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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The Top 100 Tag Teams of the WrestleMania Era (#51-#60)
By The Doc
May 19, 2017 - 11:44:45 AM

”The Doc” Chad Matthews has been a featured writer for LOP since 2004. Initially offering detailed recaps and reviews for WWE's top programs, he transitioned to writing columns in 2010. In addition to his discussion-provoking current event pieces, he has written many acclaimed series about WrestleMania, as well as a popular short story chronicle. The Doc has also penned a book, The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment, published in 2013. It has been called “the best wrestling book I have ever read” and holds a 5-star rating on Amazon, where it peaked at #3 on the wrestling charts.

Following the response to our collaboration last summer regarding the greatest superstars of the post-Attitude Era, Dave Fenichel and I have teamed up again for another Top 100 list. Between now and June, we will take an in-depth look at tag team history throughout the WrestleMania Era, even including teams that fall beyond the footprint of WWE and NWA/WCW, with rankings shaped by championship pedigree, classic matches, personal memories, the historical scope of the promotion(s) that hosted the duo, the roster positional heights that the team was able to reach (i.e. escaping the mid-card for main-event status), and impact left on tag team lore. Enjoy the journey and feel free to share your thoughts on the teams and their rankings.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What do you think it will take for tag team wrestling to again reach the heights that it did during the ‘80s or the Attitude Era?

60. The Fabulous Rougeaus
59. The Natural Disasters
58. The Colossal Connection
57. The Brothers of Destruction
56. The Two-Man Power-Trip
55. Billy and Chuck
54. Sting and Lex Luger
53. RVD and Sabu
52. The Legacy
51. Jeri-Show

60. The Fabulous Rougeaus

We struggled to rank the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers for the same reason that we struggled with The Bushwackers. They never held the tag titles. Unlike the Bushwackers whose lack of title accolades were overcome by their entertainment value, the Rougeaus lack of stats was overcome by their in-ring accomplishments. Simply put, they were fantastic. They had great matches with the likes of The Hart Foundation and the British Bulldogs. They were as reliable as reliable gets. If you needed a hot tag opener, you paired one of your marquee tag teams with The Rougeaus. That’s not to say that they weren’t also entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed their anti-Canadian schtick when they pretended to me American converts. “We’re All American Boys” is one of the themes that will be stuck in my head forever. Long before Jacques became the Mountie and Raymond became a Canadian announcer and porn star, the Rougeau Brothers were an oft forgotten but excellent tag team. Also, Ray Rougeau wasn’t really a porn star. Get your mind out of the gutter kids.

Dave Fenichel, ladies and gentlemen…

Make a list of so-termed “hipster matches”
from the first half-decade of the WrestleMania Era and it's quite possible that half your list would be full of bouts featuring The Fabulous Rougeaus. Three that immediately come to mind for me are the opening match in Summerslam history against The British Bulldogs in 1988 (a thoroughly enjoyable twenty-minute time-limit draw), the opening match in Royal Rumble pay-per-view history that saw them team with Dino Bravo against The Hart Foundation and Jim Duggan (not as good as their work that you could find from non-descript WWE TV tapings back in the day versus Hitman and Anvil, but still entertaining), and a six-man tag from the Summerslam '89 card that pit them and Rick Martel against The Rockers and Tito Santana (a tremendous 15-minute mid-card bout). During WWE's first golden age of tag team wrestling, The Rougeaus formed part of the backbone of the division.

59. The Natural Disasters

Whenever I think of Earthquake, I think of his promos where he stood there bouncing in place while spewing out a bunch of nonsense, yelling and spitting like crazy. I would mark out to see someone cut a promo like that again; everyone yelled in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Earthquake, of course, began his WWE career as a singles wrestler but later transitioned successfully into the tag team ranks alongside Typhoon aka Tugboat aka The Shockmaster. For some reason, when I was a kid, I marked for Tugboat. The Natural Disasters, however, I never particularly cared for, but they were a nearly three month-reigning Tag Team Championship duo who were the featured babyface squad opposite Money Inc. at WrestleMania VIII, a time that pre-dated the downfall of the division, so they get extra credit from me on that front.

