Ranking The Top 50 Tag Teams: The PWI Years (9-1)
I like to thank everyone for reading these articles. It was fun to go down memory lane with the many tag teams that I grew up reading about and watching.
It was no surprise that many of the tag teams made their mark in the '80s. Many people have dubbed that era the "Golden Years of Tag Team Wrestling."
Regional organizations like Georgia, Mid-South and World Class mostly had main events that were tag team matches. There were many times that the tag teams in Jim Crockett Promotions and AWA were more popular and exciting than the World Champions.
In the late 80s, the WWF tag team division may have been the deepest and most competitive ever. Why else would successful teams like the Rockers, Killer Bees, and Twin Towers not win the gold?
Tag team competition was so popular that World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) and Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) even featured many six-man matches and created six man titles and trophies. Of course, Survivor Series was born in 1987 to feature eight and ten men matches.
It definitely was the decade of the tag teams.
Now onto the list....
9 - Ted DiBiase & Steve "Dr Death" Williams
Before heading to the WWF and becoming "The Million Dollar Man", DiBiase was the star of Mid-South Wrestling. He held their title, the NWA North American Championship, four times and the NWA Mid-South Tag Team title five times (with Matt Borne, Hercules Hernandez, Jerry Stubbs, and twice with Williams).
In 1985, the good friends started teaming together to battle Eddie Gilbert and his stable. They would win the tag belts twice that year, defeating the Rock N' Roll Express and then Gilbert and his partner, Nightmare.
Prior to '85, these two guys would always have each other's back and would feud with the top faces of the organization. As heels, they feuded with Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Andre The Giant (who made cameo appearances), Magnum TA, Mr Wrestling ll, and Junkyard Dog.
DiBiase was the main heel for years until Ric Flair came around in early '85. The NWA World Champion would be booked in various regional organizations to fight their top wrestler or regional champion. This would help to draw fans and interest. In this case, that wrestler was Dibiase.
The match was scheduled to start the TV program but before the two men were able to grapple, a jealous Dick Murdoch came to the ring to let DiBiase know that he would take his place.
The two began providing their resumes and reasons why they should fight Flair. This led to the two brawling outside the ring and DiBiase having his head smashed in the ring post.
The angle was that DiBiase suffered a career ending injury and would not be able to fight. The commissioner gave DiBiase to the end of the program to fight or forfeit the match. During the program, Bill Watts would provide updates regarding the injury.
Of course, DiBiase was able to meet the deadline and went to the ring to fight Flair for the World Title. DiBiase entered the ring with a bloody bandage and quickly started brawling with Flair.
Bill Watts would repeatedly talk about how bad the injury was and cautioned the viewers that if the bandage came off, that they may not be able to stomach the sight. Of course that was exactly what the viewers wanted...reverse psychology at its best.
The bandage came off and DiBiase instantly sported a crimson mask: not a great sight but truly exciting. The fans, who normally booed Dibiase, were on their feet rooting for the organization's top heel.
As Flair chopped Ted, blood splattered everywhere. You can see the fans grimace with every chop delivered and then a look of disgust as the blood was just sprayed in their direction. Parents were covering the faces of their children.
This was a wrestling classic and must watch on YouTube.
Though DiBiase gave it his all, Flair was able to keep the title due to a countout.
From that point, on Dibiase and Williams became faces and started fighting the heel stables that existed during that time.
8 - Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood
It's no surprise that the guys that will appear in the remaining spots were outstanding and efficient workers...Ricky Steamboat was one of the best.
Steamboat and Youngblood won six NWA Tag Titles during the early 80s and were voted The Best Tag Team of 1983.
There top feuds were with Ray Stevens, Sgt Slaughter/Don Kernodle, and Paul Jones.
7. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard
As members of the Four Horsemen, Anderson and Blanchard began teaming up in '87 after Ole Anderson was kicked out of the stable. Their goals was to win the NWA World Tag Title quickly.
They won the titles twice, by defeating the Rock N' Roll Express and then Lex Luger & Barry Windham.
