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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The Top 100 Tag Teams of the WrestleMania Era (#81-#90)
By The Doc
Apr 28, 2017 - 12:47:21 PM

”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: If this were your list, what ranking criteria would carry the most weight with you?

90. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro
89. Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio
88. Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko
87. Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman
86. The Young Pistols
85. The Hurricane and Rosey
84. The Miz and Damien “Mizdow”
83. Booker T and Goldust
82. The Motor City Machine Guns
81. La Resistance

90. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro

Dave: I am pleasantly surprised that the team of Tyson Kidd and Cesaro made the list. I don’t think that modern day tag teams get the credit that they deserve because enough time hasn’t passed to appreciate them. Kidd and Cesaro are a wrestling fan’s tag team. They are both old school wrestlers and previously were criminally underutilized as singles wrestlers. For a team that felt like two solo wrestlers thrown together, they had an impressive array of tag team moves. I thought that their tag title run was littered with excellent matches with the likes of The Usos and The New Day. It is a shame that Tyson Kidd suffered what appeared to be a career ending neck injury. I would love to see these two team up again against the likes of American Alpha and others. Cesaro and Kidd are worthy of their place on our countdown.

Doc: I think that a trend you will see during our countdown is that Dave will more favorably reflect upon teams from the past 10-12 years than I will; he is, after all, The Eternal Optimist. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro, for instance, were a team that never got a chance to fulfill whatever destiny that they may have had because of Kidd's injury, so they did not create much of an impression on me. They were an entertaining team, but that was at a point when A) as a fan, I had no desire to see Cesaro de-pushed to the pre-show level in 2015 after the start he had to 2014 (culminating in the inaugural Andre Battle Royal win) and B ) tag team wrestling was still an albatross for anyone hoping for upward mobility in WWE. Several good matches they did indeed have, but their title reign falls into the highly unmemorable category for me.

89. Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio

The reason that Eddie and Rey rank ahead of Cesaro and Kidd despite having held the Tag Team Championships for six fewer days really boils down to being memorable. One could say that Cesaro and Kidd had better matches as a team too, but again they were not a more memorable team than Eddie and Rey. Similar to Cesaro and Kidd, their full potential as a unit also went unrealized, but their brief time tagging was simply more memorable. The Guerrero-Mysterio duo was more of a vehicle to transition their long-standing friendship in WWE into the heated rivalry that allowed Latino Heat to be heel for several months and that segued Mysterio out of his primarily cruiserweight role into the six-year run of consistent headliner-level work. However, they were, as one might expect given their singles chemistry, very good when teaming together.

I love how Chad took the time to explain his anti-new era tag team bias as a justification for putting Eddie/Rey ahead of Cesaro/Kidd only to admit that Cesaro and Kidd both had a longer title reign and better tag matches *shakes fist*. I love Eddie Guerrero. I love Rey Mysterio. Eddie and Rey as a tag team did nothing for me. I’ll agree with Chad that the feuding between the two that resulted from their stint teaming together was the best thing to come from the pairing. After all, I’d argue that Eddie and Rey were one of the best feuds of the past 15 years. However, I think they get to the feud even if they don’t team up, so I’m not giving that as much weight as Chad. They don’t belong this high on the list. I’m not sure they belong on the list at all.

88. Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko

Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko may seem like two singles’ stars that were thrown together as a tag team, but that is not the case. Not only were they stablemates as part of the 4 Horsemen in WCW and The Radicalz in WWE, but they enjoyed tag title success in both ECW and WCW. Their ECW tag title run was largely unmemorable, but I thought their WCW tag title run was simply spectacular. A lot of people have tremendous reverence for “The Smackdown Six” in the early 2000s. While those matches deserve all of the praise that they get, I feel that the series of matches that Benoit and Malenko had with the teams of Raven/Perry Saturn and Rey Mysterio/Kidman in 1999 were just as spectacular. These are often forgotten about classics due to the messy state of affairs that was WCW at the time. A very underrated tag team.

Like Guerrero and Mysterio, two real life friends who had rare in-ring chemistry, Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit created magic whenever they were working together, be it as opponents or partners. I personally have very little recollection at this stage of my life as to the quality of the matches that they wrestled in WCW and I have not yet had the chance to revisit their ECW exploits, but it is unsurprising to me that Dave or anyone else would remember them so fondly given their intricate link throughout the mid-to-late-90s and early-2000s wrestling lore which belies their 57 days total as Tag Team Champions in both ECW and WCW. If you do recall their work together, then feel free to share some of the matches that would make your ultimate Benoit & Malenko (tag team) playlist.

87. Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman

A faction emerged in the latter days of WCW that featured one of our recently discussed duos, Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero. Dubbed The Filthy Animals, the stable also included Billy Kidman, who teamed with Mysterio to win the WCW Tag Team Championships (and the WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championships). I would be rather interested in doing a case study on the Filthy Animals to see what kind of reputation that they have developed historically over the past two decades. Focusing specifically on the team at hand, Kidman and Mysterio were a highly entertaining pair, both of them considered very innovative. Their success in WCW at the turn of the century was revisited briefly in WWE, where they reunited to challenge for the Smackdown Tag Titles at Vengeance 2003 in what myself and the gentlemen from LOP Radio's “Right Side of the Pond” named one of the ten greatest tag team matches in WWE lore last year.

I enjoyed the Filthy Animals. Rey and Kidman were arguably the top two cruiserweights of the WCW era. Their pairing was a fan’s dream. I already discussed how highly I regard their series of matchups with Benoit/Malenko and Raven/Saturn during 1999. I also enjoyed their run during the brief time period when WCW introduced the Cruiserweight Tag Team Titles. This was one of their few solid ideas during their downward spiral. Rey and Kidman’s tag matches were always fun and they brought some unique ideas to the table. The only reason that they aren’t further up our list is because they were only a tag team for a short period of time. I really feel that this pairing was a missed opportunity for WCW.

86. The Young Pistols aka The Southern Boys

Here’s the first of many examples on the countdown that will put the spotlight on Chad’s irrational yet consistent love for 1980s NWA Tag Team Wrestling. While there was plenty of “good” during that era, there was also plenty of trash. The Young Pistols, also known as The Southern Boys, were absolute trash. They are on the list as a result of a year-long feud with The Fabulous Freebirds. Let’s not confuse this lengthy and well acclaimed feud with the notion that either one of these stiffs did any noteworthy. The Freebirds carried this feud and you could have lined up two rubber mannequins against them here to similar success. There’s a reason that The Pistols didn’t accomplish anything else in their entire careers. They weren’t very good.

Forgive my pal, Dave, ladies and gentlemen. It must have slipped his mind that the Southern Boys, Tracey Smothers and Steve Armstrong, are here because they were involved in one of the top 2-3 tag team matches of the entire 1990s decade against The Midnight Express at Great American Bash 1990, a match that, by the way, holds up against any tag team match ever wrestled and could therefore be considered one of the best tag team matches of all-time. Lost in the revisionist history that WWE likes to parade across its Network, Southern Boys vs. Midnight Express is one of the matches that you should see before you die. Dave is right about my love for late '80s NWA tag team wrestling, though; the division was strong enough in those days to feature two sets of Tag Team Championships, one of which (US titles) the Young Pistols held for over two months.

85. The Hurricane and Rosey

Dave hates on the Young Pistols but, as a little preview of what's to come, he is about to sell you on the virtues of S.H.I.T. and The Hurricane. If you don't remember them, I don't blame you. They rose to prominence when tag team wrestling in WWE was entering its ten year doldrum period. Credit where it is due to taking nothing – a super-hero and a super-hero in training (get it?) - and turning it into something that The Rock could make fun of backstage during his WrestleMania XX promo, and I suppose for holding the World Tag Team Championships for (a very forgettable) 140 days. That said, I got my laughs from silly videos that my roommates found on the internet back in those days, not from the slightly entertaining stylings of Hurricane Helms and the recently deceased (RIP) former half of Three-Minute Warning.

When it comes to tag team wrestling, Chad is Clint Eastwood in Gran Turino screaming “Get off my lawn!” Of course he spent his 150 words hating on The Hurricane and Rosey. I’ll spend mine telling you that he is dead wrong. Hurricane and Rosey had a long title reign compared to a lot of teams ahead of them on the countdown. They were champs for over six months! Sure, tag team wrestling was down during this time period. Sure, they don’t have any memorable matches. You know what they did have going for them? They were over on a main event level and got main event level reactions during their matches. The Hurricane was simply on fire as a character during this time period. Calling Rosey his Super Hero In Training (S.H.I.T) was brilliant. The audience ate it up with a spoon. I ate it up with a spoon. Chad did not eat it up with a spoon. What can I tell you? He’s a grumpy old man.

84. The Miz and Damien “Mizdow”

I was surprised to see that Mizdow were only tag team champions for 36 days. It felt like forever. I don’t mean that in a bad way either. Mizdow was a one-trick pony but that one trick was amazing. Damien Sandow hit a home run as Miz’s stunt double. I laughed every time he’d sell whatever move was being done on The Miz while he was on the apron. Their matches were complete trash but entertaining nonetheless. You can’t discount how well Miz played the straight man here either. This gimmick doesn’t work without The Miz completely losing his mind over Sandow’s status with the fans. It’s a shame that the WWE botched the Sandow face turn and completely abandoned this angle. This felt like the storyline that would skyrocket both to the main event. All in all, they earned their spot on our countdown because of their tremendous entertainment value.

