Throughout wrestling history, there have been innumerable successful tag teams, teams made up of men both big and small. While some featured partners built differently, others were comprised of members similar in size and strength. In the case of these 10 particular tag teams, their success wasn’t simply attributable to having great chemistry in and out of the ring, it was because of their relationship with one another.
Some wrestling families are huge in size, and have seen a number of generations of wrestlers achieve success. However, the success these ten teams has made them special because of the titles they won, what they meant to the tag team division they were in, and how they were often considered revolutionaries because of their team work. These teams were sometimes brothers, or cousins, or even in-laws.
In fact, a couple of the teams listed here are made up of brothers–in-law that became so familiar with each other outside the ring that the transition to tag team wrestling inside the ring was natural. There are a number of teams with familial connections that have captured titles such as the Headshrinkers/Samoan Swat Team or The Islanders, but not many can say they have achieved the success of the teams on this list.
These teams may not have always been fan favorites, but they were incredibly respected for all they achieved in the ring. Some have had long standing careers together, others were short, but still successful considering the championships they had won. Here are the 10 most successful tag teams that were family:
10. Cody Rhodes/Stardust and Goldust
One pair of brothers that didn’t work together until late in the career of one of them was the Brotherhood. Goldust has had a great deal of success on his own, capturing the Intercontinental, Tag Team and even United States Heavyweight Championships during his time with either WCW or WWE. However, on two separate occasions, Goldust and his half-brother Cody captured the WWE Tag Team Championship. Their first reign was memorable because it was while defending the honor of their father, Dusty Rhodes. They captured the titles by defeating The Shield.
Their second time was after Cody and Goldust had lost a number of matches together, causing the younger Rhodes to say he was holding his brother back and to dissolve the tag team. Cody then appeared as Stardust, dressed similar to Goldust, including wearing face paint. The team turned heel and captured the WWE Tag Team titles for a second time. They weren’t together a long time, but it is unquestionable that they made an impact during their time together.
9. The Usos
The youngest team on the list are twin brothers Jimmy and Jey Uso, whose success as a tag team only seems to be on the rise. The brothers captured the Florida Championship Wrestling Tag Team Championships while they were learning their craft in the WWE’s developmental system. They are fun, charismatic and carry with them a great deal of enthusiasm. Much like any brother tag team that has achieved success, it’s partly due to each one knowing where the other one is at all times.
They are risk takers, but are easily liked because of their work ethic and determination to succeed. At thirty years of age, the brothers have already captured the WWE Tag Team titles on two separate occasions. They recently returned to action together as Jey had suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out of action for six months. They are currently in a feud with The New Day and certainly offer a challenge for the titles each and every time they face them. One can only foresee continued success moving forward for Jimmy and Jey.
8. U.S. Express
One of the shortest lived family teams that achieved success was the tandem of Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda. The brothers-in-law worked together off and on during their time in the Florida wrestling territories, and captured the NWA Florida Championship Wrestling Tag Team Championships on three separate occasions. Windham and Rotunda were managed at the time by Captain Lou Albano, and the fit worked. They were brought into the WWE with a patriotic American gimmick and captured the WWF World Tag Team Championships on two separate occasions.
At one year to the day of being formed in WWE, the team split when Windham left the promotion and returned to competing in Florida. Their last appearance as a team was in the AWA, not as the U.S. Express but simply as a known tag team that had competed previously. It would have been interesting to see what they would have achieved had they remained together. Rotunda is married to Windham’s sister, which also makes him the son-in-law of legendary wrestler Blackjack Mulligan.
7. The Wild Samoans
One tandem whose careers outside the ring made them as relevant as they were in the ring is Afa and Sika. Today, wrestling fan are more familiar with them because of their importance in the lineage of the Anoa’i family. But when they were in the ring these two brothers were known for being “primitive” and “savages” it was very stereotypical, but was certainly intended to strike fear in both fans and their opponents. They were managed by Captain Lou Albano who did the talking, on their behalf.
What is amazing about the brothers was that they won an astounding nineteen Tag Team Championships around the world. So while they captured the WWF World Tag Team titles on three separate occasions, they also captured championships during their time in the NWA, CWA, Georgia Championship, Mid-South, Southeastern Championship, Stampede Wrestling and the International Wrestling Alliance. Today both Afa and Sika operate a wrestling school that has helped produce a number of talented wrestlers.
6. The British Bulldogs
One of the most revolutionary tag teams in wrestling was The British Bulldogs. Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid were like The Hart Foundation in that they both came out of the Hart family. In fact, the relationship between The British Bulldogs and The Hart Foundation is only one degree of separation: the late Davey Boy Smith was married to Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart‘s sister Diana, making him the brother-in-law of both Bret and Jim Neidhart. In addition to that, Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid were cousins.
