Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow, John Carbery and Brian Damage
To the surprise of many predicting last week’s SummerSlam on this blog, the New Day held their titles extending their reign as tag champions. In homage, in today’s Sunday Sermon, we take a look at tag team wrestling through the years and discuss our favourite tandems.
Craig: For months we’ve expected New Day to drop the tag gold but they have been very successful in retaining their gold, against expectations. They have been a breath of fresh air, especially for this blog which has banged the drum quite a bit about the WWE needing to improve its tag team division.
In general terms, the WWE tag team division is as strong as it has been for some time. Not the strongest ever, by any stretch of the imagination. But certainly not a bad place.
There’s no doubting their longevity or the fact that they have played a significant part in developing the current tag team division. But are they the greatest tag team champions ever? Are they the best the company has to offer? And who is the greatest tag team ever?
All that and more in this latest Sunday Sermon.
Jamie: Without thinking too much about it, Demolition and Edge & Christian jumped straight into my head. As a kid Demolition were my team and as a teen I was always more E&C than I was Hardyz or Dudleyz. For me, these were the top teams during the two golden ages of WWE when I was growing up. I got into wrestling in the early 90’s, but most of my source material came from late 80’s events on VHS. Aside from occasionally seeing The Hart Foundation with the belts, I recall them being almost permanently around the waists of Axe and Smash. I couldn’t name a single stand-out match they had, but they always had a Champion’s aura. Just as I view the Intercontinental Title as the Mr Perfect belt, the old style WWE Tag Titles will always be the Demolition belts to me.
John: In the Attitude Era there was no better team than Edge and Christian. They were the complete package and one of the greatest championship combos ever. My mind was blown the first time I saw the British Bulldogs compete as a team, in fact I had no idea that Davey Boy had a tag partner until I found an old Bulldogs VHS tape in a second hand shop in 1998. I threw it in to the VCR and got to see some of their matches with the fellow aces Hart Foundation and there was no going back. The Brainbusters, Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson were incredible too and were everything you’d want out of tag team champions during their WWF run in the late 80’s. Similar to Jamie whenever I think of the classic tag titles I think of one team, not Demolition but the Legion of Doom. I think they were just on tonnes of marketing materials with the titles when I was a kid and its stuck. From what I recall their early 90’s reign wasn’t all that significant.
There were some great odd couple teams too like Austin/Dude Love and MVP and Matt Hardy that I really enjoyed watching. I’m sure there were a lot of great teams in the 60’s and 70’s but that’s well before my time.
Craig: I like Jamie’s approach to this. Yeah, Demolition for me are synonymous with the WWF tag titles in the same way Hogan was with the WWF title during the late 80s/early 90s. It seemed strange when they didn’t have them, despite other teams having various reigns along the way.
Whenever I think of classic teams, I also think of LOD. During the 00s that became the Dudleys. A team that would dominate every team put in front of them. I guess this sermon has become quite topical with the retirement of the Dudleys.
Factor in the new Smackdown Live tag team titles, the fact that The Revival are bossing things on NXT and the solid run of New Day, the state of tag team wrestling is certainly in a good place.
The Brainbusters were a big part of an incredible tag team division in the WWF in the late 80s. Alongside the British Bulldogs, The Fabulous Rougeaus, Hart Foundation and The Rockers all being significant parts of the tag team division.
In WCW you had some great teams in the early 90s like The Steiners and the Holywood Blondes too.
Perhaps it might be easier to list the best tag teams by decade:
John: The best team of the 70s for my money was Nick Bockwinkel and Ray Stevens, but obviously they were AWA mainstays. I haven’t seen enough footage of that period though to really make a solid decision one way or the other. If I’d had access to a sizeable tape library in my teens I’d have an opinion on the matter as all I did back then was watch wrestling new and old alas it was not meant to be.
Brian: During the 1980’s, the NWA had the far superior tag teams to the WWF. You are talking Road Warriors, the Midnight Express, the Fantastics, the Varsity Club, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard etc, etc.
As for the WWF/E, the greatest tag team of all time is very subjective. You have teams like Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boys, Dudleys, the Wild Samoans, Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs, Steiner brothers, Demolition etc. For my money, it all goes by eras.
The 1980’s it was Demolition. the 1990’s it was Edge and Christian in my book and in the early 2000’s it was the Dudley Boyz. Right now it has to be New Day, but American Alpha I think will surpass them. Notice nobody mentioned Brian Kendrick and Paul London…the longest reigning WWE tag team champions before New Day eclipsed them.
