Bookers and promoters say that investing in a tag team in the wrestling business is a double-edged sword. Whilst there is double the chance for success, there is also double the risk of failure! Perhaps this explains why the art of tag team wrestling in today’s landscape seems to be all but lost? There are of course some talented tag teams around today, but they rarely receive the same spotlight or push as their singles counterparts. So today we are taking the opportunity to shine a light on and discuss some of the greatest tag teams of ALL time.
There will be no holds barred in this review of tag teams from across eras; including some from today. Before we begin there is a slight disclaimer. This article covers only two-man tag teams. “The Freebird Rule” does not apply here. So honorable mentions go to The Fabulous Freebirds, The New Day and The Von Erich Family.
As always, we are keen to know your opinion. What are your favorite tag teams of all time and why? Let us know in the comments. If you like what you read today, why not consider sharing this piece with fellow wrestling fans?
The Hart Foundation
The original incarnation of the Hart Foundation was a tag team full of chemistry, pairing the larger than life personality of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart with the technical proficiency of Bret “Hitman” Hart. The Hart Foundation would later become a wrestling stable during The Attitude Era. The brother-in-law pair had already been wrestling as single stars in the WWE but had received little success until 1985 when they joined forces with obnoxious heel manager Jimmy Hart.
The Hart Foundation had some fantastic feuds with both The Brain Busters and Demolition to name a few. In 1987 The Hart Foundation defeated fellow Stampede Wrestling alumni’s The British Bulldogs for their first WWE Tag Team Championships. With this “The Pink and Black Attack” was finally on the map. Both Neidhart and Bret would experience singles success in their own right. But their original tag team run is highly regarded.
The Road Warriors / Legion Of Doom
Michael “Hawk” Hegstrand and Joseph “Animal” Laurinaitis became tag team partners in 1983. Originally under the name of The Road Warriors and later Legion of Doom. Outside of the WWE, these names are interchangeable. But under Vince McMahon, they are known only as Legion of Doom. Hawk and Animal made a fierce pairing known for their high impact, explosive style and the utter domination of any tag division they entered.
They have one of the most iconic yet uniformed looks of any tag team. Visually “Mad Max” springs to mind. Their naturally imposing presence is heightened by their ring attire and garish face paint. Many have tried to imitate Hawk and Animal but none have compared. Road Warrior Hawk sadly passed away in 2003. In 2011 The Road Warriors along with their manager Paul Ellering were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
It’s safe to say that in 2019 there aren’t too many good old fashioned rasslers’ out there! At one time the high flyers were the show stealers of the squared circle. Now with everyone busting out high-risk aerial moves, the best way to stand out is to improve your ground game. There is no better example of excellent ground and pound and superior in-ring psychology than The Revival.
Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson debuted for the NXT brand in 2014. Now only five years into their pairing Wilder and Dawson have held the Raw and NXT Tag Team Championships two times each. Whilst they suffered from some rocky booking when they moved to the main roster fingers crossed they are getting a much-deserved push! Wrestling fans are eagerly awaiting the progression of this fantastic tag team.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express
Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton joined forces in 1983, first working the Memphis wrestling territory. They have won tag team championships in multiple wrestling promotions. Gibson and Morton were extremely groundbreaking for their time. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express would win the hearts of wrestling fans with their speed, agility, and innovative move set. The Express had legendary feuds with The Four Horsemen and The Midnight Express and inspired The Rockers.
By the early nineties, the team was in decline and separated for a brief period. This would set a trend for their tag team, as they would sporadically find new partners and then reunite throughout their career. In 2017 The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by wrestling legend Jim Cornette. Astonishingly, after the best part of forty years, they are still active wrestlers!
The Brain Busters
The Brain Busters was the WWE tag team incarnation of Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. In the WWE they were managed by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, which was the main reasoning for their new moniker. This powerhouse combination of brains, brawn, and technical proficiency was a force to be reckoned with. Both (alongside Ric Flair and Ole Anderson) had previously been a part of the legendary wrestling stable “The Four Horsemen.”
During their time in McMahon’s promotion, they were named Tag Team of the Year in 1989 by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. In the same year, they had great feuds with The Rockers, Demolition and The Hart Foundation. Anderson and Blanchard are classed as three-time world tag team champions. Having two reigns with the NWA World Tag Team Championship and one with the WWE World Tag Team Championship. Plus no one delivers a Spike piledriver quite like Arn and Tully!
The Mega Powers
On an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event in 1987, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage cemented their newly found friendship with a handshake. The crowd was in a total frenzy, and for good reason. Until now, Hogan and Savage had been long-standing and bitter rivals. But the fans had just witnessed the formation of The Mega Powers! A strapping combination of ‘Hulkamania’ and ‘Macho Madness’ alongside the gentle grace of Miss Elizabeth as their manager.
This new arrangement marked the start of a babyface fun for Savage who quickly evolved into a fan favorite. The larger than life Mega Powers dominated the WWE universe until their eventual implosion at WrestleMania V. After their famous fallout, Savage and Hogan would team together again inside the WWE and in other promotions. However, they would never recreate the magic of that initial run.
