The characteristics and skills of a successful tag team sometimes have the ability to be appealing for a long time. Indeed, in the not-so-distant past, tag team wrestling was a substantial draw in the professional wrestling industry, and there were an abundance of memorable duos. In addition, there were pairings that should not have happened in the first place, but overall the good usually outweighed the bad.
Whether the team was quality or not, there are some notable examples of ones that overstayed their welcome, at least for a little while. In some cases, it was a successful team that was over with the fans, that tried to stretch their popularity into a new era that demanded innovation in the gimmick or wrestling style. In others, if it was a team of lesser quality, they probably never should have lasted a few months to put over new talent, yet were visible in the given promotion’s ranks for several years or more.
This situation was not specific to one territory or promotion. Sometimes the tandem jumped ship to a different promotion to preserve their status, or management could have decided that their gimmick was good enough to try and keep it afloat for as long as possible. Unfortunately, this wasn’t always the best decision, and as a result, the teams on this list probably were together for several years (or more) too long. Fans may have turned on them (or the decision to keep them going) during the process, or the mistake may have been recognized years later. No matter the case, the old adage of “quitting while you’re ahead” rings true for these tandems of the squared circle.
Ranked below are the top 15 tag teams that stayed together too long.
15. The Bolsheviks
Making their debut as a tag team in 1987, Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov never climbed the ladder in WWE to anything of note. They rested in the low to mid-card in the tag division for three years, and never held the tag titles even once. They relied on the same old “evil Soviets” gimmick that was prevalent at the time in the industry, but failed to make it stand out from their peers in other promotions who were doing the same thing.
Everything considered, their biggest moment probably came at WrestleMania VI when they lost to the Hart Foundation in 19 seconds. Definitely a product of their time, and probably stuck around a year or two too long than necessary.
Originally appearing as a stable in WWE in 1998, Kaientai was ultimately always a low-card curiosity that had no chance of any real success in the company. Given the inclusion of former light-heavyweight champion Taka Michinoku, it was an oddly configured group that also included Funaki, and in the beginning, Mens Teioh and Dick Togo. After Teioh and Togo departed, Funaki and Michinoku were left as a duo, and never held the tag titles, essentially relegated as jobbers. Yet shockingly, they stuck around the promotion until 2001, never receiving a push. Surprising that management never gave Michinoku another shot in singles competition, where he often excelled.
13. The Outsiders
Scott Hall and Kevin Nash made waves in WCW in 1996 when they invaded WCW as The Outsiders and soon had Hulk Hogan join them. When they reunited in TNA over a decade later, it was long past its expiration date. Now going as “The Band”, Hall and Nash represented a tired formula trying to be implemented by Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan in TNA. They gave us great memories, but they should have been left in the past.
Evolution was basically just a re-hash of the legendary Four Horsemen stable that had made their name in NWA/WCW with Ric Flair in their ranks. Here, Flair was put alongside Batista, Triple H and Randy Orton, and while the star power was definitely there, the premise mainly updated an old idea, without any innovation. WWE got some good mileage out of it, as the faction lasted from 2003 to 2005, but it just came off as an excuse to use Flair in a familiar scenario. One could have made the argument that the Four Horsemen’s last days in WCW in the late 1990s was stretching it a bit thin, but Evolution was basically Four Horsemen-light and never should have lasted more than six months.
11. Rock N’ Roll Express
No disrespect to the Express, who are one of the greatest tag teams in the history of the industry, but it may be time to hang it up. While they were one of the best in the world from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, in their later years they have been functioning in a somewhat “lower gear” than before. They looked a step slower at WrestleMania XIV, where they participated in a tag team battle royal, and that was nearly 20 years ago. They still do the odd show on the Indy circuit, and I can’t imagine the results are pretty. A lot of it has to do with the fact that the Express were so high-energy in their heyday, that anything today would look like slow motion. Probably time to call it a day.
10. New Age Outlaws
Again, this is a case of what was once a quality team, trying to carry the torch too far. When Billy Gunn and Road Dogg went to TNA to reform the New Age Outlaws under the “James Gang” moniker, it felt forced. It’s another case of a team just resting on their laurels, and providing none of the excitement that the original incarnation of the duo did. Eventually, Gunn and Road Dogg rehashed the idea in WWE in 2013, to similar results. As different eras are ushered into any industry, some components of the old one just don’t work. The New Age Outlaws are a prime example of that, best being left in the Attitude Era.
While they were always a bit of a nudge to the Road Warriors, the early years of Demolition in the late 1980s produced one of the best teams in WWE at the time. They had runs as tag champions and were prominently featured on pay-per-views, and considered a major draw in the company. After Crush joined the faction in 1990, the team lost ground relatively quickly, and the quality of the performance wasn’t the same. Ultimately, Ax left altogether, and the duo of Smash and Crush stayed together for a bit longer, before changing to gimmicks in 1991 to Repo Man and Hawaiian Crush respectively. In all, it was probably a year and a half or so too long.
