Breaking up can be an overbearing experience; an aching circumstance which can cause one to fall into deep, dark places – depressed and unwilling to face the light of new horizons as one will wallow in self-pity, remorse, and regret; all the while wondering where it all went wrong. The broken down and defeated … another loss added to a lifelong record of heartbreak and despair.
On the other side of the spectrum: breaking up can result in intense euphoria; a release from a domestic prison – set free into the great big world, prepared to chase the sun through cloudy days as new meaning, new hope, and renewed sense of self has suddenly overtaken a once drab existence. The battered and bruised victor … emerging with an arm raised and a sinister smile.
In the following article, the topic of discussion will indeed concern the breakup – not in any romantic sense but rather the splitting and disbanding of tag teams. The duos we watched evolve together who eventually parted ways for one reason or another.
In professional wrestling, tag teams come and go with the seasons. Sometimes, a team will consist of siblings or best friends, other times a tag team will seem random and tossed together for no particular reason. Then of course are the dueling personality tag teams. The unexpected pairings of two superstars and their immediate chemistry and connection with the audience which comes as a pleasant surprise to wrestling fans.
Whether it was jealousy, anger, strategy, an amicable split, or just plain evil intentions; the following list will look back at some of those tag team splits that have shocked and saddened the WWE Universe over the years. The ones that we never saw coming and the ones that seemed inevitable.
These are the top 15 most memorable WWE tag team breakups:
15 The Dudley Boyz
The Dudley Boyz began their storied professional wrestling careers as members of the in-your-face wrestling promotion, Extreme Championship Wrestling. Their success there would garner attention from those in WWE and they were soon brought into the company.
The Dudley Boyz would quickly become a major presence on the WWE tag team scene – capturing the Tag Team Championship on numerous occasions and building a reputation as one of the baddest tag teams around.
The brand extension of 2002 would see The Dudley Boyz part ways when Bubba Ray was drafted to Raw and D-Von to SmackDown. What made this breakup memorable was the emotion felt between the two men following their simulations drafting.
Of course, this split did not last very long as later in the year, The Dudley Boyz were back together and meaner than ever.
14 The Acolytes Protection Agency
The Acolytes Protection Agency, first known as Hell's Henchmen, then as simply The Acolytes, were a powerhouse tag team consisting of Bradshaw and Faarooq. The duo were not a flashy or high-risk kind of tag team; just plain ass-kickers.
In 2002, when the WWE decided to split up its roster, the APA were separated for the first time as Bradshaw was drafted to Raw while Faarooq was drafted to SmackDown. However, a year later, Bradshaw would make his way over to SmackDown and the APA were back in business.
The second APA split came when General Manager, Paul Heyman placed the pair in a match with the added stipulation: if they lost, there were fired. The APA did in fact lose but GM Heyman decided that only Faarooq was to be fired.
The final scene would see Faarooq walking away from Bradshaw, as shortly following the split, John “Bradshaw” Layfield was introduced to the WWE audience.
13 The Miz and John Morrison
The Miz and John Morrison once formed what can only be described as a vain and vindictive tag team. The duo were certainly good at drawing heat, as both men were smug, brash and not afraid to admit their self-perceived greatness.
The pairing of Miz and Morrison would prove prosperous as they would capture both the WWE Tag Team Championship as well as the World Tag Team Championship. However, with their egos, an impending implosion seemed inevitable.
In 2009, John Morrison would inadvertently cost The Miz a match during the WWE Draft. This resulted in The Miz being drafted to Raw and immediately attacking his tag team partner; effectively putting an end to their partnership.
Following their split, The Miz would move up the card and capture the WWE Championship while John Morrison was thrust into a mid-card position.
12 Strike Force
Strike Force were a tag team that consisted of Rick Martel and Tito Santana. The duo competed as partners in the American Wrestling Association then in the WWE during the “Golden Age” of professional wrestling.
Strike Force would pick up their biggest victory on October 27th, 1987 on an episode of Superstars when Martel and Santana defeated The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
Strike Force would hold onto the championship until WrestleMania IV when they were defeated by Demolition in what what begin the longest WWE Tag Team Championship reign in history. Following their loss, Martel would take time off from the company, returning several months later.
Upon his return, Strike Force would reunite and take on The Brain Busters at WrestleMania V. However, Martel would leave Santana alone in the ring; ending their partnership and eventually transforming into “The Model.”
11 Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly
Cody Rhodes found his first real WWE feud with the wily veteran, Hardcore Holly. Rhodes would challenge and lose to Holly three consecutive times. However, the never-say-die attitude of Rhodes was enough to impress Holly and the pair were soon a functional tag team.