I’m going to have to disagree strongly with Chad here. The Natural Disasters were massive and intimidating for the time. When Earthquake wasn’t squashing Damien and permanently scarring me as a child and Tugboat wasn’t moonlighting as The Shockmaster and tripping over the WCW set, they were more than a formidable tag team. They provided Andre the Giant with his last big moment at Summerslam 1991 when they kicked off their feud with The Legion of Doom. This was a very underrated feud that felt like a big deal at the time. It’s a shame that the feud never received the Wrestlemania blowoff match that it deserved. The Disasters also had a very strong feud with Money Inc that was a lot more than simply a spot on Wrestlemania. In an era where you needed to be believable, the Natural Disasters were incredibly believable as monsters.

58. The Colossal Connection

Speaking of Andre the Giant, The Colossal Connection were a short lived tag team. Consisting of Andre the Giant and Haku, they were really a one trick pony. The thing is, that one trick was more than good enough to skyrocket them up our countdown. The WWE wanted to prolong Andre’s run but his failing health was a major obstacle. By teaming him with Haku, this allowed Andre to be on screen while Haku did most of the work. Their entire run consisted of a feud with Demolition. They beat Demolition for the tag titles, only to lose a rematch at Wrestlemania 6. The match itself, along with Andre’s face turn smashing Haku and Heenan post-match, is one of the most underrated and entertaining tag matches in Wrestlemania lore. It simply does not get the credit that it deserves. This was Andre’s last hurrah at Wrestlemania, and the Colossal Connection was a vehicle for him to go out in style. RIP big man.

WWE wrote engaging storylines all throughout the card back in the day. Look at Demolition's run atop the tag team division alone. The Colossal Connection was their final WrestleMania-driven angle and it was, as Dave mentioned, a very good one. Andre and Haku vs. Ax and Smash was an extension of Bobby Heenan's on-going quest to keep the Tag Team Championships in his “family” after The “Brain” Busters had ended Demolition's record reign but were unsuccessful in preventing the post-Apocalyptic-inspired duo from regaining the titles. Heenan proceeded to sick his most gigantic weapon – Andre – on the tag team ranks alongside Haku. The Colossal Connection wasted little time in winning the gold, leading to the rematch at WrestleMania VI. Matches on the grand stage were often so short back then that a newer fan might have a harder time establishing a dichotomy of which were the featured bouts beyond the main-event. Do not let the sub-10-minute length of Mania VI's Tag Title clash deceive you; Demolition vs. The Colossal Connection was one of the biggest matches on the card.

57. The Brothers of Destruction

The Brothers of Destruction, Kane and The Undertaker, were an infrequent pairing despite being active together in WWE for over a decade. The truth is that they were far more often rivals than partners. However, WWE thought enough of their “brotherly” tandem that they made a DVD about them a few years ago and, though they will always stand out more for being on opposite sides of “versus” than they will for being on the same side, they deserve a lot of credit for meshing with an already stacked division in 2001 to the tune of a featured Tables Match at No Way Out, a WWE Tag Team Championship and WCW Tag Team Championship reign, the main-event of Backlash against The Two Man Power Trip, and a Steel Cage Match at Summerslam that for the first time unified the WWE and WCW Tag Titles.

Kane is great. The Undertaker is one of the best of all time. The Brothers of Destruction are the most overrated team on this countdown. They are the Dolph Ziggler of tag team wrestling. They were never a consistent team. They never did anything good or memorable together. They mostly squashed people deserving of a push. I’ll never forget how badly the WWE treated DDP when they fed him and Kanyon to the Brothers of Destruction in the cage match Chad detailed. As wonderful as I view both men as solo performers, they provided zero value as a tag team. In hindsight, I’d go as far as to say that they have no place on our countdown, much less ahead of the mostly deserving teams that we have already detailed. How did I let this happen?

56. Steve Austin and Triple H

I SWEAR TO GOD…IF I HAVE TO TALK ABOUT ONE MORE CRAPPY TEAM THAT CHAD FORCED ONTO OUR LIST, I WILL BURN THIS COUNTDOWN TO THE GROUND! The Two Man Power Trip is another non tag team that Chad overrates because it consisted of two amazing superstars, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H. They had an amazing match that we already discussed against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. Other than that, I don’t have any positive memories of them as a tag team. I would have rather watched Bertha Faye having sex than the aforementioned match between The Two Man Power Trip and The Brothers of Destruction. Don’t worry readers. Chad and I will get back on the same page soon when we start talking about real tag teams again. You have my word.

