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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The Top 100 Tag Teams of the WrestleMania Era (#21-#30)
By The Doc
Jun 9, 2017 - 11:50:32 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: Who is your favorite tag team of all-time and why?

30. The British Bulldog and Owen Hart
29. The Shield
28. The World’s Greatest Tag Team
27. The Minnesota Wrecking Crew
26. The Eliminators
25. Beer Money
24. The Rockers
23. The Hollywood Blondes
22. Los Guerreros
21. The Public Enemy

30. Owen Hart and The British Bulldog

You may be surprised to see the Bulldog and Owen Hart ranked so highly on our countdown. When thinking of the all-time great tag teams, they aren’t nearly the first names that come to mind. They are here based on the strength of a singular title run lasting 245 days. Prior to doing the research, I had fond memories regarding the quality of matches during their reign. After closer consideration, this wasn’t a very good title reign at all. They had a solid thing going with The Smoking Gunns to win the belts, but were stuck defending against the likes of The Fake Diesel and Fake Razor Ramon, Furnas and Lafon, and an LOD team far, far past their prime. Their biggest match was against Mankind and Vader at Wrestlemania 13, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. I’m sure Chad will remind us of why they ended up so highly ranked on our list. Chad?

Owen Hart and The British Bulldog were not exactly the leaders of a flourishing tag team division either. If there is one thing I have discovered throughout this journey, thus far, it has been how little time in WWE lore has featured a consistent focus on tag team wrestling. That said, I think the mid-1990s was still a fair bit better than the mid-2000s onward. Bulldog and Owen as one of the premiere tag teams surely were not getting left off WrestleMania; they were going to ensure that the spotlight remained on team-oriented sports entertainment. Matches against Furnas and Lafon or HBK and Stone Cold (among others) should therefore not be undervalued, nor should their title reign when weighed against its peers historically, accounting for a better (if only a little bit better) era for the tag team genre. If you disagree with their ranking, I'd say that's more an indictment of WWE's overall vision for the division rather than a stain on this list.

29. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns

The Shield held the Tag Team Championships for about 100 less days than Owen and Bulldog, but their impact on the tag team division was, in my opinion, more substantial if only for the reason that, pre-Shield, tag team wrestling was at the tail end of the lousy decade I keep harping on. Sure, they took the titles from Team Hell No, but Kane and Bryan were thrown-together top-tier talents who did very little for the tag team division. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns helped kick-start a better developed division where the championships were a focal point instead of a prop. By the end of their run with the straps, The Shield had put together some of the finest tag team work in a very long time against The Rhodes Brothers and The Usos. Unlike the vast majority of their peers from the modern era, they left the division definitively better off than they found it.

The Shield were such a dominant stable that people often forget how strong of a tag team they were as well. The feud that they had with the Rhodes Brothers was amazing and easily my favorite tag feud of the last ten years. This was definitely an example of quality over quantity. While they didn’t hold the tag championships for nearly as long as other teams that we have discussed recently on the countdown, their run was littered with high quality matches, strong storylines and tremendous heel heat. Through their feuds with the aforementioned Rhodes Brothers and the Usos, the Shield were instrumental in ushering in another strong era of tag team wrestling after several years of a floundering division. The Shield were an all-time great stable but their tag team run should not be forgotten in the annals of history.

28. Team Angle

Where do I start with The World’s Greatest Tag Team? In my opinion, they are one of the best in ring tag teams in WWE history. Their list of spectacular matches is lengthy. They had the benefit of being the right type of wrestlers to be paired with Kurt Angle upon their debut when Angle was the hottest act in wrestling. This gave them immediate legitimacy and allowed them to win the tag belts immediately upon their debut. Amongst the WGTT’s biggest hits are teams that rank very highly on the countdown, including Los Guerreros, London and Kendrick, and The Hardy Boyz. Their ladder match against Eddie Guerrero and Tajiri is amongst the best tag team matches in recent memory. Despite the feeling that their run was everlasting, they only held the titles twice for a combined 180 days. If they had better title statistics, perhaps they would have ascended much higher on our countdown. Their in-ring work certainly stacks up against almost any team in history.

Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin were to me, at the peak of my admiration for Kurt Angle in 2002/2003, the two next great stars of the business. They really were to tag team wrestling, immediately upon their debut impressively enough, what Angle was to the singles ranks – totally natural grappling machines who made everything that they did look so seamless. To paraphrase a Paul Heyman quote, “They could wrestle, they could brawl...Haas and Benjamin could do it all.” I reflect back on their work with Los Guerreros and Mysterio/Kidman especially and I struggle to think of more enjoyable pure tag team matches in the WrestleMania Era. I'm sincerely happy that they established their reputation during the tail end of a historically superior tag team era because it would have been a shame to see them toil for the majority of their run against also-rans. Statistically, many teams are superior, but I'm not sure the same could be said if you remove the “statistically” qualifier.

27. Arn and Ole Anderson

Statistically, The Andersons should not be anywhere near this high on the list; perhaps Dave will even argue that point when the floor again becomes his, citing the fanaticism yours truly has regarding the 1980s NWA tag team scene. I would hope that anybody with an inkling of historical perspective who has enjoyed this collaboration thus far could recognize that The Andersons transcended championships. Ole and Arn were founding members of The Four Horsemen; they were main-event talents who just so happened to ply their trade in the stacked tag team ranks, where they flourished. The Andersons vs. The Rock 'n Roll Express...if you've never seen it, go back and watch it. I'll mention it again when we get to Ricky and Robert later, but that match is a perfect example of what The Andersons were all about. They broke you down and dissected you to the point that beating them seemed only possible by some miraculous turn of events. So, there was no way that we could get too far outside of the Top 25 and not talk about Ole and Arn.

I hate to keep beating a dead horse. The Andersons being ahead of The World’s Greatest Tag Team is an embarrassment to this countdown. This is a prime example of Chad growing up in the South and being blatantly biased towards his territory. The Andersons weren’t a great tag team. They were part of a main event level stable. The tag team itself brought nothing to the table. They weren’t champions during this era. They don’t have a laundry list of spectacular matches. The Rock n’ Roll Express could get a quality match out of a paper bag, so I am unmoved by Chad citing a single match as a reason for this ludicrous ranking. I’d like to take my last few words here to apologize to our readers who expect nothing but quality teams this late in the countdown. Please direct all hate mail to Chad Matthews at cmdoclop@gmail.com

26. The Eliminators

Ah. The Eliminators. Now we are talking. They were one of the finest tag teams to grace an ECW ring. Perry Saturn and John Kronus were two badasses that personified everything you looked for in ECW performers. They had brutal matches and great feuds with the likes of The Pitbulls, Public Enemy, The Gangstas, and The Dudley Boyz. Considering how unbelievably dominant the Dudley Boys were in ECW, it’s an impressive feat that the Eliminators managed to have 3 title reigns totaling 335 days. Total Elimination remains one of favorite tag team finishing moves of all time. As was the case with several teams before them and several still yet to come, The Eliminators accomplishments had to be slightly downgraded as a result of the promotion by which they took place in. Nonetheless, The Eliminators are one of the most violent and vicious tag teams that ever walked the planet.

Dave's unwavering contrarianism about the best tag team scene of all-time is so very predictable. All hail to the Minnesota Wrecking Crew and to the mid-1980s NWA. Now, as to The Eliminators, I believe we're seeing the by-product of Dave growing up in the northeast and being influenced by the ECW cult in their position on this list. Saturn and Kronus were absolutely a fabulous tag team, though, and some of my favorite matches and moments during my self-taught ECW history lessons have come courtesy of their work. They were not influential enough to warrant a spot so high, in my opinion, and they never did translate their ECW success to a top promotion (not together anyway), but are they Top 50 worthy? I believe that they are. It should be noted that The Andersons were ranked ten spots higher than The Eliminators in Pro Wrestling Illustrated's “Top 100 Tag Teams” list back in 2003. Just saying...

