Believe it or not, tag teams are as essential as singles competitors in pro-wrestling. Whether it’s a match involving two duos trading fisticuffs or multiple tandems going at it (like the original Tables, Ladders & Chairs matches), the chaos can sometimes lead to the best wrestling matches on a stacked card.
Over the past few decades, there have been legendary tag teams that have graced the squared circle, winning multiple championships and can often lead to successful careers when one partner decides to go at it alone. Both Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were part of popular tag teams before engaging in warfare (The Hart Foundation and The Rockers, respectively), and some renown teams from the World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) Attitude Era, like The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz, still compete to this day.
The National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) had their fair share of strong tag teams, including the Fabulous Freebirds and Harlem Heat, and sometimes putting two guys together to form a packaged team pays off. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were arguably WCW’s most popular tag team when they competed as The Outsiders, ousting longtime tandems like The Steiner Brothers and The Nasty Boys in hard-fought battles.
On the flip side, there were times where packaged teams didn’t work and it’s hard to remember all the uneventful partnerships formed by past superstars as we grow older.
Before we go on, this listing will avoid picking an abundance of packaged teams. Some will be included, but only the most notable ones. Teams that competed for a few weeks will also be avoided, unless they opportunity too exploit them is just too good to pass up. Lastly, duos like Head Cheese didn’t make the cut, so try not to drown in sorrow for too long.
Here are 20 wrestling tag teams you may have forgot existed:
20. The New Foundation
Owen Hart was one of the best Canadian wrestlers to ever come out of the Great White North, but WWE didn’t exactly take notice when he first started.
After ditching the Blue Blazer gimmick, Hart formed a team with his brother-in-law, Jim Neidhart, which paid tribute to Neidhart’s team with Owen’s brother, Bret. The team was known as The New Foundation, sporting florescent Zubaz while dishing out the punishment as good guys. When the “Anvil” left WWE, Hart was resorted to competing in High Energy alongside Koko B. Ware, which wasn’t all that grand.
19. Lo Down
When the Headbangers disbanded and Mosh turned into Chaz, he partnered up with D’Lo Brown as Lo Down. In typical WWE fashion, they were forced to wear turbans and sashes, upset about being overlooked because of their ethnicity. Under the tutelage of Tiger Ali Singh, they were given Arabic names and began using Singh’s theme music. Talk about an offensive angle.
To the surprise of nobody, this team didn’t last very long.
18. The Blu Brothers
The Harris Brothers have grown accustomed to taking on different gimmicks over the last two decades. During their early days, they were billed as Jacob and Eli Blu, two shaggy-looking beasts who looked like cousins of The Berserker. Managed by Uncle Zebekiah (aka Zeb Colter), they were featured at WrestleMania 11 before leaving for Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and later returning as Skull and 8-Ball, members of Crush’s Disciples of Apocalypse stable.
17. KC James & Idol Stevens
Managed by former WWE Divas champion Michelle McCool, Damien Sandow was once known as Idol Stevens in a tag team alongside KC James. Feuding with Brian Kendrick and Paul London (who had Ashley Massaro by their side), these two teams would duke it out for a short period of time, as WWE sent both Stevens and James back to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) for some improvement.
16. New Blackjacks
There was a wave in WWE where there were plenty of “new” teams, which were more or less rip-offs of the legendary tandems they tried to emulate. The New Foundation was an extension of the Hart Foundation, the New Rockers had Marty Jannetty and Leif Cassidy (better known as Al Snow), and there was even a New Midnight Express, a team you will learn more about as you continue to scroll down.
The New Blackjacks had ties to the original Blackjacks, as Barry Windham was the son of Blackjack Mulligan and Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw (who later became John “Bradshaw” Layfield”) was Blackjack Lanza’s nephew. Unfortunately, the New Blackjacks didn’t enjoy the same success during the late-1990s, presumably because they just weren’t a right fit.
15. The Heart Throbs
This is what happens when creative rushes two wrestlers who need a little more time to make it all come together.
The Heart Throbs weren’t exactly the sexy heartbreakers they projected and to make matters worse, their in-ring skills weren’t up to WWE standard. They had runs on the independent circuit and TNA before and after their forgetful time in WWE, which was capped off by bringing attractive women to the ring so audiences would like them.
