Tag team wrestling isn’t what it once was and that’s something of a shame. In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, the tag team divisions of various promotions were incredibly strong, so much so that the NWA had the U.S. tag titles and fans openly said that the WWE needed a secondary title as well. It’s faded as time has gone on but there’s still some life to it all and can still provide fun. Watching four guys going at it and working together, it’s a fun sight and has long provided some great entertainment and excitement for wrestling fans.
Over the years, we’ve seen slews of fantastic tag teams, so ranking the best of the bunch is a tricky thing to say the least. It’s not just the number of championships won or longevity; there’s also how the teams worked, the quality of their opponents and their impact on wrestling itself. Some of these guys had tons of championships, others barely any but they all provided fans with some stunning action. Here are the 25 best tag teams wrestling has ever produced, all of whom worked to make the business so lively and why tag team wrestling, no matter how low it can get, will never truly go away.
25. The New Age Outlaws
They were just two guys lost completely in the lower cards who were tossed together just to have something to do, but Jesse James and Billy Gunn shocked everyone by upsetting the Legion of Doom for the WWE tag team titles in 1997 and managing to hold onto them. Clicking well as a team, they would really take off as part of DX with that famous mantra on the mic – “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages” – that helped them get massively over and dominate the tag title scene for the better part of two years.
In TNA, they took on the name of the Voodoo Kin Mafia for wild antics before a return to WWE and getting another run as the champs. Whacky and wild, they obviously enjoyed riling up any opponents in their way, with their success helping to shape the Attitude Era. Not bad for two guys never meant to get over at all.
24. The Brisco Brothers
In 1983, having done just about everything else in wrestling on their own, Jack and Jerry Brisco decided that becoming a heel tag team was something to try. The brothers had worked together before, holding the Florida tag titles eight times but that was as faces, both highly popular, especially former World champion Jack. They kept to that before slowly showing off harsher means in matches and finally ambushing tag champions Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood, stealing Youngblood’s prized Indian headdress in the process. That made them instantly hated and kicked off an epic feud, with the youngsters going against the Briscos’ fabulous technical work and ability to break the rules to keep the belts on them.
Both men knew how to work a crowd, they just shifted that for heel methods of cheating behind the ref’s back and being arrogant in promos, thus making the program work beautifully. It ended with the faces regaining the titles at Starrcade but the brothers still showcased their amazing drive and ability to hang with most any team, regardless of age. Blood was thicker than water and in the case of the Briscos, it landed them plenty of gold along the way.
23. Beer Money Inc.
This is the classic case of two guys just thrown together who ended up working brilliantly. Both Bobby Roode and James Storm had held tag team gold with other partners but were each a bit lost in 2008 with Storm the hard-drinking cowboy and Roode doing a “rich man” act. Seemingly at random, they joined forces and instantly clicked together, Storm’s brawling and Roode’s tough shots forging a great partnership, exemplified by their powerbomb/neckbreaker finisher.
It took a bit before they embraced the “Beer Money” motif with Storm more the wild man and Roode down to Earth but it worked brilliantly as they would go on to hold the TNA tag team titles four times, riling up crowds with their promos and becoming the best team around. They took on everyone from LAX to a classic feud with the Motor City Machineguns, at first heels but the fans soon responded to make them faces, cheering them on. They would break up with Roode going heel after beating Storm for the TNA World title to end their run. For three years, though, Beer Money was the top team in wrestling and proof of how two oddballs could end up forming something truly special.
22. The Outsiders
Scott Hall and Kevin Nash had proven themselves as massive stars in WWE, Hall with five IC title reigns and Nash holding every belt in the company in a single year. Their jump to WCW was truly the kick-off of the Monday Night Wars, both making a huge impact so paired together, they were formidable. With Nash’s power and Hall’s skills, they dominated as tag team champions against all comers, usually cheating to keep the belts but still a powerful pair to take on.
More importantly was how they helped the NWO take WCW to new heights, the essence of arrogant cool and loving it. You can argue their merits as singles stars and their politics hogging the spotlight but the Outsiders were a key reason WCW took off as it did and that alone merits their inclusion on this list.
