LOP on Facebook LOP on Twitter LOP on Google Plus LOP on Youtube LOP's RSS Feed

Home | Headlines | News | Results | Columns | Radio | Forums | Contact



Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The Top 100 Tag Teams of the WrestleMania Era (#11-#20)
By The Doc
Jun 16, 2017 - 12:23:30 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: Which of the three TLC duos do you think best defined that era in tag team lore?

20. The Usos
19. Doom
18. Money, Inc.
17. The Nasty Boys
16. The Fabulous Freebirds
15. The Brain Busters
14. The Hardy Boys
13. The British Bulldogs
12. The New Day
11. Edge and Christian

20. The Usos



Recent years have not been particularly kind to tag team wrestling, but The Usos are a glowing exception. While their 3 tag team title reigns totaling 341 days (and counting) are impressive numbers, they don’t tell the whole story of how dominant the Usos have been. It seems as if they have been a focus of the tag team division for as long as I can remember. They had great matches with EVERYONE during their reign. They had memorable feuds with the likes of Goldust and Stardust, The Shield, Team Mizdow and The Wyatt Family. Their 2 out of 3 falls match against Luke Harper and Erick Rowan of the Wyatt Family at Battleground 2014 is one of my favorite tag team matches of any era. The Usos are still a focus of the WWE tag team scene today. I fully expect them to continue to move up our list when this topic is revisited down the road.

This summer may be the closest thing we've seen to a Tag Team Revolution in a couple of years, back when the Usos were finally ascending to the top of the division after largely floundering for much of their first three years in WWE. The match Dave mentioned against The Shield on the Money in the Bank 2013 Kick-Off show was top notch and invested me in their future success, which included the dominant run as Tag Team Champions in 2014 that produced the excellent defense against The Wyatts that July. Longevity has since come to their aid in such a historical discussion as this and I would like to point out that they have managed to do something that very few tag teams in the last fifteen years have been able to do: maintain their status as a team. Career tag teams have largely become extinct, but their ability to hold their ground as a unit has put them in a position to reinvent themselves, getting over not just as the fun Samoan-dancing guys who can flat out go when the bell rings, but also as the cunning, cocky heels that won the Smackdown Tag Team Championships.

19. Doom



Forgive the following Wiki-style recap, but I get the impression that fans have largely forgotten this entry. Doom, the impressive team of Ron Simmons and Butch Reed, debuted under masks in the late 1980s under the management of Woman. They were quite physically imposing and, in matches against The Steiner Brothers especially, proved to be quality members of an impressive tag team scene. After they lost a match to The Steiners that made them unmask, their identities were revealed and they proceeded to even greater success under the tutelage of future WWE Hall of Famer, Teddy Long. Doom went onto win the WCW Tag Team Championships and hold them for a 282 days, the longest single reign in the history of World Championship Wrestling. 1990 was their year, as not only did they compete in a litany of rock solid matches with The Steiners, they also were involved in headlining attraction bouts at both Halloween Havoc and Starrcade opposite members of The Four Horsemen. At Starrcade, their bloody Street Fight against Arn Anderson and Barry Windham was one of the best sub-8-minute matches you will ever see.

DOOOOOOOOOOM! I don’t think Chad gives our readers nearly enough credit here. There is no way that they were forgetting about Doom. In fact, when I would tell people that we were tackling this countdown, Doom was one of the teams that got brought up the most. Doom is a cult favorite amongst the internet wrestling community. Simply put, Ron Simmons and Butch Reed talked tough and wrestled tougher. They were dominant monsters of the late 1980s/early 1990s. Going into our analysis, I was concerned that Doom would fall under the category of teams that I loved but couldn’t justify ranking as highly as I wanted to. One of the longest singular title reigns at 282 days skyrocketed them up our list to their rightful place on the countdown. Lastly, this team is noteworthy as it launched the career of recently Hall of Fame Inductee, Teddy Long.

18. Money, Inc.



Unlike Doom, Money Inc isn’t the sexiest of tag teams. While both members are well regarded as singles wrestlers, they don’t jump off the page at you as being an all-time great tag team. However, their career achievements are simply staggering. They are 3 time champions for a total of 411 days. Furthermore, two of their title wins came by defeating The Legion of Doom/Road Warriors and The Steiners Brothers. That accomplishment alone is worth a lofty place on our countdown. Without a doubt though, their greatest accomplishment is being a part of a tag team title match against Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake at Wrestlemania IX. Sure, Wrestlemania IX was a turd that you just wanted to flush, but this match was absolutely the focal point of the show. Very few, if any other tag teams, can boast that accomplishment. Money Inc was a truly underrated and underappreciated tag team.

