Perhaps more than any other division in wrestling, tag teams lend themselves to be some of the most controversial characters in the business. Perhaps it's the notion of taking a loud, obnoxious character and multiplying all of his antics by two. Maybe with the lack of emphasis put on the division, tag teams feel the need to be even more outlandish than singles stars to stand out and set themselves far apart from the pack. Or it’s just the absolute path of carnage two men can carve out together.
Like the times, wrestling has changed over the years. In the early seventies, Dusty Rhodes and Dick Murdock were the villainous West Texas Outlaws. But what was considered controversial forty years ago (bringing a donkey around), would be considered tame today. The years go by and the times change. Cheating babyfaces are the norm now, but it was unheard of 30 years ago. Brash heels who talk trash about anyone and everything and bad guys who destroy the competition were the new thing 15 years ago, and those acts got over and became what was thought of as badass babyfaces.
Then, things got more complicated, as we started to see groups of wrestlers form, rather than just duos. With that, we got a bunch of factions that pushed the boundaries of the wrestling industry.
Bob Dylan sang “The Times They Are A–Changing.” They change much more in wrestling than in any other sport. Every era has its fair of controversial tag teams, but some do seem tamer than others depending on the era. With such a subjective sport and a subjective word in mind, here are the 15 most controversial teams in wrestling history.
15 The Killer Bees
We might as well start off our list of controversial tag teams with an unconventional choice – the mega white meat babyface tandem of B. Brian Blair and Jumping Jim Brunzell, The Killer Bees. The tag team was known for taking heaps of punishment to make their opponents look like badasses and of course their sweet Double Dropkick finisher. These two were the WWE's picture of sympathetic babyfaces, except for the fact that they would don masks to trick the referee and their opponent. Think Twin Magic long before The Bella Twins could form complex thoughts. While not OMG-levels of controversy, a pair of babyfaces cheating regularly to win was unheard of at the time.
14 The Young Bucks
The Young Bucks are one of the best tag teams out there today. But this list isn't about the best tag teams right now, it's about the brash and controversial ones. The Dave Meltzer-loving brothers make this list not because of their Superkick parties in the ring, but because of their antics outside of it. While at an Indy show in the 2014, the duo infamously did not shake Booker T's hand as they should have. This might sound silly to us marks, but this tradition in the sport dates back to its carney roots and is still adhered to today. The Bucks have also been ripping off The Kliq for years, and even though the WWE has copyrighted "too sweet" and The Kliq's hand gesture, the Bucks haven’t stopped yet.
13 The Hollywood Blonds
Before the nWo, WCW did not have a lot of edgy performers. But then a young and Stunning Steve Austin met a young and pre-deranged Flyin' Brian Pillman and The Hollywood Blondes were born. Both looking to make an impact, The Blondes went against the grain and were not your typical heel tag team. They would rip into and make fun of their opponents and the old guard. The duo made their bones by targeting stalwarts like Arn Anderson and Ric Flair. It seems tame now, but for their time, what The Blonds did was revolutionary. Had it not been for WCW's short-sightedness, we'd have more memories of the pair than just the early days of the future Loose Cannon and Texas Rattlesnake.
12 The Awesome Truth
In late 2011, R-Truth and The Miz were somehow not just relevant, but the most controversial tag team in the PG Era of WWE. The pair were frustrated about how they were being used and blamed Triple H and the powers that be for all of it. Citing what they believed to be a conspiracy theory that was keeping them down, they began assaulting the referees that were "screwing" them. They left little choice but for The Game to fire them. Proving it didn't take much to be edgy in the early days of the PG Era, The Awesome Truth wouldn't let a little thing like being fired stop them from storming the 2011 Hell in the Cell Pay-Per-View and destroying CM Punk, John Cena, and Alberto Del Rio before getting arrested and carted off.
11 D-Generation X
The greatest faction in WWE history was groundbreaking, brash, braggadocios, revolutionary, and 100% controversial. In 1997, HBK stopped being a preening babyface and Triple H was transitioning from Connecticut blue blood to badass. The pair broke kayfabe live on Raw in a promo that shattered boundaries. Nothing in wrestling was the same after that. D-Generation X catered to, and acted like, the immature teenagers that adults all hate and rebellious teen fans love. They interrupted random matches, had barbeques on stage, and had little people come to the ring dressed as their opponents. They did all of this while asking the better looking girls in the crowd to pull off their tops, which led to the controversial group dominating The Attitude Era.
10 The APA
There were a lot of controversial personalities during The Attitude Era and The Acolyte Protection Agency rank right up there in both of their forms. First, as the Satanic-like devotees of The Undertaker, abducting and kidnapping anyone The Deadman demanded. When The Corporate Ministry disbanded, the duo became a pair of hired guns. They provided protection for anyone who paid the right price. When they weren’t beating people up for money, the group were going above and beyond the TV–14 rated WWE and skewing more towards MA as they smoked cigars, drank beer, and played poker every Monday night.
