The tag team division has a long and storied history in not only WWE history, but in sports entertainment history. The concept of the "tag team" was first introduced in wrestling in the year 1901. The first tag team match was held in San Francisco, California when two promoters introduced the idea and thought that it would be a good way to boost professional wrestling's entertainment value. The idea wasn't very popular at first, but gained life around the 1930's and by the 1950's, the first World Tag Team Champions were crowned (also in San Francisco).
For those who may not be particularly familiar with the rules of a tag team match, it is quite simple. A basic tag match is comprised of two teams, both consisting of two competitors, one of which for each team is allowed in the ring at one time. The two "legal" competitors in the ring wrestle against each other while their partners stand on the outside of the ring known as the "apron" and can be tagged in at any time during the match. This continues until one team has either gained a pinfall, made its opponent submit, or when one team is counted out of the match.
The WWE has had many variations of tag team titles dating back to 1971. The team of Luke Graham and Tarzan Tyler defeated The Iron Sheik and Dick the Bruiser to win the World Wide Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championships in a tournament on June 3. The titles were renamed the WWE (obviously not WWE at the time, but you know that) World Tag Team Titles in 1979. In the 1990s, the titles were called the WWE Tag Team Titles for a short time period. In 2001, the WCW Tag team Titles were unified with the WWE Tag Team Titles at Survivor Series after the disbanding of the WCW/ECW Alliance. In October 2002, Smackdown issued its own brand of tag titles known as the World Tag Team Titles and those lasted about seven years until those title were unified at Wrestlemania XXV.
Those events, as well as teams such as The Wild Samoans, The Hart Foundation, Demolition, and The Road Warriors have paved the way for this list of tag teams. So now let's get into the Top 5 Tag Teams of the last 20 years.
5 The Smokin' Gunns, 3-Time Tag Team Champions
You don't hear too much about these guys, especially these days, when talking about tag teams in the WWE. For only being together for a little over 3 years, the Smokin' Gunns, had a good run in the WWE, winning the WWE Tag Team Titles three times. While winning the titles three times isn't much to make a fuss about, it's the longevity of their title reigns that puts them on this list over other teams of the past 20 years such as the Acolytes, The Brothers of Destruction, etc. The Smokin' Gunns held tag team gold for a combined 331 days, which ranks them 9th on the list of combined days as tag team champions. In fact, if it had not been for various injuries to Billy Gunn during his time as a Smokin Gunn, one might say that they would've had a longer reign as tag champs. The team debuted in April 1993 and split in October 1996 after then manager Sunny caused the two brothers to turn on each other, resulting in a brief feud.
Billy Gunn would go on to be one of the greatest tag team competitors of all time winning tag team gold eleven times with three different partners (Bart Gunn, Road Dogg, and Chuck Palumbo).
4 4. The Hardy Boyz, 6-Time Tag Team Champions
This list has just gotten 2-Xreme with the fourth best tag team of the last 20 years. Matt and Jeff Hardy helped take the tag team division to new heights (literally) en route to becoming 6-time Tag Team Champions. The Hardyz are known for their high-flying feats in the ring and putting their bodies on the line each time they stepped into the squared circle. You knew a Hardyz victory was coming when Matt put his opponent in a DDT position raised two fingers and dropped his opponent for the Twist-of-Fate, which would be followed by a Jeff Hardy Swanton Bomb and pin.
The Hardyz started to gain popularity after a win over Kaientai on a 1998 episode of Sunday Night Heat and as the weeks went by, more and more people began to follow the team, marveling at the brothers' high-flying abilities. The duo won their first tag team titles after defeating the brutal Acolytes on July 29, 1999 on Raw. From then on, the Hardyz were always serious players in the tag team division. The Hardyz' feud with the Dudley Boys and Edge and Christian brought the team's popularity to new heights, in large part to Jeff Hardy's death-defying antics off of ladders. The Hardyz are only number four on this list because despite winning tag team gold 6 times, the brothers were only able to hold the tag titles for a combined 151 days.
3 Edge and Christian, 7-Time Tag Team Champions
When a team has not only won tag team gold seven times, but also helped change the culture of tag team wrestling, it is hard to argue against it being one of the greatest teams of not only the past 20 years, but of all time. Edge and Christian dominated the modern tag team era and had some impressive runs as tag team champions.
