World Championships are the pinnacle of any wrestler’s career. Okay, maybe it’s best not to tell Jake Roberts, Roddy Piper or William Regal that, but you know what I mean. However, this does raise the question of what a wrestler does when they do finally reach the top. Some stay there and win more world titles, some plummet down the card and are never heard from again, but others turn their attentions to different titles. Today, we’ll be taking a look at 15 pairs of world champions who, after winning the big one, decided to show off by winning tag team championships together.
You'll remember some of them and others will surely make you go "Oh yeaaaah". Some you probably won't even remember at all (how many rivals has John Cena won the tag titles with again?). Without further ado, here are 15 pairs of world champions who won tag team gold together.
15 Kane and Daniel Bryan
Remember when Kane was popular? Or, you know, on TV?
The future mayor of Knox County (I hope) and the current SmackDown Live GM were thrown into an unlikely partnership in 2012 after a brief rivalry that year. Think Cesaro and Sheamus, but with more anger management classes. Kane and Bryan were originally unable to cooperate, but soon began to rack up victories, eventually defeating Kofi Kingston and R-Truth to become the WWE Tag Team Champions at Night of Champions 2013. If you haven’t seen this match, go and watch it now. There is nothing funnier than seeing Kane being pushed off the top rope onto an unsuspecting opponent. Nothing.
Team Hell No (as they were known) would hold the gold for 245 days before dropping them to The Shield at Extreme Rules 2013. This was Kane’s 11th tag team title reign in total, but The Big Red Monster has only been WWE Champion once; a reign that lasted one day in 1998. As for Bryan, whilst he would go on to become a three-time WWE Champion following his partnership with Kane, when he won the tag titles, he had only been a World Heavyweight Champion. Okay, I say only, it’s still more than I’ll ever accomplish in my life. I can’t even grow a beard.
14 John Cena and Batista
I sometimes forget that Batista was actually a wrestler. I think he’d quite like to forget it too.
John Cena and “The Animal” Batista both broke into WWE at about the same time, rising up through the ranks of WWE’s developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), and debuting on the main roster in the same year, 2002. One of them did this in a slightly more dignified way than the other, but that’s not the point here. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that Batista and Cena ended up as tag champs, considering their shared history. They won the belts on an episode of Raw in August 2008, only to lose the belts back to the team they won them from, Legacy, the very next week. This was done to further a feud between Cena and Batista, which, amazingly, Batista actually won. Well, he beat Cena at SummerSlam 2008, so we’ll give him this one.
Cena had been WWE Champion three times when he won the tag titles with Batista, but the future Guardian of the Galaxy had yet to hold the prestigious belt (he would go on to win it twice, including once from John Cena, crazy). Dave had, however, won the World Heavyweight Championship three times at this point in his career, including one reign that would be the longest single reign in the title’s 13-year history. Both of these men are decorated world champions in WWE and had some pretty good rivalries with one another, so it’s somewhat shocking to learn that they were once put together in a team and a successful team at that. Hey, now that John Cena’s doing more movies and Batista’s a big Hollywood star, maybe we’ll see these two team up again on the big screen. I’m personally hoping for a Wayne’s World remake.
13 Bob Backlund and Pedro Morales
Ah, finally, two proper ex-WWE Champions.
Sorry it’s taken this long, but here we are; the first actual example of two former WWE Champions winning tag team gold together... and it lasted for a single day. Seriously? It all went down in 1980 when Backlund, who was actually WWE Champion at the time, and Morales teamed up to face the champions, The Wild Samoans, Afa and Sika. Yes, one of those men is Roman Reigns’ dad and yes, you should probably boo him for being so. Morales (who had been WWE Champion for over two years in the 1970s) and Backlund managed to overcome the Hall of Famers and win the coveted titles in a glorious moment that would go on to define both men’s career for years to- wait, hang on a moment, what do you mean they had the belts taken away the next day? What?
Yes, in a bit of classic wrestling nonsense, the titles were vacated by Morales and Backlund due to the latter’s obligations as WWE Champion. First of all, plenty of wrestlers have held more than one championship in the WWE at the same time, so why was Backlund forced to give one up? Secondly, if Backlund couldn’t have kept the tag team titles due to him being world champion, then why was he allowed to compete for them in the first place? Wrestling and logic – bitter enemies since 1980. Anyways, this is a still a pretty momentous occasion, as it was the first time ever that two former world title holders had teamed up to win tag team gold in the WWE, something that was considered pretty huge back in the 1980s. Then again, people were impressed by anything back then. Even a brightly coloured tie could get you accused of witchcraft.