I honestly miss the days when a bonafide mega-star like Ted DiBiase could move into the tag team ranks and it not be frowned upon. I think the reason the pattern in modern times is disliked is because of the problem I've harped on for the last several weeks: inconsistency in booking the division and the titles rarely seeming important unless a headliner is temporarily holding them. When Million Dollar Man joined forces with IRS, it was at the tail end of a lengthy run of excellence for the division that WWE has never seen fit to match. Every single Tag Team Championship-winning duo for the ten years between late 1983 and late 1993 made our list of the 100 greatest and, though we have joked about the perception of certain eras in tag team lore, there's really no questioning that, for WWE, the first ten years of the WrestleMania Era were the golden age for tag team wrestling. Money, Inc. was one of the featured acts at the biggest Summerslam of all-time in 1992 and headliners of WrestleMania IX the next spring; DiBiase wasn't lending his credibility to tag team wrestling, but rather sustaining it through tag team wrestling.

17. The Nasty Boys



Now, don't let this read as condemnation, but my most lasting memory of The Nasty Boys was actually of their likenesses being talked about by Macho Man on the old commercial for the WWF action figures circa 1991 when the iconic orator Savage noted about The Nasties, “Those Nasty Boys are really getting nasty.” Whenever someone says, “Nasty Boys,” I first think of Janet Jackson, and then I think of Macho Man in that video. That said, The Nasties were a blast who starred in both WWE and WCW, combining to reign four times as Tag Team Champions for 414 days total (hence bumping them just barely ahead of Money, Inc. in the rankings). As characters, they were loud and obnoxious – their exploits made even louder and more obnoxious by their association with “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart and his megaphone – and, as wrestlers, they were responsible for some of the most underappreciated matches ever, with the Steiners, Harts, and L.O.D., as well as with Cactus Jack and various opponents. So, yeah Macho, those Nasty Boys really did get nasty...and I dug it.

Ok LOP fan base, ask yourselves an honest question. How many of you dropped your friends with a “pit stop” during the early 1990s? I know I did. The thing about the Nasty Boys is that their actual accomplishments often get overshadowed by the goofiness and beloved nature of their gimmick. People, myself included, tend to think of them in the same manner as The Bushwackers – a beloved team that didn’t do much of note. This is not the case. Chad already detailed their title accomplishments. One of the biggest surprises ever in tag team wrestling came when they beat The Hart Foundation at Wrestlemania 7 to become champs. That was a very underappreciated match on a very underappreciated Wrestlemania. Their WCW run was underappreciated as well. As Chad mentioned, their hardcore matches with Cactus Jack and Maxx Payne were legendary. Along with having one of the best gimmicks in tag team history, they were one of the best tag teams ever…period.

16. The Fabulous Freebirds



Cue the hate mail. We know. The Freebirds didn’t get the respect they deserve on our countdown. Chad and I struggled mightily to rank them for the simple reason that we couldn’t count any accomplishments outside of WWE/WCW/ECW/NWA/TNA. That meant that their legendary top 3 all-time tag team feud with The Von Erichs doesn’t factor into our rankings in any way. Taking that out of the equation, their WCW/NWA run was impressive – 4 title reigns totaling 258 days. Unfortunately, there weren’t a ton of memorable moments or matches within that run. Simply put, the Freebirds are a top 10, potentially top 5 tag team if you factor in ALL of their accomplishments, but we weren’t afforded the liberty of being able to do that. #16 on our countdown absent their greatest accomplishment(s) is still an incredible feat.

The Freebirds are an interesting one for me. They were an influential faction, one of the earliest examples in modern wrestling history of being greater than the sum of their individual parts; they innovated the utilization of rock music as an entrance theme and recorded one of the first original tunes to play them to the ring (the iconic “Badstreet USA”). As Dave mentioned, their feud with the Von Erichs was a huge accomplishment and, I might add, came at a time when such highly regarded happenings from the territory system were quickly fading away. Yet, what about tag team wrestling in the WrestleMania Era? Even if we included it, the Von Erich feud had little bearing on tag team wrestling as we know it. It's an ABA memory in a discussion about NBA greatness, though that's not meant to downplay it as much as it may seem. They're Dr. J is who they are, groundbreaking in many ways and accomplished in others, but just not quite as great as their elite peers on a bigger stage. In historical conversations such as these, that is absolutely OK.

15. The Brain Busters



Now, we're talking...