Following an unsuccessful attempt at winning the World Tag Team Championship, Rhodes and Holly would face off once again in singles competition. The fourth time around would prove successful for Rhodes as he finally managed to defeat Holly.
Monday Night Raw 15th Anniversary Special: Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly would capture the World Tag Team Championship. The veteran/rookie tag team would hold onto the gold for a while before Ted DiBiase would assert himself into the title picture.
DiBiase insisted that he would find a partner and take the titles away in his first match at Night of Champions. During the bout, Rhodes would turn on Holly, revealing himself as the partner of DiBiase and a new team was formed.
10 Shawn Michaels and John Cena
In early 2007, Shawn Michaels and John Cena would defeat Rated-RKO (Edge and Randy Orton) to become the new World Tag Team Champions. Michaels would then move on to secure a victory over both men in a Triple Threat match to determine the No.1 Contender for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXIII.
This would set up a match between John Cena and Shawn Michaels – who remained Tag Team Champions – at the biggest event of the year for the biggest prize in the industry. Shawn Michaels put forth a valiant effort but John Cena would retain the WWE Championship.
The following night on Monday Night Raw, Shawn Michaels and John Cena would place the World Tag Team Championship on the line in back-to-back ten team battle royal matches. Michaels and Cena were successful in the first match but would lose the second.
Although they were looking strong and poised to win the second match; Shawn Michales took it upon himself to eliminate his own tag team partner, costing them the titles and putting an end to any allegiance he felt towards John Cena.
9 X-Pac and Kane
D-Generation X has gone through their share of transitions over the years. In 1999, the rebellious group were at odds with each other over the direction in which the faction was heading. This would cause a temporary rift in DX.
While Triple H, Chyna, and Billy Gunn headed down the monetary path, X-Pac and Road Dogg would remain true to the original anti-authority spirit of DX. During this period, X-Pac would befriend and form a tag team with Kane.
X-Pac would bring out an entire different side of Kane who was suddenly becoming more social and less of a lonely figure. The duo would twice capture the WWE Tag Team Championship, establishing themselves as a top tag team.
When the eventual reformation of DX took place, X-Pac led Kane to believe that he would be welcomed into the group as its newest member; only to turn his back on Kane during a match and lead a beat down on The Big Red Machine.
8 Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero
No Way Out 2005: Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero team up to challenge The Basham Brothers for the WWE Tag Team Championship. The longtime friends emerge victorious and for the first time become champions together.
WrestleMania 21: Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero square-off in a singles match, choosing to forgo the tradition of defending the WWE Tag Team Championship to engage in a little “friendly competition.” Rey Mysterio would win the match.
SmackDown: Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero place the WWE Tag Team Championship on the line against MNM. The titles change hands when Eddie Guerrero abandons Rey Mysterio. leaving him to fend for himself for the remainder of the match.
The aftermath of this betrayal would lead to a heated and personal feud between Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero which involved family and personal matters; providing a great storyline along the way.
7 The Road Warriors
When you think of the all-time greatest tag team in professional wrestling – any promotion from any era – The Road Warriors, Hawk and Animal will automatically come to mind. In fact, The Road Warriors could very well be the best tag team ever.
In WWE, The Road Warriors became known as Legion of Doom, but aside form the change of name; nothing had changed about their intimidating appearance and in-ring presence. The Road Warriors would dominate the tag team division of every promotion in which they worked.
With the turn of the century approaching, Hawk and Animal were repacked as LOD 2000 – The Road Warriors of the new millennium – alongside a third man, Droz. When Animal felt that Hawk was not fit to wrestle and suggested that Droz replace him, tensions between the legendary team arose and Hawk was soon left in the dust.
This angle would blur the lines between reality and fiction as Michael Hegstrand (Hawk) was dealing with real life drug and alcohol problems.
6 Rob Van Dam and Kane
Rob Van Dam and Kane were an odd and polar opposite tag team. The always angry Kane and the laid-back RVD would struggle early on in their partnership but would eventually find their stride as a cohesive tag team unit.
Monday Night Raw (March 31, 2003): Lance Storm and Chief Morley would place the World Tag Team Championship on the line in a Three-Way Elimination Tag Team match against The Dudley Boyz and RVD and Kane.
The strange pairing of RVD and Kane would prove effective when they emerged from the match with the World Tag Team Championship. The duo would hold the gold until June when they were defeated by La Resistance at Bad Blood.
RVD and Kane remained a team until Kane was forced to remove his mask and reveal his face to the world following a loss to Triple H. RVD, who was out to support his partner but would catch the fury of Kane, dissolving any future alliance.
