Tag Team Wrestling has suffered a bit over the years. What was once a highlight of wrestling faded into the background, tag titles treated as forgotten and too many great teams ignored. It has seen a comeback with the New Day boosting WWE up nicely and NXT also adding to it. TNA has had ups and downs but trying while ROH boasts some of the best teams around. It can be tricky to figure things out as you never know who can work and who can’t. Daniel Bryan and Kane were a team that never should have worked on paper but transformed into one of the best around. Ditto for Beer Money going from a random pairing to TNA’s best team.
Still, there are plenty of bad cases of teams around, pairings that never worked out, that had dumb gimmicks or bad talent. Some are cases of guys who were just horrible and got worse when paired up, other times talented guys who didn’t click over at all and failed. And then they are parings that never should have been tried at all yet even went on to hold championship gold. Here are the cream of the crop, the 15 worst tag teams since 2006 that helped bring down the quality of tag team wrestling.
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15 Ezekiel Jackson and Vladimir Kozlov
Sometimes, it can work out when two struggling rookies are paired together as a team. Sadly, this was not such a case. Jackson and Kozlov had some skill and would both show improvement down the line, in 2009 they were both very raw and not much training outside OVW. The idea of one hitting a finisher on an opponent and the other then attacking the guy was intriguing but when they became a team, they just didn’t click right. Their promos were terrible and they seemed to not communicate in the ring for bad matches. After several losses they finally split up. Jackson would do well with the Corre while Kozlov formed a fun team with Santino Marrella but this first try showed some guys need grooming before they’re ready for the big leagues as a team.
There’s this baffling tendency of WWE to put the Big Show together with just about anybody and have them hold the tag titles. Sometimes it works (Jeri-Show) but this time it really didn’t. In 2010, Show and Miz were pushed together at random to take on D-X and won a Triple Threat match for the Unified Tag Team titles (Miz was also U.S. champion). Miz would do the promos with Show backing him up but they didn’t gel as well in the ring, Miz was never a crowd favorite while Show had plenty of “please retire” chants whenever he got in the ring. They would hold the belts for four months, including WrestleMania and despite a decent act, their reign wasn’t a popular one, the fans urging opponents to win more and not backing the duo.
They would lose the belts to the Hart Dynasty and split with Show turning face and while each has been a successful tag team champ with other parties, they couldn’t quite get on the same page here.
13 Crimson and Matt Morgan
TNA seriously wanted to push Crimson as the next mega-star in 2010, giving him an unbeaten streak and hyping him up as the next Goldberg. The problem was, he had none of the actual skill or charisma Goldberg possessed and thus his push was more blatant than expected and turned fans on him (not helped by TNA actually piping in fake cheers for him). After briefly feuding, he was put in a tag team with Morgan, another guy TNA kept trying to push as a huge deal despite not working out as well as hoped. They would hold the tag titles but their mix of strength and poor charisma didn’t help get them over at all and the defenses on the lackluster side with both having issues.
They dropped the belt after three months of forgettable matches and then broke apart with Crimson intending to go solo but no longer any real push. He basically faded into the background before the streak was broken after a year to James Storm, which TNA of course treated as a forgettable bit. He was soon gone from the company, as was Morgan and proved that trying to replicate someone like Goldberg is hard without the right guy in the spot.
12 Cryme Tyme
Despite a good reputation in OVW, JTG and Shad were pretty much doomed from the start when they jumped to WWE. The problem was their gimmick as over-the-top street hoods doing cursing, promos mocking privileged whites and parodying racial stereotypes. Sadly, the act didn’t go over well, fans not taking to them being so outlandish and it came off too insulting for viewers. It was a shame as the duo had some skill and did boost the tag scene a bit yet never won the belts themselves. Eve Torres was added as their valet but they still seemed lost, popping up now and then in backstage segments yet in-ring success eluded them, often used as jobbers for other teams.
They finally split in 2009 but Shad was released soon after, while JTG lasted a few more years in the company as a jobber. They are remembered more for a very insulting act than for anything truly good in the ring.
