The WWE is a strange, up and down wrestling company, as they will sometimes book some great television, sometimes book the wackiest, most insane stories you’ve ever seen, and sometimes they will book phenomenal wrestling. But one thing they do better than any other wrestling company is the breakup of tag teams. Their general booking of tag teams isn’t quite as good, however, as we haven’t seen a deep, interesting tag team division for quite some time, but when it comes time for tag teams to go their separate ways, WWE can break the hearts of even the most hardened audiences.
Unfortunately, that’s not always a good thing, as WWE can break up tag teams too early, at their peak, or way too late, which turns some teams into unfortunate cases of “What if?”, but sometimes they can time it so well, that the fans can’t help but be in shock.
Today we are going to look at 8 breakups that WWE timed perfectly, and 7 that for whatever reason, the WWE just didn’t time too well.
15 Timed Well – Edge And Christian
Alongside the Hardy Boyz and The Dudleyz, the real-life best friends (and former kayfabe brothers) Edge and Christian were one of the most important and innovative duos in WWE history, and while you might think that breaking up such an entertaining and charismatic pairing is a bad idea, it wasn’t, and it was timed perfectly, as the WWE had bigger plans in mind for both of them. Only Edge really came through on those promises of greatness, but the break was a good one, as Christian became more and more jealous, and that jealousy erupted when Edge won the 2001 King of the Ring tournament, a tournament in which Christian was eliminated in the semifinal. He attacked him viciously in their hometown of Toronto, and it broke the two apart for the first time in WWE, with both men having great success as solo characters.
14 Didn’t Time Well – The Wyatt Family
When Bray Wyatt debuted alongside his Family members Erick Rowan and Luke Harper, the group had limitless potential, as Wyatt was a fresh character that we had never seen before, and after their war with The Shield at Elimination Chamber 2014, it looked like they would be one of the biggest groups the WWE had ever seen. They then added the Monster Among Men, Braun Strowman, and despite losing several big matches, fans were still invested at that point, and they looked like a genuine threat to the WWE’s main event. However, something weird happened in between that, because for some reason, the company broke them up, and after realizing none were having success, they were brought back together, only to be broken up in very odd circumstances again. Say what you will about Bray Wyatt, but he has all the talent in the world, and the WWE continue to let him down every step of the way, and breaking up the Wyatt Family not once, but twice in poor fashion is just another example of that.
13 Timed Well – Cody Rhodes And Hardcore Holly
Throughout his WWE run, Cody had immense success as a tag team wrestler, with many partners from Ted DiBiase and even his brother Goldust, but his first major success in a tag team came with the veteran Hardcore Holly. When it was time for Cody to move on, the WWE absolutely nailed the breakup. After a brief run as Champions, the two were set to face off against Ted DiBiase Jr. and a surprise partner, but when that partner turned out to be Rhodes, they immediately won, and became one of the more hated teams in the company. Those two went on to some great success alongside Randy Orton in The Legacy, as well as on their own as a team, and it was all kick started by a fantastic breakup, that was both a surprise and perfectly timed.
12 Didn’t Time Well – American Alpha
NXT has been amazing over its five-year existence, but only recently has the tag team division become just as good as the other phases of the developmental brand, and that’s on the back of teams like Enzo & Cass, The Revival, DIY and American Alpha. But unfortunately on the main roster, two out of those four teams have already perished, and while there’s good reasoning backstage behind the first, there is no reason American Alpha should no longer exist. In Chad Gable and Jason Jordan, WWE had two immensely talented former amateur wrestling stars who worked well together, but it was announced on RAW in a stupid gimmick that already looks like it's failing that Jordan was Kurt Angle’s son, leaving the future of both men up in the air. Even with Gable now teaming with the returning Shelton Benjamin, there is the possibility that the two will reunite very soon, because the timing of this was horrible, and broke up one of the most promising tag teams the WWE has had in years.
