The 1980s wrestling boom brought with it some of the most enduring and beloved characters the industry had ever seen.
Hulk Hogan was the biggest star in the world, a pop culture phenomenon whose face could be seen on everything from T-shirts to vitamins. Macho Man Randy Savage, Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Andre the Giant and Rowdy Roddy Piper were just a few of the larger-than-life personas who graced the televisions of millions of fans each and every week.
While Vince McMahon's then-World Wrestling Federation enjoyed unprecedented success, it also became the breeding ground for some phenomenal tag team wrestling thanks to the immensely talented duos who performed for his company at the time.
Today, it is easy to wonder how the company ever was responsible for one of the best tag team rosters ever, especially given the complete lack of attention and respect paid to that art form today. During the Rock 'n' Wrestling era, however, there was a plethora of quality teams battling it out for the right to call themselves champions.
The Hart Foundation, The Rockers, the underrated Fabulous Rougeaus, The British Bulldogs, The Powers of Pain, The Brain Busters, Strike Force and even The Young Stallions were responsible for some tremendous tag action and even headlined house shows. McMahon knew he could trust them to deliver a quality main event, and that was not always the case with the marquee stars.
Of all of the phenomenal teams that carried the mantle for tag wrestling during that period, none were recognized as the centerpiece of the division quite the way Demolition would be.
Ax and Smash began their careers as McMahon's answer to The Legion of Doom, two big bruisers in face paint. The more they worked together, the more they competed against the best the business had to offer. They developed into one of the greatest teams to ever strap on a pair of boots for the Federation.
Time has not been kind to the duo. Their place in history and their overall contributions to that period of time has been overshadowed thanks in large part to the company focusing more of its attention on The Legion of Doom/Road Warriors, and WWE's recognition of the LOD as the greatest in the long and illustrious history of pro wrestling.
While one can argue that Demolition were born from Hawk and Animal's undeniable success, Ax and Smash grew into better in-ring workers than the legendary duo.
While that is a conversation for another time, here is a look back at the career of Demolition, told through their greatest matches and moments.
While the team would ultimately be comprised of Bill Eadie as Ax and Barry Darsow as Smash, Randy Colley partnered with Eadie in the initial incarnation of the team. Colley had risen to fame as a member of the Moondogs tag team and was pegged to lead the new team to greatness. Unfortunately, a contract dispute led to his departure from the company and the introduction of Darsow to the role of Smash.
With the team finally set, they proceeded to pick up victories over the second-tier groups in the division, including but not limited to The Islanders, The Young Stallions, The Killer Bees and The Can-Am Connection.
Their biggest win, and the one that indicated that they may be in line for a sizable push, came over The British Bulldogs.
Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid may have been on their last legs as a team in WWE, but they were still highly respected by fans thanks in large part to their previous title reign and feud with The Hart Foundation. Beating them meant something and helped establish Demolition as serious threats to the top of the division.
WWE Tag Team Champions
Tito Santana and Rick Martel were the WWE tag team champions leading into WrestleMania IV in 1988. Two pretty boys with long, flowing black locks, they were exactly what you would expect from Vince McMahon's promotion at the time.
Demolition, on the other hand, were the polar opposite. They were no-nonsense ass-kickers who rolled over the competition and seemingly took joy in punishing and pummeling the competition. They were not pretty, they were not flashy, and they did not care. By the end of the night, as long as their arms were raised in victory, they were happy.
That would be the case at the fourth Showcase of the Immortals when they, pun intended, demolished the champions and captured their first tag titles.
Over the next year, Ax and Smash would defend against the best teams the company had to offer, including The Hart Foundation. Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart would go on to become Demolition's greatest rivals, the one team capable of knocking off the champions at any given time.
At SummerSlam 1988, they would battle for the gold. Despite a tremendous effort by the challengers, Demolition would win the match and leave historic Madison Square Garden with their title reign intact.
It was at that point that something strange began to happen.
Despite the fact that they were heels, and were booked like heels, fans appreciated the approach taken by Ax and Smash. They were cool. It was fun to watch them destroy the competition. They had attitude and edginess and an awesomely marketable appearance. They very much had the "it" factor that some of the more one-trick tag teams did not.
By the time the 1988 Survivor Series rolled around, the team was turned babyface in a rare double-turn also involving Warlord and Barbarian of The Powers of Pain. Mr. Fuji left Ax and Smash for what he felt would be greener pastures in the POP and looked forward to guiding them to tag team glory.
Instead, he and his new charges would be on the losing end of a 3-on-2 Handicap match at WrestleMania V.
Demolition's year-long reign as champions would come to an end in July 1989 when they lost to the team of Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson, known as The Brain Busters. It was working with the former Four Horsemen that helped Ax and Smash improve and evolve as a team. During that rivalry, they developed into arguably the best team in wrestling.
They regained the title in November.
Another year of dominance, including feuds with The Twin Towers (Big Boss Man and Akeem) and The Colossal Connection (Andre the Giant and Haku), followed. Unfortunately for Ax and Smash, their dominance in the tag team division came to an end when McMahon signed The Legion of Doom to contracts.
Suddenly, he had no more use for a team of rip-offs when he had the genuine article.
Fair or not, Demolition was quickly turned heel. That Bill "Ax" Eadie was suffering from health issues and saw his in-ring time limited only hurt the team's ability to continue dominating tag team wrestling as the 1990s dawned.
With Ax no longer able to maintain a full-time in-ring career, Crush made his debut, regularly partnering with Smash in matches against The Legion of Doom in house shows across the country. It was Crush who teamed with Smash to drop the tag team titles to the Hart Foundation at the 1990 SummerSlam event.
Ax still competed in Six-Man Tag Team matches, where his weaknesses and age would not be quite as exposed.
Still, the absence of the original founder of the team was evident. While Crush and Smash continued Demolition's legacy of destruction, there was something missing, something that could never be replicated.
In 1991, at WrestleMania VII, the team died its final death when they lost to Tenryu and Kitao in an afterthought of a tag match.
Bill Eadie left WWE on bad terms, while Darsow and Crush would remain with the company for quite some time.
Darsow underwent a gimmick makeover, becoming The Repo Man. A midcard heel, the character was wildly entertaining and one of the characters McMahon created at the time that was not awful thanks in large part to the performance of the man behind the mask.
Crush would keep his name and become a fairly popular babyface.
At the 1992 SummerSlam event, the former tag team partners battled it out in a match won by Crush.
It was the final nail in the coffin of the Demolition legacy.
As great as the team was, and as much as Ax and Smash deserve recognition in the form of a WWE Hall of Fame induction, they went out with a whimper rather than a bang and are today somewhat forgotten by fans and historians alike.