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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The Top 100 Tag Teams of the WrestleMania Era (#71-#80)
By The Doc
May 5, 2017 - 12:13:08 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: What is your preference for the role of tag team wrestling in WWE – a spot with higher octane matches fit for enhancing the mid-card, a place for more engrossing storytelling akin to the main-event, or something else altogether?

80. The Latin American XChange
79. Lance Storm and Chris Candido
78. ShoMiz
77. The Basham Brothers
76. The Hart Dynasty
75. Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes
74. The Impact Players
73. The U.S. Express
72. Big Show and Kane
71. Owen Hart and Yokozuna

80. L.A.X.

Ah, LAX. Another racist yet effective gimmick. They were Mexicans that played up to Mexican stereotypes. Seriously, Hernandez’s finishing move was basically a dead heave across the ring. They called it “The Border Toss”. It’s generalizations like this that lead to people like Donald Trump deciding that it’s a good idea to build a wall. Ok, politics aside. LAX were an excellent tag team. I thought the brute strength of Hernandez and the speed and agility of Homicide really complimented each other. They had three title reigns totaling 300 days. They were without question one of the top tag teams in TNA history. Unfortunately for them, TNA is still TNA. Thus, their impressive achievements aren’t enough to push them any higher than 80th on our list. Take it away Chad.

LAX, like the Motor City Machine Guns, hit their stride during a time when I was backing away from watching TNA. Nevertheless, 300 days as Tag Team Champions in what was regarded at the time as the second most prominent wrestling promotion is nothing to scoff at and, from what I understand, The Latin American Xchange well-earned their place in TNA tag lore with a wide variety of really strong in-ring performances against a Who's Who of the TNA tag division for about three years. Consistency, golden accolades, good to great matches....that is what you want from any act in professional wrestling, tag team division and beyond. One thing that this project has done for me is stimulate an interest in revisiting some of what I missed from TNA over the past decade and I will surely be putting several LAX matches on my list when I do.

79. Chris Candido and Lance Storm

Dave being a hardcore follower of ECW during its heyday, he will be able to better communicate the brilliance of Lance Storm and Chris Candido better than I can. While I will say that I have been watching the ECW library on WWE Network for the past eight months and that I have seen the odd-couple dynamic between Candido and Storm (and have quite enjoyed it), I will let Dave fill you in on what made them special and focus my attention on their impressive 203 day single reign as ECW Tag Team Champions. If historically comparing champions of any division, I will generally tend to favor the team that racked up six months or longer with the strap(s) across one continual period than I will the team that accumulates the same number of days over several separate runs, presuming said single-reigning team does something special.

Why don’t you throw me under the bus while you’re at it Chad? I was just thinking to myself that Candido and Storm’s run wasn’t nearly as impressive as I remembered it. Sure, they were both fantastic wrestlers. Sure, they had a lengthy title reign that I too value over several smaller reigns of equal combined time. However, when push comes to shove, they didn’t have any memorable matches or moments. Their title loss to RVD and Sabu was the best match during this run. Even that wasn’t spectacular, especially by ECW standards. The truth is that both Chris Candido and Lance Storm had far greater success outside of this tag team than paired together. As is the case with many of the teams towards the back end of our countdown, a lengthy but unmemorable title reign was enough to warrant inclusion.

78. ShoMiz

I really enjoyed ShowMiz’s short tag team run. They were such a natural fit together. The Miz was the perfect whiny heel to hide behind the Big Show’s might. Their inclusion on this list largely stems from a successful title defense at WrestleMania 26 against R Truth and John Morrison, but I think it would be a major disservice to them to pigeon hole them into being a one hit wonder. They had strong matches against DX. They had a surprisingly good feud against The Hart Dynasty. In fact, this feud was the only time that The Hart Dynasty was relevant. ShowMiz was a bright spot for me during a time period when wrestling wasn’t great. Predictably, the team ended when The Big Show KO’d The Miz. I think that the WWE could have gotten more mileage out of this team. A longer stint together could have easily propelled them into our top 50.

Oops...I didn't mean to throw you under the bus, Dave. I thought I was more setting you up so that you could spike it. As for Show-Miz, I'm not as high on them as is my co-author. I suppose that, when you consider that the Tag Team Championships had gone four WrestleMania cycles without being defended, Show-Miz did do something for the tag team division by bringing them back to the main card's opening contest at Mania 26. Beyond that, however, they were a microcosm of one of the biggest problems for tag team wrestling in WWE from 2005 to 2015: the titles were only relevant when on a team of thrown-together singles wrestlers. Sure, maybe other teams had some good matches here and there, but there was little in the way of engaging television written for any tag team that did not have an established top flight singles star.

