Ranking the Top 50 Tag Teams: The PWI Years (34-20)

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Ranking the Top 50 Tag Teams: The PWI Years (34-20)

Here's the second installment in listing the top tag teams since Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) was established (1979).

The list was compiled and ranked by PWI in 2003 and included many tag teams who fought in Japan.

I have decided to omit those teams as it would be difficult to provide any opinions.

Before continuing the list, I wanted to name four teams who I felt should have been included in this list. Not only to make the list, but in my opinion most should have been in the top 25.

The teams are The Wild Samoans, The Dream Team (Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake), Nikolai Volkoff & Iron Sheik, and Curt Hennig & Scott Hall.

Now on to the list...

 

34. Harlem Heat

The team was composed of two real brothers from Houston and not from Harlem as billed in WCW.

Harlem Heat amazingly won the WCW Tag Team titles 10 times. Some of the teams they defeated were Nasty Boys, Sting & Lex Luger, the Steiner Brothers and The Public Enemy.

PWI named Harlem Heat the Tag Team of the Year for 1995 and 1996.

 

33. Money Inc.

Money Inc. was the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster (Mike Rotunda) who had gimmicks which focused on money. They also were two of the top mat technicians and were an instant hit.

Instead of putting the Natural Disasters on the contract to fight the champions, Jimmy Hart put Money Inc., who went on to beat the Legion of Doom for their first title.

After winning the titles, Money Inc. found themselves in a feud with the jealous tandem of Earthquake and Typhoon. Natural Disasters were furious that Money Inc. received the title shot and found satisfaction in July by winning the titles.

Jimmy Hart struck again in October when the Nasty Boys were a last-minute scratch in favor of Money Inc. to fight the Natural Disasters. Similar to the Disasters, the Boys were screwed by Jimmy Hart.

Money Inc. went on to win the titles with the help of the Headshrinkers.

Money Inc. was successful in fending off the numerous defenses against the angry Nasty Boys.

In early 1993, Money Inc. started feuding with the Steiners and in a week's span lost the titles, regained them, and lost them again for good.

 

32. Minnesota Wrecking Crew

After Lars Anderson moved to Hawaii, Gene started teaming with Ole Anderson (Alan Rogowski) to continue the Crew. Though Gene and Lars were successful during the '60s, the new and improved "Crew" dominated the tag team scene during the '70s.

Gene and Ole won the NWA Georgia Tag Team titles seven times, NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team titles three times, and the NWA World Tag Team titles seven times.

 

31. Demolition

I thought this team should have broken the Top 20. Yes, they were Road Warriors copycats but they did it well, wrestled well, interviewed well, and most importantly were successful.

Demolition was originally managed by Lucious Johnny Valiant and originally included Randy Culley, as Smash, who was well known as Moondog Rex. This is the reason Colley was replaced by Barry Darsow shortly after the team's debut.

Demolition won their first of three WWF Tag Titles by defeating Strike Force at WrestleMania IV and were successful in defending their titles over the next 16 months, which is the longest reign in WWF History. This was also during a period of time when the tag team division was rich with talent.


30. Jerry Lawler & "Superstar" Bill Dundee

Not sure why this team was ranked this high. When Lawler and Dundee were not teaming up to win second-rate tag belts like the AWA Southern titles, they were fighting each other.

They did win the AWA World Tag Team titles on two occasions, but it was in latter part of 1987 when the tag team division was very shallow in terms of talent.


29. Shawn Michaels & Diesel

Michaels and Nash formed a perfect team: power and speed. Michaels and Diesel won their belts in August from the Headshrinkers but by the Survivor Series were not able to function as champions. Therefore, the belts were stripped.

The two enjoyed success as singles wrestlers during 1995 and even fought each other for the WWF World Title at Wrestlemania XI. The next night, the team was united after Diesel came down to rescue Michaels from a Sid Vicious beating.

Michaels and Diesel won the tag titles again in September by defeating Yokozuna and Owen Hart. But, the very next day the result was reversed which gave the belts back to Hart and Yokozuna.

 

28. Jack & Jerry Brisco

The Brisco Brothers were a team who dominated the NWA tag team division during the 70s, winning 15 various Florida tag titles, twice winning the Georgia titles, and three times the Mid-Atlantic titles.

Aside from the numerous tag titles, Jack and Jerry were accomplished singles wrestlers who won various regional titles, and Jack even held the NWA World Title.

An interesting story occurred while they were in the Georgia region. The Road Warriors were offered thousands of dollars to get rid of the Briscoe Brothers because some felt they turned their backs when they sold their shares of the organization to Vince McMahon.

True or not, the sale of the share is said to be one of the main steps the WWF executed on their way to becoming national.

 

27. The Nasty Boys

These boys from the Penn State were legitimate tough guys who had numerous fist fights outside the ring. There are stories of fights with Ken Shamrock, Ric Flair, and the Outsiders.