It's not my fault that WWE has spent the last 15 years crapping on tag team wrestling to the tune of a whole host of borderline jabroni teams vaulting their way into a Top 100 discussion by way of tag team title reigns that accomplished nothing and that nobody remembers. The Two Man Power Trip had one of the best tag team matches of all-time – maybe THE best – and they main-evented a PPV with the Tag Team Championships on the line. NWA circa the 1980s it was not, but it was so far superior to the vast majority of anything that so many teams did in the mid-1990s or post-2003/2004 that they, by default, ended up deserving to be ranked ahead of more traditional, actual tag teams. As Hall of Famer and tag team legend Booker T used to say in WCW, “Don't hate the player, hate the game.” Or, in this case, don’t hate the historian, hate the history…

55. Billy and Chuck

Here we go...we ought to be able to agree about this ambiguous duo. Billy and Chuck were fantastic and underrated not just because it was the combination of one of the top candidates for greatest tag team wrestler ever in WWE (Gunn) and one of the most decorated tag team wrestlers of the dying days of WCW (Palumbo), but as Dave and I discussed last summer in our post-Attitude Era discussion about them, they were a team that drew legitimate heat and that people really wanted to see lose the Tag Team Championships that they held twice for 117 total days. In today's world, their act reflects in hindsight as tasteless but no more so than similar heat magnets such as Adrian Adonis in the 1980s or Goldust in the 1990s; Billy and Chuck pushed an envelope that could simply be pushed to a greater extent in their day and it just flat out worked for what it was intended to do.

Alas, The Doc is correct. Billy and Chuck are an absolutely worthy tag team. Their take on the “ambiguously gay duo” was unique and something that we haven’t seen before. Nowadays, they’d probably be sympathetic faces. Back when this took place, different was “bad” and they were mercilessly booed for their life choices. Title stats are obviously a major driver when it comes to the teams that made our countdown, but memorable moments are just as important. The Billy and Chuck wedding was without question one of the best segments that the WWE ever put together. Very few predicted that they would confess to the wedding being a publicity stunt, and absolutely NO ONE saw the wedding minister being Eric Bischoff in a fantastic and unrecognizable disguise. When he told them that their 3 minutes were up and 3 Minute Warning hit the ring to attack, the crowd roared. I’d like to see a reboot of this gimmick for sure.

54. Lex Luger and Sting

I’m going to give a nod of deference over to Chad on our next team. When he pushed hard for a lofty place on our countdown for the pairing of Sting and Lex Luger, I scoffed at the idea. This appeared to be yet another example of Chad pushing two singles stars over deserving tag teams without factual data to back it up. Upon closer look, he was correct here. First, they had a solo title reign of almost six months. A singular title reign of this length holds tremendous weight. Second, much in the same way that memorable moments were held in high regard, so were top level tag matches. Sting and Luger v The Steiner Brothers at Superbrawl I was in my eyes one of the top five tag matches of all time. There you go Chad. You were right. Sting and Luger were a great tag team.

Wrestling isn't nearly as subjective as people make it out to be. It's objectifiable like college football rankings are, so the vast majority of my historical perspectives are shaped by borderline factual data. Why should Sting and Luger be here instead of a pure tag team? Because they, like other combos of singles stars that we have included thus far, accomplished more; an outstanding match that has stood the all-time test is a more impressive accomplishment than a run-of-the-mill title reign. In Sting and Luger's case, they have one of the Top 5 tag team matches of the 1990s (and maybe ever) boosting their profile. Their match with the Steiners at SuperBrawl I was phenomenal. They also reigned as Tag Team Champions in WCW for 154 days and were not just a flash-in-the-pan duo like ShowMiz. Compared to their competition at this stage of the countdown, they were a no-brainer here.