12 “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Undertaker
Yeah, I’d forgotten these two were tag champs too.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Undertaker are two of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Both men were front and centre during WWE’s most successful period, the Attitude Era, helping to rejuvenate the company and overcome WCW in the fabled Monday Night Wars. The two men teamed up in 1998 to win the World Tag Team Championships at Fully Loaded: In Your House. The duo defeated Mankind and Kane (who don’t qualify for this list because Foley wasn’t a WWE Champion until 1999) in the main event of the show following Taker delivering a Tombstone Piledriver to his brother. This gave Austin his third tag title and Undertaker his first and, to be honest, if I was going to win my first tag team championships with anyone, I’d want it to be Stone Cold. Actually, scratch that – Judy Bagwell. I want Judy Bagwell.
Austin had won his first world title earlier that year at WrestleMania XIV and The Undertaker was a two-time WWE Champion heading into Fully Loaded. In fact, this team was comprised of the two most recent WrestleMania main event winners at the time and both of those matches had been for the WWE Championship. Austin and Taker would go on to compete for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam 1998, the next PPV after Fully Loaded. The duo lost their tag titles back to Mankind and Kane after just a 15-day reign, which angered The Deadman. He would turn heel on Austin and challenge The Texas Rattlesnake for his WWE Championship at SummerSlam in an unsuccessful, but highly entertaining match. Wait a second, that means that Stone Cold was WWE Champion during his time as World Tag Team Champion. No one tells Bob Backlund. He’ll be furious.
11 “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Triple H
Ah, heel Stone Cold. This is bound to be divisive.
Following the shocking conclusion to WrestleMania X-Seven – Steve Austin turned heel on The Rock with the help of long-time enemy Mr. McMahon –, WWE needed a way to make fans boo Austin, the man they had been systematically trained to cheer for the last four years. Great plan. To accomplish this, WWE paired The Texas Rattlesnake up with another main event heel, Triple H, by having The Game assist Austin in a WWE title defence the night after Mania X-Seven. Triple H would then win the Intercontinental Championship from Chris Jericho, meaning this new team, entitled “The Two Man Power Trip,” now held two different titles. Well, when you’re on a roll. Austin and Trips issued a challenge to the World Tag Team Champions at the time, The Brothers of Destruction (spoilers), for Backlash – a tag team match where, if a Brother were to pin one of the Trip, they would win their titles, whilst if The Trip won, they would become World Tag Team Champions. And they did. Wow.
The Trip would hold the titles for 22 days until Triple H tore his quadricep, putting him on the bench for the rest of the year. Austin was obviously WWE Champion at the time and had been champion four times before and Triple H had won his first WWE Championship two years before, and was a two-time world champion by the time The Power Trip was formed. Having the words “Triple H” and “two-time world champion” in the same sentence really doesn’t feel right. This team was one of the first big examples of two high-profile stars winning the tag titles as a cohesive unit and the reputation of both men involved, included their existing title reigns, made this team one of the most interesting of The Attitude Era, despite only existing for about five minutes.
10 Kane and The Undertaker
Told you there were spoilers.
Are there any two wrestlers who careers are so intrinsically linked than The Undertaker and Kane? The answer is no. Kane debuted as Taker’s demonic half-brother, so of course the two were going to cross paths on numerous occasions. Despite feuding multiple times, these two have teamed up a bunch of times too, winning the World Tag Team titles twice in the WWE. They also had a run with the WCW Tag Team Championships in 2001, because that was a weird year for wrestling. Their first tag title win came in 2001, just 16 days after Edge and Christian went through hell to win the belts in a TLC match at WrestleMania X-Seven. The Brothers defeated the duo on SmackDown to win the gold, only to lose them to the Two Man Power Trip just 12 days later. And people wonder why tag team wrestling fell off the map.
Kane had had his single WWE Championship reign by this point and The Undertaker had been a three-time champ by now, so the duo were firmly established main event stars by the time they won the tag titles. Taker and Kane won the World Tag Championships again in 2001 at SummerSlam by defeating Diamond Dallas Page and Kanyon in a steel cage match. This victory gave The Brothers both the WWE and WCW tag team titles, as Kane and Undertaker had won the WCW Tag Team Championships from The Natural Born Thrillers in August 2001. However, because this was 2001, neither of these tag title runs lasted more than a month. 2001 was either a great year to be a tag team, because you knew you’d probably get to have a go as champion at least once, or a terrible year, because you knew that title reign would last about a week. Puzzling.
