Tag teams are tricky things. Just putting together two talented guys doesn’t always work as they can’t always gel in the ring despite good looks and talent. However, sometimes, throwing two guys together can pay off. Jesse James and Billy Gunn were floundering in singles work but when teamed up, The New Age Outlaws became a fantastic team. Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E were also struggling but as The New Day, they’ve became the hottest act around for a while. While brief, pairing The Rock and Mankind in 1999 led to RAW's highest rated segment of all time, with "This is Your Life". But sometimes, even teams that did well can be seen as truly random pairings of guys who didn’t click as much as hoped.
That was especially true in the 1990s. Both WWE and WCW were trying to adapt to changing times, moving from cartoonish antics to more serious stuff and trying a variety of acts to succeed. Some teams worked out but others didn’t as throwing two vastly different guys together led to some odd pairings. Even those were champions could still be seen as a very odd pairing due to different looks and styles. Here are 15 random tag teams of the 1990s that show how strange booking was back then.
15 Barry Horowitz and Hakushi
For years, Barry Horowitz had been notable as one of WWE’s go-to jobbers. Week after week, he’d come out to face heels and faces alike, doing an okay job but still got pinned every time. In 1995, he faced Skip (Chris Candido) in what seemed to be yet another loss. Instead, Horowitz managed to roll up a cocky Skip to get his first win, sending Skip and Sunny into a fit. The next week, Horowitz faced Hakushi, a Japanese star getting a push for his high flying style, but was not helped by WWE (in their usual racial sensitivity) having him come out with Japanese writing all over his body. Skip ended up interfering and causing Horowitz to win.
14 Cactus Jack and Mikey Whipwreck
True, the randomness was the entire point but it’s still notable. In 1994, ECW was really taking off with Public Enemy the tag team champions. Cactus Jack and Terry Funk had been a good team taking them on and set for a big match. Funk, however, walked out on the company so Jack was on his own, promising a new partner. In a classic call, Joey Styles remarked “what great athlete, what great champion is Jack…oh, my God, it’s Mikey!” Out came Mikey Whipwreck, the young jobber who’d become something of a fan favorite for getting the living crap kicked out of him every week.
13 Brian Christopher and Scotty Flamingo
In the 1990s, the USWA was created to merge Memphis, Continental and the old World Class into one larger promotion. Running mostly out of Memphis, the promotion became rather infamous for quickie title reigns as championships literally changed hands every week. Brian Christopher was getting a push in the promotion as he was the son of Jerry Lawler and naturally the boss wanted to give his son a good run. He paired Christopher with various teammates to hold championship gold as Christopher would hold the tag titles six times with five partners.
12 Bunkhouse Buck and Dick Slater
11 The Blue Bloods
This one is rather odd. William Regal was known in WCW as Lord Steven Regal with a long run as TV champion and acting the arrogant British nobleman. Originally, Regal wanted Jean-Paul Levesque on the idea of him being a “Frenchman” to form a team but Levesque left for WWE to become Triple H. For some bizarre reason, the pick for the replacement was Bobby Eaton, the Southerner known for his past great tag teams with the Midnight Express. Named “Earl Robert Eaton,” the blonde-haired man was encouraged to speak with a British accent and was featured in vignettes with Regal teaching him proper etiquette.
10 Pretty Wonderful
After his failed run as one of the Four Horsemen, Paul Roma still had the attention of WCW and wanted to be pushed. At the same time, Paul Orndorff had been bouncing around doing little of note. WCW decided to throw them together just on the idea of two good looking guys both named Paul. Surprisingly, they actually had some success together, holding the tag team titles twice and feuding with numerous teams like Stars and Stripes, the Nasty Boys and more. Orndorff had the experience, Roma had the speed and together they actually gelled.
9 Rick Steiner and Kenny Kaos
The Steiner Brothers had been one of the greatest tag teams of all time, holding multiple gold in WCW and WWE. Their split in 1998 was shocking with Scott going heel and taking on his more muscled wild man persona. Rick was soon challenging the NWO for the tag titles which led to the absolutely ridiculous moment where Buff Bagwell’s mother, Judy, was named co-champion with Rick. Thankfully, WCW dropped that fast with Rick told he had to choose a new partner.