Craig: Of course, Kendrick and London. Surprised it has taken so long but that all occurred during a period I wasn’t really watching much of the product so it’s difficult for me to really be able to comment too much on them.
As for the NWA, you list a lot of teams that certainly can be fondly regarded. We’ve talked previously in a Top Five about tag team specialists so Arn Anderson definitely deserves a mention and I did enjoy his fleeting Heath Slater related cameo this week on Smackdown Live. He’s also mentioned in relation to the influence The Minnesota Wrecking Crew – although not originally featuring Arn – had on The Revival.
I’d certainly agree Demolition for the 80s, Dudleyz for the 90s and I’d not be too argumentative about Edge and Christian for the 00s.
Anyone we are obviously missing out?
90s: The Dudley Boyz
00s: Edge and Christian
10s: The New Day
John: A lot of the best teams of the 90’s and 00’s were outside of the WWF/E. The Steiner Brothers were obviously one of the greatest teams of all time but did most of their best work in WCW and NJPW though they were briefly WWF tag team champions. Teams like the Smoking Gunns and the Body Donna’s dominated the mid 90s in the fed but for my money it was a lot of the odd couple teams during that period that stood out. Owen Hart was in a bunch of great teams in the 90s. He picked up gold alongside Yokozuna, British Bulldog and Jeff Jarrett. His short lived tandem with Bret delivered some blinders too but no championships.
In the 00’s I thought Booker T and Goldust were one of the best teams around and they were clearly just thrown together. They had great chemistry and produced some terrific matches. Goldust and Cody Rhodes feud with the Shield over the tag titles in 2013 was tremendous also, their match at Battleground that year stole the show. Daniel Bryan and Kane also produced magic in their tandem efforts, mainly through their promo work admittedly but they delivered in ring too, especially their six man ladder match with Ryback vs the Shield at TLC 2012.
Craig: Yeah, the 90s were synonymous with thrown together teams. Some had great success, like the New Age Outlaws and the various teams Owen Hart had. More recently, the likes of Goldust and Booker T as well as Team Hell No were hugely entertaining too.
We’re 1400 words in and no mention of The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express… Where, if anywhere, do they feature in a sermon initially looking at WWE tag teams but now looking at tag teams more generally?
John: Well the Rock N Roll Express were the NWA Tag Champs during their 1998 WWF run so maybe that counts? In the 80’s nobody could touch the NWA for tag team wrestling. The RnR, Midnight Express, Fantastics, the Fabulous Ones, the Road Warriors, Tully and Arn and a lot more tore it up over the various territories. WCCW was nearly built on tag wrestling with the Von Erichs vs the Freebirds too.
I don’t know if anyone mentioned the Rockers as a great championship combo? They did technically win the titles. Both Marty and Shawn of course went on to pick up tag gold officially with plenty of others throughout their careers.
Oh and the Jumping Bomb Angels should be included in this discussion. One of the best tag teams of the 80s and of course they held the short lived WWF Womens Tag Team Championship. I’ll never forget listening to Jesse Ventura call their first match in the WWF. He basically started burying everybody else on the card for not being up to the Angel’s level.
Brian: What about The World’s Greatest Tag Team aka Team Angle of Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin? The Rockers were a great tag team for both the AWA and the WWF. The Freebirds were truly great no matter who teamed with who. One of the most underrated tag teams of the 1990’s was the Miracle Violence Connection of Dr. Death Steve Williams and Terry ‘Bam Bam’ Gordy.
Craig: It’s been quite interesting that much of the praise for tag teams has been either for those competing in the 80s/early 90s and now. An indication of a renewed focus on tag team wrestling instead the bad old days of throwing two guys together and hoping for the best.
John: How have we not mentioned the Smackdown Six? Edge and Rey Mysterio, Los Guerreros and Angle and Benoit were all amazing championship combos and their three way feud made Smackdown essential viewing in 2002. Wouldn’t dare miss an episode back then, I just knew there would either be a tag or singles match involving someone from these teams that would blow me away and there invariably was.
Craig: Yup, I’d agree with that. Those were some fun matches right there. Perhaps easiest to each do our top teams for the last four decades. Mine would be:
80s: Road Warriors
90s: The Dudley Boyz
00s: Edge and Christian
10s: The New Day
There’s our take. Who do you think are the biggest players in the history of tag team wrestling? Leave your thoughts below.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.