In my opinion, anyone we discuss in the Top 15, a case could be made for them being the greatest in tag team wrestling lore. That begins here with Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, renowned members of The Four Horsemen in the NWA, where they held the Tag Team Championships twice for 323 days, and later known as The Brain Busters in WWE where, with Bobby Heenan's guidance, they ended Demolition's then-record title reign and held the gold for a little over two months. Their track record as golden leaders in each of the two best tag team divisions ever assembled would be enough to earn them consideration for a top-level spot on this countdown, but combine it with their incredible in-ring resume and it's almost a wonder they're not ranked higher. We did not include The Revival because of NXT's relative youth, but there's no questioning their brilliance; no team has ever reminded me more of Blanchard and Anderson than those two and Dash/Dawson have a long way to go to match Arn and Tully's respective abilities to emote inside the squared circle. I could go on and on, so I'll leave you with a match that exemplifies everything I could ever write about The Brain Busters: versus The Rockers from the Boston Garden on March 18, 1989. Ballgame.

If you couldn’t tell that the Brainbusters were a personal favorite of Chad’s, I don’t know what else to tell you. They were an excellent tag team. They personified everything that was great about the NWA. Blue collar and hard-working, no nonsense kind of guys. I think the parallel to The Revival is an excellent one. Chad did an excellent job of laying out The Brain Busters primary accomplishments. I think he undersold their short tenure in the WWE though. Demolition was an unstoppable team until The Brainbusters came along. It was an absolute shock to me when The Brainbusters de-throned them as champions. The Brainbusters were also involved in one of my favorite tag team matches of the early Wrestlemania Era at Wrestlemania VI against Strikeforce. The Brainbusters will go down in history as one of the most underappreciated tag teams ever.

14. The Hardy Boys



You’d be hard pressed to find a more exciting team in the history of wrestling than the Hardy Boys. There were great high flying tag teams throughout the course of wrestling history, but the Hardys took it to another level. They were so far ahead of their time. Along with Edge and Christian and The Dudley Boys, they redefined what tag team wrestling could be. They are a rarity…..a tag team that has been wildly popular everywhere that they have been for over 15 years. Chad is right, we’re at the point in the countdown where every team could be in the running for greatest tag team ever. The Hardys end up a notch below others because although they have had 8 (major) title reigns, they haven’t accumulated a long tenure as tag team champions. Nonetheless, the Hardy Boys are one of my personal favorites and remain at the top of the tag team heap to this day.

I would be very curious to know which of the three teams responsible for tag team wrestling's rise back to prominence in the Attitude Era our readers would consider to be the preeminent duo of TLC. Personally, I would say it was The Hardys. Without Matt and Jeff, there is no way that the first Tag Team Ladder Match at No Mercy '99 or the first Tag Team Tables Match at Royal Rumble '00 would have been so successful. Their devil-may-care attitudes and subsequent willingness to put their bodies through an extra layer or two of hell than their peers made those matches. Certainly, I mean no disrespect to the other pairs – they certainly played their roles incredibly well and punched tons of holes in their own respective bump cards – but I think you can more readily imagine TLC without E&C or the Dudleys than you can imagine it without The Hardys, can you not? The Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches were microcosms of the era; as with HBK at WrestleMania X, Matt and Jeff may never have won the high profile bouts on the grander stages, but they provided the most memorable moments.

13. The British Bulldogs



The British Bulldogs were an absolutely outstanding tag team, plain and simple. Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid defeating The Dream Team at WrestleMania 2 in the best tag team match on the grandest stage pre-TLC in my opinion kick-started the golden age of team-oriented wrestling in WWE. To illustrate that point, four of the Top 15 tag teams of the WrestleMania Era held the Tag Team Titles between 1986 and 1989 – The Bulldogs for 294 days over a single reign. Tag team wrestling has been notorious over the years for falling in and out of favor with Vince McMahon; I think The Bulldogs truly began the upper-end of his appreciation for the genre and I think that they were the team that helped him understand the role that tag teams could play as his vision of sports entertainment supremacy developed. Dynamite, a world-renowned grappler by the time he stepped foot in the Vin Man's office, unfortunately got injured, preventing The Bulldogs from perhaps cashing in on the longevity they would have otherwise enjoyed. Nevertheless, Davey Boy and Dynamite remain legendary.

I think Chad hit the nail on the head with The British Bulldogs. They were spectacular. They were legendary. Their solo world title run of 294 days rates up there with the best tag team title reigns of all time. Their match with The Dream Team at Wrestlemania II is in fact the pre-eminent match for tag team wrestling of the early Wrestlemania years. Some of the best memories that I have of wrestling as a child was watching The British Bulldogs battle Demolition for the tag team championships on Madison Square Garden televised events. For those of you not 30 or older, MSG cards were once a month and were THE big events outside of Wrestlemania and the Big 4 PPVs that came later. They were huge ordeals and the Bulldogs were staples as one of the featured acts. In the end, for all of the reasons Chad detailed, lack of longevity keeps them from being ranked at the very top of this list. A truly great tag team nonetheless.

