There have been countless tag teams in WWE history, some have become immensely successful while others have been a disappointing flop. But what makes for a successful tag team? Beyond the obvious creative direction given to them by the powers that be, one would think that the relationship between the wrestlers in the tag team goes a long way.
Sure, WWE loves to take in-ring rivals and force them into a tag team. If done properly, it can make for entertaining TV. It doesn’t always work out this way in real life. Those in a tag team need to rely on each other and have a certain level of chemistry in order for the tag team to be believable. Edge and Christian and The Dudley Boyz are examples of successful WWE tag teams that worked because, among other things, WWE fans were able to buy into them. Being a member of an elite tag teams takes hard work, and you get to know your tag team partner better than most of the roster after spending countless hours together. If nothing else, being friends with your tag team partner makes working with them a whole lot easier!
But what happens if the tag team partners hate each other? The chemistry will likely not be there and their success will come to a grinding halt. Sometimes it’s just the personalities of the wrestlers involved or its sheer jealousy that makes the partnership toxic.
We will take a look at eight of the tag teams in WWE history who hated each other as well as another eight tag teams who were actually best friends outside of the squared circle.
15 HATED EACH OTHER: EDGE AND RANDY ORTON
In the mid-2000s, Edge and Randy Orton teamed up to form the ultra-heel tag team, Rated-RKO. They were hellbent on taking out Shawn Michaels and Triple H, who reunited on D-Generation X. While Rated RKO had a successful run as a heel tag team, WWE opted to keep the team together longer than both men had anticipated.
This was what ultimately led to some resentment and tension between the tag team partners. Edge was especially frustrated with being in a tag team longer than expected because he had previously been a top singles star. He felt that being in a tag team was a demotion and wanted to go back to his spot as a singles wrestler. Moreover, he feared being punished for Randy Ortons’ wrongdoings while they were in a tag team. This is probably fair since Orton had his fair share of problems in the mid-2000s.
14 BEST FRIENDS: THE DUDLEY BOYZ
An initially weird gimmick turned out to be a huge success (who knew?)! D-Von and Bubba Ray were the stars of the popular WWE tag team The Dudley Boyz during the early-mid 2000s. The kayfabe half-brothers became one of the most decorated tag teams in pro wrestling, and have become famous for their usage of tables in matches.
Bubby Ray and Devon clearly have a very strong bond with each other. When they went to TNA in 2005, they stuck by each other’s side and continued teaming together. Although under different ring names, Bubba and Devon have wrestled all over as a tag team. Even though they may not be actual brothers, you wouldn’t know it based on how well they get along in and out of the ring since they first started teaming together.
13 HATED EACH OTHER: HULK HOGAN AND RANDY SAVAGE
Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage teamed up to form the Mega Powers. On paper, they looked unbeatable and had everything going for them. After all, two of WWE’s biggest stars were in a tag team together! What could possibly go wrong?
A lot, as it turns out. Savage was married to Miss Elizabeth, and he became paranoid over Hogan having an affair with her. As a result, Savage and Hogan were real-life “frenemies” at the best of times. That type of relationship is never good for tag team partners who are supposed to at least appear to be on the same page at all times. Of course, there is also the longstanding rumour that Savage gave Hogan a black eye before WrestleMania 9. For what it’s worth, Hogan claims that he and Savage made amends before Savage sadly passed in 2011.
12 BEST FRIENDS: EDGE AND CHRISTIAN
This one is probably no surprise to most wrestling fans. They have been best friends since childhood when they grew up together in Orangeville, Ontario. They watched wrestling together and even trained together! It really is remarkable that Edge and Christian were able to make it to WWE, the largest wrestling promotion, together.
They became a wildly successful tag team together, and had epic feuds with the Hardy Boys and the Dudley Boyz. Even though Edge had greater lasting power in WWE as a singles star and had a more successful career in general than Christian, the two still remain close. It says a lot when Edge revealed he had initially wanted Christian to retire him, if Edge had not been forced to retire from injuries. Of course, Edge and Christian still work together on their popular podcast show.
