In many cases, two is better than one, and fans of tag team wrestling would argue this is definitely true in the world of sports entertainment. Granted, not all tag teams are created equally, and plenty of them only made both participants worse through association with one another. As is all too often the case, this doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of success in the WWE Universe, due to Vince McMahon turning a blind eye to certain athletes lack of talent should he see dollar signs in their T-shirts or catchphrases. This wouldn’t be that bad except for the fact McMahon also splits apart tag teams that should have been legendary way too early to make room for this lesser duos on his roster.
Unfortunately, for every tag team that deserved more time to come into their own, there was another horrible pair that stuck together way past their expiration date. In all fairness, a few of the good teams broke up out of borderline necessity, so it’s not like McMahon is solely to blame for these issues. On the other hand, him and every other promoter to keep booking the lousy ones are indeed responsible for these lame duos stinking up wrestling rings ages after they should have went their separate ways.
Keep reading to learn about 8 tag teams that broke up too soon and 7 that were around way too long.
15 BROKE UP TOO SOON: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Dude Love
The entire point of Dude Love coming to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s aid during a handicap match against Owen Hart and the British Bulldog is that the Rattlesnake didn’t want anybody’s help at all, especially not some retro freak with multiple personalities. Of course, that’s also what made the pairing prime for brilliant comedy, making it a huge shame the team had all of three weeks together to play that role. Granted, this was one of the splits beyond WWE’s control, as it wasn’t long after Austin and the Dude won the WWE Tag Team Championships that Stone Cold suffered his life changing neck injury at SummerSlam 1997. Obviously, the two could never defend their belts, and by the time Austin had recovered, he was far too big a star to be slumming in the tag ranks any longer.
14 AROUND TOO LONG: The Road Warriors
Absolutely no one is going to argue with the fact Hawk and Animal, aka the Road Warriors, were the most dominant and destructive tag team in the 1980s. Hell, the two had a great deal of success in the 1990s as well, which easily could have put them near the top of the list for that decade in addition. Therein lies the problem, however, as neither Hawk nor Animal had much gas left in the tank by the time the Attitude Era had arrived. In fact, the returns had been diminishing since well before then, but that didn’t stop both WCW and WWE from giving them continued employment and a number of Tag Team Championships to go with it. Had the Road Warriors merely stuck together as a nostalgia act on the indies, there would be no harm nor foul. Unfortunately, they had to implode on national television.
13 BROKE UP TOO SOON: MNM
If nothing else, MNM can at least take solace in the fact they spent more than a full year together, beating most of the teams on this half of the list. Despite this comparative longevity, the two were still arguably the best duo on the WWE roster when they were forced apart, and John Morrison simply wasn’t ready to become a solo star yet, either. Granted, it’s another case that wasn’t entirely WWE’s fault, as Morrison’s partner Joey Mercury broke the Wellness Policy and got himself suspended, driving them apart. However, once Mercury’s suspension was up, WWE should have allowed the team more than a cursory extra month together as a team…then again, this was also out of anyone’s control, as a serious face injury again drove Mercury away from the scene.
12 AROUND TOO LONG: Men On A Mission
Despite all the appropriate criticisms levied upon Mabel and his tag team with Mo, Men On A Mission, one thing needs to be remembered: the team was extremely popular for a brief period in the early ‘90s. In part due to Oscar’s energetic raps and with a little help from the novelty of big men getting funky, this purple trio and their positive message enthralled New Generation crowds. Had WWE capitalized on this unique quality for a year or so, M.O.M. would probably have a better place in history today. Unfortunately, they kept wrestling the worst match on the card for three years running, and even remained connected on screen after Mabel started his main event solo run. At that point especially, the two should have been as far away from one another as possible, just one of many reasons no one could take Mabel seriously against Diesel.