12. The New Day



And here we are with the best team in recent memory, The New Day. I wanted to rank them in the top 10. I really did. It was quite a debate amongst Chad and myself, but ultimately he won out. I still think that I’ll fall on the right side of history on this one. Not only does the New Day have the longest singular title run in WWE history, they did so in an era in which it’s extremely difficult to hold a title for very long. With so many major shows and the commonplace of having titles change hands on weekly television, it is close to impossible to stay over and relevant enough to justify keeping the titles on the same team for any significant length of time. Not only did the New Day maintain their momentum, but they built on it. They were and are a massively popular act, moving a ridiculous amount of merchandise. This all should have counted for more, rather than the argument Chad will make about their era of tag team wrestling not being particularly good or their supposed lack of signature matches. Go ahead Chad. Say your piece.

I look at this way, ladies and gentlemen: statistics need context. Greatness is shaped by a variety of factors none of which should be ignored when trying to put together a list of anyone or anything best representative of it. The New Day has sold tons of merchandise and held the WWE Tag Team Championships longer than anyone in history over a single reign, but we cannot knee-jerk our reactions without the benefit of historical context that honestly cannot come without time. Right now, I think of New Day as the Karl Malone of tag team lore, a group that racked up statistics like few ever have, but who simultaneously failed to leave much in the way of memories, which speaks to the point that Dave alluded to in his write-up; New Day has one signature in-ring performance – a Ladder Match at TLC '15 – and even then they did not supply the signature moment. If analogize WWE and the NBA, then merch is points scored and title reigns are regular season wins; memorable matches, then, are performance in the playoffs. What has New Day done in the playoffs? Very little. 12th is very appropriate, if not even a little too high.

11. Edge and Christian



The Attitude Era's tendency to pass around championships like a game of hot-potato has weakened the TLC trio's ability to gain quite as much clout against their peers in this all-time discussion. The Hardys were hurt by it and now so too are Edge and Christian, whose seven title reigns together were very impressive but whose combined 207 days as champions – an average length of one month per reign – was not. Nevertheless, they rank ahead of a team that dominated the title statistics because of the very thing that said team lacked: epic performances...and with consistency no less. As much as Matt and Jeff often supplied the signature spots that created the lasting memories from the TLC Era, Edge and Christian were the victors whenever it counted most, at a pair of WrestleManias and a Summerslam. They struck five-second poses, but they were not by any means posers; E&C combined the personality of the New Day with the intestinal fortitude of their TLC running mates and a flair for stealing the show all their own…and it took them far. They were one lengthier title reign away from Top 5 contention.

We’re splitting hairs at this point, and it was a difficult decision to leave Edge & Christian out of the top 10. Chad is once again on point – they suffered from the same problem as the Hardy Boys. Their title reigns were plentiful in quantity but scarce in length. Chad is right – Edge and Christian stand out with their in ring performances, and more specifically, the TLC matches, in a way that The New Day do not. He mentioned that they get the nod over The Hardy’s because they were victorious in the big matches. While that is true, I believe it was much more than that. They provided tremendous comedic entertainment. Who doesn’t smile when they reminisce about their various 5 second poses? Edge and Christian are without a doubt one of the very best tag teams of all time.

  • Doctor's Orders: Big Picture Problems for WWE; Logical Solutions

  • Doctor's Orders: The Dark-Horse WWE Match of the Year Candidates for 2017

  • Doctor's Orders – Five Marquee Matches That Could Headline Future Big Four Pay-Per-Views

  • Doctor's Orders: Five Things I'm Thankful For This Year in WWE

  • Doctor's Orders: Survivor Series 2017 Was Awesome. Two Match of the Year Candidates? Top to Bottom One of The All-Time Great Pay-Per-Views

  • Doctor's Notes – A Star Is Born, A Shocking Title Change, A Fun But Hollow Return For War Games (NXT Takeover Thoughts)

  • Doctor's Notes - Women's Division Power Rankings & The Bankable Match Pitting Charlotte Flair Against Alexa Bliss (Prev: HHH, War Games, Survivor Series)

  • Doctor's Notes – AJ Styles To The Rescue! And, Of Course, WOOOO!, Shield vs. New Day, Omega vs. Y2J

  • Doctor's Orders: WWE Month-in-Review (October 2017) – The Kevin Owens Show, Wrestler & Match of the Month, A Tale of Two PPVs, November Predictions

  • Doctor's Orders: Neville's Walk-Out Indicative Of A Growing Problem Within WWE