25. Beer Money

Beer Money would probably get a lot of views on WWE Network if Vince McMahon is ever able to purchase the TNA Wrestling video library. I expect Bobby Roode to find great success in WWE before all is said and done and fans like me who turned in their TNA fan cards in the WWE Lite (Lite) years when Roode was ascending to the heights he reached would appreciate the opportunity to easily check out what we missed from Mr. Glorious. Roode combined with James Storm, a legend in the tag team ranks by my estimation, to form a duo that racked up five reigns as TNA Tag Team Champions that totaled a whopping 514 days. Though I'll readily admit that I have never seen one Beer Money match in my life, I once asked as a “Question of the Day” on social media that prompted fans of TNA to tell me which of their matches I should watch and have the list stored for a rainy day. By reputation alone, they deserve to be on this list somewhere. I'll let Dave tell you why they should be this highly ranked.

Isn’t 5 title reigns totaling 514 days enough for inclusion in the top 25? There are very few teams that can claim those stats. How about being the unquestioned best tag team in the history of their promotion? I’d argue that it is ONLY because that promotion is TNA that Beer Money isn’t in our top 10. They had great feuds with LAX, The Motor City Machine Guns and The Dudley Boys. They were the glue that held TNA together. Their tag storyline was always the second or third top match on a PPV. You could always count on Beer Money to product worthwhile matches and television. In addition, their breakup led to separate main event runs for both and skyrocketed Bobby Roode to Superstardom. I strongly suspect that Chad will change his mind after going back and viewing their tremendous body of work.

24. The Rockers

Man, I can appreciate Chad and others’ love for The Rockers. They were a fantastic in ring tag team. They had innovative offense. They were wildly popular. Their breakup is one of the best angles ever and kick started one of the best solo careers of all time. HOWEVER, we need to be realistic here. They were never tag champions, their matches were rarely more than a “hot opener” for a Pay Per View, and their overall impact paled in comparison with the other top teams of this era of tag wrestling. While I believe that The Rockers in-ring abilities absolutely warrant inclusion in our list despite a lack of title statistics, they probably belong closer to the top 50 than #24 on our list. I will give them a little bit of credit though. They both had super sweet mullets that did the 1980s proud. Take it away Chad.

Remember, The Rockers were actually Tag Team Champions. Fate intervened to prevent their title reign from occurring even though it was taped, but they beat The Hart Foundation. Roll the footage, monkeys! (Seriously, do a YouTube search). Nevertheless, regardless of a busted set of ropes and a doofus decision to, rather than fix the ropes, allow a mess of a match to continue and later decide that said match was too bad to air on TV, The Rockers hold a “full house” in this historical game of tag team poker; when you talk about tag team wrestling with long-time fans of the world's preeminent pro wrestling promotion, your conversation does not get very far without bringing up The Rockers. Be it because of their flashy style that added several extra layers of athleticism to what The Rock 'n Roll Express made popular or their incredible matches (one of which was among the greatest curtain jerkers ever against The Orient Express) or the break-up angle that left quite the long-term impression on the industry (every tag team forever more had a “Michaels” and a “Jannetty”)...it doesn't really matter why; the fact remains that when you converse about WWE tag teams, The Rockers are among the short-list of teams first discussed.

