam. Austin and Taker’s reign came to an end after just 15 days, losing the titles back to Kane and Mankind on an episode of Raw, adding further interest to their SummerSlam title match. Whilst this is once again an example of WWE using their tag belts to further a world title storyline, at least Austin and Taker held the belts longer than a few minutes and their short-lived title reign was part of much more intricate story with Kane and Mankind. Fans of the Attitude Era fondly remember this storyline with good reason and this tag team title reign, however short it was, played a part of it.
4 4, Matt Hardy And MVP (2007)
Yeah, I thought it was weird to see Matt Hardy win a title with someone other than Jeff too.
At Judgment Day 2007, Montel Vontavious Porter (or MVP for short) won the United States Championship from Chris Benoit. His first feud following this title win was against Matt Hardy and the two did battle for the US title at The Great American Bash, with MVP winning the match and retaining the gold. This led to a pretty great feud between the two, in which one would claim to be better than the other at literally everything. This led to numerous hilarious segments, including an arm wrestling match, a beer drinking contest at SummerSlam and Matt Hardy taking on Evander Holyfield in a boxing match, after MVP pulled out at the last minute. Man, they don’t make feuds like this anymore.
On an episode of SmackDown in August, MVP was bragging to SmackDown General Manager, Teddy Long, that he could win the WWE Tag Team Championships with anybody, including “Teddy’s grandma”. Sadly, we didn’t get to see MVP team up with Mrs. Long, but Teddy instead decreed that the next person to walk into his office would become MVP’s partner for a tag team title match. That person was Matt Hardy. Whilst neither man wanted to team with the other, the match was made. The following week, Hardy and MVP teamed up to defeat the duo of Deuce ‘n’ Domino (probably the worst tag team champs ever) to win the gold, making MVP a double champion with the man who was after his US title. Their reign ended after 77 days and the two immediately went back to fighting with one another, with MVP taking Hardy off TV with a knee injury (in real life, Hardy was recovering from an actual injury). Hardy would return at WrestleMania XXIV to cost MVP the Money in the Bank ladder match, before finally defeating Porter for the United States Championship at Backlash. The perfect example of long-term booking done right, the MVP vs Hardy storyline was, in my opinion, executed to perfection and the competition segments between the two remain some of my favourite in WWE history to this day. Seriously, they got Evander Holyfield. How can anyone disagree with that?
3 Steve Austin and Dude Love (1997)
He’s not quite on the same level as Cena, but Austin never really liked his partners either.
On May 26th 1997, Stone Cold and Shawn Michaels teamed up to win the World Tag Team Championships from The British Bulldog and Owen Hart on an episode of Raw. However, just 49 days later, Austin and Michaels were stripped of the belts, due to Michaels getting suspended for a backstage incident involving Bret Hart. Michaels and Hart were basically the two kids in school who never got on and were always being pulled apart by teachers.
A tournament was set up to see who would face Austin and partner of his choosing for the vacant belts, which was won by Hart and The Bulldog. One of the men who offered his services to Austin as a partner was Mick Foley, then under his Mankind persona. Austin, the people person that he is, called Mankind “a freak” and said he wanted nothing to do with him, consigning himself to facing Bulldog and Hart alone. The match came around and, rather predictably, Austin got his ass whooped by the two men. However, just as hope looked lost, Foley came down to the ring to help Austin, not as the “freak” Mankind, but as a brand-new persona; the peace-loving hippie Dude Love. Austin and Love managed to coexist and win the match, crowning them the new tag team champions. Whilst Austin and Foley weren’t feuding directly at the time, the whole “freak” thing made it pretty clear that Austin didn’t like Mick. This was a brilliant storyline that helped develop the character of Mick Foley in WWE, adding another layer to the madness that already existed. Also, we got to hear The Dudester’s theme music for the first time, which is a pretty groovy tune.
2 Kurt Angle And Chris Benoit (2002)
Ah, The Smackdown Six, good times, good times.
During the Brand Split, Version 1 (nothing to do with Matt Hardy), WWE were faced with the issue of which show got which championships. Whilst the world championship was originally defended on both shows, the World Tag Team Championships were made exclusive to Monday Night Raw, leaving SmackDown without tag team titles. To counter this, SmackDown GM Stephanie McMahon created a huge tag team tournament that would culminate at No Mercy 2002. For those of you with good memories, you’ll remember that as the show that saw Triple H take on Kane to win both the World Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships. You know, the feud in which Triple H claimed Kane had killed a woman in a car crash and then had sex with her corpse. Maybe my “good times” statement isn’t 100% accurate.
The main story of the tag team tournament was the relationship between the team of Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit. The two originally did not like each other, but were put together in this tournament by McMahon. Over the course of the tournament, Angle and Benoit overcame their differences in a really rather heart-warming story, eventually earning a spot in the final against Edge and Rey Mysterio. In one of the best tag team matches ever to take place on a WWE Pay-Per-View, Angle and Benoit overcame Edge and Mysterio to win the gold in a truly excellent moment, making them the first ever WWE Tag Team Champions. The story was well told, the match was amazing and it was a truly history-making moment. In all honesty, this is probably my favourite overall feud on this list. It’s just a shame that we can never talk about it again.
1 The Rock and Mankind (1999)
I know I said the Angle-Benoit thing was my overall favourite thing on this list, but I’ll always have a soft spot for The Rock and Sock Connection.
Outside of Steve Austin (and perhaps Triple H), no one had a more memorable rivalry with The Rock in the Attitude Era than Mick Foley (who wrestled as Mankind at the time). From late 1998 to early 1999, the two legends engaged in an absolute war over the WWE Championship, trading the title back and forth between one another numerous times. There were countless memorable moments between the two; The Rock’s heel turn at Survivor Series 1998, Mankind pinning Rock under a forklift in an empty arena match that took place during the Super Bowl Halftime Show and Mick’s first ever world title victory on Raw in January 1999, which is still one of the loudest crowd reactions in WWE history. These two took each other to hell and back over the course of these few months, so you can imagine everyone’s surprise when they managed not only to coexist, but do it successfully.
On an episode of Raw in August 1999, The Rock extended a challenge to the World Tag Team Champions, The Undertaker and Big Show. Taker and Show had been attacking Rock in recent weeks and The Great One had had enough, so he challenged the two to a handicap match later on in the show. The odds were firmly against Rocky here, but help appeared in the least likely of place, when his old enemy, Mankind, offered to help Rock in his quest. Whilst the two’s feud had come to an end some months before, the duo were still presented as enemies up to this point, so it was with reluctance that Rock accepted Mick’s help. This decision paid off for The People’s Champion, as one double People’s Elbow later, Rock and Mankind were champions and The Rock and Sock Connection (a reference to Mankind’s use of a sock, Mr. Socko, in his finishing move) was born. The duo would go onto win the World Tag Team Championships three times over their existence and would take part in some of Raw’s most memorable segments, including the legendary “This Is Your Life” segment between the two that reached a whopping 8.4 rating on TV. Don’t ask me to explain what that means, just accept that’s good.
The Rock and Sock Connection might not have existed for very long, but they remain a lot of people’s favourite tag teams and the chemistry between Rock and Foley was definitely one of the big reasons behind this. Mick and Dwayne just worked well toegther, as friends or enemies, and, thankfully for the WWE Universe, we got to see them as both.