Tag team wrestling has been in the doldrums for the last decade or so but is enjoying a comeback. WWE seems so intent on pushing it again that both brands have tag titles once more. The New Day just finished their record reign and SmackDown is doing nicely as well. TNA and ROH still have their belts too to push things and the question of who can hold them is a big one. It’s tricky as there are many choices but not everyone is worthy of holding the belts. That’s different than in the past in some ways, as it’s really impressive how many truly great and deserving teams never held the big world titles.
WWE has the most in that regard as their division in the late 1980s was fantastic. WCW, on the other hand, seemed to slap almost any pairing with a tag title run no matter how short. Of course, not everyone deserved the belts at all (as seen by many of those WCW teams). It’s remarkable to see how many really great teams never got a run when baffling pairings reigned as champs for some time.
Here are eight tag teams that deserved world championship runs but never got them and seven that never should have had the belts in the first place. This just shows how tag team wrestling can be perplexing.
15 DESERVED: Powers of Pain
There have been a lot of teams to copy the Road Warriors with Demolition famous as getting even bigger than the LOD as tag team champions. The Powers of Pain were among the better copycats, hard in the ring but showing some skill as well. Warlord and Barbarian just gelled well and had a good run in the NWA facing the Warriors in great battles. However, a pay dispute led to them leaving just when a feud was taking off.
14 DIDN’T DESERVE: Manny Fernandez and Rick Rude
This is an incredibly odd pairing on many levels. Fernandez was a hot worker, rising up with his Texas vibe and being a good heel worker. Rude was taking off coming off a WCCW championship reign and his arrogance was riding high. Yet having them as a regular team was off, their chemistry not that tops and too many opposites. Yet in 1986, they were put over the Rock n Roll Express to win the NWA tag titles. Given the amazingly hot teams around at the time (such as the Road Warriors) having Rude and Fernandez as champs was an odd choice as their matches didn’t exactly set the promotion on fire.
13 DESERVED: The Harts
Bret has said he always wished this could have happened. He, of course, had been ruling in WWE as multiple Tag Team, Intercontinental, and World Champion and doing a great job as one of their biggest stars. Owen had spent time in tag teams with Jim Neidhart as the New Foundation and then with Koko B. Ware as High Energy. While great, he wasn't given the major push he deserved and it obviously annoyed him. In late 1993, he and Bret began teaming up more which was to fuel their eventual breakup and Owen’s heel turn.
12 DIDN’T DESERVE: Deuce and Domino
Even if they had appeared in early 1990s WWE, this would have been a ridiculous act but showing it in 2006 was just nuts. A pair of decent workers, they came out dressed like 1950s greasers in leather jackets with a “doo-wop” song as their entrance theme and a valet named Cherry on roller skates. The gimmick was okay but it was reflected too much in their ring work. In turn, their work suffered trying to live up to the act too much. They won the tag belts off the long-reigning Paul London and Brian Kendrick, an odd choice to dethrone them.
11 DESERVED: Fabulous Ones
One of the first to see how music videos were going to change things in the 1980s, Memphis promoter Jackie Fargo had a great idea. He took Stan Lane and Steve Keirn, two handsome mustached workers and put them together. He then had them do videos in suspenders and ties, set to rock music, bowler hats and gloves completing the image. Ladies loved watching them strut but the Fabulous Ones also backed it up with first rate team-work and mixed some brawling with fine technical stuff. While they won some regional titles, a major one always eluded them.
10 DIDN’T DESERVE: David Flair and Crowbar
WCW really did help push the idea of “anyone can have a run as champs” with their tag titles. Whereas WWE guys would hold the belts months on end, WCW would have fast reigns by pretty much any pairing being tossed together. By 2000, the belts were barely worth their weight in gold but even then, this was a terrible pairing. David Flair possessed none of his dad’s skill or charisma yet kept being shoved down the throats of fans with bad “heel turns” that just showed how terrible he was.
9 DESERVED: Power & Glory
8 DIDN’T DESERVE: American Males
7 DESERVED: Can-Am Connection
6 DIDN’T DESERVE: New Legion of Doom
Sometimes, it’s best to just leave a legacy to die. For two decades, the Road Warriors were seen as the greatest team ever, changing the game totally with their leather and face paint look, trashing every opponent in their path and riding high. They held the AWA, NWA, IWGP and WWE tag titles and were regarded as true legends. When Hawk died in 2003, that seemed to be the end of it with Animal coming about in 2005 to help promote a DVD about the team. He was accosted by tag champions MNM who jokingly challenged him. Enter Heidenreich, the goofball muscleman known for bad poems who offered his aid to Animal.
5 DESERVED: The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers
4 DIDN’T DESERVE: Pacman Jones and Ron Killings
3 DESERVED: The Killer Bees
2 DIDN’T DESERVE: Eric Young and ODB
1 DESERVED: The Rockers
It really is remarkable how they never held the titles. Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty rose high in the AWA, showing amazing drive and some sensational moves and held the tag titles there for a bit. It took a while for them to get into WWE but when they did, they were stunning. In 1989, you didn’t see guys pulling off such amazing tandem moves, totally in synch in high-flying and technical work and fantastic, making any match a winner. They put on classics against the Brainbusters and especially their amazing battle with the Orient Express at the 1991 Royal Rumble.
In October of 1990, they did beat the Hart Foundation for the belts on Saturday Night’s Main Event. However, a rope breaking marred the entire match and so it never aired with WWE preventing The Rockers from ever getting the belts due to politics. They had their famed split in 1992 and each would hold the gold with other partners down the line. But it still amazes that one of the most fantastic teams WWE knew never got a run as actual champions.
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