9 The Nation of Domination
The Nation of Domination were one of the most controversial groups of the Attitude Era. Fronted by Farooq, the group was a cross between The Black Panthers and The Nation of Islam. Back in the early nineties, there still was a big gap as far as the amount of wrestlers of color vs. white wrestlers, so fans were able to understand Farooq's complaints. The group was also involved in several controversial gang warfare style angles with Los Boricuas, The Hart Foundation, and DOA.
8 The Hart Foundation
In 1997, Bret Hart was tired of constantly being screwed (before he was actually screwed) and would ask his brother and brothers-in-law to bury their hatchets and come together as a family. Along with family friend Brian Pillman, The Hart Foundation did something no one has ever done before or since – they were able to maintain their ridiculous levels of popularity all throughout the world, while in the U.S. they were the biggest heels in the company. Bret and company would launch into tirades about how disgusting the American fans were by cheering for degenerates and bad guys. They would take it all one step further and point out how bad this country was as a whole, while their beloved Canada was God’s Country and America was shaped like a toilet bowl.
7 The Mexicools
Say what you will about Eric Bischoff, but for the most part he at least treated his Luchadors with respect. When Juventud Guerrera, Pyschosis, and Super Crazy all finally signed with the WWE, hopes were high that these three legendary Luchadors would get to shine on the grand stage. Instead, under the guise of deriding the WWE's lack of Mexican Luchas and many Mexican stereotypes, The Mexicools would often ride out to the ring on their own "Juan Deere" lawnmowers, decked out and complete with fuzzy dice. The group mocked then Mexican-president Vicente Fox. They mocked it all and even had fuzzy steering wheels and giant blow-up Corona bottles.
6 The Fabulous Freebirds
While not the first people to turn on a friend and go heel, The Fabulous Freebirds betrayed the favorite sons of Texas in the middle of Kerry Von Erich's cage match against Ric Flair and began one of the biggest rivalries ever in wrestling. Even though they wore it more to represent their Georgia roots, they also rocked the Confederate flag on the way to the ring. To give you an idea of how popular The Von Erichs were in Texas, look no further than this feud, where everything the 'Birds did to the family almost incited riots throughout Texas.
5 The Gangstas
If you didn't watch ECW, you wouldn't know about one of the more twisted acts that Paul Heyman had – New Jack and Mustafa, The Gangstas. They were a team that were so controversial, that they never got a shot in WWE. Before joining ECW, the pair used Affirmative Action to win matches with just a two count in Smokey Mountain Wrestling. But in ECW is where we'd learn just how insane the duo was. They'd come out to Dr. Dre and Ice Cube's Natural Born Killerz, which would play throughout the entire match. They would be known for bringing a variety of weapons to the ring, including staple guns and grim reaper scythes. Even in a promotion where hardcore was the standard, these two stood out with their antics as the most dangerous.
4 The Outsiders
Guaranteed contracts, shoot-style interviews, backstage brawls, and a reality-based storyline structure? It all stemmed from the nWo, which all began when Scott Hall walked onto Nitro and issued the challenge to WCW. It seemed real, like Razor Ramon had been sent from WWE to do some damage. A few weeks later Kevin Nash joined his Kliq brother. The duo's invasion of WCW didn't seem like an angle at all. Before the Internet, many fans just weren't sure of what was going backstage and therefore had no clue Hall and Nash had signed. They attacked WCW wrestlers with baseball bats, had the cops called on them, and ran amok. Their boss liked to say "controversy creates cash" and The Outsiders were his license to do just that.
3 Billy and Chuck
There are some wrestling detractors who like to think it's just two dudes rolling around in their underwear, not that there's anything wrong with that. But then there's Billy and Chuck, whose tag team was blossoming into something more as the duo became increasingly affectionate towards one another. Rico joined them as their stylist and they had planned a commitment ceremony on SmackDown, which became an instant controversy that saw Eric Bischoff and 3-Minute Warning invade and destroy the pair. To add to the drama, GLAAD had been helping the WWE gain main stream coverage of the angle under the pretense that there would be a wedding on TV. They immediately denounced WWE, feeling they had been lied to and misrepresented.
2 The New Age Outlaws
Speaking of Billy, he has found his way onto this list twice. Only one team could be more brash than he and Chuck and that was The New Age Outlaws. Road Dogg and Billy Gunn epitomized The Attitude Era and took no prisoners while doing so. They would make fun and run down all of their opponents, make references to smoking pot, and as part of DX, their genitals. On their way to infamy, they shaved Hawk's Mohawk and launched Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie off the Raw stage while locked in a dumpster, leading to the first ever Dumpster match at WrestleMania XIV.
1 The Dudley Boyz
Controversial can only start to describe The Dudley Boyz. Vile, disgusting, and evil adds to it, and they hadn't even put a single woman through a table yet. Their early days in the WWE, which featured the pair powerbombing Divas through tables, make those damn Dudley look like saints in comparison to what they did in ECW. Besides delivering a 3D to Beulah McGillicutty through a table, The Dudleys were fans of setting tables on fire and using staple guns and other instruments of destruction. But like any great heel team, the brothers insulted fans, promotors, their opponents, some more fans, and those fans' mothers, inciting riots just about everywhere they went. The Dudleys were the reason that the Elks Lodge in Queens, New York into The Madhouse of Extreme.