11 Timed Well – #DIY
The tag team division was always one of the weaker points in NXT’s meteoric rise to what it is today, but with the outbreak of teams like Enzo & Cass, American Alpha and The Revival, it became one of the most important facets of the show. But one team that no one saw breaking out the way they did was #DIY, a team comprised of two independent standouts, Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano. Together, the two slowly rose to the top, and with an incredible rivalry against The Revival, solidified themselves as one of the top teams in the world, but their future is as singles stars, and knowing the main roster wouldn’t be able to do that story justice, NXT decided to break them up in truly heartbreaking fashion to close out NXT TakeOver: Chicago. As this was very recent, and the two were both injured at the time, we don’t know how both men’s careers will turn out, but in terms of shock value and potential for storyline once Ciampa returns, the WWE got this spot on.
10 Didn’t Time Well – Enzo & Cass
The WWE has featured some truly incredible tag teams over the years, but it seems Vince McMahon and the creative staff still have no desire to push the tag team division as a serious focus of the main roster programming. That combined with his love for big, muscly men is perhaps the main reason why the company decided to split up Enzo & Cass, who were at one point the hottest property on the WWE’s books when they made their debut from NXT. We can all see why Vince McMahon made this decision, as Cass seemed fairly charismatic when paired with the Smacktalker Skywalker, but so far on his own, it’s safe to say that Big Cass has been a disappointment, and breaking up the duo was a big mistake, one that WWE hopefully rectifies.
9 Timed Well – The Rockers
This is perhaps the most infamous tag team breakup in wrestling history, and the reason why it was timed so well is because Shawn Michaels was becoming ready to break out as one of the industry's top stars, so to kickstart his character off the right way, the WWE had him put his partner Marty Jannetty's head through the Barber Shop window in perhaps the most memorable segment in WWE TV history. Michaels indeed lived up to all the promise as the Heartbreak Kid, and even exceeded most people's expectations, as he is recognized as the greatest performer in WWE history. Unfortunately, not all splits are made equal, as Jannetty went on to become a footnote in WWE history.
8 Didn’t Time Well – The Hardy Boyz
The Hardy Boyz are one of the greatest tag teams in the history of the WWE, and while they went on to success after their original break, they were much better together, so in 2009 when Jeff Hardy was defending his World Title and Matt turned on him, it seemed wrong, not because they were teaming together at the time, but because it felt unnecessary. They were both going on to major success as singles stars, so pitting them against each other certainly wasn’t the best use of their time, and it just would have been much better for them to stay on the same side, while pursuing titles as singles stars. To be completely fair, this really shouldn’t have been a break at all, so it’s hard to say that it wasn’t timed well, but the WWE just pushed something that the fans didn’t want at the time.
7 Timed Well – DX (Triple H And Shawn Michaels)
Triple H and Shawn Michaels have some long history together, both behind the scenes and on our TV as founding members of D-Generation-X, so after their breakup when HBK was ready to return to the end, it only made sense for it to be paired with Triple H. But it wasn’t exactly the way we all expected. Coming back from a serious injury, Michaels wanted a friend to help him work his way back to confidence, so Triple H turned on him in a brutal attack, and the two would go on to have one of the most brutal rivalries in WWE history, with The Game cracking a sledgehammer over HBK’s back several times. Although they weren’t a team directly before this, they were always connected, and this breakup was timed absolutely perfectly for both men’s careers.
6 Didn’t Time Well – MNM
MNM – the trio of Melina, Johnny Nitro and Joey Mercury – was one of the best tag teams during the Ruthless Aggression Era, and they were as well-rounded a unit as the WWE has seen in quite some time, and while their breakup may not have been entirely intentional on WWE’s part, it’s still sad to see such a talented group break up so prematurely. We knew that the WWE saw Nitro/John Morrison as a future star, but he was pushed way too early as a result of this breakup, and while he’s gone on to success in Lucha Underground and other promotions, the WWE would have had a huge star on their hands had he stayed with MNM a little longer to learn just a bit more. In the end, this breakup came from Mercury violating Wellness Policies and getting suspended, as well as his brutal facial injury suffered at Armageddon 2006, so it had to happen. But it still wasn’t a great way or great timing to end such a great act.