Edge and Christian were destined for tag team greatness in WWE, after starting by barely uttering a word as members of The Brood and The Ministry of Darkness, to offering everyone chances for 5 second photo-ops. The lifelong friends got their first taste of tag team gold when they defeated the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boys in a Triple Threat Ladder match at WrestleMania XVI on April 2, 2000 in Anaheim, California. This match would be the first of many classics between the three teams, with tables, ladders and chairs normally being added to the equation.
Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boys would put on two classic TLC matches that will forever live in the hearts and memories of the WWE faithful. The first was held at Summerslam in 2000, which resulted in Edge and Christian retaining their tag titles. The three teams got it on again in a Triple Threat, TLC match at WrestleMania X-Seven and again resulted in Edge and Christian winning the Tag Team Championships, this time winning them from the Dudleys. Edge and Christian can lay claim to winning two of the best matches in WWE history while making their own history in the process.
(Sidenote: Edge can also be considered the greatest tag team competitor in WWE history. He has had twelve reigns with five different partners (Christian, Chris Benoit, Randy Orton, Hulk Hogan, and Chris Jericho).
2 The Dudley Boyz, 8-Time Tag Team Champions
The D-d-d Dudley Boyz come in at number two of the Top 5 Tag Teams of the Past 20 years. The Dudleys hold the record for the most tag team title reigns as a team with eight. The duo from Dudleyville brought their extreme style to the WWE from ECW and transitioned nicely, finding immediate tag team success. Of course with their success came a lot of tables being broken. The Dudleys became known for putting their opponents through tables with Bubba Ray famously pushing D-Von and yelling, "D-Von! Get the tables!"
The Dudley Boyz defeated the New Age Outlaws on February 2nd, 2000 to win their first tag team championships. The popularity of the Dudleys would skyrocket thanks in large part to the team's feud with the Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian in their famous Triple Threat Tag Team matches, as mentionned previously, including the ever popular Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches. Oddly enough, it was Bubba Ray's fetish of putting women through tables, that made the team a very popular heel team. In 2001, the Dudleys had an amazing run that included ten wins at PPV events which is a WWE record and one not likely to be broken anytime soon.
The Dudley Boyz rank eleventh with a combined 281 days as tag team champions during the team's eight title runs. The Dudleys most certainly helped the WWE transition from the Attitude Era to the Ruthless Aggression. Remember these three commandments about the third ranked team because D-Von surely didn't let us forget, "Thou shall not steal. Thou shall not kill. And thou shall not mess with the Dudleys!"
1 New Age Outlaws, 6-Time Tag Team Champions (Current)
"Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages.D-Generation X proudly brings to you, it's WWE Tag Team Champions of the wooooorllllldddd! The Road Dogg Jesse James, The Bad Ass Billy Gunn,The New Age Outlaws!"
And with that, you have the greatest tag team in WWE history in the last 20 years, The New Age Outlaws. The New Age Oultaws dominated the Attitude Era in the WWE en route to winning tag team gold five times and establishing themselves as one of the most dominate tag teams in WWE history. All but one of the Outlaws' five championship reigns lasted over 100 days, proving that when the team won the gold, they were able to consistently defend it. Longevity weighs a ton when speaking of winning championships.
And to think, this dominate team was made up of two struggling superstars trying to find their respective way in the WWE. The team formed after feuding with each other when the then "Real Double J" asked "Rock-a-Billy" to turn on his manager The Honky Tonk Man. A request that was answered with a guitar shot to the head of The Honky Tonk Man. The two became known as The Outlaws because of their ability to always find a way to steal victories from their opponents. The duo would eventually join X-Pac, Triple H, and Chyna to form the new D-Generation X, where the team found most of its tag team success.
You thought it stopped there? Oh you didn't know? The New Age Outlaws became WWE Tag Team Champions for the 6th time on January 26, 2014 by defeating Cody Rhodes and Goldust during the Royal Rumble Kick-Off show. This set a new WWE record with The Outlaws having won the gold fourteen years apart. They are second to only Demolition (698 combined days) with 468 combined days and counting as Tag Team Champions. The old guys still have something left in the tank, wouldn't you say? And for those who don't believe that, I'm willing to bet The New Age Outlaws have two words for ya.