Some of the greatest performers in the history of North American professional wrestling have held tag team championships in organizations such as the National Wrestling Alliance, the World Wrestling Entertainment, World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling. “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Scott Steiner, Jeff Hardy, Dusty Rhodes, and “Nature Boy” Ric Flair are just some examples of wrestlers who started out as tag team specialists before they broke out on their own and won world titles as singles acts.
Not every member of a championship tag team could, of course, go on to have such a memorable career as a solo wrestler. That does not necessarily mean that he was an “undeserving” tag team champion. Take Marty Jannetty, referred to by some wrestling fans as the ultimate “other guy” of championship duo The Rockets. Jannetty never came close to matching all that the previously mentioned Michaels achieved as a solo wrestler. The other half of the Rockers was nevertheless a talented in-ring worker who was a fine tag team champion. Jannetty even held gold when he and Michaels were not paired together in the WWE.
With that said, there are some clear cases of wrestlers who were undeserving of ever holding any championship, let alone a world tag team title. That list includes some characters and gimmicks that, truth be told, probably shouldn't have seen the light of day. There are wrestlers who were either past their primes or who never really had a prime to begin with. The man who sits atop the list is an individual who was the recipient of a push from the WWE in the 2000s for reasons that still don't make a lot of sense to those of us who merely watch the product. At least the WWE eventually realized that fans were not going to back that wrestler, but the lesson was learned too late.
15 Jim Neidhart
It would be harsh and maybe even a little mean to say that Bret “Hitman” Hart carried Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart during their days as The Hart Foundation. Hart, of course, went on to become “The Excellence of Execution” and a multi-time world champion. Members of later versions of the Hart Foundation such as Owen Hart and the British Bulldog also enjoyed successes as solo acts. Neidhart was more of a background figure for that group in the second half of the 1990s, particularly when The Hart Foundation feuded with Steve Austin and babyface wrestlers who aligned themselves with Austin.
14 Joey Mercury
Those who watched the SmackDown brand in 2005 may fondly remember the MNM team that first made a splash when it defeated Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero in April of that year. It was only after the duo was broken up that we would learn, beyond a doubt, that Johnny Nitro/John Morrison would break out as the star of the team. The ultimate irony here, of course, is that Morrison never made it as a superstar in the WWE and he no longer works for the company. Mercury, however, was involved in WWE main event angles as a member of “The Authority” as recently as June 2015.
13 Mike Rotunda
You can have your pick from the different tag team championship reigns that Mike Rotunda had during his wrestling career as it pertains for the purposes of this piece. Rotunda was a NWA Tag Team Champion while partnering up with Steve Williams. He was playing the Irwin R. Schyster character in the WWE when he and “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase were champions as the team Money, Inc. Rotunda was, no disrespect meant, the lesser of the two in both of those teams. That take was proven to be true when Rotunda showed that he was, at best, a midcard wrestler when on his own.
12 Kenny Kaos
Things were falling apart in WCW in the fall of 1998. The company was losing ground to the WWE in the “Monday Night Wars,” and multiple storylines were confusing even for those who consistently watched WCW programming. Injuries, along with some obnoxious and curious booking, resulted in Rick Steiner and Kenny Kaos becoming the WCW World Tag Team Champions in October of '98. Steiner may not have been as good of an overall performer as his brother Scott, but Rick could hold his own as a tag team worker. Kaos was chaos in the ring and not at all in a good way.
11 Vladimir Kozlov
Here is a little trivia tidbit for those of you who may have forgotten about Vladimir Kozlov's run in the WWE: Kozlov was involved in a feud with Triple H and Jeff Hardy over the WWE Championship. That would be as close as Kozlov would get to that title and he was eventually paired up with Santino Marella. Marella was, at the very least, an entertaining comedy wrestler who received solid reactions from fans during his career. That is more than anybody can say about Kozlov . Kozlov did win the WWE Tag Team Championship a single time while teaming with Marella. Nobody can take that away from Kozlov .
10 Shawn Stasiak
We are not going to insult your intelligence and try to pretend that Chuck Palumbo could have been the next big thing in wrestling had he been given a real chance to shine while in the WWE. Still, Palumbo was equal to Ric Flair when compared to Shawn Stasiak. We have no doubt that Stasiak gave it his all while working in WCW and the WWE. Stasiak is, by all accounts, a decent guy. He was simply an undeserving champion in every essence of that description. It is impressive and commendable that Stasiak went on to find success as a chiropractor after his wrestling career came to a halt.
