The Attitude Era is fondly remembered as one of the best periods to be a wrestling fan thanks largely to the incredible performers in WWE, WCW, and ECW giving in to their real life personas to create some of the most compelling sports entertainment in history. One of the best parts of tag team wrestling is that fans get twice of the hard-hitting action they love, but then again, they also get twice the misery if that tag team happens to suck. Even during the Attitude Era, there were good tag teams and bad tag teams, though luckily the cream usually rose to the top.
While there’s no official starting point to the Attitude Era, fans generally accept the years 1997 to 2002 as the most important to the period. Plenty of the teams we’re about to discuss existed long before and after the timeframe, so we’ll make it clear the following ranking is related solely to the team’s success or lack thereof during this brief stretch of history. Considering how influential and popular wrestling was during this era, however, it might have been the most important period of any living wrestler’s career. Keep reading to learn the 8 best and 7 worst WWE tag teams of the Attitude Era.
15 BEST: The Two-Man Power Trip
If these teams were being ranked based on their achievements as individuals, The Two-Man Power Trip of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Triple H would likely place much higher on the list. Especially considering they were the only team of the Attitude Era to concurrently hold the WWE World, Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships all at once, it’s hard to argue the Power Trip were one of the most successful teams of all time, together or separate. On the other hand, their time spent as a unit was so relatively short that it can’t stand against some of their more fondly remembered contemporaries. The Power Trip’s time together was in fact so short they only held the WWE Tag Team Championships once and for a mere 22 days at that. Still, with two of the absolute biggest WWE stars in history at the helm, it would be impossible to keep them off the list entirely.
14 WORST: The Holly Cousins
Few WWE superstars received more second chances than Thurman/Bob “Sparky Plugg”/“Hardcore” Holly. His initial debut as a racecar driver was a total bust and attempts at making him a plucky underdog never seemed particularly logical. He finally started to get over when he went hardcore in the late ‘90s, soon adding his cousin Crash Holly into the fold so they could try their hand at the tag team division. Despite Crash actually looking like an underdog, it was with his help that Hardcore achieved one of the greatest achievements of his career, when The Holly Cousins defeated The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection for the WWE Tag Team Championships on Raw in October 1999. Unfortunately, the title reign didn’t last long and it would ultimately prove their sole piece of success in the division. The Holly’s turned into comedy characters almost immediately after, running the same shtick about being superheavyweights until the joke completely wore so thin it made fans choose to forget about the Hollys altogether.
13 BEST: Kane and X-Pac
Of the many individuals to hold one version of the WWE Tag Team Championships or another, Kane seems the most prone to having done so with strange and unlikely superstars as his partner. The first two times he won the belts he did so with Mankind, but it was the next two reigns with X-Pac as his partner that best defined his character in the Attitude Era. At the time, Kane was still the big and destructive monster that he is today, though he had yet to receive any of the bizarrely confusing storyline development that slightly humanized him. X-Pac was Kane’s first piece of humanity, his “little buddy” as Jim Ross would explain it, and the two created one of the most uniquely popular teams of the time through that spirit of compassion.
12 WORST: The Unholy Alliance
In stark contrast to a team like The Two-Man Power Trip, The Unholy Alliance of The Undertaker and The Big Show was an unfortunate case of two incredible talents forming a team and somehow canceling each other out, resulting in something far below the sum of its parts. The two started tagging with one another in late 1999, managing to briefly win the WWE Tag Team Championships twice. In addition to the reigns not lasting very long, there was the problem that the promos they performed together were without question the worst of either’s career. The Undertaker would give long rambling speeches while Big Show simply stared, sucking any good will their previous matches and storylines had built up amongst the fans. The only plus size of The Unholy Alliance was that they feuded with another team more similar to The Power Trip…
11 BEST: The Rock 'n' Sock Connection
Take everything we said about The Two-Man Power Trip’s individual stars being too big to completely ignore with our list and multiply it by the fact The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection lasted significantly longer, won the WWE Tag Team Championships three times, and were involved in the highest rated non-wrestling segment in Raw history. Granted, all three of those Tag Team Championship reigns only lasted a manner of days, but the amount of entertainment The Rock and Mankind were able to inject into those short runs easily dwarfed significantly longer reigns by the negative half of this list ever could have dreamed of doing. Most memorable was that high rated segment we mentioned, famously remembered as Rock: This Is Your Life. Based on the classic TV show, Mankind presented The Rock with increasingly embarrassing pieces of his past, annoying his partner and overjoying the fans. The few matches the team had were up to par with the classics of the individuals and the only reason they ranked so low on this list is that The Rock and Mankind’s time was too important to waste on a silly tag team.
