For as long as I can remember, I've always been a mark for tag teams. I grew up an 80s NWA/WCW fan, which is in my opinion the greatest period of tag team wrestling ever. We're talking about the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express, Midnight Express, Tully & Arn, Road Warriors, The Fantastics and The Russians all in their prime. But don't get me wrong, other federations had great tag teams as well. The WWE had The Rockers, Hardy Boyz, British Bulldogs, and Hart Foundation. ECW had Rob Van Dam & Sabu, The Dudley Boys, Chris Candido & Lance Storm in the Triple Threat and The Gangstas.
But this list isn’t about those great tag teams we all know and love, this is a look back at those forgotten pairings that won gold. You know what I’m talking about … like when Billy (Gunn) & Chuck (Palumbo) won the WWE World Tag Team Belts twice in 2002 or when the West Texas Rednecks (Barry & Kendall Windham) carried the WCW straps in 1999.
Here are the top 15 tag teams you forgot about that won gold. As you read this, I’m likely watching some classic tag team wrestling from Starrcade ’86: Night of the Skywalkers because I own the VHS tape. Seriously.
15 The Body Donnas
Honestly, I love Chris Candido. I am from Philadelphia and was fortunate enough to watch ECW on local TV when it was in its infancy. One of my favorite storylines was when Candido and Lance Storm were tag team champs, but HATED each other. It was gold. Tom Prichard, on the other hand, was someone I wasn’t really high on or knew much about. Seeing some of his work now, I can see that he was a good technician in the ring, but I don’t see much charisma coming from the guy. As such, I remember the Body Donnas as a tag team, but paid little attention to their run, even when they won WWE tag team gold at WrestleMania XII in 1996. It wasn’t meant to be though as the team lost the titles to the Godwinns less than two months later.
14 CM Punk & Kofi Kingston
There was a period of time in the 2000s when I didn’t pay as much attention to pro wrestling as I do now or when I was younger. The reign of CM Punk and Kofi Kingston as WWE World Tag Team Champions falls into that time span. It wasn’t a long run for the duo who held the titles for 47 days in 2008. Hell, the two were only a team for about a week before the title win even happened. What’s worse is that they lost the belts to Miz and John Morrison at a house show. Doesn’t say much for what WWE brass thought about the two as a team.
It was their only run together as Punk turned his sights on the Intercontinental Title. Both would go on to win the tag belts again, but with other people as their partners.
13 Manny Fernandez & Rick Rude
Rick Rude was the ultimate heel. This dude was never over with a crowd and got nuclear heat anytime he grabbed a microphone. Manny Fernandez was just a complete a-hole and that is what made the two a perfect pairing. In 1986, the team won the NWA World Tag Team belts from the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express who may have been the hottest thing in wrestling at that moment. Rude and Fernandez were the reigning champs when they entered the 2nd Annual Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament in 1987 and made it to the quarterfinals before losing to Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff, the tournament’s eventual winners. After nearly six months with the belts, Rude and Fernandez dropped the titles back to the Rock ‘N’ Roll.
12 Scott Hall & Curt Hennig
Before Scott Hall was Razor Ramon, he was a Magnum TA ripoff with a curly mullet, giant handlebar moustache and a tag team partner named Curt Hennig who would go on to become Mr. Perfect in the WWE. The two were up-and-comers at the right time for the AWA which was falling behind the WWE and NWA for pro wrestling dominance in the mid-80s.
The team never actually won the AWA Tag Team titles (they were awarded them behind the scenes), but held onto the belts for 119 days before dropping them to Buddy Rose and Doug Somers, an underrated tag team in their own right. It was the only run Hall and Hennig had, but it was a sign of great things to come. These two would have been a lot better as a team in the 90s.
11 The Nexus/Corre (Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel)
Heath Slater has been money recently. His run as the hottest free agent in WWE has been a fantastic storyline and it’s well-deserved after years of toiling around as the One Man Band and as the leader of the Three Man Band and Social Outcasts. But make no mistake, as half of the first SmackDown Tag Team champions, this isn’t Slater’s first rodeo with the gold. He has not one, not two but three other reigns, all of them with Justin Gabriel when the two were in the Nexus and then the Corre. Sure their first run wasn’t thanks to an actual win (more on that later), but it still counts! Their three combined reigns lasted for exactly 100 days, so they’ve got that going for them.
10 The Dark Carnival (Muta & Vampiro)
The Great Muta was one of those wrestlers that changed everything. When he came into the NWA/WCW, he was on a different level, doing moves like the moonsault which many American fans had never seen before. Vampiro is a legend in Mexico and Puerto Rico where he won a number of championships. In 2000 the two paired up as part of the Dark Carnival (which also consisted of the Insane Clown Posse and Kiss Demon) and won the WCW World Heavyweight titles from KroniK at New Blood Rising after interference from Ron and Don Harris. They held onto the gold for a day before losing them on Nitro to the Filthy Animals team of Juventud Guerrera and Rey Mysterio Jr. Neither Vampiro nor Muta ever held the belt before or after that.
9 The Legion of Doom v.2
The Road Warriors/Legion of Doom won most of the major tag team titles (WWE, NWA, AWA) during their run and were one of the most dominant teams of their era. But Hawk and Animal weren’t the only two wrestlers to be part of the team. In the mid-90s Hawk wrestled in Japan with Kensuke Sasaki (Power Warrior) as the Hell Raisers, using similar facepaint and shoulder pads to the LOD. They held the IWGP Tag Team titles for nearly 600 days. After Hawk passed in the mid 2000s, Animal made his way back to the WWE and won the tag team straps with Heidenreich as the Legion of Doom. A nice piece of nostalgia honoring Hawk, but a forgettable run as champs, losing the gold to MNM after three months.