Jey and Jimmy Uso are stand out performers in a modern era dominated by average tag team wrestling. The pair have been improving year on year since their debut to WWE’s main roster in 2010, and with their family lineage, it is no surprise. The Usos hail from the famous Anoaʻi wrestling family and their father Rikishi trained them for the business since childhood.
This fantastic team possesses enviable chemistry that shines through every performance. They also utilize a unique blend of aerial and ground-based offense. The Usos are two-time WWE Tag Team Champions and four-time WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champions. In 2018 CBS Sports award them as Tag Team of the Year. Even as singles competitors Jey and Jimmy are formidable forces in their own right. The Usos are sure to be future WWE Hall of Famers.
Real-life brothers Booker T and Stevie Ray debuted in WCW as Harlem Heat in 1993. However, it wasn’t until they began being managed by Sister Sherri (Sherri Martel) in 1994 that they truly exploded onto the scene. Shortly after the addition of Sherri’s, Harlem Heat won their first WCW World Tag Team Championship. By the end of their run in WCW, they had won these championships a total of ten times!
Harlem Heat is known as one of the most dominant heel tag teams to wrestle in WCW. But a strong case could be put forth to extend this claim to include any wrestling promotion. Not only were Booker T and Stevie Ray great in the ring, but they also had an iconic look and could cut a show-stealing promo. Harlem Heat was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2019.
The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff
The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff first tagged together in 1984. They played up to the classic “foreign equals bad” wrestling gimmick. The Iron Sheik and Volkoff are hands down one of the best heel tag teams to ever wrestle. But it would be remiss not to mention the impact of manager Freddie Blassie who was also a heat magnet. Together these three wrestling legends really knew how to rile up a predominantly American crowd.
The dastardly duo employed some of the most creative cheating tactics in the wrestling business. The Iron Sheik or Blassie would often distract the referee whilst Volkoff would use his brute strength to gain the upper hand on their opponents. Let’s not forget the frequent “loaded boot.” Sheik and Volkoff were also close friends outside of their tag team partnership. This explains their amazing chemistry.
The Hardy Boyz
The Hardy Boyz are another real-life brother pairing that has taken the tag team world by storm over the course of their career. Matt and Jeff Hardy worked their way up from simple WWE jobbers to top stars over a decade. The Hardy Boyz have been at the top of the ladder (pun intended) in terms of star power ever since. Matt and Jeff are best known for their innovation and daredevil attitude to in-ring competition.
The pair has experienced success both in and out of WWE, winning tag team gold in almost every American wrestling promotion of note. Nearly twenty years since their debut, this dynamic tag team are still active competitors. Having been absent from WWE since 2007, The Hardy Boyz’s surprise return at WrestleMania 33 was extremely well received by an excited crowd of nearly seventy-six-thousand strong.
The British Bulldogs
In the eighties, The British Bulldogs were literally the hottest tag team in wrestling the world over. They made waves in promotions across Europe, the UK, America, Japan, and Canada. The Bulldogs consisted of Davey Boy Smith, the Dynamite Kid (Tom Billington) and their mascot of sorts, Matilda and later Winston the bulldog. Dynamite and Smith were ahead of their time, employing high flying moves that had rarely been seen in wrestling.
Bret Hart notes in his book that for a period The Bulldogs were ahead of The Hart Foundation in the estimation of Vince McMahon. McMahon apparently jumped up and down on his desk with excitement when he signed The Bulldogs! This story had a tragic end with both Smith and Dynamite passing away prematurely. The British Bulldogs are yet to be entered into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Demolition was a larger than life pairing that lived for pain and destruction. Ax and Smash were a force to be reckoned with in WWE throughout the eighties. They delivered intense promos with a cartoon-like intensity and their look was equally as distinctive. Demolition was later managed by the sneaky Mr. Fuji, a combination that proved to be iconic. Demolition had exciting feuds with The Powers of Pain, Strike Force, and the Brain Busters.
During their early tenure with the WWE Ax and Smash won two World Tag Team Championships and still hold the record for the most combined days as reigning champions with these belts. Demolition also holds the accolade of the second-longest reign with any tag team championship belts in WWE. They were first for twenty-eight years until the New Day overtook their record in 2016!
The Dudley Boyz
The Dudley Boyz earned their stripes in the hardcore wrestling promotion ECW. But the pairing of D-Von and Bubba Ray experienced real success after joining the WWE in 1999. They were instantly pegged against top tag teams of the day such as The New Age Outlaws. However, they are fondly remembered by fans for their iconic ladder matches with fellow adrenaline junkies, Edge & Christian, and The Hardy Boyz.
The Dudley Boyz have numerous accolades and a slew of championship wins to their name. They were the first team to hold both the WWE Tag Team Championship and World Tag Team Championships at once! The Dudley’s are also eight-time World Tag Team Champions. D-Von and Bubba remained active on and off for the best part of twenty years and were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2018.