9 Edge and Hulk Hogan
I know this technically breaks my own rules, but this is my absolute favourite.
Hulk Hogan’s 2002 WWE return threw up some really interesting and bizarre opportunities for WWE. Firstly, it allowed for the “Icon vs Icon” match against The Rock at WrestleMania X8, but it also led to Hogan vs Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam 2005, which was... something. One of my particular favourite moments in this strange run came in July 2002, when, on SmackDown, Hulk Hogan teamed up with tag team legend Edge to defeat Billy and Chuck and win the World Tag Team Championships. This was Hogan’s only tag team championship victory in the WWE (which is hardly surprising considering his backstage reputation) and it would last just 19 days before these unlikely partners dropped the belts to Christian and Lance Storm. Just let that sink in for a moment; when Edge and Christian broke up, Edge got to partner with Hulk Hogan, Christian ended up with Lance Storm. If you ever needed proof of the company’s preference for Edge over Christian, here you go.
Hogan had a pretty successful 2002, winning his first world title (and his sixth overall) in nine years after he defeated Triple H for the Undisputed WWE Championship at Backlash. Edge was four years away from his first world title win (hence the rule-breaking), but come on; Hulk Hogan and Edge teaming up to win the tag titles? How could I not write about this?
8 Chris Jericho and Big Show
May I just say, this team had a rubbish theme. Some songs work in a mash-up, these two didn’t.
Terrible theme song aside, Chris and Big (that’s his first name, right?) were a hugely successful tag team in 2009. Formed after Jericho’s original partner was injured, Jeri-Show (which is just genius) held the Unified WWE Tag Team Championships for 120 days in 2009, beginning at Night of Champions. The duo would defend the belts against teams such as Legacy, Batista and Rey Mysterio and Cryme Tyme. Oh God, Cryme Tyme. Now there’s something I didn’t really want to remember.
Big Show was a multi-time WWE Champion by the time 2009 rolled around, having first won the top prize in 1999. He would go on to win the title again in 2002, becoming the first man to defeat Brock Lesnar on the main roster of WWE when he did so at Survivor Series. My, how times change. However, Chris Jericho, despite his long and varied career, has only technically held the WWE’s top prize once, when he became the Undisputed WWE Champion at Vengeance 2001. His other five world title reigns in WWE were either WCW or World Heavyweight Championships, so he almost didn’t make it onto this list. And we all know how Jericho feels about making it onto lists.
7 Chris Jericho and Edge
Yeah, that’s right, I’m messing with the chronology.
Chris Jericho and Edge were the team that broke up to allow Jeri-Show to be formed, but they were pretty successful too. The duo took on and defeated defending champions, The Colons (Carlito and Primo), and Legacy at The Bash to win the titles in 2009. However, this reign would last just 28 after Edge tore an Achilles tendon, hence the formation of Jeri-Show and subsequent tag team victory. This is also the injury that led to Edge’s surprise return and victory in the 2010 Royal Rumble, which allowed him to face former partner, Jericho, at WrestleMania XXVI for the World Heavyweight Championship. Edge didn’t win, but that’s okay. Who needs emotional pay-off, right?
You know Jericho’s situation regarding world championships, but you might be surprised to know that Edge had already completed all of his WWE Championship reigns by the time he won the tag titles with Jericho. His four WWE title reigns took place between 2006 and 2009 (his final one ending in February 2009) and his longest reign with the belt was a whopping 76 days. Fun fact, the other three all lasted exactly 21 days. Coincidence? Yeah, that’s literally all it is. Two accomplished wrestlers who found more success with the World Heavyweight Championship than the WWE Championship (Edge was a record seven-time World Heavyweight Champion), Jericho and Edge’s partnership might have been cut short by injury, but the cards eventually fell into place and we got a pretty decent world title feud out of it. Thanks, Edge’s Achilles tendon, we owe you one.
6 Triple H and Shawn Michaels
Jeez, 2009 was a good year for former world champions winning the tag team titles.