77. The Basham Brothers

The Basham Brothers, Doug and Danny, along with their Tough Enough-winning manager (whose name I cannot remember and cannot be bothered to look up) and later as members of JBL's Cabinet, were good enough hands in the ring to win the Tag Team Championships twice and hold them for a combined 145 days in the back end of tag tam wrestling's relevancy during the early days of the Smackdown brand. Reflecting back on the blue team's division spawned of the Smackdown Six, The Bashams were a solid team that had the potential to thrive in a more talent-laden environment. They were coming along nicely against the likes of Los Guerreros in late 2003, but there just was not much of a division left once Eddie and Chavo shifted most of their focus to singles. They were stuck with Rico and Charlie Haas, Too Cool 2.0, etc. Could've done more, still did OK.

Shaniqua. Her name is Shaniqua Chad, and she don’t live here no more! Free beer and women with questionable values for anyone who caught that reference. The Bashams weren’t bad. They were decent workers, had an average look, lacked any kind of mic skills or natural charisma but made it work for them. Their stats laid out by Chad are good enough to warrant their place on the countdown. To be honest, my most fond memories of The Bashams were the Dominatrix Gimmick with Shaniqua. They wore dog collars and crawled around while she slapped them with a horse ship. You can’t make this stuff up. The only other noteworthy accomplishment by either man was the fact that one of them was bagging Gail Kim. Well done good sir, well done.

76. The Hart Dynasty

I really liked the idea of The Hart Dynasty. The gimmick was strong. David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd were the last remaining wrestlers from the famed Hart Dungeon. The problem? While they were both good to great workers, they just didn’t have what it takes to be successful. They didn’t do anything for me as a tag team. Their best work was the aforementioned feud with ShowMiz. Tyson Kidd deserved better. David Hart Smith was a head case and that didn’t help their cause. I look forward to being able to talk with much greater regard about Kidd’s other tag team on this countdown. As for now, I challenge Chad to provide some quality highlights on this sack of doodoo. Go ahead Chad, I’m waiting.

You mean the team we talked about last week with Cesaro? Anyhow, I'm in agreement with Dave, here. The concept of the Hart Dynasty, who had Natalya by their side, was much better than the execution of the concept. They reigned as Tag Team Champions for 112 days and that counts for something, but with the limited charisma of the three principle players and the general lack of investment that WWE was able to maintain in the tag division once the titles were no longer worn by singles stars, the claim to fame for Smith, Kid, and Nattie as a unit was their role in Bret's annihilation of Vince McMahon at WrestleMania 26 and their title win in the spring of 2010. I remember at the time being very happy that they won the championships, but it just never went anywhere after that. I cannot remember a single one of their matches (no exaggeration).

75. Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes

Truth be told, I do not recall any matches from Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly's 203 day Tag Team Championship reign either, but if there is one constructive thing that I can say about their tandem, it would be that I found it a good use of Holly as a long-time veteran of WWE teaching a rookie with a lot of potential the ropes. Among the lessons that Holly could have realistically imparted, given the kind of WWE career that Cody had, would have been how to stay valuable even when you are not being utilized to the level that perhaps you would have liked. Hindsight tells the tale of Rhodes using Holly to gain every bit of knowledge he could from him, then discarding him to join forces with someone with whom he could become far more successful (Ted DiBiase, Jr.). That was Holly's parting shot to the business, essentially.

Chad nailed it here. I could say “ditto” and move on, but the people paid for 150 words and 150 words is what you’ll get. Although most singular title runs of this length ended up much further up our list, Holly and Rhodes really didn’t have a single match that came to memory without doing some research. That is an unfortunate trend with a lot of the teams that make up the back end of our countdown. I agree with Chad that the one undeniable benefit and memory from this pairing was the eventual heel turn of Cody Rhodes. The breakup of Rhodes and Holly set off a chain of events that actually had a relatively large impact on the wrestling landscape. Much in the same light as the team of Guerrero and Mysterio that we discussed earlier in the countdown, the fallout was better than the pairing.

74. The Impact Players

I flat out loved this team. It was a battle to get them ranked this high. Chad isn’t as big of a fan as I am, and he’s probably in the right here. Their accomplishments aren’t as impressive as I remembered them to be, and they took place exclusively in ECW. Nonetheless, they did a decent amount of main eventing, and the pairing led to Justin Credible becoming ECW World Champion. My lasting memory of the team was at the first ECW One Night Stand. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience. This was Lance Storm’s farewell match against Chris Jericho. Credible comes out and drills Jericho with a Singapore cane, Storm goes over and they strike their signature pose. It was one of the best moments of possibly my favorite show that I’ve ever been to. The Impact Players will always hold a special place in my heart.

Even someone as relatively unfamiliar with the details of Extreme Championship Wrestling not featured on WWE-produced documentaries as I am understands that there is a palpable difference in the reputation garnered by The Impact Players versus that of other ECW originals with similar championship trophy cases. Storm and Credible had merely two reigns as Tag Team Titleholders in ECW for a fairly paltry 79 total days, but their – pardon the pun – impact was greater than their championship resume suggests; such is the reason why I enjoy doing projects like these, so that we can better contextualize the parts of wrestling's past that are not as glorified by WWE's hype machine. Storm and Credible combined to form a unit that could work, got over, and became a dominant force in the ECW main-event scene. They had good and well-hyped matches with Tommy Dreamer and Sandman, among others, as they peaked in 1999/2000.