In late 1988, Anderson and Blanchard headed to the WWF to become the Brain Busters, under the management of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.
It took the Brain Busters one year to win the WWF Tag Team belts. In July of '89, the Brain Busters defeated Demolition to become the first tag team to win both the WWF and NWA World Tag Team Championships.
After losing the belts back in November, Anderson left for the WCW and Blanchard was fired due to failing a drug test.
In just three years, one of the best teams ever had split for good.
6 - Dory & Terry Funk
The Funks began fighting on-and-off together in 1968, in their father's organization in Amarillo, Texas, until 1986 when Terry left the WWF to return to the NWA.
During this time, the Funk brothers became the only brother tandem to win the NWA World Heavyweight Title. As a team, they won Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, Amarillo, Southwest, and Japanese tag titles.
In 1986, these tough Texans went to the WWF to begin a feud with Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana. Terry would carry a branding iron which he would use on their opponents.
The team didn't last long in the WWF, since Terry left to fight Ric Flair in the famous "I Quit" match. Dory (nicknamed Hoss) began teaming up with their fictitious brother Jimmy Jack Funk (Jesse Barr).
There's a story that Barr's eye was gouged out in real-life fight by Haku in the dressing room which led to Jesse wearing a glass eye.
5. British Bulldogs
The Bulldogs joined the WWF after Vince McMahon bought Stampede Wrestling in 1985. It was only natural to have the Bulldogs fight the Hart Foundation, who also came over with the acquisition.
The matches were fast and exciting. These two teams planted the seed of what would become the deepest tag team division ever.
The next feud was with the tag team champs The Dream Team (Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake). The Bulldogs won the titles at WrestleMania 2 after the teams feuded ng for close to a year.
In late 1986, Dynamite Kid suffered a serious back injury during a match against Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Sheik. The injury led to the Bulldogs having to lose their belts prematurely.
On January 26, 1987, the British Bulldogs lost the titles to the Hart Foundation in a match that saw a helpless Dynamite Kid needing to be carried to the ring by Davey Boy Smith.
Unfortunately, this would be the only tag belts that this team would win. But their legacy of producing exciting matches was already planted.
4. Rock N' Roll Express
Rick Morton and Robert Gibson were the pioneers, with the Fabulous Ones, of the "girlie" teams and the most successful.
The Express feuds with the Midnight Express and Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard were classics.
The Express won the NWA World Tag Titles four times, defeating the Russians twice, Manny Fernandez & Rick Rude, and the Midnight Express.
Though they had much success in Memphis, JCP, AWA, and Smoky Mountain Wrestling, they only briefly competed in the WWF.
3. Fabulous Freebirds
Michael "P.S." Hayes, Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy, and Buddy "Jack" Roberts were a tag team who developed "The Freebird Rule." This rule allows any two of the three team members defend their belts, which was suppose to provide a psychological edge against their opponent.
Actually this rule was used prior to the Freebirds, but became famous by the boys from Bad Street, USA. Other teams to use this rule were the Midnight Express in SECW (with Norvell Austin), The Russians in JCP, Demolition in WWF, as well as others.
The Freebirds held various titles during the 80s, including the NWA National Tag Team Titles, NWA Mid-America Titles, Mid-South Titles, WCW United States Titles, WCW World Titles, and NWA American Titles.
They also won six-man tag titles that were won while in WCCW and WCW.
While in WCCW, the Freebirds feuded with Von Erichs which many feel is the most exciting feud in wrestling history. Of course it was good v. bad, and the Freebirds knew how to be the best heels in the business.
They were so good as heels that they were popular with many fans which was almost taboo during the good guy-bad guy era.
While in the AWA, the Freebirds brawled with the Road Warriors, proving to be one of the few teams who could stand toe to toe with the men from Chicago.
Their match at SuperClash in Comiskey Park was a classic and was cool when the Freebirds fought with the Confederate Flag painted on their face....classic!!!