11 HATED EACH OTHER: SHAWN MICHAELS AND MARTY JANNETTY
Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty formed the iconic tag team, The Rockers. Though they were both talented and athletic wrestlers who fans could not help but cheer for, there was no love lost between the two of them. When Shawn Michaels famously superkicked Jannetty through the barbershop window, it marked the end of the tag team – something both men probably were looking forward to.
It has long been speculated that Michaels and Jannetty had wanted to split for years, but WWE resisted. Many wrestlers who worked with them during the 1980s and 1990s had claimed that the two of them would constantly try to “one-up each” other to try to become more famous and advance in the company. Of course, Michaels would evidently win that battle as he went on to become one of the biggest stars in WWE.
10 BEST FRIENDS: SHAWN MICHAELS AND TRIPLE H
While Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty may not have gotten along, his long-time teammate Triple H is one of Michaels’ best friends. That probably shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone who has at least casually followed WWE over the past decade or so. Triple H and Shawn Michaels were the most prominent members of D-Generation-X and had some wild moments that made for can’t miss TV in the mid-2000s, mostly at the expense of Vince McMahon. While they had their differences in the 1990s, but they made amends and have always had electric on-screen chemistry. Even their on-screen feuds with each other were epic, most notably the early-2000s storyline when it was revealed that Triple H had attacked Shawn Michaels.
It says a lot about the depth of their friendship when Shawn Michaels asked Triple H to induct him into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011, an honour that could possibly be reciprocated when Triple H enters the Hall of Fame.
9 HATED EACH OTHER: DAVEY BOY SMITH AND DYNAMITE KID
Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid, or The British Bulldogs, should be considered one of the greatest tag times of all time, and for good reason. They had a fierce and tenacious wrestling style that revitalized the tag team division in WWE and in America. Smith was a powerhouse wrestler while Kid was the high-flyer so they complemented each other perfectly on-screen and eventually made them wildly popular and successful wherever they went. There weren’t many tag teams like them when they were at their peak as a team.
Unfortunately, the real-life cousins’ relationship disintegrated off-screen. In 1988, the duo had a brutal fight that spilled over and caused fractures within the Hart family. Dynamite Kid became injured to the point where he needed a wheelchair, while Davey Boy continued wrestling as “The British Bulldog”. Needless to say, Dynamite Kid was none too pleased with this and continues to bad mouth Smith even after Smith’s death.
8 BEST FRIENDS: JBL AND RON SIMMONS
John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) and Ron Simmons both had respectable careers as singles wrestlers in WWE, but they were very successful as a tag team when they formed the APA or the Acolytes. JBL and Simmons both share similarities off-screen that luckily translated onto WWE TV and made for some great moments. While originally portrayed on WWE TV as cultists, their common interests became more heavily emphasized. The pair were allowed to incorporate their love for drinking beer, cigars, and gambling – in other words, they had creative freedom to bring their real life similarities onto WWE TV.
It surely makes it much easier to be part of a tag team when you know that you and your partner have much in common, as JBL and Simmons did. When JBL had the honour of inducting Simmons into the WWE Hall of Fame, JBL called it “one of the greatest moments of his life”.
7 HATED EACH OTHER: HARDCORE HOLLY AND CRASH
During the Attitude Era, WWE decided to put Hardcore Holly, Crash Holly, and Molly Holly together to form a Holly family trio. The idea was that they were cousins who couldn’t get along, but they managed to make it work out together. Hardcore Holly and Crash Holly were meant to be polar opposites on TV, which they were. Hardcore was a no-nonsense tough guy whereas Crash was the more relatable, undersized underdog wrestler.
Hardcore Holly and Crash were also very different backstage as well, which led to tensions between the two. Hardcore Holly preferred to keep to himself, while Crash tended to be more of a partier. This caused Hardcore Holly to grow weary of Crash and resulted in the two often butting heads.