21. The Funks
Terry and Dory Funk Jr. are the only brothers in history to each hold the NWA World Heavyweight title, each a genius wrestler who could go from brawling to 60-minute technical battles with ease and two of the toughest guys you could ever meet outside the ring. It took a while for the brothers to team regularly but when they did, the results were naturally fantastic. Their battle in 1984 against Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody has earned five-star ratings from those who have seen it as the brothers are considered near royalty by Japanese wrestling fans.
They would hold gold together in various smaller territories, had a brief run in WWE but each preferred a bit less strenuous schedule. No matter where they went, the Funks were a wild pair who could leave you hurting for quite a while, loyal to each other through and through and the living example of “Don’t mess with Texas” that pertained no matter what part of the world they competed in.
20. Harlem Heat
It was a long road for Booker and Lash Huffman from the Ebony Experience in Global Wrestling to the plan in WCW to have them come out as convicts in chains managed by Southerner Col. Robert Parker. Thankfully, that was dropped fast and Booker T and Stevie Ray were instead set up as a pair of tough guys with Sherri Martel their manager. Their first tag title reign seemed to be a fluke but they would hold the belts for five months and was only the first of ten WCW championships. While big and strong, the Heat were also quite fast and skilled, able to break out with good moves, being as capable brawling with the Nasty Boys as they were in a high-pitched battle with the Steiner Brothers.
The success would drive them on well, especially Booker, giving him the experience he’d use in his singles stardom. One of the toughest teams of their time, there’s no denying that the Heat certainly fired up WCW throughout the 1990s and why WCW’s tag scene was often quite better than WWE’s at this time and why fans dug it.
For a decade, Japanese wrestling fans watched as Masahiro Chono and Hiroyoshi Tenzan put on one marvelous match after another and never showed any signs of slowing down. Formed in 1995, Cho-Ten would challenge for the IWGP titles numerous times, holding them on five different occasions and stunning fans with their speed, skill and great tag work. Their double-team moves (like the wild CTC and Shining Assault) are still brutal to watch as both men did their best to carry opponents, working against all the top teams of that period.
They finally split up in 2006 with much of their run ignored by U.S. fans but for that decade, few teams were better than they were and still rank among the greatest to come from the Land of the Rising Sun.
18. The Hardyz
Michael Hayes laughs at how he wanted to turn Jeff and Matt into a “New Freebirds” and they point blank told him “dude, it’s 1999, get with it.” On their own, the two soon pushed the “Team Extreme” label big time, becoming one of the flashiest and amazing teams to watch with their high-flying, double-teaming and good fan heat getting them over fast. Their feuds with the Dudleyz and Edge & Christian were amazing to watch unfold with Jeff showing off his near-insane style with leaps off ladders and through tables.
They would hold multiple tag team gold, reuniting in 2006 for some good stuff and their recent TNA run marred by Jeff’s injury but still showing they had the stuff in the feud with the Wolves. They got wild but in a good way, a team perfect for the early 2000s and showing how “extreme” tag team wrestling can get.
17. The Wild Samoans
Hulk Hogan likes to tell the story of how he and Afa and Sika were in a car pulled over by the cops for a traffic violation. Hogan wanted the Samoans to speak up for him but the two refused to break their act and speak English. That commitment was a key reason behind their success as these two could go from hulking brutes beating opponents down to leaping off the ropes, bare-footed, in amazing flying moves.
Their first run in WWE had them each challenging Bob Backlund for the title but then joining for two reigns as champions. After a brief NWA run, they returned to the WWE with Lou Albano as their manager and ran roughshod as tag champions once more. They were a fearsome pairing with their strength and deceptive speed and could surprise with their skill. Basically, they helped put over how badass Samoans are as wrestlers, serving as one of the wildest but successful teams in WWF history.
16. The Rockers
The Rokcers are probably the greatest team to never hold WWE tag team gold (although it was to happen in 1990 but ended due to backstage politics). Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty had formed in the AWA, a ripoff of the Rock n’ Roll Express but soon taking off nicely on their own with double-team moves no one had ever seen before. Their party style was also notable and Shawn has openly stated the two should have been fired a dozen times but saved themselves with their amazing ring work.
Their speed, reversals, double-teaming, all in perfect synch; it was fantastic and the fans truly adored them as they feuded with so many teams, including a classic battle against the Orient Express at the 1991 Royal Rumble. A tag reign together was never to be as they would have the famous breakup that launched Shawn to his singles success. But a 2005 reunion showed they still had the spark as the Rockers never failed to give the fans a good time and loving it all.