5 The Rock 'n' Sock Connection
The Rock 'n' Sock Connection will go down as one of the most entertaining tag teams in WWE history. The Rock and Mankind had a chemistry that cannot be duplicated and although their partnership did not stretch as long as other tag teams, it was still pretty damn memorable.
The Rock 'n' Sock Connection would become three-time WWE Tag Team Champions, an unexpected pairing that tuned out to be a massive fan favorite. The storyline provided by Rock and Mankind was among some of the best of the time.
Raw is War: Mankind finds his book – which he had given to The Rock as a gift – in the trash. Thus igniting tensions and causing Mankind to verbally attack The Great One. The Rock 'n' Sock Connection were on rocky terms.
During their title defense against The Holly Cousins, Mankind would spend the match sitting on the steps outside of the ring; essentially forcing The Rock into a handicap match. Interference from Triple H would cost The Rock the match, as Mankind sat idly by and watched the WWE Tag Team Championship change hands.
4 Edge and Christian
When you come into the WWE as real life best friends, the already established connection that has been built throughout the years will shine through as your characters begin to connect with the audience. Such was the case of Edge and Christian.
Edge and Christian have pieced together one of the greatest tag team legacies in the history of WWE, having won the Tag Team Championship on seven separate occasions. The were not only exhilarating to watch in the ring but were also a legitimate wrestling comedy act.
King of the Ring 2001: Edge and Christian would be forced to compete in the same tournament. Christian lost in the Semis against Angle, while Edge would advance and defeat Kurt Angle in the finals to become crowned the new King of the Ring.
Raw is War (September 3, 2001): Christian would attack Edge with his King of the Ring trophy and nail his best friend (storyline brother) with a One-Man Con-Chair-To in their hometown or Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
3 The Hardy Boyz
The Hardy Boyz consist of real-life brothers, Matt and Jeff, and will always be remembered as the most innovative tag team to ever come through the WWE; nobody else has ever excited quite like the brothers from North Carolina.
With the addition of Lita, the trio would become known as Team Xtreme, an immensely popular group who got over thanks to their cool demeanor and look as well as their high-flying, high-risk in-ring style. The Hardy brothers were a major sensation.
In 2003, The Hardy Boyz would split for the first time when Matt would attack Jeff due to the fact that Jeff was awarded a shot at the Intercontinental Championship. The duo would head their separate ways as singles competitors but years later would reunite as a tag team in WWE … until Matt would once again turn on Jeff, this time costing him the WWE Championship.
Royal Rumble 2009: Jeff Hardy would defend his newly won WWE Championship against longtime rival, Edge. In a shocking twist, Matt would lay out Jeff with a steel chair shot, allowing a man whom he once despised to pin his brother and win the WWE Championship.
2 The Mega Powers
The Mega Powers consisted of the biggest star in professional wrestling and perhaps the second biggest star of that time: Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth (the real-life wife of Savage) acting as their valet.
The Mega Powers were never WWE Tag Team Champions but during their tenure, “Macho Man” Randy Savage would capture the WWE Championship at WrestleMania IV when he won the one-night tournament for the vacant title.
The first rift between Hogan and Savage came at the expense of Elizabeth when during a match Elizabeth was knocked unconscious. This would caused Hogan to leave ringside in order to carry Elizabeth back to the medical area.
Upon his return down to the ring, an enraged Savage would refuse to receive a tag from Hogan, opting instead to slap Hogan in the face and leave with his belt. The Mega Powers payoff was a main event match at WrestleMania V for the WWE Championship in what turned out to be one of the best built feuds in WWE history.
1 The Rockers
Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty, collectively known as The Rockers, were a tag team ahead of their time. The young, high-flying, fast-paced superstars would enter the WWE tag team division in the late '80s … coming in like lightning.
The Rockers were fan favorites from the start, as audiences flocked towards Michaels and Jannetty. Although, it was clear from the beginning who was destined to be the breakout star of the tag team. Marty Jannetty was good but Shawn Michaels was great.
The Rockers began their split in late 1991 due to backstage disputes which the WWE have never cleared up in storyline form. The tensions between Michaels and Jannetty were played out on television with no particular reasoning. Then came the most famous tag team breakup in WWE history.
The Barbershop: Shawn Michaels delivers a Super Kick to Marty Jannetty and then proceeds to throw him through the shop window, officially beginning the legendary solo career of “The Heartbreak Kid.”
Classic Bobby Heenan Line: “Jannetty tried to dive through the window to escape.”
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