Remember the Time will take a nostalgic and opinionated look at ill-fated gimmicks, poorly conceived storylines, and forgettable moments in wrestling history. Now join me as we take a few moments to unearth that which should remain buried forever and do our best to Remember the Time…
Remember the time when tag team wrestling was important?
I know it seems like several lifetimes since anyone gave even the slightest damn about tag team wrestling, but for our younger audience, that time actually did exist. Believe it or not, that statement rings true even for the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE).
Tag team wrestling has existed in some form or fashion since professional wrestling began to be promoted outside of traveling circuses and carnivals. Early-on it was a rare special attraction much more in the vein of traditional Lucha Libre style “Trios” matches with 3 men being on each team and with tagging (as we now know it) being unnecessary as a fresh team member would enter the ring when the previous man simply left it and went to the floor. These matches were most common in Southern California and Texas due to their proximity to Mexico.
However, in the early part of the 1950s some promoter (likely in the San Francisco territory) latched on to the less-popular concept of a team comprised of 2 men (first recorded in 1901 in the same region) and began regularly promoting these matches on his cards. In short order there was even a Tag Team Championship introduced and tag teams began entering the mainstream.
Initially tag teams were comprised of singles competitors who wanted to add a new accolade to their resume and ensure them a spot on the card, but before long tag teams became an entity unto themselves, many times even taking a place in the Main Event or semi-Main Event.
Some of the earliest “true” tag teams were The Fabulous Kangaroos, The Graham Brothers, The Von Brauners, The Interns, The Infernos, The Fabulous Fargos, The Blond Bombers, The Corsicans, and The Texas Outlaws. These were the wrestlers committed (at least at the time) to the success of their team, rather than just their individual success.
As wrestling moved into the 70s, tag teams became as integral to the overall event as singles competitors did. Then, by the 1980s tag team wrestling entered its golden era!
Even though the wrestling world was still very much divided by the parameters of the old territory system, there were names that, regardless of where one was located, you knew. Even casual fans would recognize names like The Rock N’ Roll Express, The Fabulous Freebirds, The Hart Foundation, The Midnight Express, Demolition, The Fantastics, The Fabulous Ones, and of course, the devastating Road Warriors! Tag team wrestling was vital to any card being promoted during this era. In fact, it was so important that Jim Crockett Promotions created an annual (albeit short-lived) tournament exclusively to showcase their extensive tag team division.
Sadly, at some point the mighty Vince McMahon Jr. decided that tag team wrestling was frivolous and that the WWF/E World Tag Team Championship served as nothing more than a trinket to put on a Superstar as a sign of good faith that he would be in line for a singles championship sooner or later (in most cases). The lustre was largely gone and tag team wrestling began to serve as little more than a plot device to further the storylines of individual Superstars.
The WWF/E began having far fewer “true” tag teams with teams being compromised of two established singles Superstars again becoming the norm. This era also brought about a trend of breaking-up successful teams for often-times mediocre singles runs and in many cases, low-points in the careers of once great teams.
As a fan, the last time I recall tag teams still being a significant part of a mainstream roster was 1996 in WCW. At that time, in contrast to the shrinking tag team roster of the WWF, World Championship Wrestling had, at approximately the same time, The Steiner Brothers, Harlem Heat, The Nasty Boys, Public Enemy, The Faces of Fear, The Rock N’ Roll Express, and The Road Warriors (not to mention Luger/Sting and Hall/Nash) in what may have actually been the greatest tag team roster in history! It was sadly short-lived though as WCW would eventually take the emphasis off of tag team wrestling, much like their rivals to the north.
We now live in a time where tragically, tag team wrestling is largely an afterthought, if even a thought at all. To me this is virtually criminal, as tag teams presented an all-together different entertainment experience and a tag team match, when booked properly, could tell a story that is a thing of beauty. To best understand this, make Ricky Morton your point of reference. Trust me.
To conclude this week’s edition of Remember the Time, I would like to take a moment to shine a light on some lesser known tag teams that I enjoyed and hopefully, through the sorcerery which is YouTube, so will you.
1- The Destruction Crew (Wayne Bloom and Mike Enos)
2- The Texas Hangmen (Psycho and Killer)
3- The Heavenly Bodies (Tom Pritchard and Jimmy Del Ray)
4- PG-13 (J.C. Ice and Wolfie D)
5- The Moondogs (Spike and Cujo)
That’s all for this time grappling fans. Until next we meet, Remember the Time…