They were as blatant a ripoff as you could get without being sued. Ax and Smash, two guys in leather outfits, studded masks and makeup, coming out to crush opponents, the fans laughed when they saw it in 1987, the obvious attempt by WWE to have their own Road Warriors. However, the duo would soon overcome those doubts to become an amazing success. With Mr. Fuji as their manager, they rose much higher than anyone anticipated, showing good conditioning and improving their ring work. In 1988, they won the tag team titles and would hold them for the next 15 months, the longest tag team title reign in history.
They would have two further reigns while fans soon cheered them on, making them massive merchandise sellers and dominating at arguably the greatest period of tag team wrestling WWE ever had. They would add Crush and soon come out the losers in the feud with the Legion of Doom but when you look at their reigns and their opponents, you can make a fair case that the “ripoffs” were actually better in some regards than the originals.
14. The Bruiser and the Crusher
Separately, they were two of the most beloved stars for the “common man” audience. Short but squat, well-muscled, they were throwing back beers regularly and often carried full barrels of the stuff to and from the ring while smoking cigars. They were rough and tumble, their promos spoken through grizzled mouths and raw throats but in the ring, that same brawling style mixed with solid mat action carried any opponents to a great battle.
They were the stars of the Indianapolis-based WWA, holding the tag titles there several times and fans going nuts for their appearances, singing along with their music and cheering them on against the vile heels they would easily smash aside. They would hold tag titles six times, uniting for five runs as AWA tag team champions, the Northern-based fans adoring them massively. They would remain close until the Bruiser’s death in 1991 and remain one of the all-time best teams to win over the locals by just being themselves and in that regard, Da Bruiser and Da Crusher will never be forgotten in Milwaukee.
13. The Miracle Violence Connection
Just what sort of connection between a miracle and violence was never fully explained but you have to admit, it’s a damn cool name. Steve “Dr. Death” Williams and Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy were two of the toughest, roughest, stiffest workers imaginable so when they were paired together, it’s no wonder they would run high as a team to be feared. After a good run in Japan, they moved to WCW and would crush all in their path, including the Steiner Brothers, holding both the WCW and NWA tag team titles.
Both able to carry anyone to a good match, their rough style emphasized hard wrestling with seriously nasty shots that got them pretty ahead and showcased the two veterans who could seem overmatched by the youngsters only to be victorious in the end. Sadly, their run was cut short by the politics of WCW as well as Gordy’s stroke in 1993. For a time though, the Connection was one that really proved violent and sparked WCW in a rough time.
12. Edge & Christian
At first thrown together as part of “the Brood,” the young Canadians and childhood friends rose to prominence thanks to a stellar ladder match with the Hardyz in late 1999. When they won the gold in 2000, they soon took off as fantastic jerk heels with hilarious promos and the “five second pose.” Better was how they backed it up with stellar work in the ring, well paired with their speed and skill and not above heel tactics like the “Conchairto.”
They proved their toughness in the TLC brawls and cage matches, both terrific workers and just gelling beyond imagination as a fun heel team. Each would later hold gold with other partners and Edge rising high on his own yet E&C is one of the more popular duos of their era, a team that made you laugh even when you booed them.
11. Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood
For all his terrific success as a singles star, Ricky Steamboat has always said he considers the best part of his career his partnership with Jay Youngblood. Both men were wonderful babyfaces, Steamboat with his great build and Youngblood a Native American proud of his heritage. Together, they mixed technical work with fantastic high-flying and could get a great match out of even lower-rung guys. Their 1983 feud for the tag titles with Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernolde culminated in a cage match that sold out so majorly that the traffic around the arena was snarled for miles. The duo then moved onto another great feud with Jack and Jerry Brisco, the two teams trading the titles in great bouts, ending in a cage match at the first Starrcade.
The two would split up before Youngblood’s tragic death in 1985 but leave behind a highlight reel of great matches that elevated Steamboat nicely and no wonder he still regards this as a highlight of his amazing career.