10 WORST: The Godwinns
The last run of The Godwinns in WWE may have existed right on the cusp of the Attitude Era forming out of the New Generation and yet they felt extremely out of place in either period. Initially lovable hillbillies, The Godwinns adapted to the changing times by becoming angry rednecks in 1997, though this hardly did anything to bolster their image. The addition of a new manager, Uncle Cletus, didn’t help in the slightest, either, especially since Cletus was gone within mere weeks of his debut. The Godwinns would try and revamp themselves again the next year, using their real names Mark Canterbury and Dennis Knight, collectively calling themselves Southern Justice while feuding members of D-Generation X. Emphasizing their country roots while putting them against one of the freshest teams in the business unsurprisingly only served to make it clear how anachronistic the Godwinns were. To be fair, though, they were never that great in the first place.
9 BEST: The New Age Outlaws
Oh, you didn’t know? Well… The New Age Outlaws were one of the most unlikely tag team success stories in history, with Billy Gunn and Jesse James literally thrown together because they had nothing better to do. Both had been wallowing in the midcard for some time, with Gunn unable to standout since he broke his earlier team with Bart Gunn and James never capable of standing on his own without former client Jeff Jarrett. Thanks to their obnoxious and yet fun-loving personalities, evidenced by their new noms de guerre Bad Ass and The Road Dogg, the previously listless New Age Outlaws turned into one of the most popular duos in WWE history. Throughout the Attitude Era, they held the WWE Tag Team Championships five times and became integral pieces of D-Generation X while doing so. While the Outlaws may not have been quite as good in the ring as some of the others on this list, they more than made up for it with their entertaining antics and historical importance.
8 WORST: Bull Buchanan and The Goodfather
If the Right To Censor had anything going for it, it was that the team was as annoying as Vince McMahon wanted them to be. Lead by Steven Richards, the RTC were a Parents Television Council spoofing stable of men in button-downs, eventually joined by one woman in Ivory. While we can’t deny that RTC was generally successful as heels, The Goodfather’s participation in the group never felt appropriate and Bull Buchanan just didn’t have much to offer in either way. Regardless, they were the two members of the group selected to win the WWE Tag Team Championships from The Hardy Boyz in late 2000, holding the belts for a full month. The best half of this list should stand as a testament to how poor a decision that was, dragging the entire division down and boring fans smack dab in the middle of a golden age of tag team wrestling.
7 BEST: The Hardy Boyz
Delete the weirdo with big hair and the glowing drug addict who cloud TNA with ridiculousness to this day, Matt and Jeff Hardy were at one point the most exciting and popular tag team in WWE. The Hardyz actually started as forgettable jobbers in the early years of Monday Night Raw, later becoming big stars when they started highlighting their boyish good looks while engaging in death defying stunts never before seen in WWE. Jeff in particular was one of the most innovative wrestlers of the Attitude Era, trying stunts off gigantic ladders other wrestlers would never dream of. Throughout the timeframe discussed, The Hardyz won and lost the WWE Tag Team Championships five times in a number of increasingly hardcore, violent, and most of all creative ladder, cage, and TLC matches. Regardless of what happened in their lives or careers since then, the work The Hardyz did in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s will likely never be forgotten, nor should it.
6 WORST: T & A
Truth be told, there are a couple good things about T & A, the tag team consisting of Test and Albert. For one, the tandem introduced the wrestling world to future Hall Of Famer Trish Stratus, who served as the duo’s manager. Inadvertently, Stratus’s legendary feud against Lita would also begin as an offshoot of her management style. As two of the tallest men in the company, T & A also had a fairly impressive look, adding weight to the sense of accomplishment other teams would feel after defeating them. That’s about it, though, as the duo never even won the WWE Tag Team Championships together despite nearly a year of activity. They would challenge for the belts on several occasions, only to continually lose and not look particularly good in doing so. Proving what the group was about once and for all, it was only a manner of months after they split that Trish became a massive star, while Test and Albert faded further and further down the card.