8. The Nasty Boys
They were an upper mid-card to main event level team in both WCW and WWE in the 1980’s through the mid 1990’s, but by the time the Nasty Boys made their second trip around WCW in the mid to late 1990’s, the team’s shtick had worn a bit thin. While they were one of the better examples of a brawling tag team in the industry, the trash-talking, loudmouth gimmick didn’t really have too much room to expand, and went on for several years too long. The teams would disband in 1997, giving Brian Knobbs a shot at singles hardcore competition, but they would reform several times for Indy shows over the years. Overall, they were best during their initial runs with the top dog companies, but lost traction in their later years.
7. The Road Warriors
Like the Rock N’ Roll Express, the Warriors can legitimately be considered one of the greatest duos ever to step inside the squared circle. However, as they made their second run in WWE beginning in 1997, it was clear that both the in-ring quality, as well as Mike “Hawk” Hegstrand’s health had deteriorated quite some bit. He was dealing with substance abuse, and really had no business being on national television at the time. To make matters worse, WWE management decided to make light of his issues in a angle used during the broadcasts which portrayed him in an intoxicated, negative light.
It is still one of the biggest stains on WWE’s legacy, and despite attempts to update the team, such as LOD 2000, this second run never should have happened. Hegstrand sadly passed away in 2003.
6. The Headbangers
It’s pretty clear that Thrasher and Mosh were a transition tag team for WWE, but somehow they managed to stick around for several years past their expiration date. Formed in 1996, getting a minor push in the late 1990s, they continued to appear on WWE television until mid-2000, which for a team with limited in-ring ability, and an over-the-top gimmick, is pretty miraculous. Overall, the Headbangers weren’t the most offensive thing we’ve ever seen in tag team wrestling, but they realistically should have probably been disbanded a good two years before they actually were.
5. D-Generation X
While the original DX was a hallmark of the Attitude Era, reforming the faction when they did in 2006 made no sense, and made it look like management was running out of ideas. The original idea helped usher in a new mold of entertainment in the wrestling industry, and completely fit wit the aesthetic of the late 1990’s. By 2006, WWE had changed drastically, and without any relevant competition from another promotion, weren’t pushing the limit in the same manner they were just eight years earlier.
Worst of all, the reformed DX stayed around for four years until permanently (we hope) disbanding in 2010. It just wasn’t the time or place, and that and span could have been used to give a younger team a push, rather than one out of their prime.
4. Dudley Boyz
At this point, I don’t know that there’s an original scenario that can be proposed to involve the Dudleys in. Since 1996, during their time in ECW, they have been involved in just about every plausible feud, match and angle in the industry. They have been mainstays on every circuit they’ve ever been a part of, and there really isn’t a reason to have them active on WWE television anymore. Yet, here they are, as active as ever, having just returned to WWE, and appearing in numerous promotions, as well as TNA prior to that. They’re legends, that’s for sure, and one of the most innovative teams ever; I just don’t know how much originality that’s left in them.
3. The Godwinns
The Godwinns speak to how bad the tag circuit was in WWE during the mid 1990s. Debuting with the gimmick in 1994, though they were active before that, this Hillbilly Jim rehash of a team went on to win the tag titles twice in the four years they were active in the company during the 1990s. There wasn’t much unique about them, other than their size, and probably should have just lasted a year or so on the lower cards. Due to WWE’s dire straits tag team situation during that time however, the Godwinns found some traction, and ended up on pay-per-views, and again, winning titles on several occasions.
2. Full Blooded Italians
What was intended as a mere comedy factions in mid-1990s ECW, transformed into a substantial, near clan-like stable of wrestlers that have appeared in numerous Indy promotions, along with WWE. It’s really amazing that a shtick-ridden gimmick like F.B.I. have been able to survive this long. Through the years the stable has included, and tag teams have been made out of Johnny Stamboli, Nunzio, Chuck Palumbo, Sal E. Graziano, Big Vito, Big Guido, Little Guido, Tony Mamaluke and Tracy Smothers.
None of these combinations were ever atop a single tag division in any one promotion, but the F.B.I. name has been a staple of the industry for well over 10 years. Various forms of it still appear in promotions seemingly at random, but it may be time to give it a rest after all these years. Truly one of the biggest curiosities in the business.
1. The Bushwhackers
If any one tag team can be considered a product of their time, The Bushwhackers would far and away be the most prominent example. While always intended to be a comedy-laden, low to mid-card filler team, Luke Williams and Butch Miller performed with variations on the same gimmick in various promotions for nearly 20 years. The New Zealand-born duo debuted in WWE in 1988, and stayed in some form on television for eight years before leaving the company in 1996, which is and was essentially unprecedented for what was basically a jobber tag team. While they never won the WWE tag titles, they were a tandem that certainly had a solidified place in their era, but to say that their gimmick “stretched a bit thin” would be an understatement.
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