10. The Hart Foundation
The “Pink and Black Attack” were a gateway to Bret Hart’s rise in the WWE as he and Jim Neidhart were well-matched. “The Anvil” brought the strength and power while the “Hitman” supplied the skill, speed and technical brilliance. With Jimmy Hart backing them, the Foundation were soon firing on all cylinders at one of the best periods for tag team wrestling in the company.
They would dominate most of 1987 as the champions and have another good run in 1990, taking on the best teams of their time. It led to great success and gave Bret the skills and experience he would use in his later stellar run as a singles star. Despite all that, the Foundation was still a hot act and one fans of WWE in the late ‘80s remember so well.
9. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express
Arn Anderson nicely summed up that if you “ever wanted to start a riot in the ‘80s, beat up Ricky and Robert.” Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson were both hot with female fans, quite attractive but backed it up with their style, fast as hell and pulling off great stuff like double dropkicks and other moves in perfect tandem. They also created one of the most popular tropes in wrestling as Morton would take amazing amounts of punishment, slammed around hard by the heels before finally making the hot tag to Gibson who’d clean house.
The two would hold gold in Mid-South and the NWA, a fantastic feud with the Midnight Express that spanned years, numerous attacks and trading the belts in matches that sold out arenas across the country. They would split up in the 1990s with a few revivals afterward and really showcased the great stuff of wrestling in their time period to become one of the hottest teams around.
8. The Brain Busters
Both men had already shown they were terrific wrestlers in the NWA as singles champs and members of the Four Horsemen. When they were finally united as a regular team in 1987, they immediately took off as a brilliant pairing. Blanchard’s skill and technical abilities mixed with Anderson’s strength, both guys amazing workers and perfect as a team while delivering some of the best promos around to fire fans against them. They would have the NWA World tag titles quickly and hold them for the next year, shocking the wrestling world by then jumping to the WWE.
Paired with Bobby Heenan as the Brainbusters, they succeeded in this new company well, holding the tag titles while facing off against the Rockers, Hart Foundation, Demolition and others. The team would sadly end with Blanchard’s drug addictions ruining a comeback in the NWA and his retirement right afterward. But for this brief time, Blanchard and Anderson were a team that succeeded in the top two promotions in record time and still one of the finest technical pairings wrestling has ever seen.
7. The Midnight Express
Rising up thanks in no small part to Jim Cornette, Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey became one of the top teams in no time flat in Mid-South wrestling, both guys wonderfully talented and gelling well. Cornette was there as their loud mouthpiece with his tennis racket often used to help them get a win and they loved to be hated by the fans. It was here they kicked off their epic feud with the Rock n Roll Express that would carry over to the NWA as they would trade the tag team titles and sell out arenas with their brawls.
When Condrey left in 1987, he was replaced by Stan Lane and this version was even better with Eaton and Lane wrestling like they’d been partners for years and becoming even flashier with the act. They would hold the U.S. and NWA World tag titles and even feud with Condrey and Randy Rose as the “Original” Midnight Express. No matter who was in it or where they went, the Express always charged to success with fans and helped boost Cornette to the limelight as well.
6. The Dudleyz
In terms of titles, they’re the best out there: Between ECW, WWF, IWGP and TNA, they have amassed a total of 23 championships and have faced slews of amazing teams and coming out on top. Begun as a larger and mostly comedy act, Buh Buh Ray and D-Von would soon get over with their wild style, crazy promos and, of course, smashing guys through tables.
A better team than most credit them for, they worked great with just about anyone, from the TLC battles against the Hardyz and Dudleyz to the elite of TNA, cage battles, winning belts and dominating like few other teams before them. Buh Buh would have a good run as singles champion in TNA but both guys just seemed better together. That’s proven by their recent return to WWE and the idea of them getting one more championship to cement their legacy just seems right for one of the best teams of the last decade plus.
5. The Fabulous Kangaroos
They didn’t invent tag team wrestling but they sure helped push it to prominence. Al Costello, Roy Hefferman, Ray St. Clair, Don Kent and others would join together from 1957 to 1983 to wrestle across the world and helped the form become widely accepted among fans. They would play up “Aussie” roots with boomerangs and caps and often riling up the crowds as heels. The wide travel helped spread their fame quickly, along with their terrific skills, able to work with most any other team and easily handling the change in various partnerships.