Obviously, that never happened.
14. 1-2-3 Kid & Bob Holly
When Bob Holly was a racecar driver who adopted the nickname “Spark Plug,” he was led to teaming with 1-2-3 Kid, who was no stranger to packaged tag teams over the course of his career, sharing rings with Jannetty, Razor Ramon and Justin Credible.
The tandem of Kid and Holly won the tag titles over Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka at Royal Rumble 1995, which prompted Bigelow to attack Lawrence Taylor after the match to set up their WrestleMania 11 main event.
Unfortunately, their reign lasted one day, succumbing to the Smokin’ Gunns one night after on Monday Night Raw. It wasn’t long after the spring of 1995 that WWE noticed they were better suited as singles competitors.
13. The Pitbulls
Not to be confused with ECW’s version of The Pitbulls, Kid Kash and Jamie Noble were used by WWE to rip off both Gary Wolfe & Anthony Durante’s look, complete with dog collars and even had the chains painted on their tights, too.
The two lightweights, who were probably better off as solo acts, feuded with a number of cruiserweight tag teams in the mid-2000s, including Kendrick & London, The Mexicools and another forgotten tandem, Funaki & Scotty 2 Hotty.
Unfortunately, gimmick infringement may have weighed too heavily on both Kash and Noble, who were subject to biting and barking at their opponents.
The mid-2000s was a weird time for WWE. After the Attitude Era, the Invasion angle was seen as a unfulfilling and fans tried to wash away the memories of poor storylines involving Katie Vick and Hot Lesbian Action.
The Shane Twins, best known for their work in Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling (TNA) as The Johnsons (two guys that looked like human genitals), were introduced to WWE crowds as Gymini. They were advertised as the protégés of Simon Dean (aka Nova), another wrestler WWE brutalized with a terrible gimmick. The twins were primarily used to defeat jobbers on WWE B-shows before crossing over to Deep South Wrestling (DSW).
11. Stars & Stripes
They don’t come more American than Stars & Stripes.
Two-time WCW World Tag Team Champions Stars & Stripes consisted of Marcus Bagwell (before he was “Buff”) and The Patriot (before he went to war against Canada in WWE), with the team competing against the top tag teams that defined WCW’s division at the time.
When The Patriot embarked on an unsuccessful singles run, the team disbanded and aided Bagwell’s transition into The American Males with Scotty Riggs.
10. Bruiser Brody & Stan Hansen
North American wrestling fans may be unfamiliar with the ferocious and brutish pair of Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen, who destroyed most of their opposition in Japan. It would have been fascinating to watch these two against the top tag teams in both WWE and WCW had the times been different.
Brody and Hansen’s most notable matches took place as part of All Japan Pro-Wrestling’s (AJPW) Real World Tag League, were they took on The Funks (Terry and Dory Jr.), The British Bulldogs and Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta.
9. Bunkhouse Buck & Dick Slater
In the mid-1990s, WCW brought together two veteran workers in third-generation wrestler Jimmy Golden and Dick Slater to terrorize Dustin Rhodes, which eventually led to a tag title run after the two defeated Harlem Heat.
Managed by the detestable Col. Robert Parker, the two were part of the Stud stable, and perhaps their most defining moment as a team took place at Fall Brawl 1994, where they were involved in an underrated WarGames encounter with Terry Funk and Arn Anderson on their side. The team lost to Rhodes and his father, Dusty, who had The Nasty Boys on their side.
8. The New Midnight Express
Unlike one of the most decorated tag teams of all-time, The Midnight Express, it’s safe to say Bart Gunn and Bob Holly didn’t exactly enjoy the same success as their forefathers.
Billed as Bodacious Bart and Bombastic Bob, the team took part in the NWA invasion angle where Jim Cornette brought in some superstars from the territory days including Jeff Jarrett and The Rock N’ Roll Express. The New Midnight Express, formed just before Gunn’s Brawl For All triumph (which led to his lights being turned out by Butterbean at WrestleMania 15), held the NWA tag titles once in WWE.