11 Rellik and Black Reign
You have to feel for Dustin Rhodes, a fantastic worker who sadly has never come to much success beyond his Goldust persona. In 2007, Rhodes made a return to TNA where he did an interview of having a darker personality and he was ready to let it out. This was Black Reign, who was basically just Goldust with darker paint and attitude and carrying a pet rat around. How to make this dumber? Pair him up with Rellik (who, as the announcers pointed out about ten times in every match, was “Killer” spelled backward), a masked strongman with little skill.
Their efforts were not successful in the least as they won exactly one match in all their time and the matches they got into involved some terrible bouts like “the Match of 10,000 Tacks.” They would split with Rhodes returning to WWE as Goldust and Rellik released and showing how breaking free of the makeup just isn’t to be for Dustin.
10 The Spirit Squad
Yes, they had some success, holding the tag titles, feuding with D-X and pushed as major heels. That doesn’t erase the fact that you had a gang of enforcers made up of male cheerleaders. Ken Doane, Nick Mitchell, Nick Nemeth, Johnny Jeter and Mike Mondo all had promise in OVW and thought they hit the jackpot when they were called up to WWE. Instead, they were made to come out doing cheers and gymnastics and while not bad in the ring, the gimmick was just too distracting. Their feud with D-X consisted mainly of HHH and HBK always getting ahead despite being outnumbered five to two. The fans just hated them and not in the good way, not taking them seriously as anything but McMahon flunkies and as soon as the feud ran its course, the Squad was disbanded.
While four members drifted away, Nemeth would go on to become Dolph Ziggler, a major star who has to live up to a rather embarrassing first break in WWE as one of the most laughable stables ever.
9 Tons of Funk
For some reason, WWE has been obsessed with trying to make Matt Bloom a big deal. He began in 1999 as “Prince Albert,” notable for his tattoos and piercings and later renamed “A-Train” with partnerships with Big Show and X-Pac yet remaining a pretty rough worker in the ring with fans hating his unshaven back. After time away, he returned to WWE in 2012 as Tensai with the most unlikely “Japanese” makeover imaginable. Doing nothing on his own as a heel, Tensai was paired with Brodus Clay, a man who’d been planned as a monster only to turn into a goofy dancer.
The two were soon teamed up in matches that were notable for their bad dancing routines more than anything they did in the ring, often used as jobbers and just filling out four-way tag matches. They would split when Clay turned heel shortly before his own release and Tensai having a brief stay in NXT before retiring. Once again, a showcase of how Bloom never worked out as WWE hoped, dancing or not.
After a push that was derided as “Goldberg lite” in 2012, Ryback was drifting after some injuries made him take time off. Returning, he was put with Curtis Axel, another guy who had seemed poised for big things but never got over. Together, the two possessed lots of power but not a lot of real ring skill and some bad promos to boot. They were basically used to fill out four-way battles for the tag titles, not much success outside of that and the crowds not taking to them at all. The two were trying for more but then Ryback had to undergo hernia surgery and when he returned, they were split up for singles work. Sometimes, two struggling singles guys can work well as a team but this is the exception to that rule as fans weren’t buying the Ryback push in teams any more than singles.
7 Jesse and Festus
Despite being the son of Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy, Ray Gordy wasn’t doing too well in WWE. Still, having him repackaged into a hillbilly character was rough as was Drew Hankinson as his partner, Festus. Their promos had Jesse boasting of excitement on something while Festus just stared off. The two tried to get ahead in the ring with Gordy’s speed mixing with Festus’ strength but it was rough as clearly Gordy had inherited little of his dad’s fantastic ability. Festus did have the somewhat clever idea of being a doofus but as soon as the bell rang, turned into a focused wrestler but WWE played it more for laughs than anything actually effective.
There was a brief bit of them coming in as “moving men” to promote SmackDown’s move to MyNetworkTV but that was dropped just before they were split for the brand draft. Both drifted after than prior to their releases and showing how rough the gimmick was to sustain two otherwise average workers.