8 Allied Powers
On the one hand, it did make some sense. In 1995, Lex Luger was still doing well even after his failed runs for the WWE title, popular with his “USA” mantra and looking great. Davey Boy Smith was getting a push too and someone decided to pair them up as a team. On paper, it looked good but in the ring, it was rough. Bulldog was known for blowing up too early and couldn’t go as well as he had in his younger days and his stiff manner was rough. Luger had skills but lost a lot of his drive thanks to WWE’s bungling of his main event push in 1993.
7 Arn Anderson and Paul Roma
It’s one of the absolute worst moves WCW has made, which is saying a lot. In 1993, Ric Flair returned after his WWE run and the company immediately began plans to have him reform the Four Horsemen. Ole and Arn Anderson were on board but Tully Blanchard turned down their offers. So, in a major promo, Flair announced that the newest member of the most elite heel stable in wrestling was…Paul Roma. A lifelong midcarder, Roma had a good look but nowhere near the skill or star power to be a Horsemen and fans hated it from the start.
6 Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas
Ricky Steamboat is hailed for his work as a singles star but he also had great runs as a tag team champion. He and Jay Youngblood had been a terrific pairing in the 1980s with multiple tag title runs. When Steamboat returned to WCW in 1991, he and Dustin Rhodes won the tag belts and did a good job as champions. In 1992, WCW decided to pair Steamboat up with Shane Douglas, a rising young talent best known as part of the Dynamic Dudes. This was a younger Douglas, not the brash arrogant man fans know and having him with veteran Steamboat was a unique pairing. They would hold the tag titles and do well in the ring but it still seemed a team that didn’t gel as well as one would think.
5 1-2-3 Kid and Marty Jannetty
On one hand, there’s a bit of a link due to how they were both high-flying guys. But otherwise, there really wasn’t much reason to put these two together. The 1-2-3 Kid had been rising after his upset of Razor Ramon and while small, had a good skill to take off. Jannetty had been left behind when Shawn Michaels split up the Rockers to go solo. He’d had a brief run as IC champion but his personal issues haunted him and got him in trouble.
4 Tekno Team 2000
Among the many, many bad mistakes WWE made in 1995 was hiring Bill Watts to do some booking. Despite how his tenure at WCW had been bad, Vince somehow thought Watts could bring something to the table. Instead, he and Watts were at each other’s throats in no time and Watts left after only a few months of bad business. To no one’s shock, Watts replicated one of his worst moves in WCW, which was attempting to turn his son Erik into a star. In this case, Erik was paired with Chad Fortune as “Troy and Travis.” They were billed as the team to “bring the New Generation into the 21st Century.”
3 Bad Attitude
2 Marcus Bagwell and 2 Cold Scorpio
Before he became “Buff,” Marcus Bagwell was a thinner and promising young worker for WCW. His handsome looks had fans and so WCW wanted to push him by trying him out with a variety of tag team partners. He and 2 Cold Scorpio were an odd one, however. Scorpio was winning raves for his amazing high-flying work and speed to get him attention. Bagwell was still raw when they were paired up in 1993 and so the team had a few bright spots but nothing too sensational. They did manage to upset the Nasty Boys for the tag team titles but their reign was short before losing them back a few weeks later.
1 Yokozuna and Owen Hart
True, they had a good run as WWE tag team champions but that doesn’t take away from how strange a pairing this was. Owen Hart was a fantastic worker, a technical master and terrific on the mic, a lithe figure. Yokozuna was a massive beast, faster than he seemed, almost never talking and relied on his size and strength. Long absent, Yoko returned at WrestleMania XI to help Hart beat the Smoking Gunns for the tag team titles. Somehow, they did well in the ring, Owen doing a lot of the work and Yoko’s size imposing and almost impossible for guys to beat down. They had some good programs with various teams, showing off their teamwork before finally losing the belts back to the Gunns after seven months.
While the two formed a really good team that sparked up the tag division, it was still one of the “odder couple” champions in WWE history and how random choices can actually work out at times.
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