The WWE tag team division has been a staple within the company since the early 1970s. After several years of being nearly nonexistent, there’s been a recent resurrection.
The WWE has featured some of the greatest tag teams of all-time. The Wild Samoans, The British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation, Demolition, The Road Warriors aka LOD, The Steiner Brothers, The Dudley Boyz, The Hardy Boyz, Edge and Christian and many more.
There’s even been all-time greats who have been half of some memorable tag teams, albeit briefly. You’ve had the Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage), The Ultimate Maniacs (The Ultimate Warrior and Macho Man Randy Savage), and even the Rock n Sock connection (The Rock and Mick Foley).
My earliest recollection of tag team wrestling was the Wild Samoans. They were insane, vicious, captivating, different, and downright scary. You were always wondering what they’d do next. They would maul opponents like grizzly bears. They managed to wear the belt on 3 different occasions during their tenure as Superstars. The Wild Samoans were managed by a lunatic known as Captain Lou Albano, who also played Mario while not managing these monsters. The trio would give any kid dreams that weren’t exactly labeled as fun.
Once Vince McMahon bought the WWE from his father, that’s when there was an influx of teams that would reinvent tag team wrestling. Vince McMahon raided territories from around the states and even Canada, seeking the best talent out there. The aforementioned British Bulldogs were like watching ballet. The Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith came to WWE from Stampede Wrestling in Canada. If you asked god to create the perfect tag team–it would be the British Bulldogs. They exuded athleticism, power and technical wrestling.
They were unequivocally my favorite tag team of all-time. The Dynamite Kid is one of the greatest in ring performers in the history of professional wrestling. Unfortunately, his career was cut short due to injuries which stemmed from steroid abuse. Davey Boy Smith went on to have a very successful career as a singles wrestler, including defeating the legendary Bret Hart at Wembley stadium for the Intercontinental championship.
Bret Hart, also from Stampede wrestling and son of the legendary Stu Hart, was paired with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart to form the Hart Foundation. Another tag team to display a combination of technical skill and power. Bret Hart went on to become one of the all-time greats in WWE history. Also had an untimely end, that I am sure has been covered in length. The Hart Foundation and British Bulldogs had memorable matches, which included the Hart Foundation defeating the Bulldogs for the tag team titles.
Another wrestler who started out as a tag team performer was the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels. Michaels was part of the Rockers, along with Marty Jannetty. The Rockers brought a different angle to the tag team wrestling mold. They were technical, high flying, and were loved by young girls and women alike for their looks and elevated swagger.
The Rockers also had one of the more memorable breakups in the history of WWE. Michaels and Jannetty were guests on The Barber Shop. They appeared to have settled their recent differences, when Michaels suddenly super kicked Jannetty and then threw him through a glass window. That began what would be a legendary career for HBK.
Once Vince McMahon couldn’t acquire the Road Warriors (he eventually would) from the NWA, he created his own version known as Demolition. Ax and Smash were intimidating monsters who demolished opponents. They wore masks that resembled something out of a Mad Max movie.
The Steiner Brothers were another legendary team, who combined power with high impact moves. The Steiner Brothers were arguably the greatest tag team of all-time, having won tag team titles all over the globe. Scott Steiner was an innovator of offense and his moves in the ring came across as a hazard to everyone involved, even the crowd.
It took Vince McMahon many years, but he finally acquired the services of the Road Warriors aka The Legion of Doom. They were already legends prior to entering WWE, having won titles in the other two National promotions. The LOD were larger than life, and whether face or heel, they always had the support of the fans. Their signature entry sparked by “What A Rush” is a timeless stamp among the WWE menagerie. Their face paint and insane strength instilled fear into all opponents.
While the New Age Outlaws were multi-time tag team champions, they were better known for their work on the microphone and their classic catchphrase. They still had a great impact on the success of the WWE.
During the attitude era all titles became hot potatoes. In other words, they changed hands very often. And this was the time when anyone and everyone was thrown together to be a tag team and actually won the titles. The titles eventually lost their luster for several years.
While the titles continued to change hands frequently, new teams slowly started to emerge and put on great matches.
The Dudley Boyz, The Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian may go down as having the greatest tag team matches ever in WWE history. Nobody will ever forget the TLC matches all three teams were involved in. It was chaos and total anarchy.
While there’s always been tag team wrestling in WWE, in the last ten years there hasn’t been many memorable moments or great teams to speak of. The division was essentially but on the back burner. More and more singles wrestlers were just thrown together to form tag teams.
The action is back, the wrestling continues to improve, and more importantly–it appears that WWE creative is behind making this division matter once again.
Will it ever be like the 80s or early 90s again? Highly unlikely. However, if it can somewhat mirror the days of the legendary TLC matches, then WWE tag team wrestling definitely has a future.