I can tell you unequivocally that Hurricane and Rosey were not over on a main-event level; unless of course being over on a main-event level is the same thing as being over on a comedy side-show mid-card act level. You know which team was over on an upper-tier level, though? The Miz and Damien Mizdow, perhaps the surprise hit of the decade thus far. I did think Mizdow was funny. Seriously, though, Damien Sandow had three different characters in four years, all of them were over, and he got canned; I think him and Cody Rhodes were the two most underutilized talents in the last seven years. I concur with Dave about The Miz in his role opposite Mizdow's antics; it was one of the reasons why the only thing surprising about Miz's resurgence in the last year was WWE allowing it to happen. I have fond memories of Miz and Mizdow.

83. Booker T and Goldust

Booker T and Goldust reigned as Tag Team Champions for about two weeks less than Miz and Mizdow, but they teamed for a fair bit longer and they were so popular that Booker T broke off from their duo and became a WrestleMania headliner against Triple H in 2003. The dynamic between them was similar to Miz and Mizdow and arguably funnier, with Booker showing a side of himself that I thought was hilarious. Goldust, embracing the comedic side of his eccentric character, was incredibly funny too and offered another example of how valuable he has been to WWE in no matter what role he was playing. They went on a solid six month chase for the Tag Titles and had several really strong matches along the way, but their segments were what made them great. Most comedy in WWE falls flat; Booker T and Goldust were exceptional in that regard.

Chadwick may not be worldly enough to appreciate the awesomeness that was Hurricane S.H.I.T, but at least he’s seen the light when it comes to BookDust. There isn’t much to add that Chad didn’t lay out. Comedy is hard to pull off, and I’m not sure that any duo did it better than these two. This pairing was incredibly important to Booker T’s career. Booker T was wildly popular in WCW but didn’t quite carry the momentum over to the WWE. He was able to show a side of his character that he hadn’t before. Without this stint proving that he was adept at playing a comedic character, we probably don’t get to see King Booker. It shouldn’t be a surprise that these two unique talents were able to team up and create magic.

82. The Motor City Machine Guns

The Motor City Machine Guns earned a nice spot on our list as a result of their six month title run in TNA. This was an excellent run full of top notch matches. One of the more underrated TNA storylines was their best of five series with Beer Money for the tag championships. The series consisted of a ladder match, street fight, steel cage match, Ultimate X match and 2 out of 3 falls match. That is an impressive and diverse set of gimmick matches. In fact, the Guns excelled in gimmick matches in general. I thoroughly enjoyed both their Empty Arena and Full Metal Mayhem matches against Generation Me. Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley had a great run, and absolutely deserve their spot on our countdown.

Admittedly, I do not have much to say about the Motor City Machine Guns because their success came after the time that I closely followed TNA. Their 182 day reign as Tag Team Champions did come at a time, however, when I kept up with the TNA results and I recall being very happy for them because Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley were talents of whom I thought highly when they were in the X-Division (and back when that division was one of the best things in all of wrestling, mind you). In reading up on their time as a unit, I also learned that they were IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Champions as well. I look forward to, on a rainy day, being able to sit down and watch the matches that Dave raved about. Kudos to Shelley and Sabin.

81. La Resistance

La Resistance, initially consisting of Rene Dupree and Sylvain Grenier and later Grenier and Robert Conway, was a highly decorated stable in the early-to-mid 2000s. Debuting in 2003 after WrestleMania, they became Tag Team Champions for the first time by mid-June when Dupree and Grenier defeated Kane and RVD at Badd Blood. The latter three of their four combined reigns came via the duo of Grenier and Conway. For 272 days they were the leaders of the Raw tag team division. One can hopefully forgive the Wiki-nature of the description about them, but their statistics were the driving force behind their inclusion rather than anything particularly noteworthy about their abilities. Dupree, I always thought, was full of potential that went unrealized in WWE perhaps due to being pushed at too young an age (he was 19 y/o in 2003); the other two were wastes of space.

Come on Chad, how can we doubt the greatness of La Resistance? They were amazing heels. They were French. No one likes the French. They had bad accents. They look down on people. They don’t shower. The armpits of their women are hairier than mine. By the way, that is saying something. I’m practically a baby gorilla after all. Can you see how desperate I am to fill 150 words about a tag team that as Chad alluded to was so completely unmemorable? Nonetheless, four title reigns totaling 272 days is nothing to sneeze at. Crud. I’m about fifty words short here. Um…well….my 9 month old climbed up an entire flight of stairs today? He’s a good little dude. Seriously, I can’t wait to talk about good teams again. NEXT!

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