Triple H and Shawn Michaels were enjoying what felt like the 50th revival of D-Generation X in 2009 when they won the WWE Tag Team Championships. The duo had gotten together at SummerSlam to battle Legacy and had continued to team throughout the year, including facing each other in a triple threat with WWE Champion, John Cena, at Survivor Series that year. Their tag team title victory came at the TLC pay-per-view, where they defeated Jeri-Show (told you my chronology was all over the place) in a TLC match for the titles. If you have any doubt how highly Triple H values himself as a performer, this match was the main event. There were two world title matches on this show (three if you include the ECW title) and the Tag Team Championships went on last. Wow.
You don’t need me to tell you that these guys had won world titles before they became the tag champs. Triple H was an eight-time champion by this point and Michaels a three-time champ, which makes the most decorated team on this list (at the time of their championship victories). This would also be the first title Michaels would win in WWE for over seven years, as well as being the last title Michaels would hold in his WWE career, coming just a few months before his emotional retirement in 2010. Whatever you think of the DX revival, you can’t deny their success. Also, that TLC match was pretty good. Never seen so many broken ladders, which I suppose is a good thing.
5 John Cena and Shawn Michaels
Fans of wrestling trivia, this one’s for you.
John Cena and Shawn Michaels are two WWE superstars that, by all rights, should never have even competed at the same time, let alone win tag titles together. However, thanks to Michaels’ incredible longevity, HBK and Cena were able to become World Tag Team Champions in the early part of 2007, unseating the team of Edge and Randy Orton (the brilliantly-named Rated-RKO) for the honours. This set up a rather unique scenario heading into WrestleMania 23, which would see World Tag Team Champion, John Cena, defend his WWE Championship against... World Tag Team Champion, Shawn Michaels. Yes, despite being partners and both being faces, the two men were drawn to face one another at Mania 23 in an interesting dynamic the likes of which had never been seen before and have not been seen since in the WWE. Cena would retain his gold at WM23, but this would come at a price; angered at his loss, the next night on Raw, Michaels would cost himself and Cena the tag titles by eliminating John from a tag team battle royal for the championships. That’ll teach you to be successful, John!
Cena was firmly established as the main man in WWE by this point, having been WWE Champion three times at the time of his World Tag Team Championship win with Shawn. The reign he was in at this time had lasted a whopping 380 days, which, at this point, was the longest single WWE Championship for 23 years, as well as making John Cena the first man to reign as WWE Champion for over a year since Randy Savage. Nice. The Cena-Michaels team was so interesting, because it threw up so many variables; the tag team championships, Cena’s world title, the fact they were both faces, all of these factors made this championship reign must watch TV and it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see its like in WWE for some time. Because, you know, that would mean the tag division would actually have to interact with other divisions. Harsh, but fair.
4 John Cena and The Miz
What is up with John Cena and The Miz? It’s like they can’t keep away from each other.
Before their feuds were all about dressing up as each other and proposals, Cena and Miz actually feuded over the WWE Championship heading into WrestleMania 27. Miz had won the title in October of 2010 by cashing in Money in the Bank and Cena was chasing Miz and the title when, on February 24th 2011, a rather strange alliance was formed. Yes, for one night only, The Miz (who was WWE Champion at the time, screw you, Bob Backlund) and John Cena teamed up to battle the team of Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel for their WWE Tag Team Championships. Not only did these unlikely allies team up, but they actually won the titles, giving Cena his second and Miz his third tag team title reign. Alas, this was a partnership short-lived, as that very same night, Slater and Gabriel invoked their rematch clause and won the championships back, ending Miz and Cena’s reign at roughly fifteen minutes, the shortest of all time. You can bet they’re going to leave that one out of Cena’s Hall of Fame package.
By the time 2011 rolled around, John Cena had won seven WWE Championships, making him one of the most successful champions of all time, whilst Miz was in the midst of his first and thus-far only WWE title run. In what was a very strange feud that was pretty poorly received, you can understand why WWE thought they had to add to this rivalry by introducing a tag team title element to it, but having the reign last just fifteen minutes made absolutely no sense. Miz and Cena already hated each other at this point, so it’s not like them losing the belts was generating any new emotions between the two, and this moment was over so quickly, it barely even registered with the audience on the night, let alone a month later. Cena and Michaels reigned for 63 days, which is by no means a lengthy run, but it was still enough time for the tag team dynamic to affect the story in a unique way. This however, this was just dumb and it still baffles me to this day why it ever happened in the first place. Also, is it just me, or does John Cena have the weirdest history when it comes to tag team partners? We’ve had Shawn Michaels, Batista and The Miz and he was also once a champion with David Otunga. Cena needs to get a better agent, because these partnerships are all over the place.