The New Age Outlaws
The New Age Outlaws consisted of “Road Dogg” Jesse James and “Badd Ass” Billy Gunn. The colorful pairing was extremely popular in the late nineties. Initially matched up because there was little else available for them storyline-wise, they worked hard and became one of the most enjoyable tag teams in wrestling history. They were also members of the legendary stable D-Generation X.
Known for their outlandish antics, wrestling fans couldn’t help but go along for the fun-filled ride. The New Age Outlaws cut some of the best promos in wrestling history, largely down to “Road Doggs” legendary ability on the mic. In 1997 James and Gunn defeated the monstrous Legion of Doom to win their first WWE Tag Team Championship. The Outlaws remained extremely hot for about three years until injury struck Gunn putting an abrupt halt to their incredible momentum.
The Brothers of Destruction
The Brothers of Destruction were a truly ominous tag team. Although they have had an on and off again tag team partnership since their debut in 1998, they were white-hot during their first three-year run. The Undertaker and Kane were billed as half-brothers. Taker and Kane were initially entangled in a storyline with estranged father figure Paul Bearer who was equally as ghoulish.
Whilst Taker and Kane perhaps experienced most of their success as singles competitors, their run as a tag team are iconic. They represent a time in wrestling history when gimmicks could be somewhat cartoonish, yet still believable. Both characters ran the risk of being hokey and when paired together, the risk doubled. But due to the charisma of both Kane and Taker, they are now known as two of the greatest characters in wrestling history.
Consisting of two imposing giants (Blackjack Mulligan and Blackjack Lanza) this is perhaps one of the most unyielding and believable tag teams in wrestling history. The fierce Blackjacks first joined together in the early seventies and were managed by fellow legend and heat seeker Bobby Heenan. They would later be managed by Lou Albano! Both Mulligan and Lanza had impressive singles careers, but when paired together they made for exceptionally foreboding opponents.
Due to their size, persona, and in-ring acumen they formed one of the greatest teams in wrestling history. They had fantastic feuds with the likes of Bruiser and Crusher and later Dominic DeNucci and Pat Barrett. The Blackjacks won tag team championships across many promotions winning the AWA World Tag Team and WWE World Tag Team belts. The Blackjacks were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.
Second generation wrestlers and brothers Terry and Dory Jr. were very much their father’s sons. Both trained by their father Dory Funk Sr. from a young age, it isn’t surprising that The Funks became legends in both singles and tag team competition. Both brothers had very similar styles initially, although Terry would later become synonymous with Hardcore wrestling. As a unit, they were known for carrying a branding iron with them to matches that they would use to brand their foes.
Already well regarded in regional promotions and Japan, The Funks became popular additions to the WWE world in the eighties after defeating Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana at WrestleMania 2. Throughout their career, they had memorable feuds with Abdullah the Butcher and The Sheik and Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen. Both Funk brothers were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.
The Brisco Brothers
Gerald and Jack Brisco are yet another real-life brother addition to the world of tag team wrestling. Seriously, is there something in the water? They first paired together in 1969 and remained active in the business until older brother Jack retired in 2009 due to health problems. As a team, the impressive Brisco Brothers won over twenty tag team belts in the space of thirteen years. The remained firm fan favorites in various promotions throughout their careers.
Jack and Gerald were also extremely respected singles competitors. Jack especially is regarded as one of the greatest of all time! The brothers were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. The Brisco Brothers also had a hand in creating one of the biggest wrestling phenomenons in history. They discovered Hulk Hogan when he was simply Terry Bollea and encouraged him to train as a wrestler.
Edge & Christian
Genuine best buddies and top tier Canadians Edge and Christian initially entered the WWE as two-thirds of The Brood alongside Gangrel. But the pair really came into their own when feuding with regular adversaries and fellow TLC innovators, The Dudley and Hardy Boyz. During this time they became a staple in the tag team division and the Attitude Era as a whole.
Outside of their in-ring ability, Edge & Christain are remembered for their comedic pursuits. Including a range of crazy costumes, random catchphrases, and five-second poses. Together they won the WWE Tag Team Championship a total of seven times! They were also awarded the Match of the Year consecutively in 2000 and 2001 by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Whilst Edge & Christian have won world championships as singles competitors, together had unparalleled chemistry and most importantly always had fun.
The Midnight Express
Although the members of The Midnight Express changed throughout the years they were always a two-man duo that was generally managed by one of the best talkers in the business Jim Cornette. Since the original incarnation in the eighties, The Midnight Express has experienced a grand total of nine members, excluding Cornette. Arguably the best version of this tag team included either Bobby Eaton, Dennis Condrey, or Stan Lane. But always the brash Jim Cornette and his trusty tennis racquet.
The Midnight has held numerous championships across various promotions. Their feuds with The Freebirds, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express and the Four Horsemen were legendary. Amazingly, The Midnight Express has yet to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Although this is surely on the cards as the majority of their noted rivals and peers have now been inducted.