5 Timed Well – The Mega Powers
WWE has always lacked the ability to consistently book great tag team wrestling, so we sometimes see singles stars come together whether it be for the tag team gold, or just a story between the two, and none have come together the way The Mega Powers did in the '80s, and it remains the most memorable coming together of stars we’ve ever seen (close second is the Two Man Power Trip from the early-2000s). The story of Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage was a long one, and the two headlined nearly every big event the WWE had for years during their run together, but when jealousy got in the way, The Mega Powers imploded. This was a long burn story, and was told incredibly well by the WWE, so to say that this was timed anything less than perfectly would be plain wrong.
4 Didn’t Time Well – The Dudley Boyz
Whether or not you see them as the greatest tag team in wrestling history, The Dudley Boyz will easily go down as the most successful of all time, and that includes their time with WWE, ECW, TNA and even success with the New Japan Tag Titles (even though they won them during time with TNA), so the decision by WWE to split them in the early 2000’ just wasn’t smart. Their split in TNA that led to the amazing Bully Ray character was great, because they let Bubba Ray have the singles success he never could have had in the WWE, but it’s safe to say that Bubba and Reverend D-Von were never going to get over. Thankfully this didn’t last too long, as the WWE realized their mistake, but it was still one of the worst tag team breakups in WWE history.
3 Timed Well – Kevin Owens And Chris Jericho
This is a bit of an odd entry on the list in a way, as Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens never teamed together to win Tag Team titles, or even contend for them, but their alliance was one of the main stories on Monday Night RAW for quite some time, and when they decided to end that alliance during the brilliantly put together "Festival of Friendship," it proved just how great a heel that Kevin Owens can truly be. To most fans, myself included, this should have culminated in a Universal Championship match at WrestleMania, but unfortunately part-timers proved too important again, and we had to settle for a U.S. title match, but the feud following this turn was great. Jericho wasn’t meant to stick around too long on this recent run, but he was so well-received that he stayed as long as he could, and a rivalry with Owens was the perfect way to end it. Let’s just hope he is back soon.
2 Didn’t Time Well – The Brotherhood (Cody Rhodes/Stardust And Goldust)
Comprised of real life brothers Cody and Dustin Rhodes, The Brotherhood was a very well timed tag team, as they were the ones to dethrone Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, The Shield in a huge moment, but it was what came after their title run and title loss that was timed poorly. Sure, some people liked the Goldust vs. Stardust storyline, and to get to that point, it made sense that the duo would win the Tag Team titles, but after teaming together for a while and seemingly moving on from each other, the two of them together still just wasn’t a great idea, and WWE let them stay together for way too long. It could have been worse, as they could have held on longer, but their rivalry was decent, so we can’t blame WWE for keeping them together as long as they did. Yet it turns out that it just wasn’t very good, an example of how poor the tag team division was at the time.
1 Timed Well – The Shield
As you will have noticed throughout this list so far, the WWE sometimes has a tendency to let tag teams drag on to the point where they become horrible to watch, and while you may have hated Seth Rollins turning on The Shield, breaking them up while they were at their peak was a great move, as it increased the shock value, as well as preventing the inevitable dragging-on stage to begin. While The Shield were obviously a trio, they still deserve a spot on this list as absolutely no one in the wrestling world saw this one coming, and at the time, all three men were ready to break out as solo stars, making this the perfect time to break up the groundbreaking faction. It seems in recent times that the WWE may be interested in getting all three men back together, as Rollins and Ambrose are again teaming together, but one can never forget one of the most shocking moments in RAW history which saw the trio implode right before our very eyes.