The Kangaroos were also among the first wrestling acts to market themselves and pay off on promotion, enhancing their fame and standing among their workers. While they never held seriously recognized “world” titles, they would have slews of belts around their waists as they basically set the bar every other team in history would follow and it’s thanks to them that tag team wrestling as we know it came to be.
4. The British Bulldogs
The Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith met in Stampede wrestling as rivals, the Kid fast and agile while also stiff as hell while Davey Boy was the strongman able to go at a fast speed. When they joined together, they just clicked perfectly as a fantastic tandem that would carry over to the WWF. The fans loved them, their skill, speed and ability to sell wining crowds over as they could provide a classic battle with most anyone, Davey Boy’s running powerslam and Dynamite’s top rope headbutt dives truly unique stuff.
They would have a long run with the tag titles but sadly, Dynamite’s terrible back injury cut it short. He returned a bit too fast, the two still working together but behind the scenes, coming apart due to their addictions and battling egos. It’s a shame as in their prime, the Bulldogs were a show unlike any other in wrestling and one of the best teams to work with, a legacy fans should remember more.
3. The Steiner Brothers
Fans who know Scott Steiner by his later “Big Poppa Pump” years may be amazed to see the clean-cut athlete he once was. Rick had already been rising in the NWA with his ring work and a goofy character with brother Scott joining him as the more down-to-earth type. Together, the brothers took their collegiate athletics and applied it to wrestling, Scott the strongman and Rick the quick fighter but both amazingly fast and agile and able to face most anyone. It took little time for them to hold the NWA tag team titles and wow fans with their ring work. In 1990, you did not see stuff like a bulldog off the top rope or the rana that became known as “the Frankensteiner.”
Fans could not get enough as the Steiners were soon dominating the tag scene in WCW and later jumped to WWF for a few titles there before back to WCW again. They would split with Scott going on his singles run, a few brief reunions but that glory period of the early ‘90’s showed two amazing athletes at the height of their abilities who set a new tone for wrestling that would inspire quite a few folks over the decade.
2. The Fabulous Freebirds
If there’s a thin line between love and hate, the Freebirds walked it better than anyone. It was the perfect mix: Michael Hayes, a man born for wrestling with his handsome looks, build and fantastic mic skills; Terry Gordy, tough as nails and backing it up with his own terrific ring work; Buddy Rogers, capable of taking a beating and looking bad-ass doing it. They were the first cool heels, the first bad guys fan actually wanted to be like and even cheer on at times and they would do everything from wild fights to fantastic interviews and even music videos.
They were rising in Georgia with a feud where they “blinded” the Junkyard Dog but it was in Texas that they would become legends. Their feud with the Von Erichs basically launched World Class to prominence, the crowds could never get enough of them and the Freebirds reveled in the heat with fans honestly wanting to kill them. They would bounce around at times, including a run in the UWF and Hayes and Jimmy Garvin would join under the Freebird name to hold the WCW tag team titles. That’s not to mention the stories of their partying that are still legendary. When it came to attitude, no one could touch them in or out of the ring and created a legacy for so many heels to follow.
1. The Road Warriors
It wasn’t just about the titles they won. It wasn’t that they faced some of the best teams in the world and handled them all. It was how Hawk and Animal changed the game so dramatically. Back in 1983, you’d never seen anything like them: The leather outfits, Mohawks, face paint, the spiked shoulder pads, it was all so different and daring. Then there was their ring style as they’d hit the mat running, smashing their opponents before the bell even rang and being so stiff and hard that jobbers were literally in fear of their lives when they faced the Warriors. Their interviews were smash-mouth, ranting and raving with threats and Paul Ellering their true manager, keeping them on track and helping them rise in fame. The no-selling and brutality got the fans’ attention and before you knew it, the Legion of Doom were on top of the wrestling world.
They would win gold in the AWA, NWA, WWE and Japan but they were an act so massively over that they never needed a championship to be regarded as the best in the world. No matter where they went, the fans responded in droves, always popping huge to their music and cheering them on as they took on just about every major team of their time and often coming out on top. Their addictions (especially Hawk) led to some rough times and a sad end. But the legacy of the Road Warriors is intact as they stand as the greatest tag team ever, an act so many have tried to emulate but no one duplicating, standing as true legends in wrestling.
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