Their chemistry in the ring was undeniable, and their time as a team could easily be called revolutionary. While things such as a diving headbutt and a superplex may be common today, in the mid to late 1980s it had never been seen before. Together Smith and Dynamite (real name Tommy Billington) captured the WWF Tag team titles on one occasion. They were also voted the tag team of the year according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards in 1985.
5. The Hart Foundation
Before this name was applied to a faction in the late 1990s, the Hart Foundation were one of the most successful tag teams in the mid to late 1980s. “The Hitman” and “The Anvil” came out of the Hart family dungeon in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. When they initially came up, one of the better kept secrets about them was that they were related: Jim is married to Bret’s sister Ellie. The two had been married for over 36 years.
Bret and Jim captured the WWF World Tag Team Championships twice during their run together. It was also during this time that they were managed by Jimmy Mouth of the South Hart. Jimmy is of no relation to either Hart of Neidhart, but having the same last name worked with the Hart Foundation team name. Both men had distinct characters and characteristics, which made them as successful as they were. They complimented each other in the ring which contributed to the success these two brothers-in–law had in their careers.
4. Harlem Heat
One of the most decorated tag teams of the early 1990s was this WCW team. Booker T and Stevie Ray had a distinct look and feel when they were together. They were led to the ring by the late Sensational Sherri Martel. Something that was refreshing about them was, honestly, the colour of their skin. Race tends to be an issue in wrestling, but in the case of Stevie Ray and Booker T, they transcended colour to capture the WCW World Tag Team titles.
Fans may have forgotten that they were initially named Kole and Kane and managed by Col. Rob Parker. They came out with chains and shackles and were supposedly won in a card game by Parker. Thankfully, the racially charged gimmick they were stuck with when they first debuted ended. They carved a niche for themselves and proved that blood is thicker than water. Even though Booker T went on to achieve success on his own in both WCW and WWE, it is impossible to dispute the success that these Huffman brothers achieved together.
3. The Briscoes
While the Briscoe name is something Mark and Jay have helped maintain its popularity, it isn’t their actual family name. However, that hasn’t stopped the brothers from becoming arguably one of the most decorated tag teams of the new millennium. During their time in ROH, CZW and other promotions, the brothers have captured an astounding sixteen tag team championships. It should be noted that they did so after leaving wrestling for a period of time. After Mark suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, Jay preferred to stay away from wrestling until his brother was ready to return.
Jay has captured the Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Championship on two separate occasions, which shows how neither brother has needed the other in order to achieve success. Even though they are great to watch apart, it is together where they both truly shine. Whenever there is discussion over the ROH World Tag Team Championship, Mark and Jay are not far removed from the discussion. They are often rumored to be of interest to the WWE, as their success as a tag team is a benefit to any promotion.
2. The Steiner Brothers
These two brothers made tag wrestling their lives for the early part of their careers. Graduates of the University of Michigan, Rick and Scott took tag team wrestling and stepped it up to another level. One move that was synonymous with both Rick and Scott was the suplex. Whether it was Rick or Scott, both could lift their opponent from any position and toss them anywhere around the ring. They captured the NWA and WCW World Tag Team Champions on two separate occasions, and while they were in the WWE they captured the WWE Tag Team Championship on two separate occasions.
While Scott went on to achieve individual success as Big Poppa Pump, it was as a tag team that the brothers Steiner earned a name for themselves. During this time Scott first used the “frankensteiner” finisher, which was unheard of at the time. The move today is known as the hurricanrana, but to have someone with the size and strength of Scott Steiner perform the move made it all that more impressive.
1. The Hardy Boyz
Cameron, North Carolina’s own Hardy Boyz had achieved success both together and on their own. Through it all, Matt and Jeff captured an impressive eleven tag team championships together. The Hardyz first earned acclaim as they established the OMEGA promotion, which produced a number of talented performers including Steve Corino, Joey Mercury and The Hurricane Shane Helms. After competing together off and on for about twenty years, they have managed to keep themselves relevant in the ring. They constantly change nuances of themselves, and their characters that stand out.
What doesn’t change, however, is their ability to captivate a crowd with incredible tag team wrestling. It would be easy to write the tandem off after leaving the WWE, however even after leaving the WWE they have captured the TNA World Tag Team Championship, and each has captured the TNA World Championship on multiple occasions. Neither of the brothers appear to be slowing down, and it is quite safe to say that no matter what they achieve individually, it’s what they have done collectively that speaks for itself.