2 - Steiner Brothers
Rick and Scott Steiner are one of only two tag teams to win the WWF World Tag Team Championships, WCW World Tag Team Championships, and the IWGP World Tag Team Championship in history (the other being the Dudley Boyz/Team 3D).
The team was formed in '89, when Scott Steiner became sick of the way Kevin Sullivan was treating his brother who was a member of the Varsity Club. They instantly started fighting with the Club and became an instant draw.
The Steiners defeated the Freebirds for the WCW Tag titles months held them for six months. They won the WCW United States Tag titles in '90 by defeating the Midnight Express.
The Steiner Brothers won then WWF belts by beating Money Inc in '93 but lost to them to the less-talented Quebecers.
On their return to WCW, they won the tag team belts by defeating Harlem Heat in '96, but the title change was not recognized.
They feuded with the Outsiders in '97, which was very entertaining.
The Steiner matches were known to be fast paced and very exciting. Rick would suplex and clothesline like no other wrestler and Scott's finishing maneuver, Frankensteiner, was one of the best moves ever.
1- Road Warriors w/ Paul Ellering
Was their any doubt who would rank No. 1?
They were the focal point of most organizations which they were competing, which was usually given to the singles champ.
They were popular and cheered, even when they were suppose to be heels. Next to Hulk Hogan, they were the most popular wrestlers.
The Road Warriors were first recognized in the Georgia territory in 1983 and instantly won the NWA National Tag Team titles in a tournament. They would hold these titles three times.
The next organization they dominated was the AWA. In the AWA, the Road Warriors became a household name and appeared in every wrestling magazine cover. At this time, the AWA may have been the top organization.
The Road Warriors again won the titles basically by walking through the curtains. They defeated Baron Von Raschke and The Crusher to win the World Tag Team titles.
They held those belts for over a year fighting top teams like The Fabulous Ones, Fabulous Freebirds, Sheik's Army (Bruiser Brody, Mongolian Stomper, Nord The Barbarian, and Masked Superstar), King Kong Bundy/Crusher Blackwell, and the High Flyers.
What's amazing is not how dominated the Road Warriors were in the AWA, but how and who they lost their titles.
During a match with Steven Regal and Jimmy Garvin, which seemed like a squash match on paper, the Freebirds attacked Paul Ellering. Hawk left the ring to help his manager which left Animal alone to get pinned by Garvin.
After touring in Japan after the loss, they headed to Jim Crockett Promotions to help that organization leap frog to the top.
During their first year, the Road Warriors won the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup by defeating fan favorites Magnum TA and Ronnie Garvin. They feuded with the Koloffs and performed in the match of the year by fighting the Midnight Express in a scaffold match.
In '87, they began teaming with Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff which they were dubbed "The Superpowers". The Superpowers feuded with the Four Horsemen throughout the year, which included the first WarGames match...very exciting match!
In late '87, they began feuding with ultimate copycats named the Powers of Pain (Warlord and Barbarian). It started by Powers of Pain (managed by Ivan Koloff) began saying that they were the toughest and the strongest team in wrestling.
Of course this didn't sit well with the boys from Chicago. During a bench-pressing contest to settle the score, Animal was attacked as he was about to press and suffered a concussion and gash in his head.
The Powers of Pain left shortly after losing the initial battles and did not want to fight in a scaffold match.
After two years of dominating, the Road Warriors defeated the Midnight Express for the World Tag Team titles. They held the belts for six months before losing to the Varsity Club in another controversial loss.
The other major titles that the Warriors won were the WWF Tag Team titles which they held twice. They defeated The Nasty Boys in '91 and then the Godwinns in their WWF return in '97.
Aside the all the titles, the Warriors were named Tag Team of the Year four times (83-85, 88).
This team was one of a kind and will always be missed.
Below are some links to wrestling matches mentioned for your view, enjoy:
Road Warriors v. Regal/Garvin
Ric Flair v. Ted Dibiase
Freebirds v. Road Warriors - SuperClash
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