5 BEST: Owen Hart and The British Bulldog
The exact start date of the Attitude Era being iffy, it’s hard to say who the champions were when the period began. Considering Owen Hart and The British Bulldog held the WWE Tag Team Championships for the first half of 1997 and remained the top contenders to the belts for some time after that, however, it could be easy to paint them as the team that ushered in the era. It would be fitting to do so, with Owen and Bulldog both presenting heelish attitude for some time prior to teaming up, only to collude their powers when they did so. Albeit not on the level of Rock ‘n’ Sock or The Power Trip, Owen and Bulldog were both pretty big solo stars, but unlike those teams, Owen and Bulldog were so great as a duo that fans can easily separate the team from their solo careers. In doing so, we discover the team was as good as either wrestler was solo, bolstering the legacy of the entire Hart Foundation.
4 WORST: The Legion of Doom 2000
Confession time: the whole bit in the intro about how we’re ranking these teams based on the Attitude Era exclusively was a preemptive measure to prevent the inevitable controversy that will spawn from calling Hawk and Animal one of the worst of the timeframe. Whether you call them The Road Warriors or The Legion of Doom, the masters of The Doomsday Device were unquestionably the most destructive duo of the 1980s and were doing fairly well for themselves throughout the first half of the ‘90s, as well. They remained incredibly over when they returned to WWE in 1997, but almost all of that goodwill was thrown away the next year when Hawk and Animal “updated for the new millennium” and added Sunny as their manager. Things would get even worse and more embarrassing when Droz was thrown into the mix and the storyline took a turn towards the offensive when Hawk’s real life personal problems started to become the focus. Clearly, the rush was over.
3 BEST: The Dudley Boyz
Although they weren’t the first two members of the family clan to introduce themselves to the wrestling world, Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley have become arguably the most successful tag team in wrestling history. They’re the only team to ever hold the WWE, ECW, WCW, NWA, TNA, and IWGP Tag Team Championships, and their abilities in the ring and on the microphone are strong enough there are virtually zero fans who would ever complain about the Dudley’s success. During the Attitude Era, they were best known for the three-way feud with The Hardyz and E&C, plus the unforgettable cry of Bubba Ray begging his brother to “Get the tables!” They defeated The New Age Outlaws for their first WWE Tag Team Championship in February of 2000, ultimately going on to win the belts a record eight times by 2003. The team might be falling into a pattern of diminishing returns as the years go by, but there’s no denying The Dudleyz were at the top of the genre while experiencing their personal peaks.
2 WORST: Skull and 8-Ball
When it comes to naming the worst of the worst, the stuff we said earlier about this list only relating to the Attitude Era starts to go out the window. Make no mistake about it: call them The Blu Twins, The Harris Brothers, The Bruiser Brothers, Skull and 8-Ball, Creative Control, it doesn’t matter—real life twins Ron and Don Harris are quite possibly the worst tag team in professional wrestling history. The sole quality they have in their favor is the unique look only two seven foot tall twins can provide, but this hardly makes up for their inability to perform in the ring. They had nothing to offer on the microphone, either, and their sole purpose during the Attitude Era was to flesh out The Disciples of Apocalypse and make them look slightly less ineffective as they lost their every feud.
1 BEST: Edge and Christian
For the benefit of those with flash photography, Edge and Christian requested we take time out of our list so they could indulge in a brief 5-second pose. Well, maybe not, but we’d let them if they asked. Edge and Christian teamed under a half dozen names while wrestling in Canada, both joining WWE in 1998 as members of Gangrel’s Brood. They were already wowing fans with their matches against The Hardy Boyz when E&C shot into the upper echelon of tag team history by transitioning from gothic followers to self-assured goofy surfer dudes who totally reeked of awesomeness. On the merits of these personas, not to mention their innovative and always exciting matches, Edge and Christian won the WWE Tag Team Championships an impressive seven times. The team finally ran it’s course as the Attitude Era started coming to an end and both members went on to in a handful of World Championships further cementing their status as industry legends.