8 Ric Flair & Greg Valentine
Before Ric Flair was the Nature Boy and Greg Valentine was the Hammer, the two formed a tag team partnership that resulted in a number of different championship reigns with the NWA Mid-Atlantic and World Tag Team belts. The two feuded with Flair’s “cousins” the Minnesota Wrecking Crew, winning and losing the titles to the Andersons. But at that point in the late 70s Flair was coming into his own and was on the path to singles stardom. The same can be said for Valentine who also won a number of titles as a singles wrestler. The two never actually lost the NWA Tag Team belts in 1978. They were instead stripped of them by the NWA’s governing body for a number of disqualifications in their matches. Paul Jones and Ricky Steamboat won a tournament for the vacant titles.
7 Tommy Dreamer & Raven
Hey, remember that year that ECW was on TNN before they basically got booted for the WWE? Well it was on the second episode that one of the most unlikely pairings became a reality. After years of feuding with each other, Tommy Dreamer needed a partner in a match with the Dudley Boyz and the man to step up was his arch-enemy, Raven. The unlikely pair held the titles for more than four months before losing them to the Impact Players at ECW Guilty as Charged. It was the first ECW title win of any kind for Dreamer in seven years. But the two couldn’t keep from getting back to their old ways and feuded with each other after dropping the belts. The pair would later team together in WWE and TNA but never again held the gold.
6 Deuce ‘n Domino
Vince McMahon loves his character gimmicks and this team was the epitome of that. A couple of greasers who came to the ring with a girl on roller skates. It’s as if Vince watched American Graffiti and said, “we need to do that!” But Deuce ‘n Domino were more Andrew Dice Clay than anything else. Their career in WWE can be summed up pretty quickly. After pairing together in 2006 at WWE’s developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling, Deuce ‘n Domino made it to the main roster in 2007. Four months later they won the WWE Tag Team titles from Brian Kendrick & Paul London, only to lose them about four months after that. After falling to teams like Festus & Jesse and Finlay & Hornswoggle, the team was disbanded and rightfully so. If they aren’t putting you over against those teams, you aren’t getting a push.
5 The Corporation (Big Boss Man & Ken Shamrock)
There were so many different storylines that grabbed my attention during the Attitude Era. One of them was The Corporation which was basically created so Vince McMahon could have a champion to his liking. The stable included The Rock, stooges Pat Patterson & Jerry Brisco, and the team of enforcers the Big Boss Man & Ken Shamrock. The pairing was a little odd as the two had almost nothing in common outside of being members of the Corporation.
Nevertheless, Boss Man & Shamrock held the tag belts for 42 days in 1998-99 before dropping them to Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart. That was par for the course back then, as tag teams rarely had long title reigns in the Attitude Era. Just a few months later, Shamrock was out of the Corporation and the team became a thing of the past.
4 Pretty Wonderful (Paul Orndorff & Paul Roma)
Paul Orndorff was a bonafide star. His WWE run with Hulk Hogan in the mid-80s is the stuff of legends, but by the time he was teaming with Paul Roma in WCW, that was far in the rearview mirror. Roma on the other hand was never a main event attraction. He couldn’t even get over as a member of the Four Horsemen, but when he and Mr. Wonderful got together, the team made sense. Both were cocky heels with good physiques and they were able to win the WCW World Tag Team belts two times during their run from 1993-95, losing them both times to another team you probably forgot about, Stars and Stripes (Marcus “Buff” Bagwell & the Patriot). When the team broke up, it was pretty much the end of their wrestling careers.
3 The York Foundation (Richard Morton, Terrance Taylor & Thomas Rich)
What is there to say about the York Foundation? The team was put together by Alexandra York (you may remember her as Terri Runnels) and she used a laptop to determine how her team would fair against their opponents. Keep in mind that this was cutting edge stuff back in the early 90s. Morton, Taylor and Rich were part of the stable and secured gold in 1991 by winning the WCW World Six Man Tag Team belts. What, you don’t remember those titles? Yeah, that’s because there were around for less than a year before being scrapped. It wasn’t long before the York Foundation was on the outs as well. Seriously, whose idea was it to call Ricky Morton, Richard? I hope someone got fired just for that stupid idea.
2 The Nexus (John Cena & David Otunga)
So earlier I spoke about the Nexus team of Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel wearing WWE tag team gold and that their first run wasn’t actually due to winning a match. That’s because it was the Nexus team of John Cena and David Otunga that actually got the three count to win the belts at Bragging Rights 2010 over the team of Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre. The next night on Raw, Nexus leader Wade Barrett forced Cena and Otunga to eat a pin and give the titles to Slater and Gabriel. WWE.com lists the Cena/Otunga title run as lasting a total of three hours. It was the only time the pair held the gold as a team and rightfully so because this was in the midst of an extremely terrible storyline.
1 The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko)
By the time these two won the WCW World Tag Team belts in 1991, each was a veteran with a lengthy career. The Enforcers won the belts at Clash of Champions XVI after the Steiner’s were forced to vacate the titles. The win was the third tag title reign for Anderson, the first for the Living Legend, but Zbyszko had already held the AWA World Heavyweight Championship and had his feud with his mentor Bruno Sammartino. The Enforcers were only champions for 75 days, but that was enough to be named Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Tag Team of the Year in 1991. The pair later joined Paul E. Dangerously’s Dangerous Alliance and at that point AA started teaming with Bobby Eaton. The Enforcers became a thing of the past.