23. The Hollywood Blondes

I think we can have an interesting discussion about The Hollywood Blondes without disagreeing about their place in history. Their ranking here was not really shaped by their lone, 169-day WCW Tag Team Championship reign. So, what is their legacy in your opinion, Dave? When I think of the Blondes, the combination of “Stunning” Steve Austin and Brian Pillman, I tend to think of the catalyst for two great careers, the vehicle that unlocked the charisma within a pair of superstars who eventually became well-known for being cults of personality. They were not supposed to be anything special when they were paired together, just another in a long-line of ho-hum creative decisions by WCW brass in the early 1990s, but they saw a big opportunity within what was really a tiny chance of success and parlayed their ideas into one of the most memorable duos of theirs or any era, particularly to those of us who saw them at the time.

As I’m sure the readers have realized, this is the part of the countdown where one of us thinks a team is an all-time great, while the other is less impressed. The Hollywood Blondes were my hill to die on. I pushed hard for as lofty of a ranking as I could find for them. Unlike Chad with the Rockers, I will begrudgingly admit that Chad was right. I have a tremendous amount of nostalgia for the Blondes, but upon closer look it’s more a product of how highly I view Austin and Pillman as individual wrestlers rather than how worth of a tag team they were. They were an excellent tag team with a solid title run, but perhaps not quite on the level of the teams surrounding them in the countdown. There you go Chad – you win this round.

22. Los Guerreros

Chad and I have already elaborated in great detail about our love for The Smackdown Six. Los Guerreros end up with a much stronger place on our countdown for several reasons. First, unlike the other two teams, Eddie and Chavo enjoyed two title runs spanning approximately four months. Second, while Edge/Rey and Angle/Benoit often get the lion’s share of the credit for how great those matches were, I believe that it was Los Guerreros that were the glue that held those matches together. They were a well-oiled machine. The Guerreros were a tag team that you could literally put in the ring with anyone and that other team would be made to look like a million dollars. VIVA LA RAZA!

Eddie and Chavo were a longer reign as Tag Team Champions away from the Top 15 as far as I'm concerned; and I don't know about you, ladies and gentlemen, but I feel like they were staples of the tag team scene on Smackdown for far longer than their two reigns of 114 total days suggest. Nevertheless, their place in tag team lore is unquestionable, with a litany of good-to-great matches against a wide variety of opponents (and skill levels), from the other duos of the Smackdown Six to Team Angle/The World's Greatest Tag Team to Rhyno and Benoit to The Basham Brothers. As good as they were in the ring – in that respect two of the true artists of the genre who stand out even more this century with so few tag team specialists since the TLC Era ended – they were just as entertaining backstage and in their vignettes. “Lying, Cheating, and Stealing” was oddly endearing and extremely memorable. Viva La Raza indeed!

21. The Public Enemy

As has been the case throughout this project regarding ECW tag teams, Dave will be the one to properly educate you about The Public Enemy’s place in tag team lore. However, I can certainly speak to what I’ve seen from my slow but steady review of all the ECW pay-per-views available on WWE Network and, from what I have thus far witnessed, I’m not sure that Extreme Championship Wrestling ever reaches the heights that it did without the early year contributions of Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge. The latest example of my tendency to hyperbolize? Perhaps, but ECW was ground-breaking, in part, because of the moments it produced; that is what helped it establish its cult following.

You remember that scene with fans throwing their chairs into the ring, filling the squared circle to the point where you couldn’t see the canvas? It was The Public Enemy buried underneath those chairs…

Recall the famous clip of the fans jumping up and down in the ring until it collapsed under their collective weight? They were dancing with The Public Enemy before Grunge and Rock went to WCW…

I’ll let Dave fill in the details.

Actually, Chad pretty much hit the nail on the head here. They Public Enemy were known for their legendary brawling and hip-hop style. They were insanely over and took part in many memorable moments, not the least of which were the two Chad laid out. With their crazy shenanigans, it’d be easy to overlook their incredible accomplishments. They were ECW tag team champions, WCW tag team champions and NWA tag team champions. They had five title reigns totaling 383 days. Very few teams in history can boast those kind of title statistics. They were awesome. They were beloved. They brought something unique to the table. It’s a shame that drug use took them both at far too young of an age. May Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge rest in peace.

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