11 BROKE UP TOO SOON: Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart
Easily the most tragic of all the cases where neither Vince McMahon nor anyone in WWE was necessarily at fault, even talking about why Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart were forced apart can bring a tear to the eyes of a wrestling fan. At Over the Edge 1999, Owen Hart fell to his death while entering the ring for a match against The Godfather, obviously ending his career and any storylines he was involved with in the process. While some people decried the team with Jarrett as a waste of Hart’s talents, the counterargument is that the pair had some pretty great chemistry together. It was clear WWE didn’t intend on using Hart for anything substantial, so another great run in the tag division would have been a decent way for his career to slide down with dignity. Instead, they felt he should take one last stab at The Blue Blazer, unaware what the decision would cost.
10 AROUND TOO LONG: The New Age Outlaws
At the peak of their powers, the “Road Dogg” Jesse James and “Badd Ass” Billy Gunn could get arenas filled with tens of thousands of people to chant along with their fairly lengthy catchphrases. Granted, this wasn’t entirely unusual behavior for the Attitude Era, but it nonetheless cemented the New Age Outlaws as one of the most popular duos of their day. It’s hard to blame WWE for wanting to keep this success train going for as long as possible, but perhaps due to the pair’s relationship with Triple H, they might have been given just a little bit too much time. The Outlaws broke up no less than three times in their original run and always got back together with diminishing returns, and the more recent nostalgia comeback was more embarrassing than an extension of their legacy.
9 BROKE UP TOO SOON: The Hollywood Blondes
For proof Vince McMahon isn’t the only promoter who has trouble knowing when to have a tag team call it quits, look no further than arguably the greatest duo in WCW history, the Hollywood Blondes. Well, the greatest duo on paper, that is, as “Stunning” Steve Austin and “Flyin’” Brian Pillman weren’t given anywhere near the time they should have had to grow. From day one, the Blondes were hilarious, vicious, and downright evil all at once, laughing at the heroic teams in the company while stomping them into what would later be known as mudholes. Some might argue these two had to break up soon so Pillman and Austin could become stars in their own right, but that doesn’t make sense, since neither of them did so in WCW. As usual, the only reason WCW split these two up is because they were too darn good together, and that made higher ups who didn’t want them getting popular scared.
8 AROUND TOO LONG: The Headbangers
Representing fans of industrial music everywhere, thus giving Jim Ross a chance to reference Marilyn Manson every week, the Headbangers seemed pretty out of place in the WWE Universe during the Attitude Era. Wrestling crowds are definitely into loud music and heavy metal, but something about Mosh and Thrasher’s unhealthy punk personas made them appear more like goofballs than serious threats to their competition. Regardless, WWE decided to keep the duo around for over three whole years, albeit with only a short month as Tag Team Champions in late 1997. This lack of title success only makes their lengthy existence all the more confusing, although Mosh could point out they weren’t likely to find any luck in the solo division either, what with his runs as Chaz and Beaver Cleavage. Even so, it hardly justified why WWE would drag them out of the doldrums over two decades later for a one off comeback.
7 BROKE UP TOO SOON: Marty Jannetty And The 1-2-3 Kid
Modern-day WWE loves buzzwords and catchphrases, and were Marty Jannetty and The 1-2-3 Kid in their prime right now, they’d probably get heralded as the biggest underdogs in company history. They basically were considered such at the time, thrown together due to their small stature and flashy moves after an impressive showing as partners in a Survivor Series match. Success was quick to find the duo from there, as they challenged The Quebecers for the WWE Tag Team Championships on Raw barely a month after forming. Not only that, they won, albeit for a very brief period of time, as they lost the gold back to Jacques and Pierre the next week. Almost immediately afterwards, the team immediately split up. It was the best work Jannetty had done since the Rockers split and Kid wouldn’t find anything better until changing his name, so there’s really no good reason why they did so.