9 Bull Buchanan
We know what you are thinking: “Bull Buchanan was a tag team champion?” Yes, indeed he was, all the way back in 2000. The WWE was, at the time, having some fun and mocking critics and certain groups who had hit out at the company because of the “adult” nature of programming found on shows such as Raw. Buchanan and The Godfather, renamed “Goodfather” during this portion of his career, held tag team gold as members of the Right to Censor faction. This wasn't the first time that Buchanan was the weaker half of a duo. Don't forget about the time that he was “B-Squared” and a lackey for John Cena.
8 Justin Credible
Justin Credible was the type of wrestler who could become a star in ECW because Paul Heyman knew how to properly book such a character, and also because the company was the wrestling equivalent of the “Island of Misfit Toys.” Whatever you think of Credible as a character or a wrestler, you would be stretching were you to suggest that he was on par with Lance Storm. Storm may very well have been the best in-ring worker in the history of ECW and he was eventually pushed as a top solo act during the dying days of WCW. Credible, however, never got to that stature.
It is easy to understand why the WWE was so high on Test over a decade ago. Test was taller than your average wrestler. He was in great shape, although that may have been because of certain things that he (allegedly) put into his body. Test never made it past a midcard level, though, because he wasn't anything special as a wrestler or as a performer. Test and Booker T were WCW Tag Team Champions during the “Invasion” storyline that was, for the most part, a disaster. This team won't be listed among the greatest WCW Tag Team Champions in the history of that brand.
Nick Dinsmore was, while making his way up through WWE developmental, a talented wrestler who could have been something in the company. The WWE then saddled him with the Eugene character, a gimmick that was always going to have a short shelf life. Eugene was partnered up with William Regal, who served as a storyline mentor for Eugene, and the two held tag team gold for a couple of months. While Regal has been one of the most under-appreciated wrestlers among casual fans over the past couple of decades, Eugene is a gimmick that never should have been put on television in the first place.
5 Chavo Guerrero
It can't be easy to be related to somebody who is one of the most beloved and best overall workers in a field that those two people share. As good as Eddie Guerrero was while working with Chavo in the Los Guerreros team, Eddie was even better on his own. Whether he was working as a babyface or a heel, Eddie was tremendous on the microphone and inside of the ring. Try as he might, Chavo never came close to getting to that level while in the WWE. Chavo can be a fine worker who could teach a lot to younger would-be wrestlers, but comparing him to Eddie would be silly.
4 Ted DiBiase Jr.
Say whatever you will about the storylines that involved the Legacy stable. Randy Orton may not be the most exciting wrestler in the world, but his impressive resume speaks for itself. Cody Rhodes has done some great work as “Dashing”/”Undashing” Cody Rhodes and also as “Stardust.” Ted DiBiase, though, was nothing short of bland. Even putting the Million Dollar Belt on him was not going to change DiBiase from being just a guy on the roster to a star. We'll give DiBiase credit for using the Internet to try to get the “DiBiase Posse” idea over. He gets an “A” for effort.
3 Paul Roma
Remember when WCW was so high on Paul Roma that the company actually made him a member of legendary stable The Four Horsemen? Roma was even given the opportunity to play the role of partner for Arn Anderson and the duo were tag team champions for a time in 1993. There is a place in the wrestling industry for performers such as Roma. Not everybody, though, can be a main-eventer or a champion. Roma was undeserving of being mentioned as one of the Horsemen and he probably shouldn't have held tag team gold even during a low point in WCW history.
2 Roddy Piper
While he was undeniably a slowed-down version of himself, Ric Flair was still able to be a version of the “Nature Boy” that was watchable and entertaining back in 2006. Go back and re-live the Flair vs. Shawn Michaels WrestleMania match if you need to be reminded of that. Roddy Piper, however, was a shell of his former great self in November '06. The WWE decided to put make the duo of Flair and Piper Tag Team Champions, more so as a lifetime achievement honor than because they made for such a great team. Flair and Piper dropped the belts nearly a week later, which was probably best for everybody.
Whenever the subject is “worst tag team champions” or “most undeserving tag team champions,” it is always a safe bet to assume that Heidenreich will at least be mentioned somewhere. The WWE tried to turn Heidenreich into a legitimate star back in the 2000s despite the fact that he wasn't all that great at any part of his job. Included in the push was linking Heidenreich with Animal to form a clunky version of the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom. Heidenreich and Animal held the WWE Tag Team titles for a few months before their one and only reign on top came to an end. That was about as good as things got for Heidenreich in the WWE.