3 The Rock and The Undertaker
An electrifying man and a dead man. Isn’t that Frankenstein?
Whilst both of these men are undoubtedly legends in the wrestling world, they are so for very different reasons. Rock was dynamic and charismatic and won fans over with his promos and his insults, whereas The Undertaker combined solid in-ring work with amazing character development and devotion to the role. Whilst the two were always around at the same time, they never really had any long-running feuds, which is so strange when you consider just how big they both were. They did, however, have a feud in 2000, after The Undertaker’s return as the “American Badass” cost The Rock the WWE Championship at Judgement Day. Like most of these reigns, this feud led to a short-lived reign as tag champs, when the duo defeated Edge and Christian to win the titles. However, in true Attitude Era form, the belts were quickly swapped back to Edge and Christian just one night later on SmackDown. For all the good stuff, the Attitude Era could be really, really bad sometimes.
We’ve heard The Undertaker’s championship history before, but what about Rocky’s? Well, despite only winning his first world title two years earlier, by the time 2000 rolled around, Rock had already won five world titles. A hugely successful act in the Attitude Era, Rock would go onto win the WWE Championship three more times, as well as the WCW Championship twice in WWE. These two men were both highly successful and popular in WWE and remain some of the biggest nostalgia pops the company have to offer. With The Rock’s Hollywood star constantly on the rise, don’t expect him to return all that often, however, and as for The Undertaker, well, we all know what happened with him. I still cry. Seriously.
2 Kane and Big Show
Did these two have a remixed theme song? If they did, it probably wasn’t very good.
Kane and Big Show have won the tag titles twice together, but things aren’t that simple. Their first title victory happened in 2005 after the pair were voted into a World Tag Team Championship match at Taboo Tuesday. Yeah, I’d forgotten that was a thing too. The duo reigned for 135 days before being unseated by, of all people, The Spirit Squad. Also something else I had forgotten about. Their second tag title win came over five years later on an episode of Smackdown, however, this time it was for the WWE Tag Team Championships, meaning this team has won both of WWE’s major tag team championships (the Smackdown tag titles are getting there, but not yet). Not too shabby, eh?
Both of these men were accomplished world champions by this point in their careers, but managed to keep their careers going through numerous tag team championship-winning partnerships. Big Show won the WWE Tag Team Championships three times and the World Tag Team Championships five times with an impressive four different tag team partners, all of which would, at one point, hold world titles. However, his tag team partner must have been pretty keen to outdo Show, as Kane has won a whopping twelve times with a record-setting seven different partners. Saying that, whilst Big Show’s partners were all world champions, Kane did win the tag titles with The Hurricane and X-Pac. You win some, you lose some, I suppose.
1 The Rock and Mankind
Because who else deserved to be number one?
The Rock and Mick Foley had one hell of a rivalry towards the end of 1998 and the beginning of 1999. The Rock won his first world championship at Survivor Series 1998 in a match against Foley. Going into the match, Foley had been backed by Vince McMahon and his evil Corporation, whereas The Rock was The People’s Champion. However, it was revealed during the match that Rocky had, in fact, been McMahon’s corporate slave all along and, in a shocking move, won the match with the help of the McMahons, leaving Foley betrayed and devastated. This led to a brilliant rivalry where Foley and Rock traded wins and the title back and forth, including an amazing moment on Raw where Foley won his first world championship (and received one of the biggest pops in WWE history) and a brutal I Quit match at the Royal Rumble 1999, when Rock hit Foley with a chair nine times, all whilst Foley’s hands were tied behind his back, unable to protect him. It was pure Attitude Era destruction and it was brilliant. Although, I don’t think Foley’s family saw it that way when they saw him get battered.
Despite this brutal rivalry, the two men did eventually come together. In the summer of 1999 (which, sadly, is not a Bryan Adams song), Mankind and The Rock formed a partnership known as, and you’ll like this, The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection. Whilst they struggled to get on at first, they eventually found their feet and were able to win the World Tag Team Championships three times in 1999, as well as being highly successful and entertaining along the way. Their “This Is Your Life” segment is still talked about today and with good reason. The team even got back together at WrestleMania XX to battle Evolution. They lost, but it was nice to see them. One of the most popular teams in WWE history, The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection is still fondly remembered to this day and its amazing to think that their title reigns came just a few months after their first world title wins. Two of the all-time greats teaming up to kick ass – what more could you possibly want? Actually, don’t answer. I know what the lot of you are like.