53. Sabu and Rob Van Dam

RVD and Sabu in this spot was a Dave pick. For me, their two ECW Tag Team Championship reigns totaling 244 days were impressive enough to get them onto the list, but Dave's memories from being a card-carrying ECW fan back in the day shaped their ranking here. As I've mentioned about other members of the Top 100 whose spot was earned through Paul Heyman's promotion, I have a strong opinion of what I have seen, but I cannot add a lot of context to it yet (I'm working my way through the ECW library as we speak). I'll just leave it at “I think they belong on the list” and I'll let Dave work his magic to convince you of why they should be bordering on Top 50-caliber.

RVD and Sabu belong in this exact spot on the countdown because they have a resume almost identical to Sting and Lex Luger. They had a longer title run, although in a “weaker” promotion. Like Sting and Luger, RVD and Sabu were involved in not only one of the best tag team matches of all time, but my personal favorite. The setting was ECW Heatwave 1998. It’s the best ECW PPV ever hands down, and if you wanted to argue that it’s the best PPV of all time, you won’t hear me object. Their opponents were Hayabusa and Jinsei Shinzaki. Busa was one of the best Japanese wrestlers of all time and an incredible high flyer. Shinzaki is none other than Hakushi from mid 1990s WWF. This match is simply incredible. Go ahead. Go watch it. I will wait.

52. Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, Jr.

The Legacy's formation was a personal favorite angle of mine. I haven’t seen it before, and haven’t seen it since. For those of you who have not been keeping up with the rest of this series, Cody Rhodes was a tag champ with Bob Holly. They were set to defend their titles against Ted Dibiase Jr. and a mystery partner. Rhodes revealed himself to be the mystery partner, turning on Holly mid-match and allowing The Legacy to win the titles on their first night together. They had an incredible 3 match PPV run against DX, including a submissions count anywhere and a Hell in a Cell match. They also occupied a prominent spot on Wrestlemania 26 when they squared off against the other member of Legacy, Randy Orton, in a triple threat match. I always believed that both Rhodes and Dibiase were destined to be megastars. Alas, it wasn’t to be, but they will go down in history as one of the best tag teams of the mid 2000s.

The Legacy tandem of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase is a hallmark example of why WWE still has to rely on 50 year old wrestlers at WrestleMania every year. Somewhere along the line, they forgot how to consistently recognize when someone's time had come and strap their promotional rocket ship to him to see if he could connect on an elite level. At various points in their careers, DiBiase and Rhodes both were very over and ready to be tested at a higher spot up the card, only for WWE to stall for too long and miss the moment. The groundwork was laid for both talents by Legacy and specifically by their conflicts with Degeneration X and later their own leader, Randy Orton. The trio of matches Dave alluded to with DX was utterly fantastic; four-stars the lot of them in my opinion. If you have not watched them in awhile, I suggest you make the time because they're that good.

51. Jeri-Show

Jeri-Show jumps DiBiase and Rhodes in the rankings not because they had better matches, but because their 140 days as Tag Team Champions both out-paced Legacy's 113 days reigning and out-classed them in regards to how important their reign was to the tag team division's reputation. During that classic trio between Legacy and DX, it was Jericho and Big Show who were running the division, becoming one of the rare singles pairings to elevate the titles in the process. Despite not having the caliber of talent to work with as the younger stars, they were still having good matches while also anchoring Monday Night Raw as one of the few bright spots of an atrocious year for the red brand (the guest host era) – thanks in large part to Jericho, the 2009 WWE MVP. Amazing how many odd couple TV relationships involving Y2J have turned into smash hits, huh?

I may have to rethink my position of Edge as the greatest tag team wrestler of all time. Chris Jericho took every pairing and turned it into gold. Jeri-show was no exception. We shouldn’t be surprised. Jericho is one of the most underrated wrestlers on the planet, and The Big Show is arguably the greatest big man of all time. They main evented a Survivor Series in a “Triple Threat Match” against The Undertaker for the world title. I put that in quotes because it was a glorified handicap match. They also main evented the following PPV against DX in a TLC match. This was the end of their tag title run but their mark was made. It’s rare when a tag team gets to main event a PPV, so we felt like we needed to reward Jeri-show for doing it twice. Drink it in maaaaaaaannnnn.

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