Mick Foley claims, in his autobiography, that The Nasty Boys were sloppy and dangerous, but knew how to brawl.

 

26. Lex Luger & Sting

If you had to name who was the best young single fighters in the mid-late 80s were, Luger and Sting would have rolled off your tongue in an instant. They were outstanding young fighters, who wrestled and pushed Ric Flair for his World Title.

Of course in the 90s, these young men became the top fighters in the world and won their shares of titles.

As a team, Luger and Sting would periodically fight together.

In 1988 the friendship between these two men originated at the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup.

Days before the tournament, Luger's partner Barry Windham turned on him as they were defending their belts against Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. This led to Windham joining the Four Horsemen and Luger being without a partner for the tournament.

Luckily for Luger, Sting lost his scheduled partner, Ronnie Garvin, when he hurt himself trying to save Jimmy Garvin from an attack by Kevin Sullivan and Rick Steiner.

The two decided to team together and went on to winning the tournament by defeating Anderson and Blanchard. For years later, the two would engage in an extensive feud with the Horsemen and have a love/hate relationship with each other.

The only time Luger and Sting wore the titles was in 1996, when they defeated Harlem Heat, even though Luger was a member of Sullivan's Dungeon of Doom.


25. Ray Stevens & Greg Valentine

Another team that is ranked too high. It seems this ranking had more to do with their individual past success rather than their success together.

No doubt that Stevens and Valentine won many tag titles, but mostly with other partners. Regarding their relationship, it was short-lived.

In 1980, this team defeated Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood, for the NWA World Tag titles, and held them for two months before losing them back.

Valentine went on to feuding with his former tag partner Ric Flair and Stevens teamed up with Jimmy Snuka.

 

24. "Stunning" Steve Austin & "Flyin" Brian Pillman

The Hollywood Blonds were formed in January 1993. The Blonds won the WCW World Tag Team titles in March by defeating Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas. They lost the titles later on in the year, to Arn Anderson and Paul Roma, when Steven Regal replaced an injured Pillman.

Austin went on to joining the Stud Stable and fought Pillman when he returned from his injury.


23. Greg Gagne & "Jumpin" Jim Brunzell

The High Flyers enjoyed a number of high-profile feuds within the AWA, fighting teams like Bobby Duncum/Blackjack Lanza, Pat Patterson/Ray Stevens, The East-West Connection, and The Sheiks.

The High Flyers' success was reached when they defeated Duncum and Lanza to win the AWA World Tag Team titles. They held the titles for 15 months before they had to vacate the titles due to an injury that Jim Brunzell sustained.

During the summer of 1981, the High Flyers entered into a feud with the East-West Connection over the titles, which they won in June.

The Flyers held the titles for almost two years before dropping them to Ken Patera and Jerry Blackwell in June '83. Though the Flyers came close to regaining the titles on several occasions, they never recaptured them. 

The team split to wrestle in single competition and then Brunzell left to form the Killer Bees in the WWF.

 

22. U.S. Express

During the early to mid-80s, it felt like every  organization had a team named Express. There was the Midnight Express, Rock N' Roll Express, and Lightning Express (Tim Horner & Brad Armstrong).

So it was only fitting that a young team of Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda would be dubbed the U.S. Express. The U.S. was because they were feuding with Nikolai Volkoff and Iron Sheik for the WWF World Tag Titles.

Prior to the mentioned feud, the Express won the titles in January of '85 by defeating Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonis.

After exchanging titles with Volkoff and Sheik during '85, they lost them for good to The Dream Team (Beefcake and Valentine) in September.

The team split due to Windham returning to Florida and was replaced by Dan Spivey.


21. New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn & Road Dogg)

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of all ages: D-Generation X proudly brings to you its WWF TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS OF THE WOOORLD! The Road Dogg Jesse James, The Bad Ass Billy Gunn, The New Age Outlaws!"

"... and if you're not down with that, we've got two words for ya! SUCK IT!"

The New Age Outlaws were an extremely popular team in the late 1990s and had the third highest merchandise sales in the WWF as members of DX.

In 1997, the Outlaws defeated the Legion of Doom to win the WWF World Tag Team titles. They would lose the titles twice, first to Mick Foley and Terry Funk and then to Kane and Mankind, but quickly regained them. 

After declining to join Vince McMahon's Corporation, they would lose the title to Ken Shamrock and Big Bossman who were members.


20) Jimmy Snuka & Ray Stevens

This is another case of Stevens being on the list because of his successful career, rather than the success of this tandem.

Snuka and Stevens defeated Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood in June of 1980, to win the NWA World Tag Team titles, but lost the belts to Paul Jones and Masked Superstar in November.

They did win Tag Team of the Year for their success in 1980, but the relationship ended shortly after as Stevens started teaming with Ivan Koloff.

I will have the final installments during the week and appreciate everyone's interest in the articles.

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