Inspiring The Ascension: A Brief History of Dominating Tag Teams

The Ascension

Craig Wilson

The Ascension recently debuted on Raw after tearing it up on NXT for several years. Konnor and Viktor are the latest in the long line of big man teams in wrestling. In this piece, Craig looks at some of the other tag teams of that ilk from wrestling history including Demolition, KroniK, Powers of Pain and starting with a certain face painted duo…

Legion of Doom

Legion_of_DoomThe duo that started it all: the most dominating tag team of the 80s and one of the most popular, and dominant, teams of all time.

Hawk and Animal would capture every title that was put in front of them from their debut in 1983 through to their demise more than 20 years later. They would hold the WWF, NWA and AWA tag team championships.

Regarded as innovators with their use of face point and dominating style, the duo would destroy every team put in front of them as they worked across America including The Midnight Express and the Powers of Pain.

They eventually made their way to the WWF in 1990 and soon entered into a programme with Demolition, until they were wound down. They eventually got hold of the tag titles at SummerSlam 1991 and held the gold until early 1992, when they dropped it to Money Inc. After an unsuccessful attempt to win them back at SummerSlam 1992, the pair left the WWF and started working in Japan and WCW.

Towards the end of the 90s their popularity finally began to wane slightly and attempts was made to reboot them by the WWF as LOD 2000 with an updated look and, in Sunny, a new valet. Eventually a third member, Droz, was added to the mix with the storyline focussing on Hawk’s real life struggles with alcohol leaving him unable to wrestle, hence the need for Droz. But it was short lived and LOD left the WWF again.

The Road Warriors’ last TV appearance as a team occurred on the May 12, 2003 RAW episode in a tag team match against the WWE World Tag Team Champions, Rob Van Dam and Kane. Hawk passed away five months later.

Demolition

DemolitionYou don’t have to go too far on this blog to find me talking positively about Ax and Smash, Demolition. As a WWE fan growing up, and without the internet to show me wrestling elsewhere, I knew nothing of the Legion of Doom so as a WWF fan Demolition were the team for me.

Ax and Smash debuted on WWF screens in 1987 and lasted until 1991. It wasn’t Barry Darsow originally under the paint as Smash but he soon joined the duo after the face of Randy Colley, who originally wrestled in the WWF as Moondog Rex, was visible even with the make-up, causing fans to chant “Moondog” when he was in the ring.

Originally heels, managed first by Luscious Johnny V then Mr. Fuji, the pair became increasingly popular amongst the fanbase and turned face at Survivor Series 1988 in a double turn with Powers of Pain – more of them later – turning heel and taking Fuji as their manager.

In 1989 the pair traded the tag titles with The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard) before the latter team and Demolition would feud with another Bobby Heenan team Andre the Giant and Haku, who would win the titles in December 1989.

One of my favourite tapes growing up was Wrestlemania VI where Demolition “threepeated” and became tag champs for the third time by defeating Andre the Giant and Haku. It was a childhood favourite moment of mine.

In 1990 the late Crush was added to the group and they competed using the Freebird rule. Crush was added because Ax had developed an allergy to shellfish which hospitalized him and Vince McMahon added a third member just in case the illness put him out of action for an extended period of time.

Ax eventually took more of a backseat managers role and Crush and Smash dropped the tag titles to the Hart Foundation at SummerSlam 1990. With the Legion of Doom now on the WWF roster, the popularity of Demolition began to decline. Although the trio would battle Ultimate Warrior and LOD, Ax would soon leave the company and the two remaining members became glorified enhancement talents. Their last PPV appearance was at Wrestlemania 7 in a losing affair to Genichiro Tenryu and Koji Kitao. Crush then left the WWF as Smash continued as a singles performer before undergoing a makeover and returning as The Repo Man. Crush would also return as “Kona Crush”, a Hawaiian surfer as a face.

Powers of Pain:

Powers of PainPowers of Pain (The Warlord and The Barbarian) were put together as a tag team by Ivan Koloff and Paul Jones in Jim Crockett Promotions in late 1987. The pair began feuding with the Road Warriors. During their feud, they attacked the Road Warriors during a bench press contest between the two teams, ramming Road Warrior Animal’s head into a stack of weights with a legitimate eye socket injury attributed to those actions. Powers would also win the World Six-Man Tag Team Championship with Ivan Koloff from the Warriors and Dusty Rhodes.

They feuded for several more months until the Powers left the NWA while still the champions with Koloff when the Powers refused to do scaffold matches. As a result, the Powers and Koloff were stripped of the titles.