6 BEST FRIENDS: LUKE GALLOWS AND KARL ANDERSON
Most WWE fans think of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson’s current WWE stint as a disaster because they has been criminally underused. Gallows and Anderson have stuck by each other’s side for several years now, and seem to be inseparable. They were first paired up together in New Japan Pro Wrestling, where NJPW management saw the in-ring chemistry the two had. After having bonded together for several years now, it is obvious that they are a couple of “Good Brothers”. They both made a point of coming over to WWE at the same time, and have never not been with each other since their first time together in November 2013. The tag team are seemingly always together, both in and out of the ring.
5 HATED EACH OTHER: PAUL LONDON AND BILLY KIDMAN
Paul London was a new star entering WWE when he was partnered up with the veteran Billy Kidman, who struggled to adapt to WWE television. Both London and Kidman were very talented wrestlers with similar wrestling styles, so it made sense to put them into a tag team. You probably couldn’t fault WWE for thinking the veteran Kidman could help mentor London, while providing them both with something meaningful to do.
Alas, the differences at where their respective careers were at led to a poor working relationship. London revealed that he consistently felt disrespected by Kidman while working together. London also felt that Kidman seemed jealous of London’s athleticism, and that London was able to perform a much more athletic version of Kidman’s finisher. Their tag team union ended abruptly, and London went on to have a more successful tag team run with Brian Kendrick.
4 BEST FRIENDS: KEVIN OWENS AND SAMI ZAYN
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn may have only just started to become friends on WWE programming, but they have been friends since childhood. Both of them grew up in Quebec, Canada, and trained and travelled around the world wrestling together. Ever since debuting together in 2006, Owens and Zayn have both wrestled for notable promotions such as Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Ring of Honour, and obviously WWE. Even though they have portrayed bitter rivals on TV for most of their careers, they are best friends outside of the ring. Sami Zayn was even Kevin Owens’ best man at his vow renewal ceremony earlier in 2017!
Owens and Zayn have just started to wrestle together as a tag team on SmackDown Live, and hopefully WWE fans get more a chance to see the two of them fight alongside each other more often!
3 HATED EACH OTHER: ROCKY JOHNSON AND TONY ATLAS
Rocky Johnson and Tony Atlas reached previously unseen levels of success in WWE at a time when it was very difficult for African-American wrestlers to do so, in the 1970s. As single wrestlers, both Johnson and Atlas had impressive pedigrees but they reached new heights when they were put in a tag team together. Johnson and Atlas defeated The Wild Samoans to become the first African-Americans to win the WWE World Tag Team Championship.
Unfortunately, their on-screen chemistry didn’t always translate to when they were off camera. Atlas developed some drug problems that affected him professionally, resulting in him missing shows. This led to real-life friction between the two, and the wildly popular team dissolved shortly thereafter. Looking back, it is a shame that the two Hall of Famers weren’t able to make things work. Who knows what could have been?
2 BEST FRIENDS: ROAD DOGG AND BILLY GUNN
The New Age Outlaws was the tag team of Road Dogg and Billy Gunn, that became very successful in the late 1990s. The tag team sold a ton of merchandise and almost always received a very strong reaction from WWE audiences, and for good reason too. The New Age Outlaws, as a tag team, are likely WWE Hall of Famers, and may have been one of the greatest WWE tag teams in their prime.
There has never been any indication of tension between the two of them, in fact all signs point to them getting along very well off-screen. They even departed WWE together and went on to continue as a tag team, under different ring names mind you, with TNA. Road Dogg and Billy Gunn eventually made their way back to WWE for a brief run between 2012 and 2015, before retiring.
1 HATED EACH OTHER: Heidenreich And Road Warrior Animal
While Road Warrior Animal and Hawk were as close as any tag team could be, so naturally when the WWE decided to pair Animal with a failed singles star as a replacement for Hawk, he wouldn't be embraced by Animal the same way. While Animal was actually very open to the idea at first, the pair's relationship soon dissolved when Heidenreich was accused of showing up late to airports and Heidenreich was also accused of substance use. Heidenreich fired back at Animal when the accusations were made. Unsurprisingly, this cheap rendition of the LOD didn't last long, although they did manage to capture the tag team titles. Still, this was a pairing doomed to fail, as there was no way Heidenreich could have filled Hawk's shoes.