6 AROUND TOO LONG: The Godwinns
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…unless you’re in the wrestling business and the goal is making money, in which case it’s completely reasonable to cut your losses and move on. Amazingly, Vince McMahon never got the memo in regards to the Godwinn cousins, Phineas I. and Henry O. The duo made their debut in WWE as country bumpkin hillbillies and was immediately rejected by fans for doing so. McMahon still gave them a cursory week as WWE Tag Team Champions, though, plus another day with the gold next year, after they turned into angry bumpkin hillbillies. Despite fans rejecting this idea as well, McMahon defied all logic and repackaged the Godwinns for a third time, now as suit-wearing thugs named Mark and Dennis (Henry O. and Phineas I.'s real names) and called Southern Justice. Unsurprisingly, it failed for a third time, at which point WWE finally realized the Godwinns were never going to work out.
5 BROKE UP TOO SOON: Goldust and Booker T
When WWE first split the Raw and SmackDown rosters into two, the red brand became a pretty dire place for fans of the company to spend their Monday nights. One rare diamond in the rough during this era was the unlikely partnership of Booker T and Goldust, two great solo wrestlers paired together for tenuous reasons at best. All it took was one hilarious vignette where the two reviewed movies, and WWE noticed they possessed incredible comedic chemistry that needed to be delved into. For seven glorious months, the pair shared countless hilarious segments with pretty much the entire roster, only to get unduly separated so Booker T could go on a solo run. That would have been all well and good if Booker became World Champion, but he didn’t, meaning two great ideas were lost at once.
4 AROUND TOO LONG: The Nasty Boys
As nasty as they wanna be, Jerry Sags and Brian Knobbs have been literally stinking up wrestling rings since the mid 1980s. Actually, the two were high school friends who entered the business together with the sole intention of forming a tag team, and neither man would ever look back on the decision. That’s great for the two of them on a personal level, but it was a real drag for fans who wanted to watch wrestling matches, and not two big unprofessional bullies with no respect for how the business is supposed to work. Somehow, their many shortcomings were never noticed by WWE, WCW, or even TNA decades later, with all companies hiring the Nasty Boys and giving them high profile roles. Quite frankly, giving these two stiffs a shot in the spotlight in the first place was a mistake, and letting them stay there for two decades is a downright travesty.
3 BROKE UP TOO SOON: The Heavenly Bodies
Of all the teams on this list, The Heavenly Bodies is probably the most obscure, no doubt leaving a few long term wrestling fans wondering who they even were. This is a little odd, considering the team was somehow able to compete in both WWE and WCW in a single year, all the while remaining the top duo in their home company of Smokey Mountain Wrestling, as well. Sure, the specifics were a little different—in WCW, it was Tom Prichard and Stan Lane, while Jimmy Del Ray replaced Lane by the time they hit WWE. Nonetheless, the aesthetics and management of Jim Cornette remained the same throughout, and the group could have easily been big stars in either promotion. Instead, all they got was a cup of coffee before getting told to head back on down to SMW where they could wrestle great matches in front of much smaller crowds.
2 AROUND TOO LONG: D-Generation X
All right, ‘90s kids, calm down—we’re not talking about D-Generation X the stable, in either the original version or slightly tweaked DX Express version formed during the McMahon-Helmsley Regime. The version of D-Generation X that seriously overstayed its welcome was the two-man power trip consisting of Shawn Michaels and Triple H. The two started dominating the roster more than a decade after they had both reached the top of the wrestling world as solo stars, flaunting their power to earn vanity runs as Tag Team Champions while keeping up and coming teams out of the spotlight like only they can. On the one hand, it’s at least nice that HBK and HHH gave a rest to their self-promoting efforts at always being in the main event, but the horrible sophomoric “comedy” segments they created as a team took away any good will we could offer.
1 BROKE UP TOO SOON: Enzo And Cass
How long is too long for a tag team to stick together? Maybe we should have asked that question at the beginning of the list, but instead, we simply hope the examples thus far have proven it’s different in every case. Some teams should have split up the minute they got together, and others, like Enzo Amore and Big Cass, still had gas left in the tank after four years together. More than that, neither Enzo nor Cass have been able to find themselves as solo performers yet, running the risk that WWE ruined two promising careers by splitting them apart. Enzo still needs lots of help with his ring work, while Cass is clueless on the microphone, explaining why they were so great together and why WWE was foolish to end their team all at once.
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