73. The U.S. Express

The U.S. Express consisted of Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda in the formative years of their careers during the early WrestleMania Era. Both would go onto improve immeasurably and become fixtures in the mainstream pro wrestling circuit for the next decade but, as of 1985 and specifically WrestleMania 1, they were the reigning WWE Tag Team Champions heading into a showdown with The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, who dethroned them on 3/31/85 to give the WrestleMania franchise the first title change in its history. Amidst a sea of comparable title reigns, the fact that the US Express reigned twice as champions of the tag team division for 137 days seems to pale in comparison to the noteworthy fact that they were the first titleholders to lose at WrestleMania. Memories can be strange in that way. Windham and Rotunda were also for whom the iconic wrestling theme, “Real American,” was originally written. There's your fun fact of the day.

I am old as dirt. There are very few iconic Pay Per Views that I can say were before my time. Wrestlemania I is one of them. I first re-watched it on VHS sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s. I absolutely lost my mind when “Real American” played and out they came. I immediately knew that they were big deals. They were a solid but unspectacular tag team. As Chad said, their claim to fame was being part of the first ever title change at Wrestlemania. In a countdown where you’re splitting hairs over the noteworthy but unspectacular teams, major moments and milestones hold a lot of weight. Allow me to take this time and go on a major rant. Barry Windham was one of the most underutilized wrestlers ever. The guy literally had everything – size, in ring ability, look, mic skills. He was the total package. ARGH.

72. The Big Show and Kane

Unlike the Impact Players, I abhorred Kane and The Big Show while Chad was a big fan. They had longevity – four separate runs from 2001 and 2016. The problem? None of the runs were any good. They feuded with mediocre teams in bad matches. They had a solid outing against Batista and Rey Mysterio at Armageddon 2005, but other than that…doodoo. Seriously, how many times can Kane turn on the Big Show, leading to absolutely nothing? Perhaps their best (translation…worst) moment was when they combined to eliminate all the popular people during the ill-fated 2015 Royal Rumble. Go ahead Chad. Sing their praises. Tell the world why they are deserving of their spot on the ranking. I’ll be here. Eating popcorn. Drinking an adult beverage. I kindly turn the floor over to you good sir.

I certainly was not a big fan, Dave, but they stood out to me as a team that managed to have an actual Tag Team Championship feud that began well before being randomly booked at the last minute for a WrestleMania card, as had become the standard back in the mid-2000s (if Tag Team Championship matches were even booked for “The Show of Shows” at all). It is easy to sit back, look at their 6-minute uninspiring opener at Mania 22, and think of them in the same category as a lot of other hapless combinations of headlining-level talents for whom creative “had nothing,” but their rivalry with Chris Masters and Carlito was reasonably strong enough that Vince McMahon announced a Tag Team Championship match between the teams at WrestleMania a month in advance like it actually mattered. During an era in which prominent teams on Raw included The Highlannders and The Heartthrobs (who ? & double who?), Kane and Show at least gave the titles some shine in front of the largest paid audience of 2006. That carried weight with me.

71. Owen Hart and Yokozuna

As has been proven by the rankings of recent entries, a team's accomplishments in association with WrestleMania are intricately linked in many cases with how they're historically perceived by Dave and myself. The Owen Hart and Yokozuna duo is no exception. They reigned as Tag Team Champions for 175 consecutive days during a fairly mundane period in WWE tag team lore – a time when the roster was as lacking as it would be at any other point in the WrestleMania Era – but Owen and Yoko won the titles at WrestleMania 11, with Yokozuna announced on the night of as Owen's much-hyped “mystery partner.” I remember very little about their ensuing title reign, not a single match from it to be honest; they did win the championships at WrestleMania, though, in a spotlight moment on a show devoid of many of them. Perhaps Dave has a more glowing opinion from the guts of their title reign...

I thought Owen and Yokozuna had an excellent title run with plenty of memorable moments. Chad already detailed their Wrestlemania 11 win. They had solid feuds against both The Smoking Gunns and The Allied Powers (for those not in the know….The British Bulldog and Lex Luger). After Luger left town, The Bulldog turned heel and the three formed a Fabulous Freebird-like unit. The best part of the reign was the tag match in which The Bulldog and Yokozuna were beaten by HBK and Diesel after Owen Hart was jackknifed and pinned when he tried to interfere. The trio were given their titles back the next day when their attorney, Clarence Mason, stated that since Owen wasn’t in the match, HBK and Diesel could not be the champions. Their reign ended the same night against The Smoking Gunns. Between the three aforementioned feuds, this six month run was stellar.

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