7. Allied Powers
Shortly after Lex Luger’s “Lex Express” run failed miserably to promote him as WWE’s top face, the “Total Package” aligned himself with The British Bulldog, who found himself lost in the shuffle when it came to the main event scene.
Uniting the United States and the United Kingdom as Allied Powers (possibly a homage to the Allied Powers of World War II), Luger and Davey Boy Smith were two forces that simply couldn’t gel and captivate audiences, hence beating lesser teams like Well Dunn and The Heavenly Bodies before Smith turned heel towards the end of their run.
They were a prime example of a packaged tag team that forced a partnership between two athletes better off finding their own way through the thick and thin.
6. Pretty Wonderful
During the early-1990s in WCW, Paul Roma, who was one half of WWE’s Power & Glory along with Hercules, befriended another WWE legend Paul Orndorff and formed Pretty Wonderful (after Roma’s tag title run with Arn Anderson). Roma adopted the “Pretty” moniker, while Orndorff was then known as “Mr. Wonderful,” and during their time as partners, they made a case to be considered one of the best tag teams in the world.
The two gifted athletes mainly feuded against teams such as Stars & Stripes, The Nasty Boys and Cactus Jack & Kevin Sullivan, and won the WCW World Tag Team Championship twice.
It’s easy to forget the team of PG-13, because apart from being the rappers of the Nation of Domination, they never quite amounted to anything else in WWE.
J.C. Ice and Wolfie D held the United States Wrestling Association (USWA) World Tag Team titles a whopping 16 times during their tenure in the promotion (They were often billed as a duo known as Cyberpunks). WWE tried to emulate their success by bringing them in, but they only rose to prominence as two obnoxious members of Faarooq’s nation.
They also briefly competed in ECW, WCW and Memphis Wrestling. J.C. Ice is better known as Jamie Dundee to indie wrestling aficionados and Wolfie D competed as Slash in TNA as a member of the Disciples of The New Church.
4. Shawn Michaels & Steve Austin
The “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin were arguably the best packaged team ever consisting of two guys who really didn’t need to compete as a tag team.
Michaels, who held tag titles with Triple H, Diesel and John Cena during his illustrious career, won the WWE Tag Team Championship alongside the “Rattlesnake,” defeating Hart & Smith on an episode of Monday Night Raw during 1997.
Both Michaels and Austin hated each other and their triumph came before their King of The Ring 1997 encounter, which determined who the team captain would be. The match ended in double disqualification and HBK would be stripped of his title due to injuries, which forced Austin to team up with Dude Love.
3. The Can-Am Express
Making their WWE debut at Survivor Series 1996, the team of Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon (aka Dan Kroffat) were incredibly successful abroad, winning AJPW’s All Asia Tag Team Championship five times. They also won Match of the Year honors in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards in 1992 when they lost their titles to Kenta Kobashi and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi.
Furnas and LaFon, who were both no slouches when competing alone, feuded with teams such as Owen Hart & The British Bulldog and The Legion of Doom before hoisting tag team gold in ECW for only 24 hours.
2. The Headhunters
The Headhunters were introduced in the Royal Rumble Match at the 1996 pay-per-view as The Squat Team. Later managed by Jim Cornette, WWE opted to call them The Arabian Butchers before they were shipped off to ECW for a second stint with the Philadelphia-based promotion.
Both Headhunter A and Headhunter B (twin brothers) weren’t exactly Hall of Fame worthy talents, yet they were hard-working freelancers, having spent a good amount of time brushing up on their skills in both Japan and Mexico.
1. The Flying Nuns
During the adventurous Shotgun Saturday Night days, WWE was in dire need of something more edgy than their habitual product. The Saturday night show, filmed from different locations in New York City, didn’t exactly change the landscape of the business, but offered fans unforgettable moments, like Marlena flashing The Sultan and The Undertaker throwing Triple H down an escalator.
The Flying Nuns, managed by Brother Love, competed on the first ever broadcast as two high-flyers dressed as nuns and made the sign of the cross before and after their matches. It must have been horrid for Mosh and Thrasher to compete wearing veils and fortunately for them, the religious habits were traded in for White Zombie t-shirts and plaid skirts shortly after.
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