6 The Band
When Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff came to TNA in 2010, they indented to replicate the success of 1996 WCW. To them, that meant…doing exactly the same stuff as 1996. Thus, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman were brought in despite their horrific physical condition as “The Band.” Needless to say, asking fans to buy the original New World Order still up to their old tricks did not go over very well. Adding Eric Young did little to elevate them as their matches showed how slow and out of shape the guys were. Despite all that, TNA gave them a run as tag team champions to go along with their usual antics. That included a rebirth of the “Wolfpac” and continuing to act like they were still the huge stars they’d once been. Scott Hall’s legal problems stripped them of the belts and by the end of 2010, they were all gone, proving yet again why trying to revive a 20-year-old gimmick with the same guys is just a bad thought all around.
Three guys thrown together can work sometimes. The Shield and The New Day prove that. Such was not the case when Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal were put together as the Three Man Band. A “boy band” gimmick for 2012 was pretty idiotic and the trio did nothing of real note despite some actual skill. A telling bit was Brock Lesnar destroying all three of them without breaking a sweat and they were crushed in various battles against The Shield. They tried to bounce it up with the idea of taking on different names (The Union Jacks, The Rhinestone Cowboys) but remained basically massive jobbers. They ended with McIntyre and Mahal cut in 2014 to leave Slater on his own and showcasing that strength in numbers doesn’t work right when the numbers are already weak.
4 The Rock and Rave Infection
Lance Hoyt had some push in TNA as a big guy over with the crowds but never attained the bigger level of stardom he seemed destined for. In 2007, he had his name changed to “Lance Rock” and teamed up with Jimmy Rave. Managed by Christy Hemme, they had the gimmick of would-be rockers whose “instruments” were really controllers from “Guitar Hero.” They would rant and rave about their chances but in the ring, but were actually awful, not seeming to gel as a team and Hemme (while looking hot in her skimpy outfits) was not believable as a manager. They never got much headway, were crushed by other teams and both were dropped by TNA in early 2009. It was no surprise at all that they didn't leave a lasting impression on the audience. Hardly “rocking” at all, this pairing was a mess quickly forgotten by fans.
3 Slater Gator
With a name like that, how could this team succeed? After dropping 3MB, Heath Slater decided to go face, a move that didn’t really suit him thanks to his arrogant promos. For some reason, WWE decided to pair him with Titus O’Neil, a guy who was a good muscle worker but not quite clicking with Slater. Slater did have a run of victories on his own at this time but his work with O’Neil was just awful overall and the two just didn’t look right as partners. Before they really got going, Slater had his arrest ruining things. By the time he came back, O’Neil had reformed the Prime Time Players with Darren Young for some tag team title gold and Slater was lost amid the shuffle again. Yet another blow in his career but this team was a disaster from the start.
2 ODB/Eric Young
It's hard to believe but a few years ago, TNA’s women’s division as much stronger than WWE’s with an emphasis on real wrestling. It was so large that they created a Knockouts tag team title and some good talent to go with it. It seemed to lower as some talent left but still a chance for it to get some attention. But then TNA decided to give the belts to ODB, wildly over as the crazy drinking gal and…Eric Young. Yes, the goofball idiot male was made one half of a female division team. They actually held the gold for over a year before Brooke Hogan finally declared Young ineligible because he was a guy and the belts were vacated. Given that they hadn’t defended the titles in months because of both workers taking time away just made that laughable and with the Knockouts suffering, the belts were deactivated. Even for TNA, this was a move of such amazing stupidity that did them no favors.
1 Pacman Jones and Ron Killings
For all their faults, the other teams on this list can at least say both of their members were able to wrestle. Such is not the case with this, a standout of idiocy for TNA. In what they thought was a great publicity coup, the company hired Pacman Jones, a Tennessee Titans player who was on suspension from the NFL for his part in a nightclub shooting. Somehow, TNA failed to notice the little detail that due to his NFL contract, Jones couldn’t actually do any in-ring work. Despite that issue, TNA still had him partnered with Ron Killings to win the tag team titles. By which, Killings did all the ring work as Jones stood on the apron, doing his best to avoid any contact with the wrestlers and doing some bad promos.
It was a completely idiotic move that gave TNA no help with fans and just made them look all the poorer. They dropped the belts and Jones was soon gone, ending a “team” that just highlighted how bad TNA can get.
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