Powers of Pain soon debuted in the WWF, initially under the management of Tito Santana. They entered into a programme with WWF World Tag Team Champions Demolition, who had defeated Strike Force (Santana and Rick Martel) for the titles and then injured Martel. Soon they shifted to being under the management of The Baron.

They became heels at Survivor Series 1988 and aligned themselves with Mr. Fuji. The programme with Demolition ended at Wrestlemania V when they teamed with Fuji in a losing affair to Demolition.

The duo drifted down the card until they split up in 1990. After the split, the Barbarian was managed by Bobby Heenan while the Warlord paired up with Slick.

The APA:

The APAAfter the characters of Farooq and Bradshaw began to stall in the WWF, the promotion put the pair together in a tag team called Hell’s Henchmen, initially managed by The Jackyl.

The duo soon became synonymous with dishing out beatings to their foes. After The Jackyl left the WWF, the pair joined The Undertaker’s Ministry and would go on to defeat X-Pac and Kane for the tag team titles.

In 2000 their gimmick was altered slightly and they became The Acolyte Protection Agency (APA) and hired muscle for WWF performers at the time. They gimmick included the pair working from an ‘office’ in the background that usually involved them playing cards and drinking beer until they received business opportunities.

They were split up in 2002 due to the brand split and although they reformed in 2003, they were unable to achieve the level of success they had previously. In 2004 Farooq would retire and Bradshaw would move into singles action where he would hold the WWE title for 280 days as well as runs with the European and Intercontinental Titles. He retired the day after Wrestlemania 25 – an event that saw him lose to Rey Mysterio in 21 seconds.

The Eliminators:

The EliminatorsThe pairing of Perry Saturn and John Kronus began teaming together in United States Wrestling Association. They nearly became USWA tag champions in April 1994 but lost in a tournament final to Brian Christopher and “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert. They did capture the gold a few weeks later from the pair but would then drop the gold to PG-13 in June of that year.

A tour of Japan followed, where they caught the attention of Paul Heyman who signed the pair for Extreme Championship Wrestling. Originally brought in to job to the Steiner Brothers, they would in defeat the Steiners at Gangstas Paridise in 1995. Heymen presented the pair as an unstoppable force ala the Road Warriors and gave them, in Jason Knight, a manager to handle their promos.

During their time in ECW the pair feuded with The Pitbulls, The Dudleys and the Gangstas, going on to hold the tag gold a total of 3 times. However, Saturn would suffer a knee injury and upon his return grew impatient with Kronus’ perceived lack of motivation and dedication and refused to reform The Eliminators. Saturn would end up signing for WCW.

After Saturn left, Kronus began teaming with various wrestlers but wouldn’t achieve the same success as he did with The Eliminators.

KroniK:

KroniKBrian Adams and Bryan Clark were paired together in the first half of 2000 to assist Vince Russo in his vision of a clean sweep for his New Blood alliance at the 2000 Spring Stampede pay-per-view. At the event, Adams and Clark interfered in the WCW World Tag Team Championship match between the champions (insert) and Buff Bagwell and Shane Douglas, costing their titles.

The pair would then go on to hold the WCW Tag Team Championship on two occasions. In the final months of WCW, Kronik were hired muscle in a similar vein to The Acolytes in the WWE. However, once WWE purchased WCW their contracts were not initially picked up.

Fast forward a few months and in September 2001, Adams and Clark both debuted in WWE. Adams previously went under the guise of Crush whilst Clark had wrestled at the start of the 90s as Adam Bomb. They were recruited by Stevie Richards to settle differences he had with The Undertaker. KroniK made their first, and last, PPV appearance at Unforgiven, losing to then WCW Tag Team Champions The Brothers of Destruction (Kane and The Undertaker). Following the match, both Kane and The Undertaker were reportedly angry over the number of mistakes made in the ring by Adams and Clark and both superstars soon left the promotion.

They would wrestle in Japan for WRESTLE-1 in 2003 losing to Keiji Muto and Goldberg in a match both Adams and Clark suffered spinal injuries which forced them into retirement.

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2 thoughts on “Inspiring The Ascension: A Brief History of Dominating Tag Teams

  1. The Road Warriors were my favorite tag team as I felt they were true legit bad-asses. They were one of the greats as were Demolition in the 1980s as well as the APA, the Eliminators, and Powers of Pains. Kronik never clicked with me but then again, I wasn’t watching WCW in those final months and kind of ignored the Invasion period.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Book or Cook? The Booking of The Ascension | Ring the Damn Bell

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